COVID-19 day 132 : 📈 1,721,753 cases; 101,616 deaths : 31 May 2020
AK, SC, TX, UT set records for reported cases this weekend; SCOTUS rejects church request for exemption from closure; wastewater epidemiology is a thing and it could help with COVID-19
It’s day 132 since the first case of coronavirus disease was announced in the United States. I’ve been writing this memo for three months.
We’ve lived with coronavirus for 4.5 months. It grew from a west coast anomaly to country-wide invisible danger; we’ve gone from formal lockdown to staged unlocking. And yet little has changed. There’s still no treatment. There’s still no vaccine. There’s still a very contagious virus that kills as much as 6% of those who know they are infected. And most of us, the overwhelming most of us, have a virgin immune system, vulnerable and unprepared.
Almost 2-in-5 of us are at elevated risk, either because we are older than 65 or we have an underlying health condition linked to coronavirus complications, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
The most dangerous place to live in the US? A nursing home or senior living facility: 42% of deaths have been in nursing homes or assistive living facilities. Senior-care facilities have not seemed to learn from the lessons of Life Care in Kirkland WA.
Antibody tests were hailed as a way to tell who could safely congregate. We don’t know if antibodies offer protection (or how much protection for how long). We do know that the tests aren’t yet worth the price of your time. Current CDC guidance: “the presence of antibodies cannot be equated with an individual’s immunity from SARS-CoV-2 infection.”
We’ve been living on pause. Many of us are resuming life at, perhaps, half-speed. Others of us will stay paused. Because no one knows what happens next. Or when ‘next’ will arrive.
📆This past week, the US passed 100,000 reported deaths from COVID-19 in three different data sets. Newspapers commemorated the milestone. Global cases passed 6 million (Johns Hopkins).
Last week's biggest COVID-19 political news: President Trump's statement that he plans to defund WHO.
States continue to plan “re-opening” (reduced physical distancing) with Nevada casinos taking center stage next week. Research released this past week showed how stay-at-home orders worked: the doubling rate for COVID-19 dropped from every 5 or 6 days to every 14 days. That collective effort kept the entire health care system from falling to its knees, although that did happen in hot spots, both rural and urban.
Citizens in the both the US and Brazil live with mixed messages about the use of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19 due to political leaders taking a position contrary to that of scientists and public health officials.
What do Mongolia and Vietnam have in common? Coordinated political and public health actions; zero deaths. Mongolia has zero cases of community spread as well.
It’s been difficult to focus on COVID-19 as the week came to a close, because of the death of George Floyd.
Week in review on WiredPen (24-30 May 2020).
Also see, around the country in charts (25 May).
🦠Sunday, Johns Hopkins reported 1,721,753 (1,699,176) cases and 101,616 (100,418) deaths in the US, an increase of 1.15% (1.38%) and 1.53% (0.94%), respectively, since Saturday (Friday). A week ago, the daily numbers increased by 1.64% and 1.35%, respectively.
The seven-day average: 20,947 (21,079) cases and 1,033 (956) deaths
Percent of cases leading to death: 5.83% (5.86%).
Today’s case rate is 540.83 per 100,000; the death rate, 31.53 per 100,000.
One week ago, the case rate was 496.44 per 100,000; the death rate, 29.52 per 100,000.
Note: numbers in (.) are from the prior day and are provided for context. I include the seven-day average because dailies vary so much in the course of a week, particularly over a weekend.
🔬 Research and medical news
⁉️Would Americans cooperate with the kind of contract tracing that would be needed to “keep outbreaks at a wieldy simmer”? Assuming, of course, that we invested in the staffing needed to do this?
Contact tracing could help avoid another lockdown. Can it work in the U.S.? STAT News, 29 May 2020.
💩 “Wastewater epidemiology” is a thing for detecting polio and opioid abuse. Preliminary research suggests it could be a thing for COVID-19, detecting new cases before people feel sick. This could inform public health officials of when to implement physical distancing measures before a health system is stressed.
In small studies so far, the detection of the new coronavirus in sewage samples “has correlated very nicely with the arrival of Covid-19 into different communities,” [Megan Murray of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health] added, including picking up “significant amounts of viral material” in Boston sewage weeks before cases arrived in March.
Finland, Germany, and the Netherlands have launched national wastewater testing for COVID-19. Some cities are also sampling for COVID-19 including Vancouver, WA and communities cross the Columbia River in Oregon.
Wastewater testing gains traction as a Covid-19 early warning system. STAT News, 28 May 2020.
🎦 Recommended viewing
Give your inner geek a smile (even if you watched the launch). I have mixed feelings about the commercially-funded mission. I miss public investment in science and technology.
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Sections (no jump links, sorry!)
1, Around the country in charts; 2, Politics, economics and COVID-19;
3, Case count; 4, What you can do and resources
⓵ Around the country in charts
This will now be a Sunday feature.
❌ An American Seafoods fishing trawler that docked in Bellingham, WA has had 86 crew members test positive for COVID-19; one is hospitalized. The trawler is under quarantine and headed back to Seattle; it was carrying 124, including a medic.
❌ On Sunday, Alaska reported the most new cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began: 27. Not quite half were at a “transitional care facility in Anchorage… People stay at the facility between hospital stays after an injury, surgery or long illness before going home.” This is not a senior care facility. Alaska began reopening a week ago.
❌ For the fourth day in a row, Utah has reported a large increase in reported cases: 264 on Sunday; 269 on Saturday; 343 on Friday; and 215 on Thursday. On 14 May, the governor allowed all businesses to open. “We’ve plateaued.” That was premature.
❌ South Carolina reported more than 1,000 new cases in three days. Friday, then Saturday, set a record for the largest number of coronavirus cases confirmed in a single day. On 11 May, the Governor allowed restaurants to reopen.
❌ Texas has had a marked jump in reported cases, with numbers going up over the weekend instead of dropping. Texas began reopening on Friday 01 May.
In private, [Texas Gov. ]Abbott has acknowledged that his decision to reopen is likely to cause an increase in coronavirus cases… “The more that you have people out there, the greater the possibility is for transmission. The goal never has been to get transmission down to zero.”
… Infectious disease experts predict the average daily Covid-19 positive test rate in Texas could rise from 1,053 at the beginning of May to up to 1,800 by June.
On Sunday, Texas reported 1,949 new cases in the prior 24 hours. This is the most cases reported in a single day. Sunday’s reported cases were 5.4% greater than Saturday; nationally, cases went up only 1.1%.
As you can see from the following charts, very few states display a downward trend in daily case numbers (per capita, logarithmic). We are now seeing more states trend up, whereas in the last report, many were flat. One of the regions that shows no signs of abatement is DC/Maryland/Virginia.
States should have 14 days of downward trending case numbers before allowing more freedom for people to gather. This recommendation has been ignored.
⓶ Politics, economics and COVID-19
❌ With no advance notice, the Trump administration has removed a warning that singing in choirs can spread the coronavirus which was part of the CDC’s pandemic re-opening guidance for churches and faith communities. The case study about Skagit County’s super-spreader event at a choir practice remains on the website.
✅ The Supreme Court has rejected a request by the South Bay United Pentecostal Church for an exemption to California’s limit on public gatherings. Chief Justice Roberts joined with liberal justices for the 5–4 decision.
In a pointed opinion, Roberts indicated that he will not join conservative judges’ escalating efforts to override public health measures in the name of religious freedom. Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s dissent, by contrast, falsely accused the state of religious discrimination in an extremely misleading opinion that omits the most important facts of the case. Roberts went out of his way to scold Kavanaugh’s dishonest vilification of the state.
Roberts noted (emphasis added):
The precise question of when restrictions on particular social activities should be lifted during the pandemic is a dynamic and fact-intensive matter subject to reasonable disagreement. Our Constitution principally entrusts “[t]he safety and the health of the people” to the politically accountable officials of the States “to guard and protect.” Jacobson v. Massachusetts, 197 U. S. 11, 38 (1905). When those officials “undertake[ ] to act in areas fraught with medical and scientific uncertainties,” their latitude “must be especially broad.” Marshall v. United States, 414 U. S. 417, 427 (1974). Where those broad limits are not exceeded, they should not be subject to second-guessing by an “unelected federal judiciary,” which lacks the background, competence, and expertise to assess public health and is not accountable to the people. See Garcia v. San Antonio Metropolitan Transit Authority, 469 U. S. 528, 545 (1985).
❌ It will come as no surprise that someone who attended the crowded Memorial Day festivities at Lake of the Ozarks, MO, has been diagnosed with COVID-19. The person was “probably infectious” on Memorial Day. The Camden County (MO) Health Department uses Facebook for its news releases.
⓷ Case count
There is a lag between being contagious and showing symptoms, between having a test and getting its results. There is also a lag in reports of cases and deaths making their way into daily results; this lag is visible in predictable declines for both in weekend reports.
🌎 31 May
Globally: 5 934 936 (117 551) cases with 367 166 deaths (4 461 new)
The Americas: 2 743 793 cases (66 293) with 157 702 deaths (3 094)
US: 1 716 078 cases (21 214 new) with 101 567 deaths (1 263 new)
Johns Hopkins interactive dashboard (11.00 pm Pacific)
Global confirmed: 6,171,182 (6,064,778)
Total deaths: 372,116 (369,254)
Recovered: 2,642,568 (2,566,084)
🇺🇸 31 May
CDC: 1,761,503 (23,553 new) cases and 103,700 (915 new) deaths
Johns Hopkins*: 1,790,191 (1,770,384) cases and 104,383 (103,781) deaths
State data*: 1,783,570 (1,761,301) identified cases and 98,536 (97,915) deaths
Total tested (US, Johns Hopkins): 16,936,891 (16,495,443)
Take with a grain of salt. The CDC and at least 11 other states have begun combining the number of tests for active infections with the number of antibody tests, which boosts the total number of tests and thus drops the percentage who test positive.
View infographic and data online: total cases and cases and deaths/100,000.
* Johns Hopkins data, ~11.00 pm Pacific.
State data include DC, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands
The virus was not created in a lab and the weight of evidence is it was not released intentionally. Although early reports tied the outbreak to a seafood (“wet”) market in Wuhan, China, analyses of genomic data in January suggested that the virus might have developed elsewhere.
⓸ What you can do
Stay home as much as possible, period.
Digestive problems may be a symptom as is a loss of taste or smell.
👓 See COVID-19 resource collection at WiredPen.
📝 Subscribe to Kathy’s COVID-19 Memo :: COVID-19 Memo archives
🦠 COVID-19 @ WiredPen.com
🌐 Global news
📊 Visualizations: US, World