Coronavirus Update: Week 15

Many businesses are operating remotely, schooling is being done virtually, weddings have been postponed, masks and social distancing are the new norm, and it seems like no one has been left untouched by the rising death toll. On Wednesday, July 29, more than 1,400 coronavirus related deaths were reported nationwide- that equates to about one death every minute. Multiple states have been seeing record-high numbers of cases and deaths, and although numbers continue to climb, President Trump has dismissed any talk of another national shutdown. Instead he is urging children to go back to school, as well as urging coronavirus patients who have recovered from the disease to donate plasma in the hope that this will help treat those who are infected. 

res gates locked with a padlock and chains
Having another widespread shutdown is “not a viable option.” 

Trump Dismisses Wider Shutdowns

Trump has made clear his position that having another widespread shutdown is “not a viable option.” 

“The primary purpose of a shutdown was to ‘flatten the curve,’” to prevent hospitals from becoming overwhelmed and to buy time for new treatments and therapies”, Mr. Trump said in a briefing at the White House. “And we’ve done that,” he said.

“A blanket shutdown to achieve a temporary reduction in cases is certainly not a viable long-term strategy for any country,” said Mr. Trump.

The Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation Expires July 31st

The CARES Act that was passed in March provided an extra $600 in unemployment benefits to those who lost their jobs to the pandemic, but those benefits expired at the end of July. The GOP has now proposed a stimulus package called the HEALS (Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection and Schools) Act, which would reduce the extra unemployment benefit from $600 to $200 per week

The question of  how much to give unemployed individuals has been a sticking point between Republican and Democratic lawmakers. Democrats are pushing to give the full $600 for the rest of the year, while Republicans argue that this extra money would be a  disincentive to return to work.  Many on the right have stated their belief that people who receive these benefits would choose to stay home rather than go back to work. 

“Both Republicans and Democrats agree that in these extraordinary times it makes sense for the federal government to provide historic additional help on top of normal unemployment,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said. “But the speaker [of the House] and the Democratic leader say they won’t agree to anything unless the program pays people more to stay home than to work.”

the back of a kid walking down a road with a backpack on.
Dr. Anthony Fauci said last week that “we should try as best as we possibly can to get the children back to school.”

Dr. Fauci Says Children Should Go Back To School

Dr. Anthony Fauci said last week that “we should try as best as we possibly can to get the children back to school… Because we know the consequences on the children when they’re kept out of school, as well as the downstream deleterious, unintended consequences on families, of parents who have to get off work to take care of their kids,” Fauci said during CNN’s global coronavirus town hall on the night of Thursday, July 30.

The noted infectious disease expert is urging  people to send their children to school on a case-by-case basis, depending on the number of coronavirus cases in their area. “So if you have a level of virus that really is very, very low, then you could likely proceed with impunity, depending on the local situation, with getting the child back to school with no restrictions. If you’re in an area where there is some virus involved, the local authorities may do things like try to modify the school situation,” Fauci added.

Coronavirus Model Projects 230,822 Deaths in US By November

Based on the current situation, The University of Washington is projecting that there will be 230,822 deaths from the coronavirus by November. 

“If 95% of Americans wore masks each time they left their homes, infection rates would drop, hospitalizations would drop, and forecasted deaths would drop,” said Ali Mokdad, a professor of health metrics sciences at IHME. “Unfortunately, people let down their guard until the media reported the risk of increased infections.”

Several States Report Record-High Numbers In One Day

US map

On Thursday, July 30, Mississippi, Missouri, and Ohio recorded their highest ever numbers of cases in a single day:

  • Mississippi reported 1,755 cases
  • Missouri reported more than 1,600 cases
  • Ohio reported 1,733 cases

Arizona, Florida, and Mississippi also reported record-high deaths in a single day:

  • Arizona had 172 deaths
  • Florida had 252 deaths
  • Mississippi had 48 deaths

New Jersey’s Numbers On The Rise Again

New Jersey had been seeing its lowest numbers since the pandemic began, but case numbers have been rising for the past week, with the state averaging about 416 new cases per day. Some are blaming parties that were thrown in Middletown, NJ and Jackson, NJ for the spread of the virus all over the state. 

Hawaii Reports High Case Numbers Second Day In A Row

On Thursday, July 30, 124 new cases were reported in Hawaii, which is a 14% increase over the previous day’s report. The Mayor of Honolulu is considering closing all bars on the island of Oahu for 3 weeks. The proposal is waiting for the Governor’s approval.

Trump Urges Recovered Coronavirus Patients To Donate Plasma

President Trump issued a national call-to-action asking people who have recovered from the virus to donate plasma in order to help others who are fighting it. People who recover from the disease have virus-blocking antibodies in their blood weeks after recovery, which can be transfused into people who are sick, helping to boost their immune systems. 

“If you’ve had the virus, if you donate, it would be a terrific thing,” Trump said on a visit to the American Red Cross headquarters. “We really need donations of the plasma. To those that have had the virus, you’ve gotten through this. And I guess that means you have something very special there.”

Johnson & Johnson Create Coronavirus Vaccine That Protects Monkeys

three monkeys sitting next to each other.

The company Johnson & Johnson has created an experimental vaccine that is showing promising results: it seems to have protected monkeys from becoming infected with the coronavirus. “This week has been good — now we have two vaccines that work in monkeys,” said Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at Columbia University who was not involved in the studies. “It’s nice to be upbeat for a change.”

Although this vaccine candidate is showing good results so far, scientists involved in the project  are not rushing large-scale trials in humans because they do not want to take any shortcuts.