Coronavirus Briefing: What Happened Today

Dr. Anthony Fauci, speaking today at the White House coronavirus task force briefing for the first time in nearly two months, warned that outbreaks in the South and West are threatening to engulf the country.

Experts have estimated that at least 500,000 tests need to be conducted daily for the U.S. to reopen. But months into the pandemic, many of the issues that plagued early testing efforts remain.

The situation is particularly dire in hot spots like Arizona. At some testing sites in Phoenix demand has far exceeded capacity, with officials sometimes turning away half of the people who show up. And surges can happen in a matter of days, making preparation nearly impossible.

It’s not just testing kits that are running short in hard-hit areas. Some labs don’t have enough machines and staff to run them, and they face both domestic and international competition for supplies. The fragmented lab system in the U.S. also adds to the bottleneck: Last Friday alone, Arizona’s largest medical lab received 12,000 samples — twice the number it could process in one day.

But one strategy — pool testing — may help alleviate the backlog by running many samples at once. If all of the pooled samples come back negative, everyone in that group can be considered virus-free. If a pool gets a positive result, each sample must then be tested individually.

In an interview on Thursday, Dr. Fauci said officials were intensely discussing a shift to this approach, which has already been used in states like Nebraska and Tennessee and in several countries, including Germany. Research has found that pool testing is particularly effective in areas where the infection rate is under 30 percent.

After months indoors, many leisure-seeking Americans with means have decided that it’s time to quarancheat — that is, to let loose (within reason) and take a proper summer break (close by and socially distanced, of course).

That may mean dining al fresco at a restaurant, or renting a house by a lake, or taking a day trip to frolic in nature. But for many quarancheaters, a break during the pandemic can also be fraught with anxiety. Should I disinfect the kayak? Is this playground virus-free? Are my quarantine pod-mates lying about social distancing?

For parents, who are bracing for a summer without school or regular activities, the pressure to entertain and educate children — while working and keeping everyone safe — can often feel debilitating, and sometimes, impossible. A recent survey found that a majority of parents would agree that they “have no idea how they are going to keep their child occupied all summer.”

If you’re looking for guidance — or just a way to commiserate — The Times spoke to eight burned-out families about how they’re hoping to fill their children’s summer days, and keep their sanity.

Infections among Latinos have far outpaced the rest of the U.S. In the last two weeks, counties where at least a quarter of the population is Latino have recorded a 32 percent increase in new cases, compared with a 15 percent increase for all other counties, a Times analysis shows.

In North Carolina, Latinos make up 10 percent of the population, but 46 percent of infections. In Wisconsin, they’re 7 percent of the population and 33 percent of cases. In Santa Cruz County, which has Arizona’s highest rate of cases, the Hispanic share of the population is 84 percent.

  • Updated June 24, 2020

    • Is it harder to exercise while wearing a mask?

      A commentary published this month on the website of the British Journal of Sports Medicine points out that covering your face during exercise “comes with issues of potential breathing restriction and discomfort” and requires “balancing benefits versus possible adverse events.” Masks do alter exercise, says Cedric X. Bryant, the president and chief science officer of the American Council on Exercise, a nonprofit organization that funds exercise research and certifies fitness professionals. “In my personal experience,” he says, “heart rates are higher at the same relative intensity when you wear a mask.” Some people also could experience lightheadedness during familiar workouts while masked, says Len Kravitz, a professor of exercise science at the University of New Mexico.

    • I’ve heard about a treatment called dexamethasone. Does it work?

      The steroid, dexamethasone, is the first treatment shown to reduce mortality in severely ill patients, according to scientists in Britain. The drug appears to reduce inflammation caused by the immune system, protecting the tissues. In the study, dexamethasone reduced deaths of patients on ventilators by one-third, and deaths of patients on oxygen by one-fifth.

    • What is pandemic paid leave?

      The coronavirus emergency relief package gives many American workers paid leave if they need to take time off because of the virus. It gives qualified workers two weeks of paid sick leave if they are ill, quarantined or seeking diagnosis or preventive care for coronavirus, or if they are caring for sick family members. It gives 12 weeks of paid leave to people caring for children whose schools are closed or whose child care provider is unavailable because of the coronavirus. It is the first time the United States has had widespread federally mandated paid leave, and includes people who don’t typically get such benefits, like part-time and gig economy workers. But the measure excludes at least half of private-sector workers, including those at the country’s largest employers, and gives small employers significant leeway to deny leave.

    • Does asymptomatic transmission of Covid-19 happen?

      So far, the evidence seems to show it does. A widely cited paper published in April suggests that people are most infectious about two days before the onset of coronavirus symptoms and estimated that 44 percent of new infections were a result of transmission from people who were not yet showing symptoms. Recently, a top expert at the World Health Organization stated that transmission of the coronavirus by people who did not have symptoms was “very rare,” but she later walked back that statement.

    • What’s the risk of catching coronavirus from a surface?

      Touching contaminated objects and then infecting ourselves with the germs is not typically how the virus spreads. But it can happen. A number of studies of flu, rhinovirus, coronavirus and other microbes have shown that respiratory illnesses, including the new coronavirus, can spread by touching contaminated surfaces, particularly in places like day care centers, offices and hospitals. But a long chain of events has to happen for the disease to spread that way. The best way to protect yourself from coronavirus — whether it’s surface transmission or close human contact — is still social distancing, washing your hands, not touching your face and wearing masks.

    • How does blood type influence coronavirus?

      A study by European scientists is the first to document a strong statistical link between genetic variations and Covid-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus. Having Type A blood was linked to a 50 percent increase in the likelihood that a patient would need to get oxygen or to go on a ventilator, according to the new study.

    • How many people have lost their jobs due to coronavirus in the U.S.?

      The unemployment rate fell to 13.3 percent in May, the Labor Department said on June 5, an unexpected improvement in the nation’s job market as hiring rebounded faster than economists expected. Economists had forecast the unemployment rate to increase to as much as 20 percent, after it hit 14.7 percent in April, which was the highest since the government began keeping official statistics after World War II. But the unemployment rate dipped instead, with employers adding 2.5 million jobs, after more than 20 million jobs were lost in April.

    • What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

      Common symptoms include fever, a dry cough, fatigue and difficulty breathing or shortness of breath. Some of these symptoms overlap with those of the flu, making detection difficult, but runny noses and stuffy sinuses are less common. The C.D.C. has also added chills, muscle pain, sore throat, headache and a new loss of the sense of taste or smell as symptoms to look out for. Most people fall ill five to seven days after exposure, but symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as many as 14 days.

    • How can I protect myself while flying?

      If air travel is unavoidable, there are some steps you can take to protect yourself. Most important: Wash your hands often, and stop touching your face. If possible, choose a window seat. A study from Emory University found that during flu season, the safest place to sit on a plane is by a window, as people sitting in window seats had less contact with potentially sick people. Disinfect hard surfaces. When you get to your seat and your hands are clean, use disinfecting wipes to clean the hard surfaces at your seat like the head and arm rest, the seatbelt buckle, the remote, screen, seat back pocket and the tray table. If the seat is hard and nonporous or leather or pleather, you can wipe that down, too. (Using wipes on upholstered seats could lead to a wet seat and spreading of germs rather than killing them.)

    • What should I do if I feel sick?

      If you’ve been exposed to the coronavirus or think you have, and have a fever or symptoms like a cough or difficulty breathing, call a doctor. They should give you advice on whether you should be tested, how to get tested, and how to seek medical treatment without potentially infecting or exposing others.

Health officials say the disparity is due in part to the millions of Latino workers who reported to essential jobs — as farm hands, hospital orderlies, food preparers and supermarket workers — while much of the country sheltered inside their homes.

Here’s a roundup of restrictions in all 50 states.

  • Most of the 121 cruise ships that entered U.S. waters after March 1 had Covid-19 cases on board, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

  • A Russian hacking group has targeted Americans working from home during the pandemic, showing up in corporate networks with sophisticated ransomware.

  • There has been a surge in demand for underground bunkers as some people try to prepare for the next local or global crisis.

  • Casual-dining chains like Applebee’s are rethinking safety protocols and food for diners who fear the virus.

  • Costco’s half-sheet cakes appear to be the latest casualty of the pandemic — and customers are not happy.

  • And finally, some heartwarming news: Giving has surged across the U.S. during the coronavirus crisis, surpassing donations during the 2008 recession and after 9/11, two studies found.

Students are missing out on so many things as a result of social distancing and remote learning. I wanted my kids to be able to get their yearbooks signed by friends and family so I developed a website where they can do it all online.

— Kevin Malover, Wilmette, Ill.

Let us know how you’re dealing with the outbreak. Send us a response here, and we may feature it in an upcoming newsletter.

Sign up here to get the briefing by email.

Tom Wright-Piersanti contributed to today’s newsletter.

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *