COVID-19 day 194: 📈 58,406 new cases; 1,133 new deaths : 01 August 2020

Dr. Birx backs CDC Chief Redfield on distance-learning; GA summer camp outbreak; NV on deck to mail all voters a ballot in November; on Sunday, global cases passed 18 million.

Saturday was day 194 since the first case of coronavirus disease was announced in the United States. (Reminder: Saturday reports are Friday’s data.) On Friday, WHO reported 292,257 global cases, a new record.

The Johns Hopkins dashboard passed 18 million global cases and 680,000 global deaths Sunday evening, Pacific time. The US stands at 4.7 million cases and about 155,000 deaths. The US accounts for 4.25% of the world’s population but about 1-in-4 COVID-19 cases and deaths.

That’s why this comment from Dr. Deborah Birx Sunday needs amplifying:

… no matter where you live in America, you need to wear a mask and socially distance, do the personal hygiene pieces.

I realize that I am preaching to the choir, but perhaps you can use these data.

Sections (no jump links, sorry!)
1, One big thing; 2, Key metrics; 3, Recommendations; 4, Politics, economics & COVID;
5, Resources

⓵ One big thing - the fight over opening schools

This week the CDC released an analysis of how COVID-19 ran rampant in a Georgia overnight youth camp, making it impossible for the camp to complete its first week of the planned season.

Although the CDC did not identify the camp, the Atlanta Journal Constitution did, as it had reported on the outbreak in real time.

Some 260 cases of the coronavirus have been tied to attendees and staff at a North Georgia YMCA children’s camp in June, according to a report released Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one of the largest known superspreading events in the state.

The report details how COVID-19 spread rapidly among children and teens within the camp and raises questions about the effectiveness of safety protocols as school districts and colleges contemplate reopening for in-person instruction this fall.

Read that again: children and teens. Note that the 595 included 250 for whom the researchers had no results. Based on data from available tests, three-quarters (not less than half) tested positive for coronavirus.

Caveats: The infection rates are “likely an underestimate” because of those 250 counted despite no test result. Second, it’s not clear that those who tested positive were infected at the camp, given the widespread incidence of COVID-19 in Georgia at the time. Finally, the researchers have no way to know what prevention measures were undertaken, but campers were not required to wear masks.

This investigation adds to the body of evidence demonstrating that children of all ages are susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 infection and, contrary to early reports might play an important role in transmission.

Let’s add to this dismal picture that of major league baseball. Miami Marlins: 18 players and two coaches tested positive last Sunday, putting their games on hold. The Philadelphia Phillies were the last team the Marlins played; on Thursday they announced that a coach and clubhouse staffer had tested positive.

Adults, playing a non-contact sport, outdoors. Outbreak.

Yet we have governors and President Trump demanding that schools resume operation - this month in many places - as though it were 1999 (nod to Prince).

On Sunday, Dr. Deborah Birx seemed to reverse course and contradict the White House stand on school openings this fall:

Birx also tentatively contradicted the White House’s exhortation to reopen schools in person, saying she agreed with Robert Redfield, the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, that outbreak hotspots should use distance learning in schools. 

Birx appeared on CNN’s The State of the Union:

[Dana] Bash on Sunday asked Birx if schools in states with a 5% positivity rate should remained closed or have distance learning only.

“If you have high case load and active community spread, just like we are asking people not to go to bars, not to have household parties, not to create large spreading events, we are asking people to distance learn at this moment so we can get this epidemic under control,” Birx responded, though she deferred to CDC guidelines on school reopenings.

Redfield has conceded that places with significant COVID-19 infection rates, “hot spots,” should consider not opening “but he underplayed the number of places that would be included.”

Do you have any idea just how many states exceed a 5% positivity rate (WHO cutoff)? Johns Hopkins does (the green ones). Fourteen states exceed 10% (White House cutoff).

Birx may be responding to scathing criticism from Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. News reports have presented Birx as a dispenser of happy talk in White House meetings.

Regardless of the reasons, her on-air public support for distance learning is welcome. Hopefully, it is not too little, too late.

Turning to college campuses, researchers suggest “every-other-day screening of asymptomatic students and strict compliance with physical distancing and infection-control protocols” is the needed formula to re-opening.

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⓶ Key metrics

Cases are plateauing or responding to containment measures in Arizona, California, Florida and Texas. But they are growing elsewhere (per capita, NYT). At least six appear to be in rebound.

🦠 SaturdayJohns Hopkins reported 4,620,444 (58,406 new) cases and 154,447 (1,133 new) deaths, an increase of 1.28% and 0.74%, respectively, since Friday. A week ago, the daily numbers increased by 1.59% and 0.63%, respectively.

  • Saturday
    - seven-day average: 63,489 cases and 1,113 deaths 
    - 3.34% cases leading to death
    - case rate, 137 per 10,000; death rate, 5 per 10,000

  • One week ago
    - seven-day average: 66,288 cases and 899 deaths 
    - 3.51% cases leading to death
    - case rate, 126 per 10,000; death rate, 4 per 10,000

Note: the seven-day average is important because dailies vary due to factors other than actual case numbers, particularly over a weekend.

🇺🇸 01 August 

  • CDC: 4,542,579 (68,605 new) cases & 152,870 (1,371) deaths
    One week ago: 4,099,310 (74,818 new) cases & 145,013 (1,145 new) deaths

  • State data*:  4,595,871 (60,264 new) cases & 146,619 (1,172 ) deaths
    One week ago: 4,159,623 (66,695 new) cases & 138,697 (1,042 new) deaths
    KS reports only M-W-F; CT and RI report only M-F; today, missing LA, MA

  • WHO Situation report, 194
    4 456 389 (67 823 new) cases & 151 265 (1 211) deaths
    One week ago: 4 009 808 (71 714 new) cases & 143 663 (1 110 new) deaths

🌎 01 August 

Johns Hopkins interactive dashboard (11.00 pm Pacific)

  • Global cases 17,849,853 (257,885 new) cases & 685,054 (5,615) deaths
    One week ago: 16,046,986 (310,487 new) cases & 644,528 (4,876 new) deaths

* 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 that it was not released intentionallyAlthough early reports tied the outbreak to a market in Wuhan, China, analyses of genomic data have suggested that the virus developed elsewhere.

⓷ Recommendations

🤓 Recommended reading

Jeff Gregorich is in a gut-wrenching Catch-22 regarding the re-opening of this rural Arizona school district.

I’ve been a superintendent for 20 years, so I guess I should be used to making decisions, but I keep getting lost in my head. I’ll be in my office looking at a blank computer screen, and then all of the sudden I realize a whole hour’s gone by. I’m worried. I’m worried about everything. Each possibility I come up with is a bad one.

The governor has told us we have to open our schools to students on August 17th, or else we miss out on five percent of our funding. I run a high-needs district in middle-of-nowhere Arizona. We’re 90 percent Hispanic and more than 90 percent free-and-reduced lunch. These kids need every dollar we can get. But covid is spreading all over this area and hitting my staff, and now it feels like there’s a gun to my head. I already lost one teacher to this virus. Do I risk opening back up even if it’s going to cost us more lives? Or do we run school remotely and end up depriving these kids?

He had one teacher die this summer, one of three teachers who had shared a classroom to teach a virtual summer school. Her husband was also hospitalized, and her brother contracted the virus and also died.

These were three responsible adults in an otherwise empty classroom, and they worked hard to protect each other. We still couldn’t control it. That’s what scares me.

Voices from the Pandemic. ‘I’m sorry, but it’s a fantasy’. Jeff Gregorich, superintendent, on trying to reopen his schools safely. Washington Post, 01 August 2020.

🔬 Research and medical news

⓸ Politics, economics and COVID-19

🍒 You would think by now that governments would have caught up with unemployment claims. You’d think wrong. These stories from the District of Columbia may break your heart. Bartender. Whole Foods employee studying to be a nurse. Former police officer, shot in the line of duty. All abandoned by the system supported by their wages.

🐦 This is the best public service tweet about COVID-19. From the office of the governor of New Jersey.

🎲 Nevada is set to join a list of states, like California, that will mail ballots to all registered voters. About 3-in-4 voters will be able to mail their ballots in November.

💰 In 2014, the Obama Administration negotiated a contract for 10,000 ventilators from Philips to be delivered by June 2019; later they extended it to November 2019. The Trump Administration gave them three extensions, to June 2021. On 11 March 2020, the Trump Administration removed all delivery deadlines until September 2020 and has agreed to pay Philips almost five times the price than under the previous contract.

‼️ Dr. Anthony Fauci testified at a congressional hearing on Friday:

When asked why Europe appears to have been more effective at controlling the spread of the virus, the nation's top infectious disease expert said that it might have helped that about 95% of Europe had shut down much earlier…

… the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation increased its forecast of deaths by November, in part because the nation continues to debate measures such as wearing masks and social distancing. 

Only about 55% of Americans wear a mask, Fauci said, compared to 95% in Singapore, for example.

⓹ Resources

👓 See COVID-19 resource collection at WiredPen.
📝 Subscribe to Kathy’s COVID-19 Memo :: COVID-19 Memo archives
🦠 COVID-19 @
📊 Visualizations: USWorld
🌐 Global news (at WiredPen)

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