Coronavirus Update: Week 8

President Trump notes ‘very sad milestone’ after U.S. coronavirus death toll surpasses 100,000- the highest number of any country. Parts of all 50 states have begun to reopen in phases, causing a spike in new cases in some areas. Coronavirus is also on the rise in three other countries, with the WHO reporting the largest one-day increase in worldwide cases on May 20. New symptoms have also been discovered by doctors, causing some to speculate that the rise in reported case numbers is due to a greater ability to detect the virus. However, despite all of this, many countries are planning to reopen their airports for tourism beginning in early June.  red line going up in a chart with the words covid-19 on top

Coronavirus On The Rise in States That Reopened Early

All 50 states have now partially reopened, but at least 17 of them reported an increase in the average number of new daily cases after reopening. Alabama, South Dakota and Texas have already begun to see a slight increase in confirmed coronavirus cases since they lifted certain restrictions and reopened nonessential businesses such as gyms and hair salons.

More than half of all counties in California are still moving forward with plans to further reopen, even though the state recorded its second highest number of daily Covid-19 deaths on Tuesday, May 19. Other states such as Florida and Georgia are already allowing dine-in service at restaurants, with other states like North Carolina planning to allow it at the end of this week.

Covid-19 Unusual Symptoms

persons skin with a spotty rash
Splotchy red spots on the skin is a new symptom of covid-19.

Still more symptoms of the virus have been observed in patients: blisters on toes and splotchy red spots on the skin. The blisters make patients’ toes look as if they’re frostbitten, earning this symptom the nickname “COVID toes.” These blisters are more prevalent in patients who are either otherwise asymptomatic or present with milder symptoms. 

“The pernio lesions or ‘COVID toes’ are certainly one of the primary things being reported” in the American Academy of Dermatology registry, according to Dr. Esther Freeman, a dermatologist and epidemiologist at Massachusetts General Hospital who’s managing the registry. “But we’re also seeing a lot of other skin manifestations as well.”

Census Survey Reveals High Unemployment

On Wednesday, May 20th, The US Census Bureau released the first results from its new “pulse survey.”The results represent data collected between April 23-May 5, and, according to the survey,  47% of adults 18 and over either lost employment income or had another adult in their household lose employment income during that time period. About 39% of adults expected that they or someone in their household would lose employment income over the next four weeks. 

WHO Reports Largest Single-Day Increase in Cases

On Wednesday, May 20, Tedros Adhanom-Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization, said that more cases were reported in that 24 hour period than on any day since the outbreak began.

“We still have a long way to go in this pandemic,” Adhanom-Ghebreyesus said at a briefing in Geneva. “In the last 24 hours, there have been 106,000 cases reported to WHO – the most in a single day since the outbreak began. Almost two-thirds of these cases were reported in just four countries.”

Among  those 4 countries was Brazil, which reported 19,951 new cases in one 24 hour period,  a record high for cases reported in a single day.

Countries Begin To Reopen Travel To Their Countries

blue and white plane with tube connected to it and luggage carts around it

Multiple countries also revealed on May 20 that they will begin allowing tourism and travel to their countries. 

  • Greece’s Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced that they will begin to allow some foreign visitors into the country. Flights will resume to and from Athens International Airport on June 15. In the first stage of reopening, only visitors from specific countries with low infection rates will be able to visit. After July 1, they will evaluate the results of phase 1 and then open all airports to travelers from all countries, with exceptions for those with higher case numbers.
  • Italy will reopen their airports starting June 3, Transport Minister Paola de Micheli announced during a May 20th parliamentary session.
  • Turkey’s Health Minister Fahrettin Koca announced that the country will begin a phased reopening, and will allow travelers from 31 countries to begin traveling to Turkey in June. 
  • India’s domestic flight operations will resume May 25th “in a calibrated manner,” the country’s Civil Aviation Minister announced.

Coronavirus Update: Week 7

The coronavirus crisis continued in our country this week, but the focus of many people’s attention was the battle over when to reopen states and businesses. The federal stay-at-home order expired at the end of April, and reopening decisions are now in the hands of each state’s governor. This has caused friction between some state’s governors and local officials. Battles also continued between Trump and the CDC this week, as the number of cases of the illness continued to rise. New research was also revealed this week which shows that the virus can linger in the air longer than previously thought. The virus has also been linked to a life-threatening inflammatory syndrome in children.

Multiple Modelsa graph with multiple lines across it in different colors.

As of May 14, the number of deaths from the coronavirus has reached 85,388. There are currently multiple models projecting how quickly the number of cases and deaths will continue to rise. The government model predicts that the number of deaths will top 130,000 by August, but they are still hopeful that the number of infections will begin to go down. Another model provided by healthdata.org, on the other hand, predicts that the rate of infection and death will drop everyday for the next couple of months.

Wisconsin’s Supreme Court Blocks Governor’s Extension

The Wisconsin Supreme Court struck down Governor Tony Evers’ stay-at-home order this week. The governor had extended the stay-at-home order until May 26, but the court ruled the order “unlawful” and “unenforceable.” 

The lawsuit was filed by the Republican-controlled Wisconsin Legislature against Department of Health Services Secretary-designee Andrea Palm and other health officials, who had recently extended the state’s “Safer-at-Home” emergency order. Even though the state had extended their stay-at-home order, they also loosened some restrictions on certain businesses, including golf courses, public libraries and arts and crafts stores.

Some Pennsylvania Counties Beginning To Mutiny Against Governor’s Orders

people in a crowd with signs with one in particular that says "no!"
Many counties in PA have created a mutiny against the governor to move to the yellow phase and open up businesses.

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf presented a plan for reopening his state on a county-by-county basis, and some central Pennsylvanian elected officials were not happy that they weren’t in the “yellow phase” of cautious reopening. On Governor Wolf’s color-coded map, those counties that remain in the “red phase” are not to reopen until June 4. 

On Friday, May 8th, York County District Attorney Dave Sunday announced that his office “will not prosecute any criminal citations for alleged violations of the [Governor and Secretary’s] orders and regulations… concerning the operation of non-life-sustaining businesses.”

Lancaster County sent a letter to the governor asking to be moved into the yellow phase, which allows for the opening of businesses. Lebanon County took things a step further, telling Governor Wolf that they will enter the yellow phase and begin opening businesses on May 15 with or without his approval. Other counties have also expressed their disapproval of the Governor’s plans and have requested that Wolf move them to the yellow phase, citing a decrease in the number of infections in their areas.

NYC Mayor Says They Need Federal Stimulus 

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has made it clear that the city will need a federal stimulus in order to get back on its feet. “Think where this is going,” he said during an interview on CNN. “If our federal government doesn’t step in and fill that gap and help cities and states back on their feet there won’t be a recovery.”

The mayor does not plan on reopening the city without extreme caution. “We’re taking a very conservative approach here in New York. We’re the epicenter,” de Blasio said. “We are not going to reopen anything until we prove by real data that we’ve made enough progress to do it safely, and then we’re going to do it in small, careful steps and smart steps.”

Caucasian boy with a mask on writing on the blackboard. Trump Pushes To Reopen Schools

On Wednesday, May 13, President Trump pushed to reopen the country’s schools, despite Dr. Anthony S. Fauci’s testimony urging that schools stay closed through the fall. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, was asked about the risk/benefit ratio of sending kids back to school versus having them miss out on education. Fauci said, “It’s obviously very difficult … [there are] unintended consequences of trying to do something that broadly is important for the public health and [there is a]  risk of having a return or a resurgence of an outbreak and…unintended deleterious consequences of having children at a school.” He continued, “I don’t have a good explanation or solution for the problem of what happens when you close schools and it triggers a cascade of events.”

Trump reacted, stating “He wants to play all sides of the equation. I was surprised by this answer actually because you know, it’s just to me it’s not an acceptable answer, especially when it comes to school.” He then continued to say “we will reopen the country. People want it open. The schools are going to be open.”

Coronavirus Could Remain In Air For Longer than Thought

A new study by researchers at the National Institutes of Health and the University of Pennsylvania found that talking loudly for one minute in a confined space could produce about 1,000 speech droplets containing Covid-19 particles. They further found that the droplets could remain in the air for more than 8 minutes, which is enough time for someone to inhale them and get infected with the virus. 

Study Suggests Rare Illness Affecting Children Is Related To Covid-19hand of a little kid with bandage over it and an IV connected in it.

There has been a rise in cases of a life-threatening inflammatory syndrome that is affecting children. The condition is called pediatric multi-system inflammatory syndrome and it appears to be connected to the coronavirus. It has been seen in at least 100 children, mainly in NY. 

“This multi-system inflammatory syndrome is not directly caused by the virus,” Burns told CNN. “The leading hypothesis is that it is due to the immune response of the patient.”

This syndrome is dangerous because it can cause poor functioning in organs such as the heart or kidneys. Symptoms to look for include fever, inflammation, red eyes, a bright red tongue, and cracked lips.

How To Protect Yourself From Airborne Diseases

There are different ways that diseases can be transmitted between people. Some can travel through the air and can infect anyone who breathes it in. These diseases are called airborne diseases. Airborne diseases are spread when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or even talks. Spit and bacteria fly in the air and can linger, and some can land on people or surfaces. These types of diseases are very hard to control because of how far they can travel and how long they can stay on surfaces. Learning about airborne diseases and their symptoms can help you prevent infection, and can help you know when to seek medical attention. 

Different Airborne Diseasesorange ball with green sprouts coming out of it resembling virus.

Many diseases are spread through the air, or by touching the surfaces that germs land on. Some of the most well-known airborne diseases are:

  • COVID-19

COVID-19 is a new or “novel” coronavirus that has spread rapidly throughout the world. According to scientists, the disease is spread through secretions from the throat and nose when someone spits or coughs. The virus can last on surfaces for days and is extremely contagious.

  • Influenza

The flu is contagious and spreads easily in the air. As with COVID-19, a person can be a carrier of the flu before they even experience symptoms. There are many strains of the flu that are constantly changing, making it hard for the body to develop immunities. Because of this many people lose their life to the disease each year

  • Mumps

The mumps are another highly contagious disease. This viral disease can be spread long before a person experiences symptoms, and for up to 5 days after they are clear of symptoms. Vaccination against the disease has helped lower the number of fatalities and the number of people who come down with it. 

  • Chickenpox

Chickenpox can be spread a day or two before the tell-tale rash appears. After being exposed to the virus, it takes up to 21 days for chickenpox to develop. Normally you only get chickenpox once in your life, and then it goes dormant. However, after a long period of time, it can reactivate into a skin condition called shingles

  • Whooping Cough (Pertussis)

This respiratory disease is very contagious for about 2 weeks after coughing starts. The airways swell, which can result in death. This illness is particularly dangerous for babies, so it is important that anyone coming in contact with newborns be vaccinated against it. 

  • Measles

Measles can remain in the air and on surfaces for up to 2 hours. A person can transmit this contagious disease for up to 4 days before and 4 days after the measles rash occurs. It is one of the leading causes of death in young children, so it is important that all children get vaccinated against it.

Symptoms

As mentioned, some airborne diseases are extremely contagious and can be deadly. Symptoms to look out for include:

  • Shortness of breath

    caucasian woman with scarf over her shoulders coughing into her right hand.
    One of the symptoms of an airborne disease is coughing.
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Congestion
  • Sore throat
  • Body aches
  • Loss of appetite
  • Swollen glands

Some other symptoms to look out for, especially with ones that cause skin conditions such as chickenpox, measles, and mumps are:

  • Itchy rash on chest, face and back
  • Blisters on face and neck

Prevention

The population most at risk of dying or having extreme complications from airborne diseases are the very young, older adults, and people with  compromised immune systems. There are a few precautionary steps you can take to protect yourself and others from airborne diseases. It is impossible to completely avoid them because they are in the air, but some things you can do include:

caucasian hands full of soap rubbing together near an open faucet.

  • Keep your distance from people with symptoms
  • Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds regularly, especially after sneezing or coughing
  • Cover your mouth with a tissue or your elbow when sneezing or coughing.
  • Try to stay home when you are sick if possible.
  • Wear a face mask to prevent spreading germs or breathing them in.
  • Avoid touching your face, or putting your fingers in your mouth.
  • Regularly clean surfaces in your house
  • Get vaccinated

Airborne diseases can linger in the air for a while, and some can last on surfaces for days, but there are ways to help avoid them or alleviate the symptoms if you do get them. If you are not in a high-risk group, you can typically manage one of these viruses with over-the-counter medication such as acetaminophen. Whatever risk group you are in, know the symptoms, try to get tested if you suspect you have been exposed to a virus, and always practice good hygiene. It is also important to get vaccinated if at all possible: vaccinations for diseases like the flu can help reduce the symptoms severity by at least 50%, or prevent the disease altogether. Stay healthy and stay safe to prevent getting sick or infecting others.

Coronavirus Update: Week 6

The number of cases and deaths from coronavirus continued to climb this week, with new confirmed cases surging to around 200,000 a day. Because of the rapid increase in new cases, a draft government report has predicted that deaths will soon rise to about 3,000 a day. So far, governors have introduced phases for slowly opening up their states, while some states like Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, and Florida have already begun to re-open. Because of the new predictions and the rapid reopening of some states, many fear that the crisis will only get worse. In order to try and slow down the spread, people are still required to practice social distancing and wear masks when they leave their houses. 

the state of georgia outlined in white with a sign that saus "we're open" in red.

Georgia Reopens

Many governors across the country have begun to reopen their states this week, despite fears that reopening will cause a spike in coronavirus cases. Although it was one of the last states to shut down, Georgia has begun to allow dine-in restaurants, salons, gyms, and other businesses to reopen. Smartphone data shows out-of-state visitors have begun flocking there: in the first week of Georgia’s reopening, an additional 62,440 visitors arrived there each day. 

New Model Predictions

The new model created by the White House is now predicting a total of 134,000 people in the U.S. could die from Coronavirus. This is nearly double its previous prediction. According to CNN, the model from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, had predicted 72,433 deaths as of the morning of May 4.

New TSA Guidelines

people at an airport with masks on over their mouth and nose.
TSA has announced that they will require employees to wear facial protection at security checkpoints.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has announced that they will require employees to wear facial protection at security checkpoints. They acknowledge that it is difficult  to practice social distancing at security checkpoints, and they are hoping to make things safer by requiring masks. 

“TSA is making this change to protect our employees and travelers as social distancing cannot always be maintained in the screening process.” TSA Administrator David Pekoske said in an accompanying statement.

Many airlines, including American, United, Delta, Southwest, Alaska, Frontier, JetBlue and Spirit, have announced plans to make face masks mandatory for passengers.

More Than 66% Of New Cases in NY Are People At Home

The number of covid-19 hospitalizations has remained steady in the state of New York, and surprisingly, 66% of cases were people who stayed home. 

“We were thinking that maybe we were going to find a higher percentage of essential employees who were getting sick because they were going to work, that these may be nurses, doctors, transit workers,” Cuomo said. “That’s not the case, and they were predominantly at home.”

However, the number of deaths in the state has begun to decline, and the governor is hopeful that the numbers will continue to go down. On May 7, there were 232 deaths in the state, compared with a peak of around 800 a day a few weeks ago. New York City, one of the state’s hotspots, is currently trying to reduce the number of infections by using UV light to try and kill the virus on the subway.

Trump Battles CDC Over Reopening Guidelines

yellow and black boxing gloves

As Trump pushes to reopen the economy, a battle between the White House and the CDC has erupted. While The CDC has put out guidelines for child care programs, schools, churches, restaurants and bars, and mass transit administrators, including using disposable utensils, closing every other row of seats on buses and subways, and even restricting travel to areas with high infection levels, the White House has rejected these recommendations. The White House has cited concerns that these recommendations could infringe on religious rights and cause further damage to the economy. 

Nearly Everyone Who Gets Coronavirus Makes Antibodies

A new study has found that nearly everyone who gets infected with the coronavirus will eventually make antibodies to the virus. According to the study, the age and sex of the patient did not matter, nor did the severity of the illness. 

“The question now becomes to what extent those are neutralizing antibodies, and whether that leads to protection from infection — all of which we should presume are yes,” said Sean Whelan, a virologist at Washington University in St. Louis.

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