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 7, 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 11.9 million global cases.  Cases continue to grow by more than one million per week. There have been over 545,000 deaths around the globe. There are over 3 million cases in the US. There have been over 133,000 deaths in the US. The US, Brazil, and India are leading global case growth. India surpassed Russia for the third spot during the last few days.

Healthcare workers may be facing another rounds of personal protective equipment (PPE) shortages. A few of the largest PPE distribution companies in the country discussed concerns with members of the House Oversight Committee. Demand is already outstripping supply and there is worry that a spike in cases in the fall will cause large shortages. We need an efficient, coordinated federal response of we want to prevent this.

Henry Ford study says there might be some benefit to hydroxychloroquine after all—but there are some glaring flaws that should be addressed before moving forward. The patients tended to be younger, and there was widespread use of steroids in the sample population as well.

We’ve mentioned this before but it’s worth revisiting: the virus may have mutated to become more infectious. It’s not terribly surprising, as there’s genetic selection pressure for viruses to become more easily transmissible.

Department of Defense personnel are getting infected in large numbers:

Moderna hopes to begin phase three vaccine trials this month. It’s had to push back its roll-out but is still one of the leaders in the vaccine race. Regeneron is moving into phase three testing with an antibody cocktail and Novovax is moving forward to phase three with a vaccine candidate as well.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) predicts the unemployment rate to hover around 6% for the next ten years. Given the pandemic woes that seems a little low to me, but the CBO expects a significant rebound.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) have been given the ok by the Trump Administration to scale back coverage of COVID-19 testing. If your employer requires a test before you return to work, you just might be paying out of pocket.

The pandemic is a little like a dry run for climate change and other catastrophes—and the lack of any semblance of coordinated response in the US lays bare to the whole world our weaknesses. Evidence of our delayed action and the total inability of the US government to grasp lagging impacts and feedback loops makes us vulnerable not just to natural catastrophes, but to man-made ones as well.

Houston is going level five. One in four residents is testing positive, and ICUs are maxing out:

The White House says we need to live with it. I aver that our response is a literal matter of national security. We’re painting a huge target on our collective backs that says, “This country is politically and functionally paralyzed–cannon fodder for biological attack.” But maybe I just think differently. I am a member of the Prepper Set, after all. We also withdrew from the WHO today:

Kroger Health has emergency FDA approval for an at-home saliva collection testing kit. It will be made available first to employees, and only in 14 states.

Cases are rising, but deaths are seemingly down. At least they were, until they rose in Texas:

Know your risks when you’re going about your daily business:

Can you legally carry a gun while wearing a mask? It depends on your state.

Who is going to decide who gets the vaccine first? A panel of experts outside of the US Government, apparently. I guess my next question is who is going to decide who is on this panel… Front-line and essential workers are certainly going to be among the first to be offered the vaccines when they become available.

We’re racing to buy syringes:

This thing is probably airborne, or at least more airborne than we’d expect. Agency recommendations are out of step with experimental findings and need to be revisited.

Bolsonaro has tested positive, Australia has closed a border, and other COVID-19 facts:

How many students and professors will die?


    • Vaylon

      What a disaster. What will it take for my country to take this virus seriously? Does literally everyone have to know someone who died from COVID-19 in order to reach that point?

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    • hbic

      Just wanted to clarify that the positivity rate in Houston peaked near 25% about 10 days ago and has sharply declined since (still too high, though)


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