COVID-19 widespread testing is crucial to fighting the pandemic, but is there enough testing? The answer is in the positivity rates.
After U.S. health officials warned Americans to continue social distancing and wearing masks on Labor Day weekend, the United States may report its 190,000th death from the new coronavirus on Tuesday or Wednesday.
In sports news, the American men are out at the U.S. Open after Frances Tiafoe, who had tested positive for COVID-19 in July, lost Monday to No. 4 Daniil Medvedev of Russia. The next Grand Slam event, the French Open, which begins later this month, will allow spectators, organizers announced Monday.
Meanwhile, we don’t know when a COVID-19 vaccine will arrive, but we’re starting to know how it will be distributed.
The swift — and so far positive — effort to create vaccines to fight COVID-19 has been remarkable, but it’s only half of the work, said Tinglong Dai, a professor of operations management who studies health care analytics at the Johns Hopkins University. Dai expects the vaccine supply chain to be “mind-bogglingly complex.”
Mapping coronavirus: Tracking the U.S. outbreak, state by state
Some significant developments:
- Nine companies developing COVID-19 vaccines issued a letter Tuesday pledging to fully vet their candidate vaccines before asking for FDA approval to market them. Industry officials are worried that the political climate is tarnishing the process and will make people more hesitant to get a vaccine when there is one.
- Senate Republicans introduced a new coronavirus relief bill Tuesday and a procedural vote could come as early as this week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said.
- A USA TODAY analysis of Johns Hopkins data through late Monday shows two states set records for new cases in a week: North Dakota and West Virginia. Yesterday Indiana reported its 100,000th case.
- Theme park operators who spent months installing hand sanitizing stations, figuring out how to disinfect roller coasters seats and checking the temperatures of guests at their gates so they’d come back in the midst of the pandemic are finding many reluctant to return.
- A study found that the Sturgis motorcycle rally led to more than 260,000 coronavirus cases in the month following the event. But that number differs significantly from what was reported by the South Dakota Department of Health.
📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has 6.3 million confirmed cases and more than 189,300 deaths. Globally, there are more than 27.4 million cases and more than 893,000 fatalities.
📰 What we’re reading: As the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic drags on, there have been many questions about what – or even where – the workplace will be in the future. For the next year or so, however, it seems likely that work is going to be pretty similar to what we’ve been experiencing.
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AstraZeneca, one of the companies in the race for a COVID-19 vaccine, has reportedly put its vaccine study on hold after a participant in the United Kingdom suffered a serious adverse reaction.
The company, which is currently working with the University of Oxford on Phase 3 of testing its vaccine, said the pause was “a routine action which has to happen whenever there is a potentially unexplained illness in one of the trials,” per Stat News.
It remains unclear what the reaction is, or when it took place. Stat News reports that the individual is expected to recover.
Places of worship, restaurants with indoor dining and movie theaters in five California counties will soon be allowed to reopen at one-quarter capacity, as the state slowly moves forward with its reopening process.
The counties allowed to move from the state’s purple tier — the lowest tier — into the red tier, per California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s new state reopening guidelines, are Orange, Santa Cruz, Santa Clara, Amador and Placer.
Under the state’s red tier for reopening, shopping centers in these counties will also be able to expand to half capacity.
The announcement comes after Orange County reported no new deaths and 113 new cases over the weekend, per KABC-TV and KNBC-TV in Los Angeles, while meeting state requirements for case rate per 100,000 residents for at least two weeks.
The Sturgis motorcycle rally may have led to more than 260,000 coronavirus cases in the month following the event, according to a study released Saturday by the Center for Health Economics and Policy Studies at San Diego State University. The study has not been peer reviewed.
But that number differs significantly from what the South Dakota Department of Health has reported, which has confirmed 124 cases among South Dakota residents who got sick after attending the rally.
That discrepancy is because the state is identifying specific cases through contact tracing. The study takes a different approach: Instead of trying to identify people who had the disease and passed it on to others, the San Diego researchers looked at the areas that sent the most people to the rally and how case trends changed after the event.
“We’re never going to be able to contact trace every single person from Sturgis,” Andrew Friedson, one of four authors of the study, said. “So if we want a good-faith estimate using, at the moment, the accepted statistical techniques … this is the best number we’re going to get in my opinion.”
– Megan Raposa, Sioux Falls Argus Leader
At the start of the coronavirus pandemic, many people cleaned grocery-store purchases with disinfecting wipes before putting them away at home.
Now, however, a lot more is known about how COVID-19 spreads, and experts say that the risk of getting it from surfaces, including grocery packaging, is “exceedingly small,” said Melissa Bronstein, senior director of infection prevention for Rochester Regional Health and a registered nurse.
The most up-to-date information on the website of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that no cases of COVID-19 have been linked to people touching food or food packaging and then touching their faces.
– Marcia Greenwood, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle
Senate Republicans on Tuesday introduced a COVID-19 relief package they say targets urgent needs for the American people, but the proposal faces an uncertain path with members of both parties in opposition.
Democrats and Republicans failed to reach an agreement on another stimulus bill in July and August. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., spent weeks negotiating with the White House, but talks dissolved with both sides blaming the other.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday a procedural vote on the measure could come as early as this week, though he did acknowledge the bill is not perfect and doesn’t contain polices sought by members of both parties.
– Christal Hayes
Researchers at Children’s National Hospital found while COVID-19 may not be worse for children than the flu, it’s not better either.
A study published Tuesday in JAMA Network Open looked at the course of illness in 315 children who had COVID-19 between March and May, and more than 1,400 children with seasonal influenza between October and June.Scientists found no difference in rates of hospitalization, admission to the intensive care unit or mechanical ventilator use between the two groups.
“I didn’t see this coming when I was thinking about doing the study,” said Dr. Xiaoyan Song, director of Infection Control and Epidemiology at Children’s National. “It took several rounds of thinking and combing through the data to convince myself that this was the conclusion.”
– Adrianna Rodriguez
West Virginia University suspends in-person classes — and 29 students — after ‘super spreader’ frat party
After a fraternity member at West Virginia University went to a party while knowingly infected with COVID-19, the university has suspended in-person classes for two weeks as positive cases among students continue to climb.
The university said its in-person classes will be held online through Sept. 25 “in direct response to a recent increase in positive COVID-19 cases in students on the Morgantown campus, as well as concern for the probability of increased cases that may arise following several reports of parties held this holiday weekend where groups should have been in quarantine.”
The university said in a news release that a member of the Theta Chi fraternity tested positive and was notified to isolate but attended a party at the fraternity house on Friday. The entire fraternity house had also been told to quarantine or isolate.
“We know that these parties act as super spreaders,” Dean of Students Corey Farris said in announcing the suspensions of 29 fraternity members. Almost 150 students on campus tested positive for the virus last week.
More news on COVID-19 at colleges and universities:
- Salisbury University in Maryland has temporarily suspended 21 students for possible violations of COVID-19 policies.
An Austrian man who last worked in the United States in the 1960s received a $1,200 coronavirus relief check from the U.S. government, the country’s public broadcaster reported.
The man from Linz, who worked as a waiter in the U.S. for just two years, was able to cash the check. His wife, who never lived or worked in the U.S., also got a check, and the broadcaster ORF reports that banks in the country have cashed dozens of checks from Austrian residents.
Eligible families were to receive up to $1,200 for each adult as a part the CARES Act, passed in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, but there were issues with the roll out as many families reported they never received a check and more than a million dead people did.
The heads of nine biopharmaceutical companies issued a letter early Tuesday pledging to fully vet their COVID-19 candidate vaccines before asking for federal approval to market them.
The statement comes amid increasing concern among public health officials, scientists and doctors that the White House might bring significant political pressure to bear on the Food and Drug Administration to get a vaccine before the Nov. 3 presidential election.
All nine companies are individually or jointly developing a candidate COVID-19 vaccine supported at least in part with federal dollars, which so far amounts to more than $10 billion. They are: AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Moderna Inc., Novavax Inc., Merck, Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline, and Pfizer Inc, which is developing a vaccine with BioNTech, another signatory.
– Karen Weintraub and Elizabeth Weise
As hospitals filled with COVID-19 patients, state medical boards took a hands-off approach to doctor discipline: Emergency actions against doctors’ licenses dropped 59% from April through June of this year compared with the same period last year. In April alone, emergency license suspensions and restrictions dropped 85%, according to federal data.
The drop in emergency license suspensions worries patient safety advocates because many hospitals still have compromised and vulnerable patients. That makes errors and complications more likely and dangerous.
“It’s a perfect storm: A doctor shortage, doctors are strained by the stress of the pandemic, and sicker patients,” said Dr. David Sherer, a retired anesthesiologist and author of the book “Hospital Survival Guide.” Read more here.
– Jayne O’Donnell
President Trump asked a Reuters journalist to remove his face mask while asking a question during a news conference Monday at the White House. Trump told Reuters correspondent Jeff Mason “you’re going to have to take that off,” after he asked a question the president couldn’t hear clearly.
“If you don’t take it off, you are very muffled,” Trump said. “So, if you would take it off, it would be a lot easier.”
Mason said he would speak louder instead of removing the mask, and after Trump said he sounded better, he repeated his question.
President Trump asked a Reuters journalist to remove his face mask while asking a question during a news conference at the White House.
Laboratory results and law enforcement reports indicate methamphetamine use increased in Montana during the first months of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Missoulian reported Monday that Millennium Health found a 34% increase in urine samples testing positive for methamphetamine after President Donald Trump declared a national emergency March 13. The company compared results from Jan. 1 through March 12 with results from March 13 through May 31.
Spectators will be allowed at the French Open this month despite the growing number of coronavirus cases in the country, organizers said on Monday.
They unveiled the health protocols for the clay-court grand slam, which will take place at Roland Garros in western Paris from Sept. 27 after being postponed from its May start due to the pandemic.
Hours after the FTF announced, top-ranked Ash Barty said she will not defend her French Open title because of concerns over traveling during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Last year’s French Open was the most special tournament of my career so this is not a decision I have made lightly,” Barty, who won her first major title on the clay courts of Roland Garros, said in a statement Tuesday. “I wish the players and the French Federation all the best for a successful tournament.”
Pandemic preschool: How to navigate sending your kid into an unfamiliar building with masked strangers
Many child care centers and preschools that survived COVID-19 shutdowns are reopening their doors this fall, but the first day of class looks a little different this year, leaving some kids and guardians feeling anxious.
Minors account for about 8% of all cases in the U.S., and most have mild symptoms and fully recover within one to two weeks – quicker than most adults. However, a small percentage of children have been reported to have more severe illness, and researchers are still learning more about the role children play in asymptomatic spread of the disease.
To keep kids, families and staff safe, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that child care programs implement an array of new safety measures amid the pandemic, such as reducing class sizes, intensifying cleaning protocols, taking children’s temperatures each morning, requiring kids and staff to wear face masks, staggering drop-off and pick-up times, spreading nap mats out six feet apart, ending family-style mealtimes and more. Many states and counties have additional guidance.
– Grace Hauck
Research suggests Black patients have better outcomes when treated by Black doctors and nurses. Yet, only 5% of doctors nationwide are Black, and only 2% are Black women, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges. Kay McField, a 51-year-old single mother in Jackson, Mississippi, is a patient at the Central Mississippi Health Services clinic on the campus of historically Black Tougaloo College.
“It’s meaningful to be taken care of by someone who looks like you, who understands you,” said Kay McField, a patient in Jackson, Mississippi. “Other doctors go into the exam room, and they don’t ask your name. And me, when I go there and be treated that way, I’m not going back no more.”
When a COVID-19 vaccine becomes available, there’s a plan in place for its distribution from manufacturers to the American public. The process will be run by the CDC, which for decades has overseen vaccine distribution in the United States and ran the last national vaccination effort during the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic.
Still, Tinglong Dai, a professor of operations management who studies health care analytics at the Johns Hopkins University, told USA TODAY he expects the vaccine supply chain to be “mind-bogglingly complex.”
- Who will get it first? While the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is still finalizing plans, front-line medical workers, first-responders and people at high risk for severe disease are likely to get first dibs.
- Who will pay for it? All the vaccine supplied in the initial phases will be purchased by the U.S. government and no one will be charged for the actual dose.
- What about availability? The vaccine is expected to be in short supply, at least in the beginning, though CDC planning documents say significantly more will be available by January 2021.
– Elizabeth Weise
COVID-19 resources from USA TODAY
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Contributing: The Associated Press.
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