Coronavirus Update: Week 16

With the coronavirus pandemic still hitting our country hard, many are hoping that a vaccine is on the horizon. While President Trump is claiming that a vaccine will be ready for distribution before election day (November 3rd), most scientists and health officials are not promising the same, and warn that we may not have one until at least the summer of 2021. In the meantime, health officials are reiterating how important it is that everyone continues to wear a mask to help prevent the spread of the virus. 

Unfortunately, some states are not following these guidelines, including Georgia, where a picture taken by a student of a high school with packed hallways and only 10% of students wearing masks went viral this week. With the increase in deaths from coronavirus multiple weeks in a row, parents around the country are afraid that their schools will look like the one in Georgia. Now the largest school districts in the country, as well as many smaller ones, are opting to make learning 100% virtual this fall.

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U.S. Coronavirus Death Toll Rises For 5th Straight Week

When the first wave of the pandemic seemed to be easing up a little, many states began to slowly reopen. For the past 5 weeks since these reopenings, the death toll from the virus has been on the rise. The number of deaths last week rose to 7,591, which is up 11.5% from the previous week. According to the COVID Tracking Project, more people died in the first week of August than did in the whole month of March.

Health Researchers Say Face Masks Are The Simplest Way To Fight The Spread

In a recent televised town hall, Dr. Chris Murray, a researcher behind the coronavirus model from the University of Washington, said that face masks are the most inexpensive and effective way for people to help fight the spread of the coronavirus. “It’s rare that you see something so simple, so inexpensive, so easy for everybody to participate [in] and have such an extraordinary impact in the US, but also all over the world actually. It’s quite extraordinary,” Murray told CNN during its global coronavirus town hall the night of August 6th. different kinds of face masks

Trump Says Vaccine Might Be Available By Election Day, Scientists Say Otherwise

Trump is hopeful that a vaccine for the coronavirus will be ready for distribution by election day, which he thinks “wouldn’t hurt” his chances of being re-elected. Vaccine scientist Peter Hotez, professor and dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, on the other hand, does not think that any vaccine will have been proven safe by election day. Rather, he foresees that a vaccine will be readily available by the 3rd quarter of 2021. 

“It takes time to show that these vaccines actually work in people, as they do in laboratory animals, and that they are safe,” Hotez said. He expressed hope that several vaccines will be made available in the near future, but noted that it might take a year to gather safety data on them and obtain regulatory approval for their widespread use.

Trump Signs Executive Order Encouraging American Manufacturing Of Health Suppliesplain white bottle with red and white pills in it and some on the table next to the bottle.

On Thursday, August 7, President Trump signed a long-awaited executive order that would require the federal government to buy certain pharmaceuticals and medical supplies from American factories. The hope is that this order will help keep America from relying on China and other nations for drugs and medical supplies. 

“If we’ve learned anything from the China virus pandemic, it is simply that we’re dangerously overdependent on foreign nations for our essential medicines, for medical supplies like masks, gloves, goggles, and the like, and medical equipment like ventilators,” White House Trade Adviser Peter Navarro said Thursday. “We are dangerously dependent, at this point in time, for essential medicines.”

Georgia High School Pictures Draws Attention, Leaving 2 Students Suspended

A photo taken by a student at North Paulding High School in Dallas, GA, showed students, many without masks, packed into a hallway on the first day of school. Another picture was taken by another student on the second day of school, and both students were suspended after posting the pictures on Twitter. They were suspended for 5 days for ”using a phone in the hallway without permission.”

The superintendent of the Paulding County School District, Brian Otott, defended his system’s reopening plan, saying that the pictures were taken  out of context, and that the kids were in the hallways briefly while switching classes. Masks are not required at the school, because Georgia does not require people to wear masks in public, despite the CDC’s guidelines.  

Data Shows High Numbers Of Non-White Children Are Dying

According to data released in an internal memo from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, nationwide numbers of coronavirus cases among people under 18 years of age from March 1 to August 3rd are highest among non-white children. The breakdown shows that children infected with coronavirus were:

  • 40% Hispanic
  • 34% White
  • 19% Black 

According to the memo, those children who died from the disease were:

  • 38% Hispanic
  • 34% Black
  • 25% White

Coronavirus Update: Week 11

Businesses in some parts of the country are finally up and running again, but things aren’t going smoothly. Some states are seeing the beginning of a second wave of the coronavirus, and the U.S. has officially passed 2 million confirmed cases. Many are still unsure how to balance the needs of the economy with public safety concerns. The treasury secretary is warning that we cannot face another shutdown without dire consequences, and the White House task force has scheduled a meeting to try and find a way to reduce the spread while keeping the economy open. 

Harvard Doctor Warns of 200,000 Coronavirus Deaths By Fall

Because the number of cases continues to rise in many states, Dr. Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, fears that the number of deaths from the virus will reach 200,000 in the next few months. 

black and white pic of tombstones

According to Jha, “sometime in September, we’re going to cross 200,000, and we still won’t be done. This pandemic is going to be with us until next spring or summer when we have a vaccine. This is not faded.” The number of confirmed coronavirus deaths in the U.S. is currently more than 113,000.

U.S. Has Passed 2 Million Confirmed Cases

The U.S. has reached 2 million confirmed coronavirus cases as of Wednesday, June 10.  Infections are rising in at least 20 states that have lifted their restrictions. A trusted model is projecting an increase in cases in the fall, so the White House coronavirus task force will meet on June 11 to discuss actions to reduce the numbers. 

Meanwhile the Treasury Secretary has made it clear  that the US economy will not be shut down again, even as cases rise. “We can’t shut down the economy again. I think we’ve learned that if you shut down the economy, you’re going to create more damage, and not just economic damage, but there are other areas,” Secretary Steven Mnuchin told CNBC, calling President Trump’s initial decision “very prudent” but saying “we’ve learned a lot” since then. 

A Second Wave Of Coronavirus In Some States

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Some states have seen a second wave of the Coronavirus since reopening.

Arizona, California, Florida, and Texas are seeing spikes in cases leading to hospitalizations. California’s hospitalizations are at their highest in almost a month. Other states have not seen such spikes yet, but it is still too soon to see what will happen following widespread reopening. Texas reported its highest number of new cases in a 24-hour period, 5,504, on Wednesday, June 10. 

Florida reported that coronavirus cases are up to 82,719 in total, with 3,018 deaths so far. This past week they saw back to back days of over 2,000 confirmed cases each day. Employees in restaurants and bars were confirmed with the virus, so businesses began to shut back down for safety despite the state remaining open.

NYC Gives $3 Million To Assist Businesses

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said 36 people died from the virus on Wednesday, June 10, which is “close to its lowest point.” Because the number of cases is decreasing, the state continues to reopen. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the city is going to make available $3 million dollars to help “mom and pop” restaurants and small businesses. The funds will be part of the city’s “Restaurant Revitalization Program,” which will provide grants of up to $30,000 to 100 selected restaurants.

New Unemployment Claims Rise As Stocks Drops

The U.S. had seen a temporary drop in unemployment claims as businesses began reopening, but claims have now gone up again. More than 1.5 million people filed for unemployment for the first time last week.The stock market, which had been relatively strong, also dropped. The DOW fell 1.308 points, the S&P dropped 3.3%, and the Nasdaq Composite fell 2.5%. 

persons arm about to get a vaccine in it with a green background with virus on itU.S. Army Lab Selects Lead Covid-19 Vaccine Candidate

The U.S. Army lab has selected a lead vaccine candidate, as well as 2 backup vaccine candidates to advance to the next stage of research. “The candidates were narrowed down from more than two dozen prototypes in order to determine the candidates that elicited the most promising antibody response in preclinical studies,” a statement from the lab said.

Coronavirus Update: Week 10

States all over the country have begun transitioning to the yellow phase, allowing businesses to reopen. With businesses opening people are finally able to return to work resulting in a drop in unemployment claims. While this is something many have been waiting for, it also raises the risks of people spreading the virus once again. Hospitalizations correlated with the coronavirus are on the rise, and as of now the U.S. has seen a total of over 110,000 deaths. Businesses opening back up pose a risk of spreading coronavirus, and paired with the nations recent rise in protests experts say there is a real risk of another spike in cases. Protests across the nation have caused several testing sites to close down so it is impossible to accurately know how these conditions are affecting case numbers until they reopen.

Unemployment Claims Drop

In the last week of May, unemployment claims dropped to 1.9 million. This is the lowest number of claims since the coronavirus pandemic started in March.

More than 40 million people have applied for unemployment benefits since the pandemic started, and roughly 21.5 million are continuing to receive them.

The job market is “crawling out of the hole now,” said Torsten Slok, chief economist at Deutsche Bank Securities. “We do have the worst behind us,” he said.

Civil Unrest Forces Testing Sites To Close

Due to the recent protests, at least 70 coronavirus testing sites across the U.S. have been forced to close. Many of these sites were in private pharmacies in what are deemed “socially vulnerable” neighborhoods. While some worry that the protests will cause a spike in cases, the closures will make it harder to identify outbreaks and actual numbers of cases among protesters.

U.S. Hospitalizations On The Rise

According to Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former FDA chief, coronavirus hospitalizations are on the rise around the country as states push to reopen. He fears that this could become a big problem when flu season begins in the fall. If there are outbreaks of both viruses at once, health systems will become strained and hospitals will not have enough resources or room to treat everyone.

New York City is on track to begin phase 1 of the reopening process on June 8.

NYC On Track To Reopen Monday, June 8

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio said that the city is seeing its lowest number of people testing positive for the coronavirus since the beginning of the pandemic. This news means that the city is on track to begin phase 1 of the reopening process on June 8. The mayor also said that the city will distribute 2 million free face masks to businesses in order to help protect employees. 

“Phase one is going to go on, and we will build from there,” de Blasio said. He also stated that phase 2 could begin as early as July.

Las Vegas Casinos Reopen With Safety Measures

Las Vegas has reopened many casinos, beginning with The D and Golden Gate, who opened their doors just after midnight on June 4. Casinos claim they are opening safely, taking preventative measures such as requiring dealers to wear face masks, and checking the temperatures of both guests and workers.

“We have, interestingly, the largest book of conventions in our history for the next 12 months, they start right now. And toward the end of August, we are hopeful that in some way we can start bringing conventions back to town,” said Steve Hill, president and COO of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.

Record Numbers In Brazil & Mexico

Over the past two weeks, other countries besides the U.S. have also reported a rise in new coronavirus cases. Brazil and Mexico reported their highest one-day virus-related death tolls on June 3. Mexico is the 14th country to surpass 100,000 confirmed cases.

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.