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The Latest on the Coronavirus — August

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8/28/2020:
    
CDC Shocks Everyone with Change Its Testing Guidelines
     Testing is Down in Florida

     6 Feet May Not Be Enough Protection in Some Places
     Public Restrooms and Tissues Spreading the Virus
     Physicians Can Now Certify
COVID-19 Deaths
 
    This Week's Statistics
         
Florida Department of Health's dashboard
         
Florida's COVID-19 Action dashboard
 

8/21/2020:
     New York Doctors Pay It Forward
     Children Play Larger Role in Community Spread Than Thought
     More Than 7K Children Diagnosed
    
98 Symptoms Long Haulers Say They've Had
     Long Infection, Mental & Neurological Effects

     Quick COVID-19 Test Gets FDA Emergency Use Authorization
     Dr. Fauci Interview — How to Wash Deliveries, and More
    
Central Florida Cases Decline, Not Sumter & Marion Counties
    
Florida, Texas & California Are Three New Yorks
     CDC Back In Charge of Collecting COVID-19 Data

     This Week's Statistics
         
Florida Department of Health's dashboard
         
Florida's COVID-19 Action dashboard
 

8/14/2020:
     FDA Found Another Dangerous Toxin in Hand Sanitizers

     Only 13 States Do Contact Tracing and Share
What They've Found
     Employees Sent Home after COVID-19 Exposure at FL School

     FL Children — A 137% Increase of Cases Over Past 4 Weeks

     Hundreds Infected at Georgia Summer Camp
     More FL Children Dying as Schools Struggle to Reopen
    
CDC’s Guidance to Schools Glosses Over Ventilation Systems
    
Do Not Wear Masks with Exhalation Valves or Vents
     Neck Gators are Not COVID-19 Masks
    
How To Care for Your Mask So It Continues to be Effective
     Two Chinese Cities Find COVID-19 on Imported Frozen Foods

     800+ People World-wide are Dead Because of COVID-19 Misinformation
     This Week's Statistics
         
Florida Department of Health's dashboard
         
Florida's COVID-19 Action dashboard
    

8/7/2020:
     FDA Hand Sanitizer List Widens to Over 100 Products

     People Are Drinking Hand Sanitizer. Don't do it!
     What are the chances of getting infected at school?
     If kids can transmit COVID-19, how often do they?

     COVID-19's Lingering Problems
     The Virus Can Cause Kidney Failure
    
Can common cold coronaviruses teach the immune system to recognize SARS-CoV-2?
     How the Pandemic Defeated America

   
 This Week's Statistics
         
Florida Department of Health's dashboard
         
Florida's COVID-19 Action dashboard

 

Friday, August 28th

The following has been learned this past week.

  • The CDC shocked everyone this week by changing its guidelines for COVID-19 testing, saying that COVID-19 testing may not be necessary if someone has been exposed but doesn't have symptoms. (Say what!?!) This was announced through several national and local media outlets on Wednesday and infectious-disease experts are scratching their heads, blindsided and vehemently disagreeing. Theories suggested for this was pressure from the White House (the country's infection rates would look better if fewer Americans got tests), the shortage of tests (again?), and the backlog in getting test results out. Experts fear the change will lead to more infections, with asymptomatic people continuing to spread the virusGovernors of the hardest hit states, Florida included, will be disregarding that advice and will continue to test as long as tests are available. Dr. Fauci was undergoing surgery at the time and would not have gone along with it.
     
  • That said, the Tampa Bay Times reported yesterday that testing is down in Florida. As daily new infections reported continue to slow this month, so do the average number of coronavirus tests being done across the state. Public health experts can’t pinpoint exactly why this decline is happening. Testing in Florida hit a peak in mid-July when the state had a weekly average of about 100,000 tests processed a day. Now, just over a month later, that average has declined to fewer than 70,000 tests a day, more than 30% dip from the peak, and according to The New York Times, testing is down across the nation, especially noticeable in states with a summer surge of coronavirus cases, including Texas and Florida.
     
  • On Thursday, it was announced that public health experts are reevaluating guidelines for safe social distancing amid growing evidence that six feet is "not enough protection" in some environments, that the novel coronavirus can travel farther than six feet under certain conditions. Factors such as air circulation, ventilation, exposure time, crowd density, whether people are wearing face masks and whether they are silent, speaking, shouting, or singing should all be part of assessing whether six feet is sufficient, experts say. If the novel coronavirus can float in the air as a vapor, earlier assumptions of its range are inadequate. Airborne transmission is still not conclusive.
     
  • Forbes published an article featuring recent world-wide studies that expanded on what was known about how COVID-19 is spread. In one study, public restrooms were identified as spreaders of the virus. It was found that flushing a public restroom toilet or urinal can release clouds of virus-laden aerosols that can be inhaled. Flushing involves an interaction between gas and liquid, resulting in a large spread of aerosol particles into the air. The trajectory of those particles was also disturbing, with more than 57% of the particles being sprayed away from the urinal. Researchers felt that wearing a facemask should be mandatory within a public restroom.
     
    In another study, it was reported that influenza viruses can spread through the air on dust, fibers, and other microscopic particles. It had been assumed that airborne transmission occurred mainly due to respiratory droplets by coughing, sneezing, or talking. The scientists found that the virus did not have to come directly from the respiratory tract to be infectious. They also tested whether microscopic fibers from an inanimate object could carry infectious viruses. They treated paper facial tissues with the flu, let them dry and then crumpled them in front of the automated particle sizer. Crumpling the tissues released up to 900 particles per second in a size range that could be inhaled. The surprising findings that dust can spread viruses have obvious implications for Coronavirus transmission and use of masks for protection.

     
  • Florida Today reported on Wednesday that Medical examiners are no longer required to certify COVID-19 deaths; physicians can now report them directly to the Department of Health (DOH). From the start of the pandemic, Florida's medical examiners tracked all coronavirus fatalities (a signature from a medical examiner's office and verification of a positive test for a death certificate required). But as deaths began to skyrocket in July, medical examiners were overwhelmed, unable to certify deaths fast enough, with cadavers piling up as they waited for tests. This rule change should help eliminate this backlog, but will move data collection away from the Medical Examiners Commission's control, with its consistency of procedures and requirements for accurate and consistent reporting, to the DOH's records, dependent upon individual doctor's judgments and reporting.
     
  • As usual, I am showing statistics from two dashboards/data portals: Florida's Dept. of Health (DOH) statistics and Florida's COVID Action statistics (both developed by Rebekah Jones).
  • Per the Florida Department of Health's dashboard* as of Friday, August 28th, the state now has 609,074 residents testing positive for COVID-19 (an increase of 222,051 cases over last week), with 38,029 hospitalized (up by 2,032 hospitalizations this week), and 10,957 deaths (a jump of 789 deaths just this week). The breakdown of confirmed cases in our tri-county area is:
    • Sumter County: 1,671 cases (a jump of 243 more cases than last week), 199 hospitalizations (12 more than last week), with 46 deaths (just 2 more deaths than last week) — age range: 1 — 99 (median age now: 61)
        
    • Lake County: 5,912 cases (452 more cases than last week), 343 hospitalizations (32 more than last week), with 71 deaths (12 more deaths than last week) — age range: 0 — 103 (median age: 41)
        
    • Marion County: 7,793 cases (777 more cases than last week), 665 hospitalizations (a jump of 106 more than last week), with 121 deaths (10 more deaths than last week) — age range: 0 — 104 (median age now: 41)

    * Amount of testing in the state has decreased each week since 7/12/2020. It works. Performing fewer tests results in fewer cases. This week, 67,578 people were tested (2,117 fewer than last week), 3,849 tested positive (881 fewer than last week), with 63,727 testing negative (1,238 fewer than last week). The percentage of people testing positive for the week is 5.7%.

    Per the Florida's COVID Action dashboard** as of Friday, August 28th, the state now has 663,340 cases testing positive for COVID-19 (an increase of 38,505 new cases this past week, with 3,815 new cases on Friday alone), with 49,989 of those cases being pediatric cases; with 4,252 requiring hospitalization (650 fewer cases than last week); and 11,099 deaths (an increase of 795 deaths this past week, with 88 deaths on Friday alone). The breakdown of confirmed cases in our tri-county area is:

    • Sumter County: 1,936 cases (162 more cases than last week, with 65 cases on Friday alone), 15 cases requiring hospitalization (down by 1 case from last week), and 48 deaths (an increase of 2 deaths from last week, and 0 new deaths on Friday) — graph on right shows an increase
        
    • Lake County: 6,566 cases (387 more cases than last week, with 95 cases on Friday alone), 76 cases requiring hospitalization (a huge jump of 30 cases), and 104 deaths (an increase of 12 deaths from last week, with 4 new deaths on Friday) — graph on right shows a decline
        
    • Marion County: 4,545 cases (a huge decline of 3,376 cases since last week, with 140 cases on Friday alone), just 17 cases requiring hospitalization (a drop of 86 cases over last week), and 115 deaths (6 fewer deaths than last week, 2 deaths this week, but 0 deaths on Friday) — graph on right shows a decline, as well

    ** The newly reported Lab results for today: 48,962 results received, with 5,215 testing positive and 43,326 testing negative. The average number of people testing positive for today is 11.2%.

Friday, August 21st

The following has been learned this past week.

  • Some uplifting news for a change. Early in the pandemic, health-care workers volunteered in droves to go to New York City, where the virus was overwhelming hospitals. Now some New York doctors are heading to the crisis’s new hot spots in Southern and Western states, where cases and hospitalizations have spiked.  

  • On Thursday, in the most comprehensive study of COVID-19 pediatric patients to date, Massachusetts researchers provided critical data showing that children play a larger role in the community spread of COVID-19 than previously thought. Infected children have a much higher level of virus in their airways than hospitalized adults in ICUs. And in another breakthrough finding from the study, the researchers challenge the current hypothesis that children are less likely to become infected or seriously ill. Data shows that children are more contagious, regardless of their susceptibility to developing COVID-19 infection.
     
  • News Channel 8 reported Friday that more than 7 thousand children have been diagnosed with COVID-19, with 1 death in 13 days, just before schools reopen. A 6-year-old Hillsborough girl is the latest in the state’s pediatric  coronavirus deaths, and the youngest death in the state so far, and the number of children in Florida being diagnosed with coronavirus is growing just before schools reopen.
     
  • Long haulers, those suffering long-term effects of the virus, report a wide variety of painful side effects from COVID-19. A survey by Eat This, Not That! identifies 98 symptoms patients say they've had. Of the long-haulers, most are women, average age is 44, and most were formerly fit and healthy... and they look very different from the typical portrait of a COVID-19 patient. The Atlantic reports that they had to set up their own support groups and started to run their own research projects, forming alliances with people with similar illnesses/symptoms. These people are still paying the price for early pandemic failures. Many long-haulers couldn’t get tested when they first fell sick because tests were scarce, then they were denied tests because their symptoms didn’t conform to a short list of symptoms. As time passed, when they were tested, they got false negatives even though they had the same symptoms of those who tested positive. On top of that, medical professionals dismiss them and their symptoms may be permanent.
     
  • As many as 1 in 3 patients recovering from Covid-19 could experience neurological or psychological after-effects of their infections, reflecting a growing consensus that the disease can have lasting impact on the brain. Even people who were never sick enough to go to a hospital, much less lie in an ICU bed with a ventilator, report feeling something as ill-defined as "Covid fog" or as frightening as numbed limbs. They’re unable to carry on with their lives, exhausted by crossing the street, fumbling for words, or laid low by depression, anxiety, or PTSD. Neuropsychological problems range from headache, dizziness, and lingering loss of smell or taste to mood disorders and deeper cognitive impairment. Muscle weakness and nerve damage sometimes mean they can’t walk.
     
  • A quick and affordable saliva-based laboratory diagnostic test developed by researchers at the Yale School of Public Health has been granted an emergency use authorization by the FDA. The method, called SalivaDirect, is being further validated as a test for asymptomatic individuals. It is simpler, less expensive, and less invasive than the traditional nasal swab method. Authorization makes the test immediately available and provides the go-ahead for ramping up production quickly for distribution. Rather than sell kits or test samples on their own, the researchers are sharing their method with local labs for free and the lab is granting licenses only to other laboratories that agree to charge an affordable price for the test.
     
  • In an online interview with The Washington Post's Geoff Edgers, Dr. Anthony Fauci talked about how we can get the virus under control. During the interview, he shared how he washes deliveries to his house, the primary and secondary benefit of a mask, when you don't need to wear one, on voting in person, the many manifestations of the virus, younger people infecting others, our personal responsibility, what people don't understand, the three words everyone should hear — Don't Give Up, and more.
     
  • Our country's death toll surpasses 1,000 for the 4th day in a row, putting the nationwide total at 142,416 known deaths since the start of the pandemic. Coronavirus deaths reached single-day highs in California and Oregon and tied the record in Montana. California, Texas and Florida, and still no nation-wide plan for getting this virus under control. WFTV 9 reported that while most of Central Florida has seen a decline in COVID-19 cases, Sumter and Marion Counties have an uptick.
     
  • Since New York was at the peak of its outbreak, the United States is seeing the situation repeat itself as cases surge in Florida, Texas and California. These three states combined recorded more than 500 deaths on Thursday; Florida and Texas also reached record highs for the weekly average of single-day deaths, according to data tracked by The Post. Coronavirus task force coordinator Deborah Birx said Friday during an appearance on NBC's Today show, "What we have right now are essentially three New Yorks with these three major states."
     
  • On July 15th, hospitals, labs, etc. were told to bypass the CDC and send COVID-19 data to the the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services instead. However, after many complaints from hospitals, problems with HHS's software and having to learn a new system while struggling to care for patients, confusion and inaccuracies in data, it was announced Thursday that reporting this critical information is back in the CDC's hands.
  • As usual, I am showing statistics from two dashboards/data portals: Florida's Dept. of Health (DOH) statistics and Florida's COVID Action statistics (both developed by Rebekah Jones).
  • Per the Florida Department of Health's dashboard* as of Friday, August 21st, the state now has 587,023 residents testing positive for COVID-19 (an increase of 29,686 cases over last week), with 35,997 hospitalized (up by 2,842 hospitalizations this week), and 10,168 deaths (up by a whopping 1,027 deaths just this week). The breakdown of confirmed cases in our tri-county area is:
     
    • Sumter County: 1,671 cases (a jump of 243 more cases than last week), 199 hospitalizations (12 more than last week), with 46 deaths (just 2 more deaths than last week) — age range: 1 — 99 (median age now: 61)
        
    • Lake County: 5,912 cases (452 more cases than last week), 343 hospitalizations (32 more than last week), with 71 deaths (12 more deaths than last week) — age range: 0 — 103 (median age: 41)
        
    • Marion County: 7,793 cases (777 more cases than last week), 665 hospitalizations (a jump of 106 more than last week), with 121 deaths (10 more deaths than last week) — age range: 0 — 104 (median age now: 41)

    * Amount of testing in the state has decreased each week since 7/12/2020. It works. Performing fewer tests results in fewer cases. This week, 69,695 people were tested, 4,730 tested positive, with 64,965 testing negative.

    Per the Florida's COVID Action dashboard* as of Friday, August 21st, the state now has 624,818 cases testing positive for COVID-19 (an increase of 30,001 new cases this past week, with 4,684 new cases on Friday alone), with 4,902 requiring hospitalization (a huge drop of 5,535 new cases this past week,, with 15.893% adults and 13.151% pediatric patients), and 10,304 deaths (an increase of 1,028 deaths this past week, with 118 deaths on Friday alone). The breakdown of confirmed cases in our tri-county area is:

    • Sumter County: 1,774 cases (a jump of 244 more cases than last week, with 52 cases on Friday alone), 16 cases requiring hospitalization (a drop of 3 cases from last week), and 46 deaths (an increase of 2 deaths from last week, and 0 new deaths on Friday) — graph on right has spiked
        
    • Lake County: 6,179 cases (458 more cases than last week, with 95 cases on Friday alone), 46 cases requiring hospitalization (a drop of 4 cases), and 92 deaths (an increase of 12 deaths from last week, but 0 new deaths on Friday) — graph on right shows a decline
        
    • Marion County: 7,921 cases (an increase of 777 more cases than last week, with 116 cases on Friday alone), just 103 cases requiring hospitalization (a huge drop of 5,790 cases over last week), and 121 deaths (10 more deaths than last week, but 0 deaths on Friday) — graph on right shows a decline, as well


    Friday, August 14th

    The following has been learned this past week.

    • Fox News reported that the FDA announced on Wednesday that it has found another dangerous toxin in some hand sanitizers sold in the U.S. — 1-propanol. It can be life-threatening if ingested and can cause central nervous system depression, which can result in death. If someone shows signs of confusion, decreased consciousness, slowed pulse and breathing, they should seek immediate care for 1-propanol poisoning. Skin or eye exposure to 1-propanol can result in irritation, and rare cases of allergic skin reactions have been reported. The updated list of unsafe hand sanitizers, including those that contain 1-propanol, is found on the FDA's website.
    • NPR reports that the vast majority of states are gathering data from their contact tracing programs, but only 13 respondents of its survey reported that the data was posted on a government website. Besides letting people know they've been in contact with an infected person so they can self-quarantine and help cut spread of the virus, contact tracing can also show where infections are taking place, how the virus is being transmitted, how rapidly it is spreading, etc. Yet most states, including Florida, have yet to implement tracing; many states don't have the resources for contact tracing. Only 13 states are implementing and sharing tracing data and NPR shares what their tracing has found.

    • The Bradenton Herald reported on August 13th that several employees at a Manatee County high school are quarantining after being exposed to the coronavirus at the school. Using contact tracing, the school district and the Florida Department of Health found that a number of school employees had direct exposure to the infected person. "Direct exposure" means someone was within six feet of a person with COVID-19 for at least 15 minutes.

    • Children make up just over 9% of the total cases in states that report cases by age, yet there has been a 90% increase in the number of Covid-19 cases among U.S. children over the past 4 weeks. In Florida, there has been a 137% increase in the number of Covid-19 cases in children in the past month. On July 9th, Florida reported 16,797 cases in children. By August 9th, that number increased to 39,735 infections. During that same time period, hospitalizations jumped from 213 to 436, a 105% increase.

    • A Georgia summer camp adhered to all the requirements in Georgia’s protocol for reopening, but still hundreds were infected with COVID-19. The CDC said that although steps were taken to prevent transmission, efforts were “not sufficient” to prevent widespread transmission and the virus “spread efficiently”, causing a spike in infection rates among attendees of all ages. The CDC concluded that the investigation strengthens evidence that children of all ages are susceptible to the virus and "contrary to early reports" may play a large part in transmission.

    • On Tuesday, Forbes reports that more young people are dying from the virus in Florida as the state shatters its death record, breaking the old record of 257 set on July 31st. Gov. Ron DeSantis has continually downplayed the virus’ impact in the state during press briefings, and has said the greatest impacts are largely restricted to the very old. That has been the case through most of the pandemic (with limited tests, the focus was on the elderly and adults), but children weren't being tested unless they presented with symptoms. Now that the schools are trying to follow the mandate to reopen, the impact on younger people is increasing.

    • An essay in StatNews makes the point that the CDC’s guidance to schools has a lot to say about social distancing and cleaning hard surfaces, but not much about ventilation. Study after study has shown that keeping more than 6 feet away from an infected person may not matter if you are in a closed space, like a classroom, that recirculates air laced with the virus. In a Discover Magazine article, a team of engineers in California inspected the recently-updated HVAC systems in 104 classrooms across the state and found that 51% were installed incorrectly or had faulty filters or fans. Schools might see if it's practical to add "plug-in" filtration systems (air filters or air purifiers) for older buildings with old air handling systems. An article for the journal Environmental International said we should seriously consider upgrading air filtration systems to include the use of HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filters that can capture substances the size of SARS-CoV-2, and change those filters regularly. 
    • According to the CDC's latest guidance, updated late last week, face masks with exhalation valves or vents should not be used during the pandemic. They've become popular due to their seemingly high-tech design, but 3M makes them for hot and dusty construction work and has a video explaining how they work. Inhaled air is filtered as you breathe in, but the valves or vents do not prevent exhaled respiratory droplets from reaching others and possibly infecting them. They actually defeat the purpose of wearing a mask.

    • Also, neck gaiters are not masks. Here in Florida, neck gaiters are to protect us from the sun, yet a lot of baseball players and coaches have been wearing them rather than putting on a COVID-19 mask. Many runners and athletes have chosen to wear neck gaiters as face coverings while exercising instead of masks because they can be easier to breathe in. However, a recent Duke University study found that neck fleeces offer little protection compared to other materials, and knitted masks and bandanas were also shown to be less effective.

    • The Washington Post interviewed three medical experts to get their recommendations for what we should and should not do when it comes to wearing cloth masks and disinfecting them. All three experts say daily washings are a must, with one suggesting, "Treat your mask like your underwear. You want to change it every day." It collects saliva when talking, and sweat and dirt throughout the day. The widely recommended method is to throw it in with your regular wash (some machines have a sanitizing cycle). The idea of leaving masks in the sun appeared to gain some steam back in April, after lab results indicated that heat and sunlight might slow the virus, but natural sunlight may not be enough to thoroughly clean or disinfect a mask, and direct sunlight may degrade the materials. The article also goes into storing and removing your mask.

    • Two cities in China say they have found traces of the new coronavirus on the surface of imported frozen chicken wings from Brazil and the outer packaging of frozen Ecuadorian shrimp. The WHO downplayed the risk of the virus entering the food chain, but this finding raises fresh concerns. Brazil said it had not been formally notified by Chinese authorities of the alleged contamination and is seeking clarification. A day earlier, officials started investigating whether the first COVID-19 cases in New Zealand in more than 3 months were imported by freight. In a joint statement, the FDA and Agriculture Department said "there is no evidence that people can contract COVID-19 from food or from food packaging." Hopefully, they are correct.
    • BBC News reports that the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene estimates that about 5,800 people were admitted to hospitals as a result of false information on social media and at least 800 people around the world are dead because of COVID-19 misinformation. The World Health Organization (WHO) has previously called it the "infodemic" surrounding Covid-19, which has spread as quickly as the virus itself, with conspiracy theories, rumors and cultural stigma, all contributing to deaths and injuries. The BBC's own investigations links misinformation to assaults, arson and deaths as a result of misinformation  about the virus, and spoke to doctors, experts and victims about their experiences. (That's all too believable since Dr. Fauci, his family members, and many others have been plagued with death threats.)

    • As usual, I am showing statistics from two dashboards (statistics presented in easy to understand overviews) or data portals: Florida's Dept. of Health (DOH) statistics and Florida's COVID Action statistics (both developed by Rebekah Jones, but the DOH numbers continue to be under counted).

      Per the Florida Department of Health's dashboard* as of Friday, August 14th, the state now has 557,337 residents testing positive for COVID-19 (a spike of 44,916 cases over last week), with 33,155 hospitalized (up by 3,425 hospitalizations this week), and 9,141 deaths (up by a whopping 1,214 deaths just this week). The breakdown of confirmed cases in our tri-county area is:
      • Sumter County: 1,428 cases (121 more cases than last week), 187 hospitalizations (11 more than last week), with 44 deaths (just 3 more deaths than last week) — age range: 1 — 99 (median age now: 61)
          
      • Lake County: 5,455 cases (497 more cases than last week), 311 hospitalizations (42 more than last week), with 79 deaths (18 more deaths than last week) — age range: 0 — 103 (median age: 41)
          
      • Marion County: 7,016 cases (1,032 more cases than last week), 559 hospitalizations (78 more than last week), with 111 deaths (25 more deaths than last week) — age range: 0 — 104 (median age now: 41)

      * Jones told NPR that data scientists were pressured to fix the numbers to make the argument to reopen. DOH leadership wanted her to manually change numbers to support Florida's phase one opening after the analysis showed that none of the counties met the state's reopening criteria. Being asked to change the data to lower the percentage of positive COVID-19 cases in some counties so that they were under the threshold to reopen and to exclude all counties with fewer than 75,000 people became a pattern. She said no and was fired. She then started Florida's COVID Action dashboard (below). 

      Per the Florida's COVID Action dashboard** as of Friday, August 14ath, the state now has 594,817 cases testing positive for COVID-19 (an increase of 82,396 new cases this past week, with 229 new cases on Friday alone), with 10,437 requiring hospitalization (an increase of 3,293 new cases this past week), and 9,276 deaths (an increase of 1,225 deaths this past week, with 229 deaths on Friday alone).

      The breakdown of confirmed cases in our tri-county area is:

      • Sumter County: 1,530 cases (a jump of 223 more cases than last week, with 26 cases on Friday alone), 19 cases requiring hospitalization (a drop of 6 cases), and 44 deaths (a drop of 6 deaths from last week, but 3 new deaths on Friday)
          
      • Lake County: 5,721 cases (594 more cases than last week, with 98 cases on Friday alone), 50 cases requiring hospitalization (a drop of 33 cases), and 80 deaths (a drop of 3 deaths from last week, and 4 new deaths on Friday)
          
      • Marion County: 7,144 cases (an increase of 1,078 more cases than last week, with 109 cases on Friday alone), 5,893 cases requiring hospitalization, and 111 deaths (25 more deaths than last week, with 3 deaths on Friday alone)

      ** Florida's counties still don't meet the state's criteria (minimum of two weeks of declining cases) yet reopening and moving to the next phase continues, with schools preparing to reopen soon. The state continues to ignore its own criteria and has eliminated the map that shows counties ready to reopen.


    Friday, August 7th

    The following has been learned this past week.

    • The FDA continues to test hand sanitizers to see if they contain methanol. The products they have tested so far contain from 1% to 80% methanol, and Fox Business reports that the list of hand sanitizer products that you should avoid is now over 100! Click on the FDA's updated list to see the complete list as of 7/31.
      No amount of methanol is acceptable (click on link for complete list of products to avoid). The alcohol is metabolized to formaldehyde, then formic acid in the body, which is toxic whether ingested, inhaled, or absorbed through the skin. Substantial methanol exposure can result in nausea, vomiting, headache, blurred vision, permanent blindness, seizures, coma, permanent damage to the nervous system, or death.

    • People are getting sick and even dying after swallowing hand sanitizer. The figure describes that 15 people in Arizona and New Mexico were hospitalized after swallowing hand sanitizer containing methanol. described the cases of 15 adults in Arizona and New Mexico hospitalized for methanol poisoning after consuming alcohol-based hand sanitizers between May and June. Four people died, others developed seizures and impaired vision. The CDC published a new alert telling people to NOT drink hand sanitizer! (Who knew you had to tell people that?)

    • What are the chances of getting infected at a school? The New York Times calculated the likelihood that an infected student could arrive at any given county school in the country. The Miami Herald reported on incidents where students and/or staff got COVID-19 after returning to school and every child lives with at least one adult at home. Further spread of the virus is inevitable.

    • If kids can transmit COVID-19, how often do they? One study published in Nature with data from six countries suggests kids under the age of 20 are about half as likely to get sick after exposure as adults, but children can transmit the virus to each other and to adults. The question is how often they do. as adults, and another study found that 10 years old seemed to be the threshold when incidence rates changed. Infected children have similar viral loads to adults, and young children may have even more of the virus. Compared with adults, children under age 5 had very high levels of the virus in their nose and throat. Eyal Leshem at the Sheba Medical Center in Israel says, "It has been known for many years that school closure is one of the highest impact interventions to stop a pandemic influenza outbreak." The last two weeks of July, Florida saw a 34 percent increase in new cases in children and a 23 percent increase in pediatric hospitalizations. A small percentage of a big number still means a lot of kids are getting sick.

    • Brain fog to heart damage, COVID-19's lingering problems alarm scientists. The list of lingering maladies is longer and more varied than most doctors could have imagined. Ongoing problems include fatigue, a racing heartbeat, shortness of breath, achy joints, foggy thinking, a persistent loss of sense of smell, and damage to the heart, lungs, kidneys, and brain. The number of young, healthy, active people having these long-term problems is surprising, and often dismissed by doctors. For some, neurologic problems were their most debilitating symptom and the reason for hospital admission. Several were struggling to recover from encephalitis. Others had inflammation in their brain’s white matter, which helps transmit electrical signals. Several survivor studies are now underway.
    • The American Society of Nephrology’s COVID-19 Response Team reported that as many as half the patients COVID-19 and needed intensive care, had kidney failure requiring dialysis. CNBC reported that 46% of patients that were admitted to the hospital with COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic had some form of acute kidney injury. Surprisingly, 82% of those patients didn't have a history of kidney issues; 18% did. More than a third of patients that survived didn't recover their previous kidney function. Thankfully, not all patients with serious COVID-19 get permanent kidney damage.
    • Can common cold coronaviruses teach the immune system to recognize SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19? A new study led by scientists at figure3La Jolla Institute for Immunology (LJI) shows that -helper T cells that recognize common cold coronaviruses can also recognize matching sites on SARS-CoV-2. It is hoped that immune cell memory gives cells a head start in recognizing and fighting off repeat invaders like COVID-19. Their research was published August 4th in Science, which may explain why some people have milder cases than others. If the hypothesis holds true, it might enhance the potential to take advantage of this cross-reactivity and could further enhance vaccine potency.
    • The Atlantic published an article by Ed Yong analyzing how the pandemic defeated America. Few countries have been as severely hit as the United States, which has just 4 percent of the world’s population but a quarter of its confirmed COVID‑19 cases and deaths, and everything that has gone wrong was predictable and preventable according to the author. In 2018, the office assembled specifically to prepare for emerging pandemics was dismantled, and https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/presidents-intelligence-briefing-book-repeatedly-cited-virus-threat/2020/04/27/ca66949a-8885-11ea-ac8a-fe9b8088e101_story.htmlAmerican intelligence agencies warned about the coronavirus threat in January. COVID-19 found, exploited, and widened every inequity that the U.S. had to offer, and elderly people, already pushed to the fringes of society, were treated as acceptable losses. Misinformation wasn't countered and messaging was contradictory. These are just a tiny fraction of contributing factors touched on in this thought-provoking article.
    • As usual, I am showing statistics from two dashboards (statistics presented in easy to understand overviews) or data portals: Florida's Dept. of Health (DOH) statistics and Florida's COVID Action statistics (both developed by Rebekah Jones, but the DOH numbers are under counted).

      Per the Florida Department of Health's dashboard* as of Friday, August 7th, the state now has 512,421 residents testing positive for COVID-19 (a spike of 47,391 cases over last week), with 29,730 hospitalized (up by 3,197 hospitalizations this week), and 7,927 deaths (up by a whopping 1,084 deaths just this week). The breakdown of confirmed cases in our tri-county area is:
       
      • Sumter County: 1,237 cases (168 more cases than last week), 176 hospitalizations (22 more than last week), with 41 deaths (10 more deaths than last week) — age range now: 1 — 99 (median age: 61)
          
      • Lake County: 4,958 cases (474 more cases than last week), 269 hospitalizations (49 more than last week), with 61 deaths (10 more deaths than last week) — age range: 0 — 103 (median age: 41)
          
      • Marion County: 5,984 cases (1,105 more cases than last week), 481 hospitalizations (87 more than last week), with 86 deaths (26 more deaths than last week) — age range now: 0 — 104 (median age: 41)

      * Jones told NPR that data scientists were pressured to fix the numbers to make the argument to reopen. DOH leadership wanted her to manually change numbers to support Florida's phase one opening after the analysis showed that none of the counties met the state's reopening criteria. Being asked to change the data to lower the percentage of positive COVID-19 cases in some counties so that they were under the threshold to reopen and to exclude all counties with fewer than 75,000 people became a pattern. She said no and was fired. She then started Florida's COVID Action dashboard (below). 

      Per the Florida's COVID Action dashboard** as of Friday, August 7th, the state now has 541,599 cases testing positive for COVID-19 (an increase of 49,562 new cases this past week, with 7,686 new cases on Friday alone), with 7,144 requiring hospitalization, and 8,051 deaths (with 180 deatses than last week, with 118 cases on Friday alone), 83 cases requiring hospitalization (a drop of 142 cases), and 83 deaths (10 more deaths than last week, with just 1 new death on Friday)
       
      • Sumter County: 1,307 cases (160 more cases than last week, with 29 cases on Friday alone), 25 cases requiring hospitalization (a drop of 129 cases), and 41 deaths (a drop of 113 deaths from last week, with just 1 new death on Friday)
          
      • Lake County: 5,127 cases (442 more cases than last week, with 118 cases on Friday alone), 83 cases requiring hospitalization (a drop of 142 cases), and 83 deaths (10 more deaths than last week, with just 1 new death on Friday)
          
      • Marion County: 6,066 cases (1,092 more cases than last week, with 277 cases on Friday alone), 98 cases requiring hospitalization (a drop of 286 cases), and 86 deaths (a whopping 26 more deaths than last week, with 3 deaths on Friday alone)

      ** Florida's counties still don't meet the state's criteria (minimum of two weeks of declining cases) yet reopening and moving to the next phase continues, with schools preparing to reopen soon. The state continues to ignore its own criteria and has eliminated the map that shows counties ready to reopen.


    See what had been learned about the virus in July.


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