Novel Coronavirus/COVID-19 COVID-19 News from Around the Web

Exclusive: Over 900 Health Workers Have Died of COVID-19. And the Toll Is Rising.

Kaiser Health - August 12, 2020

As coronavirus cases surge — and dire shortages of lifesaving protective gear like N95 masks, gowns and gloves persist — the nation’s health care workers are again facing life-threatening conditions in Southern and Western states. Through crowdsourcing and reports from colleagues, social media, online obituaries, workers unions and local media, Lost on the Frontline reporters have identified 922 health care workers who reportedly died of COVID-19 and its complications.

Delay routine dental checkups, WHO urges, until COVID risk is known

Reuters - August 12, 2020

Dental patients and staff need to be protected from any potential infection by aerosol-generating procedures, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Tuesday, as dentists return to work in areas where the COVID-19 pandemic is easing. There is currently no data on the spread of coronavirus from the dentist’s chair, it said, calling for more research into common procedures that produce tiny floating particles that may cause infection if inhaled. These include three-way air/water spray, ultrasonic cleaning equipment that removes deposits from the tooth surface, and polishing, the WHO said in new guidance.

Previous vaccines and masks may hold down Covid-19, some researchers say

CNN - August 12, 2020

As US leaders work to control the spread of coronavirus, researchers across the globe are working to answer the mysteries that remain around infections. One of those mysteries: why the experience can be so different from person to person. One expert says the answer may involve looking at previous vaccines individuals have had. "When we looked in the setting of Covid disease, we found that people who had prior vaccinations with a variety of vaccines -- for pneumococcus, influenza, hepatitis and others -- appeared to have a lower risk of getting Covid disease," Dr. Andrew Badley, an infectious disease specialist at Mayo Clinic, told CNN's Anderson Cooper on Monday night. It's what immunologists call immune training: how your immune system creates an effective response to fight off infections, Badley says.

World hits grim milestone of 20 million reported coronavirus cases

CNN - August 11, 2020

The world has reached the grim milestone of 20 million confirmed coronavirus cases and is edging closer to 750,000 deaths globally, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University. Case numbers have soared exponentially since the first were reported in China in December. The world recorded one million cases more than three months later, on April 2. The tally hit 10 million cases less than three months after that, on June 28, and it has taken just six weeks to double. The rise in cases remains driven in large part by the region of Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as by Asia, where cases are growing again, according to the JHU figures. Death rates remain highest in the former.

There has been a 90% increase in Covid-19 cases in US children in the last four weeks, report says

CNN - August 11, 2020

There has been a 90% increase in the number of Covid-19 cases among children in the United States over the last four weeks, according to a new analysis by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children's Hospital Association that will be updated weekly. The new report uses case numbers provided by state health departments of 49 states, New York City, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Guam. There were 179,990 new Covid-19 cases among US children between July 9 and August 6, according to the report. At least 380,174 total child Covid-19 cases have been reported as of August 6. As of now, it still appears that severe symptoms are rare among children with Covid-19 infections. Children were between 0.5% and 5.3% of total hospitalizations, according to data from the states that record that information. Children were 0% to 0.4% of all Covid-19 deaths. Nineteen states have reported no child deaths. In states that tracked the details, 0% to 0.5% of all child Covid-19 cases resulted in death. However, experts worry those numbers may increase as cases in children rise and more children with autoimmune disorders and other risk facts are impacted.

With no end to the pandemic in sight, coronavirus fatigue grips America

Washington Post - August 11, 2020

The metaphor of a marathon doesn’t capture the wearisome, confounding, terrifying and yet somehow dull and drab nature of this ordeal for many Americans, who have watched leaders fumble the pandemic response from the start. Marathons have a defined conclusion, but 2020 feels like an endless slog — uphill, in mud. Recent opinion polls hint at the deepening despair. A Gallup survey in mid-July showed 73 percent of adults viewed the pandemic as growing worse — the highest level of pessimism recorded since Gallup began tracking that assessment in early April. Another Gallup Poll, published Aug. 4, found only 13 percent of adults are satisfied with the way things are going overall in the country, the lowest in nine years. A July Kaiser Family Foundation poll echoed that, finding that a majority of adults think the worst is yet to come. Fifty-three percent said the crisis has harmed their mental health.

FDA won’t ‘cut corners’ to approve a Covid-19 vaccine, commissioner says

CNN - August 11, 2020

Dr. Stephen Hahn made the declaration in a video briefing with the American Medical Association. More than 5 million Americans have been infected with coronavirus, and more than 163,000 have died, according to Johns Hopkins data. Hahn acknowledged that because of the speed with which the agency is working, some experts have questioned whether the FDA will compromise its scientific principles in reviewing clinical trial data. "Let me assure you that we will not cut corners," Hahn said. "All of our decisions will continue to be based on good science and the same careful deliberative processes we have always used when reviewing medical products." Many Americans are skeptical about a vaccine. Hahn said he has seen surveys that report a significant part of the public will be reluctant to get a Covid-19 vaccine. A CNN poll in May found one-third of Americans said they would not try to get vaccinated against Covid-19, even if the vaccine is widely available and low-cost.

Trump weighs blocking U.S. citizens coming home if coronavirus infection feared

Reuters - August 11, 2020

The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump is considering a measure to block U.S. citizens and permanent residents from returning home if they are suspected of being infected with the new coronavirus, a senior U.S. official confirmed to Reuters. The official said a draft regulation, which has not been finalized and could change, would give the government authorization to block individuals who could “reasonably” be believed to have contracted COVID-19 or other diseases. Trump has instituted a series of sweeping immigration restrictions since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

Most Americans Won’t Be Able to Get a Coronavirus Vaccine Until Well Into 2021

Bloomberg - August 11, 2020

Even if the most optimistic projections hold true and a Covid-19 vaccine is cleared for U.S. use in November, the vast majority of Americans won’t be able to get the shots until spring or summer next year at the earliest. That likely timeline, based on interviews and remarks from top specialists including Anthony Fauci of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, means businesses, schoolchildren and families will continue to wait. The reasons are many. U.S. health regulators will have only a tiny sliver of the usual safety and efficacy data. The leading products require two doses, which will limit how many people early supplies can help. And government health officials are still developing a plan for who will get the shots, how they’ll be distributed, and how their effectiveness and safety will be tracked afterward. “For three, to six, to nine months, there will be more people wanting a vaccine than there are vaccines,” said Stephane Bancel, chief executive officer of Moderna Inc., the biotechnology company developing one of the furthest-along inoculations. Bancel said he expects his company’s product may get an emergency authorization from the Food and Drug Administration for “a very narrow population at very high risk.” Vaccines for the general population will need full FDA approval, which will likely take significantly longer, he said in an interview.

Health officials are quitting or getting fired amid outbreak

AP - August 11, 2020

Vilified, threatened with violence and in some cases suffering from burnout, dozens of state and local public health leaders around the U.S. have resigned or have been fired amid the coronavirus outbreak, a testament to how politically combustible masks, lockdowns and infection data have become. One of the latest departures came Sunday, when California’s public health director, Dr. Sonia Angell, was ousted following a technical glitch that caused a delay in reporting hundreds of thousands of virus test results — information used to make decisions about reopening businesses and schools. A review by the Kaiser Health News service and The Associated Press finds at least 49 state and local public health leaders have resigned, retired or been fired since April across 23 states.

Connecticut issues first $1,000 fines to travel violators

AP - August 11, 2020

The Connecticut Department of Public Health issued its first $1,000 fines on Monday to two individuals who Gov. Ned Lamont said failed to comply with the travel advisory for residents who return home from states with high COVID-19 infection rates. The Democrat said the two unnamed people had flown back to Connecticut from Louisiana and Florida and neither filled out a health form that’s required from anyone entering from any state with a 10% or higher positive rate over a seven-day rolling average or a new daily positive test rate higher than 10 per 100,000 residents. Besides not filling out a form, one of the people also refused to quarantine for the required 14 days and was fined an additional $1,000.

America is failing Black moms during the pandemic

Vox - August 11, 2020

Paisley’s story is one of many like it. Long before the pandemic hit, Black pregnant and birthing people around the country were reporting that doctors disregarded their concerns, ignored their wishes, and put them at risk. Out of 10 similarly wealthy countries, the US had the highest number of maternal deaths per capita in 2018. Black women are disproportionately impacted, dying in childbirth at three to four times the rate of white women. Now, birthing people and their advocates say the Covid-19 crisis is only exacerbating the discrimination that Black patients and other patients of color already face from providers — one of the main drivers behind their higher rates of maternal mortality. In response, some people are looking outside of hospitals, to midwives, home births, and birthing centers they feel are more likely to provide them with the care they deserve

College football’s coronavirus crisis, explained

Vox - August 11, 2020

As Yahoo Sports reporter Pete Thamel put it last week, “The downward spiral for college football shutting down in 2020 has begun.” That’s a big, big problem for college football programs that have become the financial backbone of university athletic departments. For example, Oregon State University’s football team generates 80 percent of the athletic department’s revenue. And the fallout could go far beyond individual universities — the Big Ten, for instance, has a media rights deal with CBS, ESPN, and Fox worth an estimated $2.64 billion. The Pac 12 has gone so far as to pursue a massive loan, promising roughly $84 million to each member school to make up for lost revenue in case the season is canceled. The entire apparatus of one of the country’s most popular sports depends on college students who are not compensated for their work, college students who find themselves at risk of long-term injury and now a potentially deadly virus while their coaches and administrators make millions. But in the wake of a coronavirus shake-up, players across the country are starting to stand up and say: not so fast.

97,000 children reportedly test positive for coronavirus in two weeks as schools gear up for instruction

CBS News - August 10, 2020

Nearly 100,000 children tested positive for the coronavirus in the last two weeks of July, a new report from the American Academy of Pediatrics finds. Just over 97,000 children tested positive for the coronavirus from July 16 to July 30, according to the association. Out of almost 5 million reported COVID-19 cases in the U.S., CBS News' Michael George reports that the group found that more than 338,000 were children. Vanderbilt University's Dr. Tina Hartert hopes increased testing of children will help determine what role they play in transmission, as school districts around the country return to some form of school. She is leading a government-funded study that saw DIY testing kits sent to some 2,000 families. "The kits are shipped to the families, they are taught how to collect these samples, and then the samples are sent back by the families to a central repository," she said. In New York City, home to the nation's largest school district, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a return to in-person schooling in the fall and pledged officials "have worked incessantly to get this right."

Children Can Get Severe COVID-19, CDC Says — Especially Black And Hispanic Children

NPR - August 10, 2020

While most children who catch the coronavirus have either no symptoms or mild ones, they are still at risk of developing "severe" symptoms requiring admission to an intensive care unit, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a new report released Friday. Hispanic and Black children in particular were much more likely to require hospitalization for COVID-19, with Hispanic children about eight times as likely as white children to be hospitalized, while Black children were five times as likely. Despite persistent rumors that children are "almost immune" from the virus, the analysis of 576 children hospitalized for the virus across 14 states found that one out of three was admitted to the ICU — similar to the rate among adults. Almost 1 in 5 of those were infants younger than 3 months. The most common symptoms included fever and chills, inability to eat, nausea and vomiting.

COVID-19 May Never Go Away — With Or Without A Vaccine

NPR - August 10, 2020

Humans have never been particularly good at eradicating entire viruses, and COVID-19 might not be any different. More than 19 million people have tested positive for the coronavirus globally, and at least 722,000 have died. In the U.S., nearly 5 million people have tested positive and more than 160,000 have died. While scientists are racing to find a cure for the virus, there's a chance COVID-19 will never fully go away — with or without a vaccine. But that doesn't mean everyone will have to self-isolate forever. Vineet Menachery, a coronavirus researcher at the University of Texas Medical Branch, told NPR's Weekend Edition that one of the more likely scenarios is that the spread of COVID-19 will eventually be slowed as a result of herd immunity. He said that he'd be surprised "if we're still wearing masks and 6-feet distancing in two or three years" and that in time, the virus could become no more serious than the common cold. The first thing to remember is that we haven't been successful at eradicating many viruses at all. Really the lone exception is smallpox, but many of these viruses exist not only in the human population but in animal populations. So coronaviruses may be removed from the human population, like SARS coronavirus in 2002, but we know that those viruses or viruses that are similar to it still exist in nature and at any time they may gain the tools to reemerge in humans again.