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The Latest on the Coronavirus ó April

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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 ó28 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). "Weíve been getting messages on social media from nurses, doctors, EMS workers, saying thank you for what weíre doing. But we want to thank them for what they did and are continuing to do. Thatís what made the time we were in there go by quickly, just being able to support them." Braskemís 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 Trumpís political allies. The loss of one of the nationís 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 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 bodyís 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 ó 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 ó 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 didnít include fabric. So far, evidence suggests that itís 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.

See what had been learned about the virus in March.

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