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Coronavirus/COVID-19/SARS-CoV-2 Information

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The Latest on the Coronavirus (COVID-19, now SARS-CoV-2) (updated 5/29/2020) New
     Number of Confirmed Cases
Updated

Flying in the Age of COVID-19 New

How to Do Memorial Day (summer fun) Safely put out by WebMD (5/22/2020)New
    
Social Distancing video put out by WebMD
New
     What to Do When Others Aren't Social Distancing New

District Weekly Bulletin (5/28/2020) Updated

COVID-19 Testing Program in The Villages
    
COVID-19 Testing continues in The Villages
(5/14/2020)

COVID-19 Symptom Checker
     10 coronavirus symptoms that we may not be aware of
          COVID Toes may be another Symptom
     Have a mild case of COVID-19?

27 Coronavirus Myths Explored (updated 5/7/2020)
     13 Coronavirus Myths Busted by Science (3/10/2020)
     Thinking critically about Coronavirus news & information How to sort out what's true and what's not?

About the COVID-19 Pandemic
     Who is at risk?
     What are its symptoms?
     How is it spread?
     How to prevent catching or spreading the virus?
     What is still unknown?
     Additional Information
Concern Increasing
CDC Slow in Getting Test Kits Out
World Health Organization (WHO) COVID-19 Advice, including when traveling.


Cloth Masks: What to Know
    
6 Essentials for an Effective Face Mask New
    
Make Your Own Face Mask
          Make No-sew Sock Masks (click on instructions at right)

Home-made Sanitizers
     Gel Hand Sanitizer for On-the-Go
         
The Spray Recipe
     Disinfecting Spray for Your Home
          How Long Do Coronaviruses Live on Surfaces? (Click on chart on the right.)

Scams:
    
Florida Consumer eNewsletter for MayCOVID-19 Scams
     An Arrest in a Multimillion Dollar COVID-19 Scheme

     Scammers are using COVID-19 messages to scam people
     Grandparent scams in the age of Coronavirus
     Warnings sent to sellers of Coronavirus treatment scams
    
Coronavirus scams, Part 2


The Latest on the Coronavirus (COVID-19, now SARS-CoV-2)

Friday, May 29th

Compare this week's information with last week's. The following has been learned this week.

  • Per the Florida Department of Health, Division of Disease Control and Health Protection, and as of Friday, May 29th, the state now has 54,497 cases testing positive for COVID-19, with 9,982 requiring hospitalization and 2,413 deaths. The breakdown of confirmed cases in our tri-county area is:

    • Sumter County: 253 cases (up by 1 case), holding at 17 deaths — age range 17 — 97
    • Lake County: 291 cases (up by 25 cases), holding at 15 deaths — age range 1 — 86
    • Marion County: 233 cases (up by 10 cases), 6 deaths (up by 1)age range 0 — 96
  • The state issued a statement and Governor DeSantis made an announcement on Sunday, May 24th, rebutting Rebekah Jones' (click on link) account of why she was removed from her job of managing the state's COVID-19 statistics. CBS Miami reported that according to the state, she was fired for violating Health Department policy by making public remarks about the information over the previous week and a half, and has "a history of 'insubordination'". (The article presents the state's position as well as Jones' issues.) In an interview on CNN and with The Associated Press, Jones provided some details about her issues concerning the data.

  • How the state has been reporting cases and deaths has been under scrutiny by the Tampa Bay Times, as well as CNN Politics. Since March 17th, coroner death reports have started being 10% higher than the state's, so coroners are now holding their data by 9 days. Dr. Stephen Nelson, the chairman of the state Medical Examiners Commission, said the change in policy came after the state health department intervened.

  • Sadly, at least 1,738,000 cases of the coronavirus have been reported in the U.S., at least 101,000 people have died from it, and 104,917 new cases have been reported to the WHO. These stats were updated 5/29/2020. You can compare how the U.S. compares to other areas of the world on the World Health Organization's website. The most current information reported to them is presented in easy-to-understand graphs. By moving the cursor over each graph, you can see the number of cases on any given date.

  • NBC News and Yahoo News reported on May 27th that the number of asymptomatic COVID-19 cases may be more common than suspected. New estimates by two different studies suggest that "silent" COVID-19 is much more prevalent than previously thought. The first study, published in JAMA Network Open, found that 42% of cases from a group of people in Wuhan, China, were asymptomatic. The second study from Australian researchers and published in Thorax, found that 81% of cases on a cruise to Antarctica were asymptomatic. Of those on the cruise, 57% tested positive, but just 19% of those patients had symptoms. Many people wonder why they have to wear a mask and practice social distancing when they are feeling well? Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University Medical Center reminds us that simply exhaling or talking can send out viral particles.

  • Dr. Kimberly Prather studies aerosols (particles so tiny they float freely through the air, traveling feet or even miles) and runs a large, government-funded research center at the University of California San Diego. On May 27th, she wrote an article for the journal Science where she said there is mounting evidence that aerosol (airborne) transmissions help explain how the virus spreads like wildfire. Aerosols can be created from just talking or singing as well as coughing or sneezing, and can accumulate and remain infectious in indoor air for hours, perhaps circulating through air conditioning, easily inhaled deeply into the lungs. She tells people to imagine how far they can smell cigarette smoke or a barbecue. That’s how far aerosols can travel between you and another person. So why are we balking at wearing a mask in public again?

  • Some critically ill patients with COVID-19 show signs of an immune system in overdrive, called a cytokine storm, which may be as destructive as the virus itself. May 24th, SciTechDaily announced a new clinical trial at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine that will test a COVID-19 treatment that targets that overactive immune response that some patients experience. Howard Hughes Medical Investigator Bert Vogelstein's team had already been exploring ways to ease the hyperinflammatory immune response in cancer patients treated with immunotherapy. They are  hoping that treating the virus with an alpha blocker might break a cycle of hyperinflammation before it ramps up. The trial involves treating people who are at high risk early in the course of the disease, when they know they’re infected but before they have severe symptoms. If the trial suggests alpha blockers are safe and effective, the team hopes to run a second trial with patients who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 but are not yet hospitalized. If treating the virus with alpha blockers works and appears to be safe and effective, it would be a secondary form of prevention, mitigating symptoms before they become severe, rather than stopping infection in the first place.

  • The latest District Weekly Bulletin (updated 5/28/2020) announced that the fitness clubs and arts & crafts facilities will open, and The Enrichment Academy (TEA) Courses will resume THIS Monday, June 1st. Since most of the recreation facilities are now open, this update will be the last COVID-19 District Action Plan issued. Check The Villages Recreation & Park News after this week. Also, the District Administrative Offices at 984 Old Mill Run continue by appointment only, and you must wear a mask for your appointment.


Friday, May 22nd

Compare this week's information with last week's. The following has been learned this week.

  • WebMD provides cautions and advice on How to Do Memorial Day Safely, a video on Social Distancing, and what to do when Others Aren't Social Distancing. 

  • Physicians keep learning new things about COVID-19 and the way it attacks our bodies. An NYU doctor said that the severe Kawasaki-like inflammatory condition that doctors have recently reported in children appears to also affect young adults, who have more of an "overwhelming" response involving the heart and multiple organs.
  • A new study appearing in Wednesday's issue of The Journal of Infectious Diseases provides the first evidence that sunlight may rapidly inactivate SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) on surfaces. The study used simulated sunlight, but it suggests that natural sunlight may be effective as a disinfectant for contaminated non-porous materials.

  • Per the Florida Department of Health, Division of Disease Control and Health Protection, and as of Friday, May 22nd, the state now has 49,451 cases testing positive for COVID-19, with 9,117 requiring hospitalization and 2,190 deaths. The breakdown of confirmed cases in our tri-county area is:

    • Sumter County: 252 cases (up by 12 cases), 17 deaths (age range 17 — 97)
    • Lake County: 266 cases (up by 17 cases), holding at 15 deaths (age range 1 — 86)
    • Marion County: 233 cases (up by 14 cases), holding at 5 deaths (age range 0 — 96)
       
  • Since Rebekah Jones, the scientist who invented and was in charge of Florida's COVID-19 Data and Surveillance Dashboard (shows the number of cases, deaths, etc. in the state and county-by-county), was removed from her job. She says she was fired because she was ordered to censor some data, but refused to "manually change data to drum up support for the plan to reopen." The story was carried by USA Today, The Huffington Post, the Miami Herald, CBS-12 and other news outlets. With her removal, it was suggested that changes in the accessibility and transparency of the dashboard data might be coming. 
     
  • A WebMD Blog provides the 6 Essentials for an Effective Face Mask. The cloth face mask market is increasing exponentially to meet demand, and the science behind what makes a good cloth face mask is inching along slowly. It is difficult to know what makes a good cloth face mask. This blog tells you what to look for, the fabric, the filter and how often it can be used, the fit, how easy it is to use, and the proper way to remove it.
     
  • On Wednesday, CNN Health reported that at least four states combined data from two different test results. Diagnostic PCR tests (uses saliva or nose swabs) check for current infection, while antibody tests (rely on blood samples) check for past infection. Combining the two into one result could provide an inaccurate picture of where and when the virus spread and trick the states into thinking they've done more testing than what they've actually done. The states that discovered this mistake are in the process of correcting their data.
     
  • The CDC quietly tweaked the wording on its "How COVID-19 Spreads" website without an announcement or explanation. Fox's Sean Hannity promoted the minor changes in wording as a "breaking" report, adding to the confusion many have concerning COVID-19 information. CDC spokesperson Kristin Nordlund said that the changes were due to an internal review and usability testing. The CDC website still says that the virus spreads very easily between people, especially when in proximity to others (e.g., nursing homes, meat packing plants, etc.), but clarified that touching contaminated objects or surfaces or animals does not appear to be a significant mode of transmission, so it is unlikely that you will catch the virus from delivered packages or your mail.
      
    Yesterday, USA Today and other news outlets reported that the virus doesn't spread easily by touching surfaces, but it does happen, and they provide additional detail on the virus' lifespan an how to disinfect surfaces.
     
  • Sweeping measures to prevent the spread of the virus were announced on a federal warning against large gatherings, health screenings at airports, states of emergency declared by governors and mayors. But, a new study by Columbia University epidemiologists found that if social distancing had been in place just 7 days earlier, the U.S. could have prevented 36,000 deaths through early May, underscoring the importance of early intervention and aggressive response in controlling the Covid-19 pandemic. If governors and mayors had known that, they said they would have shut down earlier. The new model should help if or when there is a resurgence in the number of cases.


Friday, May 15th

Compare this week's information with last week's. The following has been learned this week.

  • Per the Florida Department of Health, Division of Disease Control and Health Protection, and as of Friday, May 15th, the state now has 44,138 cases testing positive for COVID-19, with 7,959 requiring hospitalization and 1,917 deaths. The breakdown of confirmed cases in our tri-county area is:

    • Sumter County: 240 cases, 16 deaths (age range 17 — 97)
    • Lake County: 249 cases, holding at 14 deaths (age range 1 — 86)
    • Marion County: 218 cases, also holding at 5 deaths
    • (age range 0 — 96)
       
  • On May 14th, NBC News featured an interview with Virologist Dr. Joseph Fair, an NBC News contributor who frequently helped the TODAY show cover the coronavirus pandemic. Despite being in good health and following all precautions, he contracted the virus. He got sick 3 — 4 days after a flight home, he believes through his eyes (he was wearing gloves, a mask, and Purell). Initially he didn't have a fever but he lost his sense of taste for a few days, then it started to feel like he had the flu. Then, he got progressively worse and had trouble breathing. He declined being intubated when he got to the hospital. Luckily, he responded well to oxygen and drug therapy and was taken off the critical list yesterday. He was tested four times, with 50% false negatives. He says that if he can get it, anyone can. He was tested four times, but the tests aren't 100% accurate and 50% were false negatives. See the interview by clicking on the link above. Yahoo News also reports that tests used at the white house may also be wrong half of the time.
     
  • According to Time and other news sources, the administration thought the advice from the top U.S. disease control experts on how to safely reopen businesses and institutions during the pandemic was too detailed and restrictive, so it was shelved. The Associated Press obtained a 63-page document (click on link to read the guidelines) that is more detailed than previously reported segments of the shelved CDC document. It shows how the thinking of CDC infection control experts differs from the administration's. According to Stephen Morse, a Columbia University expert on the spread of diseases, this advice should have been available much earlier, before the states started reopening. After the AP reported the burying of the guidance last week, the White House asked the CDC to revive parts of it. And, while Trump is pushing states to reopen, they are doing it piecemeal because there still is no comprehensive plan.
     
  • One of the most startling new findings is how Covid-19 affects kids. Earliest reports showed that kids can catch the virus, but their symptoms are generally milder. Now, reports are coming out that kids have been showing up at hospitals with nagging fevers, rashes, bloodshot eyes, and other signs of an immune system going haywire, believed to be related to the virus, similar to Kawasaki disease. The scale of these complications is still emerging, but at last count, these immune conditions have been reported in more than 100 kids in the New York area, three of them have died.
     
  • CNN Health has a video that uses black light to demonstrate how quickly a virus like CIVID-19 can spread at a restaurant. Scary!
     
  • As Florida started its first phase of reopening its economy, a report issued Tuesday by the CDC based on a choir practice in Washington State highlighted how contagious the virus can be in group settings. According to the 61 choir members, no one had contact with anyone else, but they did sit near each other, share snacks, and sang. One person was known to have symptoms. Of the choir members, 53 cases were identified, with 33 confirmed and 20 probable cases. Three of the members had to be hospitalized and two died. Investigators thought the act of singing itself might have contributed to transmission through emission of aerosols, which is affected by loudness of vocalization.
     
  • Both Business Insider and the Daily Beast reported on Wednesday that Trump is pressuring the CDC to change its death-toll methodology to produce a lower number of deaths from the virus. We used to call that fun with numbers when I was working in the business world. This is while Dr. Fauci is saying that he believes the death toll is actually much higher than stated because it doesn't count those who were never tested and died at home.
     
  • On Monday, the World Health Organization called for continued vigilance as several areas that eased lockdown restrictions began to see a resurgence in COVID-19 cases. The city of Wuhan saw its first cluster of cases in at least a month after reopening in early April. The cluster was just six cases: an 89-year-old symptomatic man and five asymptomatic cases, but it was enough to spook government officials. It was enough for China to order all residents of the city to get tested over the next 10 days; that's about 11 million people.
     

  • On Thursday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said that the PPE shortage has now become a testing-supply shortage. Other states have had similar problems, where they have tests, but can't get the swabs or other necessary items to do the tests. The reliability of the tests or the reading of the test results is also a problem, with many false negatives. In the case of Dr. Fair (see above), it took four tests before he tested positive.
     
  • On Tuesday, Jared Kushner said he wasn't sure he can commit to November 3rd for the presidential election because of the coronavirus. Besides being shocked at his ignorance of the Constitution and law and his belief that he controls that, critics are on high alert for an attempt by Trump to put off the election due to COVID-19 since Trump has already acknowledged that there will be a spike in the number of cases as he pushes for the country to reopen.


Friday, May 8th

Compare this week's information with last week's. The following has been learned this week.

  • Per the Florida Department of Health, Division of Disease Control and Health Protection, and as of Friday, May 8th, the state now has 39,199 cases testing positive for COVID-19, with 6,929 requiring hospitalization and 1,669 deaths. The breakdown of confirmed cases in our tri-county area is:

    • Sumter County: 239 cases, holding at 14 deaths (age range 17 — 97)
    • Lake County: 237 cases, 14 deaths (age range 1 — 86)
    • Marion County: 202 cases, 5 deaths
    • (age range 1 — 96)
       
  • Medical News Today says that as COVID-19 continues to make news, a host of untruths have come out and they address some of these myths, misinformation, and rumors. Some include: alcohol or chlorine are good to disinfect surfaces but can harm if applied to the body; the virus can infect people of any age, children are not immune; disposable and cloth masks can protect against droplets, but neither can protect against aerosolized particles; hand dryers do not kill coronavirus; antibiotics do not kill viruses, they only kill bacteria; some viruses spread more easily in the colder months, but that doesn't mean that they stop entirely during warmer months; despite internet rumors, there is no evidence to suggest that the virus originated in a laboratory; and more....
     
  • coronavirus symptoms april 2020 updateThe list of symptoms for COVID-19 is expanding. The CDC lists them and provides the warning signs that you should seek emergency medical attention. Patients with the disease have also reported muscle pain, chills and headache. Some patients have reported additional plems, like fatigue and purple, swollen toes that appear frostbitten. Fatigue can be more common than difficulty breathing, according to the WHO, though it's not on the CDC list.
     
  • The urgent quest for a covid-19 treatment involves a llama named Winter, whose blood could hold a weapon to blunt the virus. She lives at a research farm in Belgium with about 130 other llamas and alpacas. And like all of them, she produces a special class of disease-fighting antibodies.
     
  • Children are falling ill with a mysterious inflammatory syndrome — like an illness known as Kawasaki disease — thought to be linked to COVID-19. "Not in my lifetime have I seen anything remotely similar to what’s going on right now,” said one cardiologist at Boston Children's Hospital.The strange nature of the cases in previously healthy children has put the medical community on high alert. Researchers aren’t certain whether the condition is caused by covid-19 or something else. Those with "pediatric multi-system inflammatory syndrome," what doctors call the new illness, are "a small genetic subset of children who appear to be susceptible."
     
  • As society reopens and states start relaxing stay-at-home guidelines, WebMD reports that many people experience a lot of anxiety or depression, not feeling comfortable and not trusting others saying it's safe. A poll of more than 3,100 WebMD readers found that 26% said they felt a sense of trauma from COVID-19, with 25% afraid to go to the store and 15% afraid to leave their house. The poll, which ran May 3rd and 4th, also found that 77% had not sought counseling. If in mental health crisis or having thoughts of suicide, go out and see a loved one or supportive friend. The health benefits may outweigh the risks.
     
  • Two new reports have produced conflicting results on the potential effectiveness of remdesivir, an experimental antiviral drug considered to be one of the leading hopes in the fight against COVID-19. Disappointing results emerged from the first gold-standard clinical trial for remdesivir, which found that the drug did not help patients in China with severe COVID-19. On the same day, drugmaker Gilead Sciences announced positive early findings from a U.S.-designed clinical trial being conducted at 180 sites around the world. Gilead announced that the U.S. trial will show that COVID-19 patients treated earlier with remdesivir had better outcomes than those who received the drug later in the course of their illness, and that people who take remdesivir for five days do as well as patients who take a 10-day course.

  • With no treatment or vaccine for COVID-19 yet, there's been talk of using antibody tests to see when it might be safe to relax social-distancing guidelines. These blood tests can show who's been exposed to the virus and who hasn't, which is important because many people who have COVID-19 have mild or no symptoms at all. The hope is that people who've been exposed will have immunity to it, but it's possible that people who've had the virus can get sick again and maybe infect other people. National health organizations are doing research to try to find some answers.

  • The Associated Press (AP) disclosed on May 7th that a CDC official spoke to them on the condition of anonymity, saying that the Trump administration shelved a document with step-by-step advice to local authorities on how and when to reopen restaurants and other public places during the still-raging coronavirus outbreak. The 17-page report by a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention team, titled "Guidance for Implementing the Opening Up America Again Framework," was researched and written to help faith leaders, business owners, educators and state and local officials as they begin to reopen. It was supposed to be published last Friday, but agency scientists were told the guidance "would never see the light of day."
     
  • The Washington Post reported that as the coronavirus continues its steady spread across the country (1.27 million infections and more than 76,000 deaths as of Friday afternoon), Trump is encouraging Americans to leave quarantine and "be warriors" against a disease that has no cure and can spread invisibly without symptoms. And in his quest to unfreeze the economy, he has dismissed calls to increase viral monitoring because "by doing all of this testing, we make ourselves look bad". In the meantime, testing for staff has increased to daily instead of weekly after Trump's valet and Pence's press secretary tested positive, as Trump makes plans to hold more meetings and travel. He also continues to suppress information about the pandemic's severity to convince the public to go back to work and praises states for reopening without meeting the White House guidelines.
     
  • With Trump suggesting that COVID-19 came from a Wuhan lab and not bats, Germany and five other countries, including the U.S., assert that there is nothing to suggest that there is any validity to his claim. Bloomberg.com reports that a WHO expert in animal diseases told reporters today that Covid-19 does come from bats and it can spread among cats. The genetic structure of the virus rules out laboratory manipulation. However, that finding doesn't rule out the possibility that Chinese researchers were studying the virus in a lab as it spread.
     
  • coronavirus symptoms april 2020 updateThe list of symptoms for COVID-19 is expanding. The CDC lists them and provides the warning signs that you should seek emergency medical attention. Patients with the disease have also reported muscle pain, chills and headache. Some patients have reported additional problems, like fatigue and purple, swollen toes that appear frostbitten. Fatigue can be more common than difficulty breathing, according to the WHO, though it's not on the CDC list. Business Insider says that the coronavirus has also been linked to neurological problems like dizziness, confusion, and delirium. A significant number of COVID-19 patients are complaining of gastrointestinal issues like diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite. A study of 59 COVID 19 patients in a Hong Kong hospital found 25 percent presented with GI issues. 
     
  • Relating to symptoms, there is a May 5th GreenwichFreePress.com op-ed by a Connecticut health reporter who writes about her case of COVID-19, which you might find interesting. She found that everyone doesn't present with the same symptoms. Hers were a stomach ache, cough, sore throat and congestion, then came a killer sinus headache, body aches and fatigue a few days later. Her symptoms didn’t match the headlines at the time (fever and shortness of breath, she had neither). Day 4 of her symptoms, she couldn’t taste a piece of cake only to read breaking news that night that loss of smell and taste can be telltale signs of the virus. The next night, she had chills and probably had a fever, so she called her doctor in the morning, who ordered the test. She read that some people take a turn for the worse several days after the onset of symptoms, but she continued to experience aches and pains, slept 10 hours a day, until she gradually started feeling better. It turned out she had a mild case. Once she had recovered from the virus, she registered to donate plasma, which she urges others to do. Convalescent plasma is in demand and could help up to three gravely ill patients.
     
  • In the oval office on Wednesday, Trump signed a symbolic proclamation in honor of National Nurses Day. He asked Sophia Thomas, the president of American Association of Nurse Practitioners, whether she believes the availability of medical supplies "are what they need to be?" She answered, "I think it's sporadic. As I talk to my colleagues around the country, certainly there are pockets of areas where [the availability of personal protective equipment] is not ideal.... I've been reusing my N95 mask for a few weeks now." The president was not pleased with her assessment.
     
  • The Justice Department has opened a criminal investigation into a firm created by two well-connected Republican operatives who sold covid-19 supplies to states but never delivered. Last weekend, Maryland terminated a $12.5 million contract for personal protective equipment with the firm. California scrambled to get its $457 million deposit back. Read about the company and why lawmakers are calling for more vetting.


Friday, May 1st

Compare this week's information with last week's. The following has been learned this week.

  • Per the Florida Department of Health, Division of Disease Control and Health Protection, and as of Friday, May 1st, the state now has 34,728 cases testing positive for COVID-19, with 5,767 requiring hospitalization and 1,314 deaths. The breakdown of confirmed cases in our tri-county area is:

    • Sumter County: 217 cases, 14 deaths (age range 17 — 97)
    • Lake County: 233 cases, 13 deaths (age range 1 — 86)
    • Marion County: 178 cases, 4 deaths
    • (age range 1 — 96)

    People who have been trying to get tested for weeks and not succeeding, have also been advised to not bother getting tested once their self-quarantined period is over. But if you don't test, you don't get many confirmed cases, do you?
     

  • After Trump told governors they're responsible for getting their own personal protective equipment (PPE) and other vital medical equipment, health leaders in the states started competing against one another and scrambled to place orders only to have their orders seized and redirected without explanation. Government and health officials in at least seven states have complained about this, but FEMA denied confiscating those shipments. FEMA says that they were "prioritizing PPE deliveries to COVID hot spots can have the unintended consequence of disrupting the regular supply chain deliveries to other areas of the country." So, now states are competing against the federal government, as well. The Department of Health and Human Services rewrote its definition of the national stockpile on April 3rd so it more closely reflected comments made by Jared Kushner and that states should not assume they can draw on it. Health workers on the frontlines of helping virus patients continue to report widespread shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE), including N95 masks and gowns.

    Now, states and hospital officials are concealing shipments of supplies from the federal government in order to avoid detection. Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) had a purchase of 3 million N95 masks confiscated by an unspecified federal agency at the Port of New York in March, just as the state was in the process of acquiring another 1.2 million from China. Baker ultimately relied on a private jet owned by the New England Patriots to transport the other 1.2 million masks that he purchased from China to Boston. Two weeks later, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) arranged for two charter flights to transport millions of masks and gloves from China to Illinois, intentionally keeping the details of the flights secret from the Trump administration to avoid confiscation (disclosed April 15th). April 30th it was disclosed that Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) acquired thousands of coronavirus tests from South Korea, had the plane land at Baltimore/Washington Thurgood Marshall Airport (the first time a Korean Air passenger plane had landed at the airport) rather than Dulles in Virginia. Armed guards protected the shipment as it was unloaded, which was then moved to an undisclosed location and is protected by the Maryland National Guard and the Maryland State Police.
      

  • Researchers at the University of Oxford have started clinical trials with humans for a coronavirus vaccine and might have results in a couple of months, the university said in a news release. The school said around 1,110 people who have not tested positive for COVID-19 will take part, with half receiving the vaccine and the other half (the control group) receiving a meningitis vaccine. A number of participants will need to develop COVID-19, the news release said. "If transmission remains high, we may get enough data in a couple of months to see if the vaccine works, but if transmission levels drop, this could take up to 6 months." 
     
  • Besides coming up with a coronavirus vaccine, the U.S. must also figure out the best, fastest way to manufacture and deliver a vaccine. Dr. Walter A. Orenstein, a professor in the division of infectious diseases at the Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, said the government should “incentivize” manufacturers to start making vaccines while a vaccine is still going through clinical trials, so that the vaccine could be quickly put into use after approval. But if the vaccine fails, the product would have to be destroyed, he said. Another challenge is figuring out who gets the vaccine first.
     
  • Republican-led states are signaling they will strip workers’ unemployment benefits if they don’t return to work. Some now-unemployed Americans weren’t making much money to begin with, and they might not want to risk their own health to return to low-paying jobs. Critics say the message to workers is clear: "Endanger your life or starve." Some now-unemployed Americans weren’t making much money in the first place, so they may not want to risk their safety just to return to underpaid old jobs.
     
  • After many meat-processing plants shut down because workers were dying and getting sick at an alarming rate, Trump is signing an executive order to force meat-processing plants to re-open and the workers to return to work. For years, major meat processors have been ruthlessly tamping down costs and increasing efficiencies that have contributed to a hazardous working environment even before the coronavirus hit. They've been speeding up production lines to process more meat in each facility and faster lines require more workers who have to stand closer together, making social distancing impossible. Many workers say they won't return to work unless conditions at the plants are improved and employers are concerned with their liability as their workers fall to the virus, and especially if they die. They also say that they can't be profitable if they allow social distancing for their workers.
     
  • In a Washington Post article on April 30th, there are 5 questions (or known unknowns) that COVID-19 scientists and doctors are racing to answer:
    • Is there “airborne” transmission of the virus? A growing number of studies, including one published this week in the journal Nature, have found evidence that the coronavirus can remain suspended in the air in aerosol particles (much smaller than what was thought). A restaurant in Guangzhou, China, showed that one infected person who had not yet developed symptoms infected nine other diners. Researchers suggested that an air-conditioning unit re-circulating the air could have spread droplets, carrying the virus between tables.
    • Why are so many people crashing in their second week of infection? There is little consensus among doctors and experts about why the 5th through 10th days seem to be so dangerous for some people. There is lots of speculation, but no answers.
    • Can a drug therapy stop the virus? "The government’s first rigorous clinical trial of the experimental drug remdesivir as a coronavirus treatment (not a cure, people were still dying on the drug) delivered mixed results to the medical community Wednesday, but Dr. Fauci, who led the placebo-controlled trial, was encouraged and stressed again this week that it wasn't a cure, but it did shorten the length of time some patients had to remain hospitalized, suggesting that a drug therapy may be able to stop the virus. They will learn more and will build on it to make it better. "Although a 31 percent improvement doesn’t seem like a knockout 100 percent, it is a very important proof of concept," Fauci said at the White House.
    • Are toe rashes an early marker of the disease, or evidence that it has resolved and passed? Esther Freeman, a dermatologist at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, was expecting things would be a bit quieter during the pandemic lockdown. But not long after lockdown began, she started getting urgent calls about odd frostbite-like patches showing up on people’s toes. It was also noticed in hot zones like France, Italy and China, but the reports had been limited to individual case studies and first-person observations, making it difficult to determine what these rashes mean, why they are occurring, and how they are linked to the virus. Most patients with ‘covid toes’ were asymptomatic or had only mild symptoms.
    • Does this virus have a distinct enough smell that canines can sniff it out? A surprising number of people who have been hospitalized with the coronavirus have not had fevers, so checking someone’s temperature alone is not a foolproof way to protect employees as offices reopen. Dogs, rather than thermometers, could turn out to be more effective at identifying asymptomatic carriers. Some can be trained to detect not just explosives and drugs by smell, but can also identify people with malaria and certain kinds of cancer. The University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine has launched a research project to determine whether dogs can detect an odor associated with the virus. The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine is pursuing this line of inquiry, as well, and hopes to deploy six dogs to airports in the U.K. as soon as possible. James Logan, who is running the study, said each dog could screen up to 250 people per hour for the contagion. He believes the effort can be scaled up if the experiments work.
       
  • WebMD reported today that in a new report, several pandemic experts expect the coronavirus will likely spread  for the next 18—24 months and infect up to 60—70% of the population. Evidence is also mounting that the disease is more widespread than is being reported. A significant percentage of infected people don’t show any symptoms and experts have known that the real number of infections is likely to be higher than confirmed cases and do not include those isolating at home or home deaths. Others may have had symptoms but weren’t able to get tested. Earlier this week, one of the first studies based on antibody tests caused an uproar when preliminary results suggested that more than 50 times as many people had been infected as had tested positive in Santa Clara County, CA. A report that relied upon CDC data for people with influenza-like illnesses estimates that at least 8.7 million people were infected with coronavirus during a 3-week period in March. And a new analysis of widespread testing in the town of Vo, Italy, found that 43% of people who tested positive showed no symptoms. A larger number of people who show no symptoms means more could potentially spread the disease and if restrictions are eased we're going to get more cases.


Friday, April 24th

Compare this week's information with last week's. The following has been learned this week.

  • Per the Florida Department of Health, Division of Disease Control and Health Protection, and as of Friday, April 24th, the state now has 30,553 cases testing positive for COVID-19, with 4,817 requiring hospitalization and 1,046 deaths. The breakdown of confirmed cases in our tri-county area is:

    • Sumter County: 167 cases 12 deaths
    • Lake County: 217 cases, 9 deaths
    • Marion County: 145 cases, holding at 3 deaths
  • After new autopsy results showed that COVID-19 killed two people in Santa Clara County on February 6th and 17th, California Gov. Gavin Newsom asked coroners to review home deaths dating back to December to better understand when the pandemic really started in the state. The autopsies showed that the virus had resulted in death three weeks earlier than thought.
     
  • On April 21st, NBC stations and programs featured an FAU (Florida Atlantic University) simulation study that shows how far a coronavirus cough can travel and linger in the air. Without a face mask, the 6-foot social-distancing rule may not be enough; however, wearing a face mask when you cough hinders how far droplets can travel.
     
  • April 21st, Fox News announced the result of a large study at U.S. veterans hospitals concluding that the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine showed no benefit, used with or without the antibiotic azithromycin. The primary outcomes were death and the need for ventilation, and it made no difference in the need for a breathing machine. In fact, in those treated with hydroxychloroquine alone, the drug might have damaged other organs and had more deaths, like altering the heartbeat in a way that could lead to sudden death. Earlier this month, scientists in Brazil stopped part of a study into a similar drug, chloroquine, after heart rhythm problems developed in one-quarter of the people given the higher of two doses being tested.
     

  • On April 22nd, multiple ICU doctors working across 10 hospitals in the Emory University health system in Atlanta are reporting an alarming blood-clotting complication of COVID-19, affecting as many as 20, 30 or 40 percent of their patients. The first sign of something going haywire was in legs, which were turning blue and swelling. Even patients on blood thinners, were developing clots. Next came the clogging of the dialysis machines, which were jamming several times a day. In autopsies, they expected to find pneumonia and damage to the tiny air sacs, but what they found were tiny clots all over and micro-clots in the blood, which may explain why so many are dying at home.
     

  • It was previously believed that we can't pass coronavirus to our pets and that they don't pass it to us. As of April 22nd, there is still no evidence that pets can spread the virus to people, but the CDC has received two reports of cats becoming mildly sick with COVID-19 in New York. So, if you aren't feeling well and have some COVID-19 symptoms, continue frequent hand washing and be sure to wear a mask so you don't pass the virus to your pet. Actually, it is recommend that you not interact with your pet at all, but who can resist a cuddle with their fur baby?
     

  • Ordinary heroes... extraordinary.... On April 23rd, 43 factory workers in Pennsylvania walked off the job after the longest shift of their lives —28 days! They called it a "live-in" at the factory, just one example of the endless ways that Americans in every industry have uniquely contributed to fighting coronavirus. They were all volunteers, hunkering down at the plant so no one caught the virus outside, working 12-hour shifts all day and night, all to meet the rocketing demand for their key product, polypropylene, needed to make personal protective equipment (PPE). "We’ve been getting messages on social media from nurses, doctors, EMS workers, saying thank you for what we’re doing. But we want to thank them for what they did and are continuing to do. That’s what made the time we were in there go by quickly, just being able to support them." Braskem’s plant in West Virginia is now doing a second live-in.
     

  • During a February 26th press conference, Dr. Nancy Messonnier, the director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the CDC, warned of the severity of the coronavirus outbreak. Business Insider reported on April 22nd that Trump threatened to fire her and she was removed from the White House coronavirus task force briefings, which led to lengthy investigations into all the times Trump brushed aside warnings of the severity of the coronavirus crisis, failed to act, or was delayed by significant infighting and mixed messages from his aides at the White House. In the time between Messonnier's remarks and March 16th, when Trump finally announced nationwide stay-at-home and social-distancing measures, the number of confirmed cases in the US surged from just 15 to over 4,200.
     

  • On April 22nd, New York Magazine's Intelligencer reported that Dr. Rick Bright, head of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, an agency at the center of government efforts to produce treatment and a vaccine for the coronavirus, was fired for insisting on limits to the use of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, an unproven treatment that Trump touted as a miracle cure for the virus, and for resisting funding potentially dangerous drugs promoted by Trump’s political allies. The loss of one of the nation’s most highly regarded vaccine specialists struck a devastating blow to what is quite literally the most important project in the world.
     

  • On April 24th, a consumer protection group official told Bloomberg News that a U.S. Department of Agriculture meat inspector died after getting COVID-19. The USDA didn't respond to calls for comment. Sarah Sorscher, deputy director of regulatory affairs for the Center for Science in the Public Interest said, "If USDA had acted more quickly to ensure worker safety, they could have prevented the disease from spreading across the meat industry as it has." ProPublica reported that another food inspector died last month. COVID-19 outbreaks affecting hundreds of employees have been reported at several meat plants.


Friday, April 17th

Compare this week's information with last week's. The following has been learned this week.

  • Per WESH-2, Florida now has 22,897 cases testing positive for COVID-19, with Villages-News.com saying that 72 of them are Villagers, with 633 deaths. The breakdown of confirmed cases in our tri-county area is:

    • Sumter County: 117 cases 11 deaths
    • Lake County: 184 cases, 5 deaths
    • Marion County: 107 cases, 3 deaths
  • In addition to Covid-19 inflaming and clogging the tiny air sacs in the lungs, choking off the body’s oxygen supply until it causes organ failure, doctors are now seeing that the virus may also be causing heart inflammation, acute kidney disease, neurological malfunction, blood clots, intestinal damage, and liver problems. These new observations complicate treatment and make recovery less certain (as of 4/15/2020). So, Stay well all!
     
  • The good news — When the CDC named medical conditions that might make a person vulnerable to the new coronavirus, asthma made the list, but early evidence appears to show asthma does not raise the risk of getting the virus, even though both conditions are lung disorders.
     
  • The longer the novel coronavirus circulates, the more unexpected symptoms pop up. To name a few, ophthalmologists have said pink eye may be a rare sign of COVID-19, and loss of smell or taste can occur in patients with no other symptoms. Coughing blood and tingling all over the body have also been reported. Yet another symptom might be COVID toes or hands. COVID toes often appear in patients with no other symptoms.
     
  • On Tuesday, Trump ordered a halt on payments to the World Health Organization (WHO) for what he called mismanagement of the pandemic. Some countries have also been critical of the WHO, close U.S. allies said they vehemently disagreed with a suspension of payments. Even Bill Gates weighed in by saying that cutting WHO funding during a pandemic is "as dangerous as it sounds. The world needs @WHO now more than ever."
     
  • In private discussions, President Trump has been adamant that he wants to lift distancing restrictions on May 1In response, FEMA and the CDC created a public health strategy to reopen parts of the country. Read what's in the plan and how it would work. As officials weigh in about reopening the economy, experts still do not know how deadly COVID-19 is. Without widespread testing, it remains nearly impossible to determine precisely the lethality of the virus. And opening the economy without any nationwide testing and contact tracing program invites a resurgence according to some public health experts who believe the amount of testing must be at least doubled or tripled to allow even a partial reopening of the American economy.
     
  • According to WebMD (4/17/2020), the white house says that there are enough COVID-19 tests to start reopening. Industry leaders told Trump on Wednesday that more testing is needed before reopening the country. Public health officials, along with state and local leaders, have been asking for more testing as a way to know who is infected and then to find out who has immunity. (Here in The Villages, most people still can't get tested, even if they have some symptoms or have had contact with someone who's tested positive?) Dr. Fauci said it's important to contain the coronavirus until a vaccine is developed, which probably won't happen until next year.


Friday, April 10th

Compare this week's information with last week's. The following has been learned this week.

  • Per WESH-2, Florida now has 17,968 cases testing positive for COVID-19, with 419 deaths. The breakdown of confirmed cases in our tri-county area is:

    • Sumter County: 107 cases 9 deaths
    • Lake County: 149 cases, 3 deaths
    • Marion County: 83 cases, 2 deaths
  • According to CBS News, the Justice Department just announced an arrest in a multimillion dollar COVID-19 scheme. A Georgia man was arrested on Friday for trying to defraud the Veterans Affairs Department out of millions of dollars, in one of the first big coronavirus-related fraud cases brought by the Justice Department's new COVID-19 Hoarding and Price Gouging task force.

  • WebMD has provided a symptom checker for you or someone else. Check the symptoms and answer questions and they'll tell you want to do and your next steps.

  • According to WebMD, a handful of clinical trials have begun to test ways to keep healthcare workers safe from the virus. Most are testing drugs called chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine that are used to prevent and treat malaria and as a rheumatoid arthritis and lupus therapy. Whether these drugs will help, hurt, or do nothing remains an open question. In some animal studies, the drugs have actually prevented the immune system from responding to an infection.

  • Trump is pressing to reopen the country, but the experts continue to be cautious. Lifting restrictions too early could cause a resurgence of COVID-19 cases and spread it even further and faster. The good news is that hot spots like New York are showing signs of slowing down, so social distancing and frequent hand-washing seem to be working. The national death toll is now predicted to reach 60,000, which is lower than earlier estimates, but the peak has yet to be reached.

  • CDC Director Robert Redfield told NPR that very aggressive contact tracing (the process of finding those who had contact with someone who tested positive, who are then quarantined or monitored) is needed for the U.S. to return to normal, but they need a substantial increase in the number of public health fieldworkers. The cost and burden of that will have to lie with the states, with the CDC just providing guidance.

  • We now know that the virus isn't picking on the elderly and those with underlying conditions. People under the age of 44 make up a big part of COVID-19 hospitalizations. Up to 20% of people hospitalized with coronavirus in the United States are young adults between the ages of 20 to 44, a new federal study shows. And earlier this week it was reported two 11-year olds have tested positive.

  • Since the CDC changed its position on wearing face masks, you can't find one at any at the local stores, but you can make them yourself. Although Walmart's materials department is closed, they put out 1-yard pieces for customers to buy. You can also order from Joann's and pick up curbside. The CDC shows you how to make your own if you want to sew one, or use the no-sew methods of cutting up a t-shirt or using a bandana.


Friday, April 3rd

Compare this week's information with last week's — it is truly disturbing. The following has been learned this week.

  • Per WESH-2, Florida now has 9,585 cases testing positive for COVID-19, with 163 deaths. The breakdown of confirmed cases in our tri-county area is:

    • Sumter County: 67 cases 2 deaths
    • Lake County: 85 cases, 2 deaths
    • Marion County: 34 cases, 0 deaths

    I don't know whether the increased numbers are due to more tests being available or to the rapid increase in cases.

  • According to worldometer statistics, the U.S. still has the fastest growing and highest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the world, with 276,965 cases, 7,391 deaths, and 112,283 recoveries.

    • Italy has 119,827 cases, 14,681 deaths, and 19,758 recoveries
    • Spain is close behind with 119,199 cases, 11,198 deaths, and 30,513 recoveries
    • Germany has 91,159 cases, 1,275 deaths, and 24,575 recoveries
    • With China reporting 81,620 cases, 3,322 deaths, and 76,571 recoveries.

    This week, the U.S. had 32,088 new cases! No other country even comes close to that! The closest are Spain with 7,134 and Germany with 6,365, and eight other countries have increases between 1,000+ to 5,000+, with other countries in the hundreds or just double digits. Regardless of what we are being told in White House press briefings, our country has failed miserably at forming a cohesive plan for fighting the virus and its spread, marshaling the country's resources and capabilities toward that goal, helping the governors fulfill that goal, using the powers that only the federal government can provide, and mobilizing the country to follow the guidelines consistently. The experts in infectious diseases, Dr. Tony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx, have tried to provide factual information, but they are constantly being undermined by the musical chairs of task force members and the president, so many people don't take the dangers seriously. And tests are still not readily available as some Village residents found out.

  • An article by Gabby Landsverk in the March 31st issue of Business Insider found that there are 10 coronavirus symptoms that we may not be aware of, from malaise and confusion, headaches and dizziness to digestive issues. They are atypical symptoms, but may lead people to think that they don't have the virus and are not infectious and not spreading the virus.

  • Studies now show that a portion of people with the coronavirus may lack symptoms, possibly 25% or higher, are spreading the virus, and others who are pre-symptomatic can transmit the virus before they show signs of COVID-19, so the CDC is now advising that we use cloth masks or face coverings when going out in public. It won't prevent you from getting the virus, but will help you avoid spreading it to others. Please don't use medical-grade masks; save those masks for those on the front lines of helping people with the disease. Also see WebMD's blog, Cloth Masks: What to Know.

  • While the virus can remain on some surfaces for up to 72 hours, the study didn’t include fabric. So far, evidence suggests that it’s harder to catch the virus from a soft surface like fabric than from frequently-touched hard surfaces like elevator buttons or door handles.

    • Continue to wash your hands frequently, or use sanitizers if out, and continue practicing social distancing.

    • If washing clothes that may have been contaminated or your mask, wash in hot water and dry everything on high; the virus dies at temperatures above 133 F.

    • If staying home and no one in your home has symptoms of COVID-19, the CDC recommends routine cleaning, including laundry.
       

  • WebMD answers the question of how we know if we have a mild case of COVID-19, what to do, when we are out of the woods, and when we can stop isolating ourselves. There is still A LOT that isn't known about this virus, but until testing capability improves in the U.S., many of us with mild symptoms may never know whether our illness is COVID-19, the flu, or a cold.


Thursday, March 26th

Healthline.com has shared the latest information learned concerning COVID-19:

  • The new coronavirus disease outbreak, initially identified in China, is continuing to grow. Reported U.S. cases are at least 82,000 with over 1,100 deaths. Cases have been found in all 50 states. Due to limited testing supplies, health experts believe the number of U.S. people with the disease is likely much higher. And, as of today, Friday, March 27th, Orlando.com has reported Florida has reached 2,484 coronavirus cases, up 129 cases since yesterday at 11:00 a.m.

    • Sumter County: 24 cases
    • Lake County: 26 cases
    • Marion County: 5 cases

    No one in Lake or Sumter County has died from the disease. Lake cases range in age from 21 to 85, so the the young are not immune to the virus as previously surmised.

  • The U.S.now has the highest number of COVID-19 cases in the world, surpassing China’s 81,782 cases, with New York being the epicenter. New York is now performing more COVID-19 tests than any other state.

  • The American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery (AAO-HNS), recently proposed that a loss of smell should be added to the list of screening tools for COVID-19 due to "evidence accumulating from cases worldwide."

  • Shortness of breath often occurs 5 to 10 days after the first sign of fever. COVID-19 symptoms usually appear 2 to 14 days after exposure. "Some people become infected but don’t develop any symptoms and don’t feel unwell," according to the WHO (World Health Organization), but they can still transmit the virus to those around them.

  • A new study conducted by German researchers examined 9 people with the new coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2 so they could understand virus shedding (when the virus leaves its host) to determine how infectious the disease may be. The findings suggest that:
     
    • Viral shedding occurred in high levels during early phases of illness.
    • The rate of shedding dropped after the 5th day in all patients except for two who showed signs of pneumonia.
    • Continued to shed COVID-19 at high levels until the 10th or 11th day. You can read the entire article for Coronavirus Outbreak: Live Updates.
       
  • The study also shows that COVID-19 can often present as a common cold-like illness. SARS-CoV-2 can actively replicate in the upper respiratory tract, and is shed for a prolonged time after symptoms end, including in stool.
     
  • Scientists also found that people with COVID-19 may shed over 1,000 times more virus than what was emitted during peak shedding of the 2003 SARS infection, which could explain why COVID-19 has spread so rapidly.
     
  • WHO said the fatality rate for COVID-19 may be higher than previously realized. The virus isn't SARS, MERS, or the flu; is a unique virus with unique characteristics, but may be more deadly. Globally, about 3.4 percent of reported COVID-19 cases have died; the seasonal flu generally kills .1 percent.
     
  • Scientists reported that the virus can be detected in both anal swabs and blood samples. Crucially, evidence of the new coronavirus was found in anal swabs and blood — even when it wasn’t detected using oral swabs.
     
  • A new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that people may acquire the coronavirus through the air and after touching contaminated objects. The virus is detectable for up to 3 hours in aerosols, up to 4 hours on copper, up to 24 hours on cardboard, and up to 2—3 days on plastic and stainless steel. So, it lasts longer than previously thought and you need to clean and disinfect frequently-touched objects and surfaces. Check the label on the wipes you are using to disinfect a hard surface. For instance, the label on a container of Clorox wipes instructs: "Use enough wipes for treated surface to remain visibly wet for 4 minutes. To kill viruses, let stand 15 seconds."
     
  • NPR answered questions about pets in its podcast published March 27th. So far, there is no evidence that pets can contract or spread COVID-19. The virus may be present on their fur or harness if someone has the virus and pet, so you should wash your hands before and after playing with your pet. Fur is porous, and that's a good thing when it comes to virus. A surface that is permeable, like a fabric or fur, tends to trap viruses more easily than hard surfaces.

It seems they learn more about the virus every day, with more information coming out, so stay tuned....


Thanks to Shirley Palazzo for passing along information that will hopefully keep us all safer from this virus, and who prompted me to research this article.


Friday, March 20th

With the new coronavirus in the news, social media, and emails are spreading information, and not all of it is accurate. Since coronavirus is so new, there are a lot of unknowns. No vaccine is available against it, and there is no recommended antiviral treatment for it. People with COVID-19 should receive supportive care to help relieve their symptoms.

People who think they may have been exposed to COVID-19 should contact their healthcare provider immediately. If traveling, keep abreast of travel advisories from regulatory agencies and understand that this is a rapidly changing situation.

COVID-19 is a rapidly changing situation. WebMD has a web page providing the Latest Updates on the 2020 Coronavirus Outbreak. Check it periodically so you have the most current information and don't spread misinformation.


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