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