Coronavirus Special Coverage

A collection of news posted throughout the week for those that want signal, not noise.

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Key developments for Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Welcome to the newly revamped Key Developments, now twice weekly and with non-COVID news. Right now, it’s actually still just COVID news, but we’ll be slowly morphing it into something broader as we go.

There are over 13.4 million global cases.  Cases have grown by over 1.6 million in the last week. There have been over 618,000 deaths around the globe. There are over 4 million cases in the US. Cases have grown by half a million in the US multiple weeks in a row. There have been almost 145,000 deaths in the US. The US, Brazil, and India continue to lead global case growth.

Our bungled response has given us the worst of all worlds: an out of control pandemic and a terrible economic hit as well. Either a national public mask mandate or widespread state mask mandates are needed if we want any kind of recovery. Congress needs to act if we want to avoid disaster.

The White House Coronavirus Task Force has received a report detailing the need to revert to stronger measures to combat the virus in at least 18 hotspot states. Whether it acts on the report remains to be seen.

Some good news:

The Oxford vaccine team is hoping to run “Challenge Trials” soon, which would expose healthy volunteers to the pandemic virus in a controlled, clinical setting. It’s dangerous and ethically problematic, as there’s no cure and no guarantee that volunteers wouldn’t have very bad outcomes. But it’s helpful in speeding phase III trials along and also provides complementary data on optimal dosing and whether the vaccine is protective or not.

The White House has blocked Redfield from testifying before the House on reopening schools:

There are serious neurological manifestations of COVID-19, and many more virus victims have them than previously believed. Sometimes these neurological sequelae are the actual cause of death. It’s not just that virus frenzies the immune system, it can also attack the brain directly.

A large cohort of infants in Texas have tested positive for the pandemic virus in a single county alone.

Older children are perfect vectors for the virus. Children under ten seem to spread it much less than others. Teens and preteens spread it just as effectively as adults do. This data may be useful when it comes time to open the schools back up. From a practical perspective it’s probably somewhat safer for younger children to be in school. But the caveat is that the younger the kid, the less likely that kid is to strictly adhere to social distancing rules. Teens aren’t that great at it either. Also, an observation by one of our contributors, Ari Allyn-Feuer, is that” “this method only deals with symptomatic index cases, which means it will tend to bias downward with populations with low symptomatic rates, unless the sample size is very big. It could be that even the younger children are spreading as much as adults and this study could miss it due to that.”

You can visualize the lag time between hospitalizations and cases. The scary thing is the deaths that follow:

Florida is truly running out of ICU beds:

It’s not the only one:

High school sports in California is postponed until next year. That’s definitely a good thing, because California is not faring well, with total cases nearing 400,000:

Which states are opening schools in the fall, which are staying closed, and which are going hybrid?

Air traffic is falling as cases rise again:

The FDA has given emergency approval for pooled COVID-19 sampling, which runs a portion of many samples together. If the result is positive, all samples are run. If the results are negative, the individual samples don’t have to be processed separately. This will save time and help shore up the test results delays Quest Diagnostics and others are experiencing.

This is why family gatherings are a bad idea right now:

The Navajo Nation is suffering. The Reservation has one of the highest infection rates in the US. Infection and death rates are impacted by a lack of running water on the land and many pre-existing medical conditions in the people. This combination, paired with a lack of access to needed healthcare services, puts the people of the Navajo Nation at higher risk for bad COVID-19 outcomes.

Some levity:

Universities could be facing serious budget cuts.

New York adds ten states to its quarantine list.

We’ve mentioned this before. HVAC systems can contribute to the problem: