#COVID19 #TESTING: @robertcobrien tells @margbrennan “what has happened with testing in America is really a miracle. There is no country in the world that comes close to what America is doing on testing.” pic.twitter.com/mpbEDehwK1
— Face The Nation (@FaceTheNation) August 9, 2020
“Well, we’ve had a lot of infections as a country and again this is something we need to keep in mind,” O’Brien told CBS News on Sunday before shifting the focus to China. “We’ve got to remember where it came from.”
― Hayley Miller
U.S. Surpasses 5 Million Confirmed Cases ― 8/9/20, 11 a.m. ET
The U.S. surpassed 5 million confirmed cases of COVID-19, continuing its run as the country with the most recorded infections in the world by far, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. There have been at least 162,000 coronavirus-related deaths nationwide.
The actual number of infections in the U.S. is likely undercounted since many of those who contract the virus present mild symptoms or are asymptomatic, according to public health experts.
The failure of the U.S. to contain the virus has been met with shock and alarm in Europe, reported The Associated Press.
“We Italians always saw America as a model,” said Massimo Franco, a columnist with Italian daily newspaper Corriere della Sera. “But with this virus we’ve discovered a country that is very fragile, with bad infrastructure and a public health system that is nonexistent.”
― Hayley Miller
New Zealand Records 100 Days Without Community Spread — 8/9/20, 8:05 a.m. ET
New Zealand has marked 100 days without a domestic transmission of the coronavirus, but leaders have warned against complacency as countries like Vietnam and Australia ― which once had the virus under control ― now battle a resurgence in infections.
The Pacific island nation of roughly 5 million people has recorded more than 1,200 COVID-19 cases and at least 22 deaths related to the virus. New Zealand has attributed its success to stringent border control measures, a strict lockdown and a widespread program of testing and contact tracing.
Vietnam ― which went three months without detecting any domestic transmission ― is now racing to control a new outbreak in Danang, fueling fears in New Zealand that further loosening of measures could spark a similar resurgence.
“We have seen overseas how quickly the virus can re-emerge and spread in places where it was previously under control, and we need to be prepared to quickly stamp out any future cases in New Zealand,” said New Zealand Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield.
Read more from HuffPost U.K.
― Hayley Miller
40 Million Could Face Threat Of Eviction As Congressional Aid Stalls — 8/8/20, 2:10 p.m. ET
Between 30 million and 40 million people are at risk of being evicted by the end of the year, according to a report released Friday by the National Low Income Housing Coalition.
“The urgency of the situation really can’t be overstated,” Diane Yentel, president and CEO of the organization, told HuffPost’s Jenavieve Hatch and Arthur Delaney. “It’s keeping people very confused and anxious about what’s next.”
Renters with children are likely to be hit hardest by the impending wave of evictions, according to the NLIHC report. There are around 14 million such renters across the country.
In July, the U.S. economy showed signs of slowing down after making gains in May and June as the country continues to battle the coronavirus. Congress, however, appears light-years away from an agreement on the next economic stimulus package, and a measure that provided an extra $600 in unemployment benefits was allowed to expire last week.
“These people in Congress who have money, they don’t understand what the middle and lower class is going through,” Mary Robinson, a New York mother of two, told HuffPost. She is getting by on unemployment benefits, which shrank from almost $900 to just $247 last week.
— Sara Boboltz
Sturgis Motorcycle Rally Draws Thousands To South Dakota, Few In Masks — 8/7/20, 5 p.m. ET
The massive annual gathering of motorcycles in Sturgis, South Dakota, takes place this weekend, with event organizers expecting 250,000 people to attend despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
South Dakota has no mask mandates or restrictions on indoor gatherings.
Associated Press reporter Stephen Groves counted fewer than a dozen people wearing masks in a crowd of thousands of people over a period of several hours.
Read more at The AP.
— Ryan Grenoble
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said Friday that children will be allowed to return to school, as the spread of the coronavirus has slowed in the state.
“Everywhere in the state, every region is below the threshold that we established,” Cuomo said during a conference call with reporters. “If there’s a spike in the infection rate, if there’s a matter of concern in the infection rate, then we can revisit.”
Many New York school districts said they will have in-person classes just a few days a week, with other days spent learning from home.
Only about 1% of coronavirus tests each day in New York City were positive this week, The New York Times reported. And statewide, hospitalizations for the virus have hit new lows.
— Sebastian Murdock
India Marks 2 Million COVID-19 Cases — 8/7/20, 2:45 a.m. ET
India marked a new milestone on Friday after officials said more than 2 million people had been infected with the novel coronavirus, including more than 62,500 cases in one 24-hour period.
India has the third-highest number of cases in the world, following the United States and Brazil. Health officials had warned of the potential for rising infections as the country eased lockdown measures.
India will be essential to any of the global vaccination efforts meant to end the ongoing pandemic. The world’s largest vaccine-maker is located in the Indian city of Pune and it has ramped up capacity as drug manufacturers conduct Phase 3 trials.
— Nick Visser
California COVID-19 Death Toll Surpasses 10,000 — 8/7/20, 2:30 a.m. ET
More than 10,000 people have died in California due to the coronavirus pandemic, officials said on Thursday.
The figure reflects California’s ongoing difficulties to stay on top of new surges in cases after the state was initially hailed as a lockdown success story. The Los Angeles Times pointed to two main vectors of infections centered on reopening efforts: the spread of the virus among low-wage workers forced to return to their jobs and young people flouting social distancing measures.
On Thursday, Los Angeles announced it would shut off water and power to homes violating COVID-19 orders in an attempt to curb such behavior.
Many of the state’s deaths have occurred in Los Angeles County, where 4,869 people have died and more than 200,000 have tested positive for COVID-19.
— Nick Visser
Africa Passes 1 Million Coronavirus Cases — 8/7/20, 2:10 a.m. ET
The number of coronavirus cases on the African continent surpassed 1 million this week, but experts warn the true toll could be much higher due to the region’s significant lack of testing.
The Associated Press reported the figures on Thursday, pointing to ongoing concerns in South Africa. The country, Africa’s most developed, has more than 538,000 cases, the fifth-most in the world, and faces strains on its hospital system.
“We think it’s going to be here at a slow burn,” the World Health Organization’s Africa chief told the AP regarding infections on the continent.
— Nick Visser
U.S. State Department Lifts Level 4 Global Health Advisory — 8/6/20, 8:10 p.m. ET
The State Department eased its global Level 4 travel advisory for Americans on Thursday, saying it would revert back to a scaled system of warnings as the coronavirus pandemic rages on.
“With health and safety conditions improving in some countries and potentially deteriorating in others, the Department is returning to our previous system of country-specific levels of travel advice (with Levels from 1-4 depending on country-specific conditions), in order to give travelers detailed and actionable information to make informed travel decisions,” the agency said.
The U.S. government has had a global advisory in place since March 19 as cases of COVID-19 began to spread rapidly around the globe. Many countries still fall under Level 4 “Do Not Travel” guidance, but others are listed under lesser advisories including Level 3 “Reconsider Travel.”
Just a few places, like Macau and Taiwan, are under Level 1 guidance, the State Department’s lowest, though they may not admit American travelers due to the pandemic. A full list of guidance for Americans considering travel abroad is available here.
— Nick Visser
New York City Extends State Of Emergency For 30 More Days — 8/6/20, 6:26 p.m. ET
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is extending the city’s state of emergency for another 30 days as the coronavirus pandemic continues across the country.
De Blasio signed the emergency executive order on Thursday night. State of emergency orders allow the mayor’s office to set in place regulations in the city to protect citizens from spreading COVID-19.
A day earlier, de Blasio announced that the city would be setting up checkpoints at “key entry points” around the city to screen travelers and residents who might be coming from states currently experiencing a spread of infections.
“Travelers coming in from those states will be given information about the quarantine, they will be reminded that it is required, not optional,” de Blasio said about the checkpoints on Wednesday. “They’ll be reminded that failure to quarantine is a violation of state law and it comes with serious penalties.”
New York City was the site of one of the worst viral outbreaks in the country and has the largest number of coronavirus-related deaths, with a death toll of 23,563, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The city first declared a state of emergency on March 12, 2020.
— Carla Russo
The Senate has embarked on a long weekend without any sign of reaching an agreement on a new coronavirus relief package.
Although lawmakers are scheduled to enter a four-week holiday period next week, they could be called back to Washington to keep trying to hammer out a deal. Some are not optimistic.
“We might not get a deal,” Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) told reporters on Capitol Hill, HuffPost’s Arthur Delaney and Igor Bobic report. “We’re at an impasse right now.”
Legislation that allowed unemployed Americans to collect an extra $600 per month in benefits was allowed to expire last week — and the topic has become particularly contentious.
Democrats are standing firm on renewing the extra unemployment benefits, which have helped some people avoid eviction, while Republicans would rather that unemployed people not get too comfortable in the pandemic economy. Senate Republicans, however, are divided on legislation; an initial proposal released in July garnered criticism from members of the party. The White House has said the opposing sides remain “trillions” of dollars apart.
— Sara Boboltz
Fauci Rejects Yale Epidemiologist’s Argument In Favor Of Hydroxychloroquine ― 8/6/20, 1:15 p.m. ET
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top infectious disease expert on the White House’s coronavirus task force, rejected claims from a Yale University epidemiologist that hydroxychloroquine has proven to be effective in treating COVID-19.
President Donald Trump’s allies have cited Dr. Harvey Risch, the Yale epidemiologist, while attempting to promote the anti-malarial drug as a treatment for the disease caused by the coronavirus. But Fauci and other public health officials, including Assistant Health Secretary Adm. Brett Giroir, have said otherwise, pointing to several randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trials that found no evidence to support hydroxychloroquine’s efficacy.
During an interview CNN’s John Berman on Monday, Risch argued that randomized, placebo-controlled trials were not the scientific “gold standard,” as Fauci has said. Berman asked Fauci on Thursday why he feels so strongly that such trials are necessary to determine the drug’s efficacy.
“Well, because it is the gold standard,” Fauci said. “You have to compare your intervention with something. Because the medical literature and experience is full of situations of anecdotal retrospective cohort studies that have proven to be wrong.”
“I might add, agreeing with me is virtually every scientist who is competent in clinical trials, that will say that the randomized place placebo-controlled trial is in fact the gold standard,” Fauci added. “So I would have to respectfully totally disagree with him.”
― Hayley Miller
The Latin American region has officially surpassed Europe in having the highest coronavirus death toll worldwide, according to a Reuters tally and data from Johns Hopkins University.
The region recorded more than 209,000 deaths on Thursday, making up about 30% of the world’s total death count. Europe’s death toll is roughly 205,000, while North America comes in third with more than 167,000.
Last week, Latin America surpassed North America in having the highest number of COVID-19 cases in the world, tallying about 5.2 million as of Thursday. North America recorded almost 5 million cases.
Brazil is the country most affected by the virus in the region, with more than 2.8 million cases and 97,256 deaths. Mexico comes in second, with more than 456,000 cases and 49,698 deaths. Peru, Chile, Colombia and Bolivia are also seeing increased deaths as authorities begin to lift lockdown orders despite the continued spread of the pandemic.
The virus has currently resulted in 18.8 million cases and 708,540 deaths worldwide.
— Sanjana Karanth
Fauci Says Virus May Never Be Eradicated — 8/6/20, 8:35 a.m. ET
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top infectious disease expert on the White House’s coronavirus task force, said COVID-19 may never be eradicated, contradicting President Donald Trump’s repeated claims that the coronavirus will simply “go away.”
“I don’t think we’re going to eradicate this from the planet because it’s such a highly transmissible virus that that seems unlikely,” Fauci said in an interview with Reuters on Wednesday. “But what I think we can do with the combination of a good vaccine and attention to public health measures — by attention I don’t mean shut down, I mean things that are just prudent — then I think we can get behind this.”
Like Fauci, the World Health Organization warned Monday that there may never be a “silver bullet” for the virus and that the road back to normality could be a very long one.
Despite these assessments from public health officials, Trump said Wednesday that the virus would “go away” one day and falsely claimed that children are “almost immune” to it. In fact, more than 200,000 children in the United States have tested positive for COVID-19, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The vast majority of infected children have been asymptomatic, though scientists are still studying what long-term effects the virus will have on children and adults who have contracted it.
Fauci said Wednesday that he’s hopeful the development of a vaccine could stop the coronavirus from “immobilizing the world.” But the virus may not be in check for another year, he said.
“I hope and feel it’s possible that by the time we get through 2021 and go around for another cycle that we’ll have this under control,” he said.
— Hayley Miller
L.A. Mayor Says Utility Can Shut Off Water, Power At Properties Hosting Large Parties ― 8/5/20, 9:32 p.m. ET
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said that the city’s Department of Water and Power (DWP) will cut off service to properties hosting large parties if people continue to gather illegally during the pandemic.
At a news conference Wednesday, Garcetti said that the Los Angeles Police Department will notify the DWP to turn off services if it catches and verifies properties repeatedly hosting large parties.
“If LAPD responds and verifies that a large gathering is occurring at a property, and we see these properties offending time and time again, they will provide notice and initiate the process to request that DWP shut off service,” Garcetti said.
The new regulations are designed to target large-scale gatherings run by “people determined to break the rules, posing significant public dangers and a threat to all of us” instead of small gatherings in private homes, according to the mayor.
The new rules take effect Friday night.
Garcetti announced the rules after police responded to a party that attracted hundreds of people to a mansion in the Hollywood Hills. The party ended in gunfire and one death.
In response to the party, the L.A. Department of Public Health on Wednesday issued a “legally-binding health officer order” banning large parties during the pandemic in order to “protect the health and lives of county residents.”
“We urge every resident in Los Angeles County to follow the health officer order and avoid organizing and attending gatherings that include people outside their own household,” the health department said.
― Carla Russo
GOP Rep. Rodney Davis Latest Congressman To Test Positive For COVID-19 — 8/5/20, 7:45 p.m. ET
Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) said Wednesday he had tested positive for COVID-19, the latest lawmaker to be infected with the virus as the pandemic continues to wreak havoc around the nation.
“This morning, I tested positive for COVID-19,” Davis said in a statement. “Since the beginning of this pandemic, I have taken my temperature twice daily because serving in Congress means I interact with many people, and it’s my duty to protect the health of those I serve.”
The lawmaker said he had a fever but no other symptoms and felt “fine.” Davis said he would postpone any public events and quarantine at home until he receives a negative test but will continue to work virtually.
“My staff and I take COVID-19 very seriously,” he added. “My wife is a nurse and a cancer survivor, which puts her in an at-risk category like so many Americans. My office and I have always followed and will continue to follow CDC guidelines, use social distancing, and wear masks or face coverings when social distancing cannot be maintained.”
— Nick Visser
Biden Won’t Attend Democratic National Convention In Milwaukee Over Coronavirus Concerns ― 8/5/20, 12:15 p.m. ET
Joe Biden will not travel to Milwaukee for the Democratic National Convention because of coronavirus concerns, and others slated to speak will also attend remotely, the DNC announced in a statement Wednesday.
Biden is expected to speak from his home state of Delaware, although the exact location has not yet been determined. President Donald Trump announced last month that he would not attend the Republican National Convention in Jacksonville, Florida, as cases in the state have skyrocketed.
The decision to avoid in-person conventions comes as more than 150,000 Americans have died from the virus. Trump downplayed the death toll in an interview with Axios that aired Monday on HBO.
“A thousand Americans are dying a day,” interviewer Jonathan Swan told Trump.
“They are dying. That’s true,” Trump responded. “And you ― it is what it is.”
— Sebastian Murdock
JetBlue Increases Airline Safety Measures Amid Coronavirus Surge — 8/5/20, 12:07 p.m. ET
JetBlue Airways announced Wednesday that it will be increasing its safety measures to protect flight crews and passengers during the pandemic.
The airline said it will adjust its face covering policy effective Aug. 10, requiring all travelers older than 2 years of age to wear a covering over their nose and mouth throughout their journey. JetBlue also said that it will not allow masks with vents or exhalation valves, and that face shields can be worn in addition to a face covering but not in place of one.
To encourage physical distancing during flights, the airline is blocking middle seats through Oct. 15 on larger planes and most aisle seats on smaller planes, except for those traveling together. JetBlue’s measures are similar to those of its competitor Delta, which requires all passengers and employees to wear a face mask, and blocks middle seats in all cases where parties of at least three are not traveling together.
The decisions by JetBlue and Delta differ from those of American Airlines and United Airlines, which lifted their bans on booking middle seats last month. Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, called the decision to allow passengers in middle seats a “substantial disappointment.”
According to CDC travel guidelines, “viruses and other germs do not spread easily on flights because of how air circulates and is filtered.” But the CDC added that social distancing “is difficult on crowded flights, and you may have to sit near others (within 6 feet), sometimes for hours.”
The International Air Transport Association recently said that the new surge of coronavirus cases in the U.S. and other countries, as well as job security concerns, have led to a “more pessimistic recovery outlook” for the airline industry. While airlines have seen a slight improvement in business since April, experts now believe air travel won’t return to pre-pandemic levels until at least 2024.
— Sanjana Karanth
Chicago Students To Start Year With Remote Learning As Schools Nationwide Grapple With Reopening — 8/5/20, 11:25 a.m. ET
Chicago Public Schools announced Wednesday that students will participate in remote learning when the school year starts Sept. 8, as schools around the country experience issues with reopening during the pandemic.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot said the nation’s third-largest school district will keep its 355,000 students at home at least until the first quarter ends on Nov. 5, a change from its previous hybrid plan. The announcement came ahead of the Chicago Teachers Union’s potential vote to strike over coronavirus concerns, but Lightfoot said her decision had little to do with the pressure from the union.
Health Commissioner Allison Arwady said Chicago is consistently averaging 277 COVID-19 cases per day with a 4.8% positivity rate, an increase from last month’s 200 daily case average with a 3.8% positivity rate.
“In a perfect world, students would be in a classroom more, not less,” CPS CEO Janice Jackson said. “But unfortunately, that is not where we find ourselves today. … It was evident that our families were not comfortable with the state of the pandemic and the national response.”
PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Mayor Lightfoot joins CPS CEO Dr. Jackson and CDPH Commissioner Dr. Arwady to make an announcement regarding the 2020-2021 school year. https://t.co/ElmzOEVXhZ
— Mayor Lori Lightfoot (@chicagosmayor) August 5, 2020
President Trump on coronavirus in schools: “My view is the schools should open. This thing’s going way. it will go away like things go away, and my view is schools should reopen.” pic.twitter.com/HbY3DsiuQP
— Bobby Lewis (@revrrlewis) August 5, 2020
After many thoughts I have decided not to play this year’s US Open. The situation is very complicated worldwide, the COVID-19 cases are increasing, it looks like we still don’t have control of it.
— Rafa Nadal (@RafaelNadal) August 4, 2020
“I don’t agree with Fauci on everything,” Pres. Trump says, when reporter points out that Dr. Anthony Fauci has contradicted his claims about hydroxychlroquine, an unproven drug the president has touted for COVID. “I like him. But we disagree on things.” https://t.co/zfR9WyIDZn pic.twitter.com/b3nKkczRyj
— This Week (@ThisWeekABC) August 3, 2020
Contrary to Trump’s claim, the drug isn’t merely toxic politically, but can be literally as well. The FDA said in addition to heart arrhythmia, hydroxychloroquine can cause other issues including blood and lymph system disorders, kidney damage, and liver failure.
Dr. Deborah Birx says we are in a “new phase” of the pandemic: “What we are seeing today is different from March and April. It’s extraordinarily widespread… it’s more widespread and it’s both rural and urban.” https://t.co/iSgYCbbcx3 #CNNSOTU pic.twitter.com/ApwnYyGFTI
— State of the Union (@CNNSotu) August 2, 2020
Host Dana Bash asked Birx whether it’s time for the federal government to “reset” its response to the virus, as recommended last week by the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.
“I think the federal government reset about five to six weeks ago when we saw this starting to happen across the South,” Birx said.
Around that time, Vice President Mike Pence, whom Trump appointed to lead the coronavirus task force in February, wrote an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal that painted a rosy portrait of the state of the spread. He accused the media of “fear-mongering” about a potential second wave of outbreaks.
“Such panic is overblown,” Pence wrote. “Thanks to the leadership of President Trump and the courage and compassion of the American people, our public health system is far stronger than it was four months ago, and we are winning the fight against the invisible enemy.”
Since Pence published his op-ed in mid-June, the death toll in the U.S. has risen from 116,000 to over 154,000.
At least 36 crew members have tested positive for the coronavirus on a Hurtigruten cruise ship in Norway, the company reported Saturday. The outbreak comes roughly a month after Hurtigruten led the first international passenger cruise voyage since the pandemic shut down the entire industry for several months.
The infected crew members work on the MS Roald Amundsen. All of the ship’s 158 crew members were tested for the virus, and the majority tested negative, according to Hurtigruten. Of those who have tested positive, none have shown symptoms of the virus.
The ship is docked in Tromsø, Norway, which is located about 1,000 miles northeast of Oslo.
Hurtigruten said it has contacted the nearly 400 total guests who were aboard the ship during two voyages last month. Those passengers have been instructed to self-quarantine in accordance with Norwegian health guidelines.
MS Roald Amundsen was scheduled to depart for another voyage next week, but that trip has now been canceled.
Assistant health secretary Adm. Brett Giroir on Sunday rejected claims that the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine is effective in treating COVID-19, pointing out that there’s no evidence so far to show that it is.
“At this point in time, there’s been five randomized-control placebo-controlled trials that do not show any benefit to hydroxychloroquine,” Giroir said during an appearance on NBC’s “Meet The Press.” “We don’t recommend that as a treatment. There’s no evidence to show that it is.”
President Donald Trump has repeatedly pushed hydroxychloroquine as a treatment, despite a lack of evidence to back up his claims and warnings from public health officials.
Asked if the president’s messaging might cause confusion, Giroir said he believes doctors won’t be influenced by “whatever’s on Twitter” when deciding how to treat coronavirus patients.
“There may be circumstances ― I don’t know what they are ― where a physician may prescribe it for an individual,” Giroir said. “But I think most physicians and prescribers are evidence-based, and they’re not influenced by whatever’s on Twitter. … And the evidence just doesn’t show that hydroxychloroquine is effective right now.”
EXCLUSIVE: Trump’s coronavirus testing czar @HHS_ASH says America needs to “move on” from discussing hydroxychloroquine. #MTP
“The evidence just doesn’t show hydroxychloroquine is effective, for now.” pic.twitter.com/JrQGTGDnfg
— Meet the Press (@MeetThePress) August 2, 2020
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