COVID-19 day 324 : 📈 US had ~3x deaths in 24 hours as India, with one-quarter the population : 08 December 2020

US cases pass 15M with 286K deaths; Chinese vaccine has 86% efficacy, uses normal refrigeration; Germany extends COVID-19 restrictions into January; Melbourne has had no cases in four weeks

Apologies for the delay. Combination of good things (Christmas tree gathering and decorating), head-banging things (Medicare 07 December open enrollment deadline) and ugh-things (sprained ankle = boot = tire more quickly).

Sunday was day 322 since the first case of coronavirus disease was announced in the United States. Predictably, after the dip in Thanksgiving-weekend reports, our trajectory has resumed its catastrophic path upwards.

About that quote: it stands in stark contrast to Trump’s HHS.

Although news media reports focus on the midwest, Rhode Island has the worst average per capita cases per 100K over the past seven days (08 December 2020):

  • Rhode Island, 122.9

  • Indiana, 103.1

  • Utah, 99.1

  • South Dakota, 97.7

  • Minnesota, 95.2

Perhaps nothing better illustrates the perverseness of how the United States has responded to COVID-19 than today’s comparison with India, using Tuesday’s WHO tracking data. The US reported about three times as many deaths in the prior 24 hours as India, but we have less than a quarter of India’s population.

And yet by any economic measure, the United States is the more wealthy nation. For 2019, GDP per capita: US, $65,100; India, $2,100

Another day, another US hospitalization record. Tuesday report: 104,600. Also on Tuesday, states reported 210,276 new cases and 2,641 deaths (Covid Tracking Project). More than 200,000 of us (on average) are testing positive for COVID-19 daily, meaning we’ve gone from a million cases in a week to a million in five days.

End of day Tuesday, US total cases crossed 15 million with 286,000 deaths (Johns Hopkins). Globally, cases crossed 68 million with 1.6 million deaths (Johns Hopkins).

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

⓵ One big thing - Florida

You’ve seen that the government of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) sent armed state police into the home of Rebekah Jones to seize her computers, phone and electronic equipment. There’s more.

Jones is the data scientist who built the state COVID-19 tracking dashboard and was then fired from the Florida health department in May. Jones publicly contradicted the state’s official COVID-19 numbers.

Look what we just found out this month:

[According to an investigation by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel] Republican DeSantis influenced a state administration that “suppressed unfavorable facts, dispensed dangerous misinformation, dismissed public health professionals, and promoted the views of scientific dissenters” who supported the governor’s ambivalent approach to the disease (emphasis added).

Esquire has more from the paywalled story:

On Sept. 24, after months of Facebook and Twitter posts about COVID-19 safety, the health department stopped posting anything on social media about the disease, a blackout that lasted through November.

Jones filed a whistleblower complaint against the state and has been running an alternative to the state’s COVID dashboard.

Her lawyer, Lawrence Walters, called the state’s claim that she accessed the state email system “baseless.” He said the raid “could be retaliation” for Jones’ public defiance against her former employer and said the state’s seizure of her computers could be an attempt to undermine her lawsuit.

“Access to our confidential and privileged information shouldn’t be used by our adversaries in a litigation,’’ he said. “It’s extremely rare. It’s close to unprecedented, and it’s dangerous for the judicial system.”

The official reason given for the raid was that the state suspected Jones had “hacked” the Florida Department of Health emergency communications messaging system.

The unauthorized message (some reports say “text” and others say “email”):

“It’s time to speak up before another 17,000 people are dead. You know this is wrong. You don’t have to be a part of this. Be a hero. Speak out before it’s too late.”

Jones has denied sending the message and has not been been charged with any crime.

Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg (D):

“It’s unusual to raid a home [of someone] who is accused of a low-level, nonviolent, third-degree felony. You can see someone’s house being raided if there’s data theft or extortion, but none of that is being alleged. She is alleged to have sent a message to a group chat (emphasis added).”

Florida attorney Ron Filipkowski (R) reviewed “the search warrant affidavit the state used to seize computers and phones” from Jones. The life-long Florida Republican lawyer then resigned his state-appointed position to the 12th Circuit Judicial Nominating Commission in protest.

“The recent events regarding public access to truthful data on the pandemic, and the specific treatment of Rebekah Jones has made the issue a legal one rather than just medical,’' he wrote in a letter to the governor’s general counsel. “...I no longer wish to serve the current government of Florida in any capacity.”

Filipkowski criticized DeSantis for “using law enforcement” to intimidate. “[W]e are crossing over to my whole life as a prosecutor, employer, crusader. This is wrong."

He compared her situation to the legal doctrine called necessity, which allows someone to break the law to prevent a more serious harm. “If what she did is illegal, it pales in comparison to the harm she was trying to prevent.”

Filipkowski told CNN: “This is not being done to ferret out a crime. It's being done to intimidate.”

About that messaging system. Can we sing “well that was certainly stupid” in unison?

According to the agent, all users on the emergency planning group -- who included health department employees and employees of other government agencies -- logged in with the same username and password... Mark Tehranipoor, a cybersecurity professor at the University of Florida and the director of the Florida Institute for Cybersecurity Research, said the procedure raised huge red flags.

Here is the drawn gun during the raid on her home.

Share ⚡️COVID-19 Memo from a News Hound

⓶ Recommendations

🤓 Recommended reading

▪️ Like New Zealand. Like Japan. Like South Korea. The Australian state of Victoria had been the hardest hit state during the second spike in July and August.

Local leaders set an improbable goal in the face of that challenge. They didn’t want to just get their Covid-19 numbers down. They wanted to eliminate the virus entirely. By the end of November, they’d done it.

How Melbourne eradicated Covid-19. VOX, 04 December 2020.

▪️ The Veteran’s Administration will receive “a limited amount” of the vaccine when FDA approves it. First up, the front-line health care staff (350,000 health care workers) in the nation’s largest health care system.

Black veterans account for 16% of coronavirus cases across the VA system and 22% of deaths, despite comprising only 12% of the overall population of veterans in the United States. About 77% of the overall veteran population is white, according to VA data. White veterans account for 60% of coronavirus cases and 61% of deaths.

Minority veterans to receive priority for coronavirus vaccines. Stars and Stripes, 08 December 2020.

🔬 Research and medical news

“The clinics, safety net hospitals, the critical access rural hospitals, the smaller nursing homes are absolutely still lacking PPE.”

The PPE crisis didn’t go away: Across the U.S., grassroots supply networks are trying to fill the void. STAT News, 01 December 2020.

▪️ The vaccine you don’t hear about. That uses normal refrigeration. That has “already been administered to hundreds of thousands of people.”

While mRNA vaccines from Pfizer Inc. and Moderna Inc. showed higher efficacy of over 90%, those present distribution challenges for some nations as they require deep freeze facilities and trucks. CNBG’s vaccine can be transported and stored at normal refrigerated temperatures.

China State-Backed Virus Vaccine Has 86% Efficacy, Says UAE. Bloomberg, 08 December 2020.

“One person has died and more than 450 have been admitted to hospital with a mystery illness in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh… The mystery outbreak has increased the burden on the healthcare system [and Covid-19 tests] came back negative.”

Mystery illness puts 450 in hospital in Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. The Guardian, 08 December 2020.

🎧 Recommended listening

Heartbreaking. Jamesha Waddell, 23, was a senior at Livingstone College in NC and spent nearly two months in the hospital. She died last month. COVID-19.

Coronavirus Victims: North Carolina College Student Jamesha Waddell. NPR, All Things Considered, 30 November 2020

⓷ Politics, economics and COVID-19

📣 The UN General Assembly has declared 27 December as 'International Day of Epidemic Preparedness' “in a bid to ensure lessons are learned for any future health crisis.”

🦠 For the first time in nine months, Chengdu, China, the capital of Sichuan province, has reported its first locally transmitted cases (five) of COVID-19.

🧰 Take a peak inside ICU in Regions Hospital, St. Paul MN. When the reporters were allowed in, the hospital was at 98% capacity for surgical beds and 85% capacity in ICU.

🤬 Multiply this story by more than 2,000 a day. Read on ThreadReader.

✅ Freed ever-so-slightly from Trump/Pence, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has published weekly COVID-19 hospital data at the facility level, going back to 01 August 2020. Until this report, the data were aggregated by state.

💉 Interested in the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine? Read this.

🆘 The San Francisco 49ers cannot play in California. So they’re going to Arizona, where COVID-19 rates and deaths are higher and public health measures far less stringent. “We’re not only going to be a playground, but we’re going to be a breeding ground for COVID-19. It’s definitely a recipe for disaster. Now’s not the time to be promoting tourism or having sports teams come to our home turf,” Dr. Shad Marvasti, University of Arizona College of Medicine-Phoenix, told KJZZ (emphasis added).

📣 Rudy Giuliani is the latest member of Trump’s circle to test positive for COVID-19. The lame duck president used a racial slur when tweeting the news. Reminder from WHO, 02 March 2020:

✅ Germany (population, 83.8 million) is extending COVID-19 restrictions until 10 January 2021. Restaurants and hotels will remain closed; gatherings are limited to five people from two households. That’s approximately the population of California, Texas and Florida (the three most populous US states) combined.

✅ Greece (population, 10,423,054) will not re-open schools, restaurants or courts until early January 2021.

⓸ Key metrics

🦠 Friday, Johns Hopkins reported 14,367,462 (227,885 new) cases and 278,932 (2,607 new) deaths, an increase of 1.61% and 0.94%, respectively, since Thursday. A week ago, the daily numbers increased by 1.60% and 0.53%, respectively.

  • Friday
    - cases 🔺24.8% ,deaths🔺29.7% (seven-day average)
    - seven-day average: 182,663 cases and 2,011 deaths 
    - 1.94% cases leading to death
    - 🔺53.0 cases/100K (CDC)
    - 🔺1,214,180 cases last seven days (CDC)
    - 🔺101,276 hospitalizations

  • One week ago
    - cases 🔺22.2%; deaths 🔻5.9% (seven-day average)
    - seven-day average: 168,280 cases and 1,492 deaths 
    - 2.02% cases leading to death
    - 🔺51.2 cases/100K (CDC)
    - 🔺1,172,280: cases last seven days (CDC)
    - 🔺89,834 hospitalizations

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

🇺🇸 04 December 

  • CDC: 14,041,436 (219,187 new) cases & 275,386 (2,861 new) deaths
    One week ago: 12,823,092 (324,358 new) cases & 262,673 (3,668 new) deaths (no report Thursday)

  • State data*:  14,151,570 (224,262 new) cases & 269,86 (2,529 new) deaths
    One week ago: 2,709,043 (199,475 new) cases & 254,530 (1,389 new) deaths
    KS reports only M-W-F; CT, LA, MS and RI report only M-F

  • WHO: 13,563,731 (177,976 new) cases & 268,482 (2,439 new) deaths
    One week ago: 12,441,925 (0 new) cases & 257,825 (0 new) deaths (not reported)

🌎 04 December 

Johns Hopkins interactive dashboard (10.00 pm Pacific)

  • Global: 65,899,436 (678,884 new) cases & 1,518,670 (12,419 new) deaths
    One week ago: 1,645,530 (671,899 new) cases & 1,442,664 (10,617 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 virusdeveloped elsewhere.

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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