Tue, 08/04/2020 – 17:46
- Texas positivity rate climbs for 3rd day
- California cases fall to lowest since June
- Novavax vaccine trial data shows strong antibody response
- RI added to tri-state quarantine list
- NYC health chief quits in major blow to de Blasio
- 45 Florida hospitals see ICUs hit capacity
- Poland weighs lockdown after another record COVID reading
- UCLA releases plans for fall
- Global COVID outbreak slowest spread in 3 weeks
- Death toll nears 700,000
- US deaths finally start to edge lower
- Hong Kong extends lockdown measures, builds temporary hospitals
- Tokyo reports 300+ new cases
- India reports more than 50,000 new cases
- China reports 36 new cases
- Philippines suffers another record jump in new cases
* * *
Update (1730ET): Novovax’s latest report on its vaccine candidate showed that a course of its vaccine, accompanied by the company’s immune-system-boosting technology, could produce an amount of antibodies equivalent to 4x the number produced by the average COVID-19 survivor, Bloomberg reports.
However, a media misinterpretation of the vaccine’s safety data sent shares of Novovax, which received $1.6 billion from Trump’s “Operation Warp Speeds”, the second-largest slug of government money behind the $2 billion handed to Pfizer in a deal involving the vaccine its developing with BioNTech.
As far as the big news from the Sun Belt, Texas’s positivity rate climbed for a third straight day to 13.88%, the highest since July 22, according to state health department data. That’s still well below the July 16 peak of 17.43%. Texas also reported 9,167 new cases, bringing the total to date to 451,181. More than 7,000 Texans have died.
On the bright side, California reported 4,526 new cases, its lowest daily tally since June, and well below the 14-day average of 8,476 infections. There were 113 new deaths, compared with the two-week daily average of 125. That brings the total to 9,501.
There were other signs of improvement in the Golden State: hospitalizations fell 1.5% and the 14-day average test positivity rate declined to 6.7%, down from 7.5% last week.
A preliminary reading for new cases on Tuesday showed they were up 1.1% (compared with 1.4% average from the past week), as compared with the same time Monday, to 4.74 million, per BBG & JHU data. Deaths rose 0.7% to 156,133.
On the political side, a bipartisan group of governors led by Maryland’s Larry Hogan has formed a pact with the Rockefeller Foundation to buy millions of coronavirus antigen tests, a move that was reminiscent of the early days of the outbreak, when states were banding together to secure supplies like ventilators.
* * *
Update (1245ET): Are New York, New Jersey and Connecticut getting a little out of control with their quarantine list?
Visitors from Rhode Island, Connecticut’s tiny New England neighbor, must quarantine for 14 days when traveling to the state, or risk stiff fines, Gov. Ned Lamont threatened.
CONNECTICUT TRAVEL ADVISORY UPDATE:
Rhode Island added to list of impacted states, Delaware and DC removed.
If you’re traveling to Connecticut from any of the following locations, you need to self-quarantine 14 days.
See list ⬇️ https://t.co/gZjVfum7Wt
— Governor Ned Lamont (@GovNedLamont) August 4, 2020
There are now 35 states and territories on the list (including Puerto Rico). Delaware and Washington DC, both previously on the list, were taken off. NY and NJ are also adding RI to their lists.
States listed typically have a positivity rate of higher than 10% over a 7-day rolling average.
Like NY, Conn. bristled at Rhode Island when the governor moved to crack down on out-of-state visitors traveling to their second, or third properties, many of whom were coming from NY and CT.
Here’s the full quarantine list, as of Aug. 4:
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- New Mexico
- Puerto Rico
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
Meanwhile, Gov Andrew Cuomo of NY released the latest numbers for the Empire State.
Today’s update on the numbers:
Of the 70,993 tests reported yesterday, 746 were positive (1.05% of total).
Total hospitalizations are at 568.
Sadly, there were 3 COVID fatalities yesterday. pic.twitter.com/cL5VrdKGi2
— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) August 4, 2020
In NYC, Department of Health and Mental Hygiene head Oxiris Barbot resigned following months of disagreements with Mayor Bill de Blasio over the city’s virus policies. She expressed her “deep disappointment” with the bungling mayor, who infamously urged residents to “go about their lives” in early March as the virus was spreading unimpedeed around NYC (where it would eventually infect roughly 1 in 5 people, according to early results from antibody surveillance testing).
Her resignation is the culmination of an ongoing dispute with the mayor’s office, who stripped the Department of Health of responsibility for managing the city’s contact tracing effort. The effort has been criticized as a resounding failure despite the immense resources the city piled into hiring its “army” of some 3,000 contact tracers.
She slammed the mayor in a statement that was published by the NYT.
“I leave my post today with deep disappointment that during the most critical public health crisis in our lifetime, that the Health Department’s incomparable disease control expertise was not used to the degree it could have been,” she said in her resignation email sent to Mr. de Blasio, a copy of which was shared with The New York Times.
“Our experts are world renowned for their epidemiology, surveillance and response work. The city would be well served by having them at the strategic center of the response not in the background.”
Even the NYT acknowledged that her resignation was a major embarrassment to de Blasio.
Dr. Barbot’s resignation could renew questions about Mr. de Blasio’s handling of the response to the outbreak, which devastated the city in the spring, killing more than 20,000 residents, even as it has largely subsided in recent weeks. And it comes at a pivotal moment: Public schools are scheduled to partially open next month, which could be crucial for the city’s recovery, and fears are growing that the outbreak could surge again when the weather cools.
The mayor had been faulted by public health experts, including some within the Health Department, for not moving faster to close down schools and businesses in March, when New York emerged as an epicenter of the pandemic.
Dave Chokshi will be brought in to replace her, the mayor said in a news conference Tuesday.
* * *
Update (0940ET): Poland has recorded yet another record jump in new COVID-19 cases, with 680 reported Tuesday, the largest increase since the beginning of the pandemic. As a result of the rising numbers, the government is considering whether to impose quarantine restrictions on travelers returning from certain countries.
A communications officer for the Ministry of Health told CNN on Tuesday that the 680 cases mainly came from three regions in the country. At least 30% of these (222 cases) came from the Silesia region, known for its coal mines. Another 88 cases were recorded in the Malopolska region in southern Poland. At least 94 cases were confirmed in the Wielkopolska region in central Poland.
Finally, UCLA said it will only offer about 8% of fall course on campus in a new hybrid model that will require nearly all classes to shift to remote delivery after Thanksgiving, according to an announcement last night. In June, UCLA planned to offer up to 20% of classes in some sort of in-person format. But “with Los Angeles county experiencing a dramatic rise in COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations, we have found it necessary to adjust our plans to reduce the health risks to our campus community,” according to a statement from the school.
* * *
Update (0930ET): Hospital capacity across the state of Florida has improved over the past couple of weeks according to data from the Agency for Health Care Administration. Per the latest update, shared by CNN, at least 45 hospitals in the state have reached ICU capacity and have no ICU beds available. 7 of these are in Miami-Dade, 5 are in Broward County.
Another 34 hospitals have ICU capacity of 10% or less, which, as we’ve explained in the past, isn’t unusual, since hospitals typically run their ICU units as close to full capacity as possible (since these are typically the most profitable beds).
Fortunately, according to County-level data, 1,000 ICU beds are available across Miami-Dade County.
Across the state of Florida, 19.6% of ICU beds are available.
* * *
*CORRECTION*: Earlier, we reported that the global number of COVID deaths was nearing 7 million. The number of COVID-19 deaths is, in fact, nearing 700,000.
We apologize for the error.
* * *
Globally, the number of new cases reported on Monday (remember, these cases are reported typically with a 24-hour delay) tumbled to the slowest rate of expansion in nearly three weeks, while the global death toll neared 700,000.
In the US, the death toll surpassed 155,000 yesterday. That comes five days after the US first broke above 150,000 deaths. Though experts like Dr. Fauci and others have warned about the potential for deaths in the US to accelerate, the number of daily deaths has remained anchored at around 1,000.
Over the past two weeks, the worst-hit countries, including the US and Brazil, have seen new cases turn mercifully lower after a streak of record-shattering single-day infection numbers.
Even the number of daily deaths in the US have moved off their highest levels since April and May, despite experts warnings about a further spike.
Most of the big news out so far on Tuesday comes out of Asia.
One day after placing Manila and its surrounding area on a strict two-week lockdown, the Philippines reported a record 6,352 new coronavirus infections, a new single-day record, bringing the total to 112,593. The 11 new fatalities reported raised the death toll to 2,115.
Yesterday, the WHO’s Dr. Tedros revealed during a press briefing (where he also noted that there may be “no silver bullet” vaccine, at least not right away) that the team of independent scientists from the WHO had finished the first part of their fact-finding mission to Wuhan to investigate the origins of the outbreak. According to a Reuters report published Tuesday morning, the team had “extensive discussions” with scientists in Wuhan and “received updates on epidemiological studies, biologic and genetic analysis and animal health research.”
The mission is the first part of a broader international probe that was demanded by the Trump Administration, Australia, EU and others.
In Japan, Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike announced another 309 new infections, up from 258 on Monday. The SCMP reports that the Hong Kong government is building at least 2 new makeshift hospitals that will add 2,400 new beds to the territory’s COVID-19 capacity. The government announced on Monday that it would extend its social distancing restrictions for another week. Hong Kong’s “third wave” of the virus has also been its deadliest yet. Fortunately, the city reported just 80 cases on Tuesday, on par with yesterday’s number. Yesterday, the city’s health authorities reported fewer than 100 new cases for the first time in nearly 2 weeks. Chief Executive Carrie Lam has sought help from the mainland to increase testing and hospital capacity.
India reported more than 50,000 cases for the sixth straight day, bringing total infections to over 1.85 million.
The world’s second-most-populous country also reported another 803 deaths, bringing its total to 38,938.
China reports 36 new cases, down from 43 the previous day. Of those, 28 were in the northwestern region of Xinjiang and two in Liaoning Province in the northeast. Another six were from Chinese arriving from overseas.
After imposing a curfew earlier this week and shuttering a large swath of its economy in another lockdown, new legal measures go into effect on Tuesday whereby anyone caught outside in breach of Victoria’s isolation orders will face fines from AUS$1,652 ($1,200) to AUS$5,000 ($3,559).
Officials warned that noncompliance with quarantine and social distancing rules is widespread. Random checks by police on 3,000 infected people had found more than 800 were not home isolating, as they were supposed to be.
However, the Australian press, for whatever reason, focused on Chief Commissioner Shane Patton’s complaints about a small number of self-declared “sovereign citizens” who have hectored – and in at least one case, attacked – police officers trying to enforce the new orders.
Victoria Police had seen an “emergence” of “concerning groups of people who classify themselves as ‘sovereign citizens'”, the BBC reported Tuesday.
Under the current “stage four” lockdown, Melbournians can leave home only to shop, exercise and provide essential medical care, or do frontline work. Residents must shop and exercise within 5 kilometers (3 miles) of their home, and for no longer than 1 hour at a time.
This, despite a growing body of evidence that the lockdown in Victoria is having little impact on suppressing the growth of cases.
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Author: Tyler Durden
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