COVID-19 day 347: 📈 We end the year with 19,968,087 US cases, 345,737 deaths : 31 December 2020 [corrected]
That's 6,033 cases/100K and 105 deaths per 100K; the US case rate is the largest of any industrialized nation; the death rate lags some European countries but it dwarfs China, India and Indonesia
Photo: 30 December 2019
On 31 December 2019, the Daily Mail reported that almost 30 people had contracted an “unidentified” form of pneumonia in Wuhan, China. Although there had been no cases of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) since 2004, that was the fear. And it was justified. 🫁
On 07 January 2020, China confirmed that the illness in Wuhan was associated with a novel coronavirus, 2019-nCoV. On 21 January 2020, the US announced the first case of what would come to be called COVID-19, in Washington State. The Snohomish County man had recently returned from Wuhan. 🥠
On the last day in February, the 29th because it was a leap year, I got a hair cut. It would be my last hair cut for months. 💇♀️
Afterwards, I slipped into my car and turned on the radio; unmoving, listened to a Seattle press conference. State and local officials announced the first reported death attributed to COVID-19. It was not only the first death in the U.S.; it was also a case of community spread. Some dates and events stay with you. 🦠
Also on 29 February, Dr. Trevor Bedford, a genetic and infectious disease researcher at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, linked the case of a Snohomish County high school student with that of the first person in the U.S. to be diagnosed with COVID-19. We were coming face-to-face with the fact that community spread had been going on for weeks. 📚
As of 29 February 2020, the CDC had tested only 472 samples in 10 states, in part because of the narrow focus on travel to China. 🔬
The next day, I launched this newsletter, an outgrowth of emails to family and Facebook posts.
Where are we today?
This headline is representative of the country: Only a fraction of COVID-19 vaccine has been used in Washington state. Not only that, frontline health care workers - those who have interaction daily with COVID-19 patients - were not always first to receive the vaccine. The facility that alerted the CDC to that first death did not receive the vaccine until the second week; they were the first to get the Moderna vaccine.
Globally, citizen interest in vaccination varies widely. According to the World Economic Forum, interest is the is highest in China, where 80% of respondents strongly or somewhat agreed with the statement “if a vaccine for COVID-19 were available, I would get it.”
In every country surveyed, between 57% and 80% of those who say they would not take a COVID-19 vaccine report concern about the side effects (up from 34% in October). This concern was highest in South Korea (80%), Japan (76%) and France (72%).
U.S. Hospitalizations, COVID Tracking Project
Cases, domestic and global
A few reads (and a listen) for the long weekend
A room, a bar and a classroom: how the coronavirus is spread through the air. El Pais, 29 October 2020.
Anything and everything by Ed Yong, The Atlantic.
‘Do people understand what’s happening here? Do they care?’Washington Post, 05 December 2020.
“I think we’re in this liminal moment of collectively deciding what we’re going to remember and what we’re going to forget.” Where Year Two of the Pandemic Will Take Us. The Atlantic, 29 December 2020.
It Will Take More Than a Vaccine to Beat COVID-19. New Yorker, 08 September 2020.
On Witness and Respair: A Personal Tragedy Followed by Pandemic. Vanity Fair, 01 September 2020.
Pandemic isolation has killed thousands of Alzheimer’s patients while families watch from afar. Washington Post, 16 September 2020.
The Ability to Cry. New Yorker, 16 November 2020.
The Cruise Ship Suicides, Bloomberg, 30 December 2020.
The Morgue Worker, the Body Bags and the Daffodils. NY Times, 05 May 2020.
The Race to Investigate a Coronavirus Outbreak at a Georgia Prep School. New Yorker, 18 August 2020.
The U.S. may end up with the worst COVID-19 outbreak in the industrialized world. This is how it’s going to play out. The Atlantic, 25 March 2020.
The year that COVID built: a look back on 2020, World Economic Forum, 23 December 2020
This week in virology (podcast). Hosted by Vincent Racaniello, Higgins Professor of Microbiology & Immunology at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine of CUNY; he is accompanied by a rotating cast of Ph.D.s, M.D.s, and MD-Ph.D.s.
Your computer can help scientists find a cure for COVID-19. World Economic Forum, 31 December 2020. Introducing COVID-19 Moonshot, folding@home.
Happy new year to you, your family and your loved ones!