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The Latest on the Coronavirus — February

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Latest on COVID-19 in February — Updated

2/26/2021:
    
Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Emergency Use Approval New
     Drug Companies Increasing Production
 New
    
CDC Issued New Guidance to Gyms New
     Long Covid Now Has a Name & Will Be Studied
 New
     Possible Reasons for Decline in Cases in Recent Weeks
 New             
     This Week's Statistics

          Florida COVID-19 DOH dashboard — Updated

          Florida's COVID-19 Action dashboard
 — Updated

2/19/2021:
    
Real Contact Tracers Calling New
     Animals and the Danger of Face Masks
 New
     Mammograms and the Vaccine
 New
     Pfiser's Vaccine May Reduce Virus Transmission
 New
     This Week's Statistics

          Florida COVID-19 DOH dashboard — Updated

         
Florida's COVID-19 Action dashboard
 — Updated

2/12/2021:
     5 Tips for Making Your Mask More Protective

     This Week's Statistics

          Florida COVID-19 DOH dashboard

          Florida's COVID-19 Action dashboard

2/5/2021:
    
Who is spreading the virus most?
     Superbowl Sunday May be a Superspreader Event

     How to Prepare for Your COVID-19 Vaccination
    
The Virus is in the Air, Not So Much on Surfaces
     Couples Clash Over COVID-19 Precautions
     Reducing COVID-19 Transmission in a Car
     This Week's Statistics

          Florida COVID-19 DOH dashboard

          Florida's COVID-19 Action dashboard


Friday, February
26th

  • The FDA granted Johnson & Johnson emergency use approval today. Only one shot is required, it does not have to be stored in super sub-zero freezers, appears to produce less severe side effects than the other vaccines, and it could have 20 million doses out the door by the end of March. FDA researchers who have poured through the drug company’s data say the vaccine is both safe and effective. The J&J vaccine might be less effective for people over age 60 with risk factors like diabetes and heart disease, but may be better for those having had allergic reactions to other vaccines. Stay tuned.... As for which one you should get, the best answer is whichever one you can.
     
  • The drug companies producing America’s COVID-19 vaccines told Congress Tuesday they will produce a combined 140 million doses over the next five weeks. To date, Moderna and Pfizer have produced 82 million. If the projections hold true, the persistent frustrating shortage of vaccines may be nearing an end, but then they haven't met goals so far. Moderna plans to increase the number of doses per vial, Pfizer says it will increase production in the coming weeks, and adding Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot vaccine should get more vaccine into the pipeline. The CDC's newest data shows a big improvement in the amount of vaccine produced and the number of shots delivered. 
     
  • Following an outbreak of COVID-19 cases at a Chicago exercise facility last August, the CDC issued new guidance to gyms this week. There were 55 COVID-19 cases that were identified among 81 attendees of indoor high-intensity classes. Twenty-two (40%) persons with COVID-19 attended on or after the day symptoms began. Most attendees (76%) wore masks infrequently, including persons with (84%) and without COVID-19 (60%). The CDC now says that gyms should insist on people wearing masks, especially during high-intensity activities. "In addition, facilities should enforce physical distancing, improve ventilation, and encourage attendees to isolate after symptom onset or receiving a positive SARS-CoV-2 test result, and to quarantine after a potential exposure to SARS-CoV-2 and while awaiting test results. Exercising outdoors or virtually could further reduce SARS-CoV-2 transmission risk." 
     
  • For a long time now, people have complained about continuing COVID-19 symptoms. Many had mild symptoms initially, but as time went on, new symptoms developed or their symptoms became worse and more debilitating, often referred to as having long Covid or being long-haulers. At Wednesday's COVID-19 news briefing, Dr. Fauci gave the condition a namePost-Acute Sequelae of Covid-19, or PASC (sequelae means aftereffect of a disease), and he announced that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) plans to study the condition. Some studies show that as many as a third of patients with COVID-19 may experience lingering symptoms. This new study seeks to find out exactly what's causing it, how widespread it is, the range of symptoms, and how they can be treated. It is also hoped that giving it a name will add legitimacy to the condition so physicians take it seriously and don't just blow their patients off, thinking it is all in their heads.
     
  • Many public-health experts got a surprise this month when U.S. coronavirus cases fell roughly 70%, on average, in the last six weeks. The U.S. has recorded an average of around 68,000 daily cases over the last week. The last time the country saw weekly averages that low was in October. Scientists have a few theories as to why cases fell: many high risk people have acquired some immunity through vaccination or infection; people stopped traveling and congregating indoors as much after the holidays; news of high case numbers and overstressed hospitals may have encouraged people to social distance, avoid crowds, or wear masks more (about 73% of U.S. adults now say they wear a mask every time they leave the house); and testing has declined so fewer new cases have been confirmed (this could explain Florida's puzzling drop in cases over the past two weeks while deaths increased).
     
  • I am showing statistics from both dashboards/data portals: Florida's COVID-19 Dept. of Health (DOH) statistics and Florida's COVID-19 Community Action statistics (both developed by Rebekah Jones). (Click on images to enlarge them.)  The statistics between the two continues to be quite different.
     
    Per the Florida Department of Health's (DOH) dashboard* as of Friday, February 26th, cumulatively the state has now had 1,898,223 residents testing positive for COVID-19; with 79,021 hospitalized; and 30,624 deaths;** 114,705 residents have been tested, with a 5.18% positivity rate. The breakdown of confirmed cases in our tri-county area is:
    • Sumter County: 7,965 cases (7,881 residents, 84 non-residents); 507 resident and 1 non-resident hospitalizations; with 238 deaths; only 404 residents tested, with a 4.21% positivity rate.
      (median age holding at: 65, with 51%
       males, 47% females)
        
    • Lake County: 24,445 cases (24,093 residents, 352 non-residents); 1,258 resident and 25 non-resident hospitalizations; with 554 deaths; 1,587 residents tested, with a 6.43% positivity rate.
      (median age holding at: 45, with 45% males, 53% females)
        
    • Marion County: 27,485 cases (27,368 residents, 117 non-residents), 1,718 resident and 8 non-resident hospitalizations, with 782 deaths; 1,708 residents tested, with a 6.03% positivity rate.
      (median age holding at: 45, with 43%
       males, 57% females)

    * The new data includes the number of test results the department receives from the counties, along with additional demographics and graphs that show hospital admissions for patients complaining of cough, fever or shortness of breath. Previously, that data was only provided for larger counties. Still not included is how many infected people have recovered from the virus and, unlike other states, Florida does not report "probable" deaths from the virus.
     

    *
    * The newest reported deaths are the latest logged into the DOH system, and that process could take as long as two weeks or longer before they show up.
     
     

    Per the Florida's COVID Action dashboard as of Friday, February 26th, the state now has 2,090,470 residents testing positive (5,922 cases today, 42,215 cases this past week); with 3,968 requiring hospitalization; and 31,162 deaths (144 deaths today, 948 deaths this past week); 32,777 residents have been tested today, with a 18.788% positivity rate (DOH reported a 5.18% positivity rate — big difference). Today, 50,477 residents have gotten their 1st dose of vaccine, with 1,588,027 having both doses. The breakdown of confirmed cases in our tri-county area is:
    • Sumter County: 8,973 cases since March 1st (19 cases today, 248 this week), 64 current hospitalizations, and 238 deaths (3 deaths today, 12 this week), 134 residents have been tested today, with a 14.2% positivity rate (DOH reported a 4.21% positivity rate). Today, 810 residents were vaccinated, with 14,680 being fully vaccinated.
        
    • Lake County: 26,738 cases since March 1st (103 cases today, 641 this week), 66 current hospitalizations, and 565 deaths (10 deaths today, 20 this week), 486 residents have been tested today, with a 21.2% positivity rate (DOH reported a 6.43% positivity rate). Today, 1,464 residents were vaccinated, with 38,610 being fully vaccinated.
        
    • Marion County: 28,964 cases since March 1st (103 cases today, 667 this week), 72 current hospitalizations, and 786 deaths (2 deaths today, 60 this week), 489 residents have been tested today, with a 21.1% positivity rate (DOH reported a 6.03% positivity rate). Today, 1,068 residents were vaccinated, with 29,719 being fully vaccinated.


Friday, February
19th

  • The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has warned us about the contact tracing scam, but if you receive a phone call from 833-917-2880, 833-443-5364, or 850-583-2419, answer it! It is a real Florida contact tracer calling to advise you that you may have been exposed to a person infected with COVID-19. Write these numbers down and keep them by your phone.
     
  • To animals, used face masks and gloves can smell like food, and if ingested, could cause stomach upset or blockages. So, be sure to dispose of your personal protective equipment (PPE) in a covered container that your pet can't get into. Speaking of pets, a face mask is periodically found along the roads where you walk your dog. If your dog is like mine, he or she wants to investigate and sniff it. The risk of contracting the virus from something like this is extremely unlikely, so don't go overboard. Steer your dog away from it, but if the dog manages to sniff it, you can lightly wipe their snout with a baby wipe. If you pick the mask up to properly dispose of it, wash your hands as soon as possible.
     
  • The Society of Breast Imaging recommends that you schedule your mammogram before you get your COVID-19 vaccine or wait 4—6 weeks after your second dose. That's because swollen lymph nodes on one side of the body are a common side effect of the vaccines, which can also be a marker of early breast cancer. As soon as people started getting vaccinated, there was a big jump in the number of women with swollen lymph nodes on one side of their body. They started asking patients whether they'd had the vaccine recently. Now that the connection has been made, breast radiologists see vaccine-related swollen lymph nodes every day.
     
  • In early Israeli studies, Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine greatly reduces virus transmission. Findings of the pre-published study, not yet peer-reviewed but based on a national database that is one of the world’s most advanced, were first reported by the Israeli news site Ynet late on Thursday, obtained by Reuters on Friday. More research is needed to draw a definitive conclusion, but the studies are among the first to suggest a vaccine may stop the spread of the novel coronavirus, not just prevent people from getting seriously ill and dying.
     
  • I am showing statistics from both dashboards/data portals: Florida's COVID-19 Dept. of Health (DOH) statistics and Florida's COVID-19 Action statistics (both developed by Rebekah Jones). (Click on images to enlarge them.)  The statistics between the two continues to be quite different.
     
    Per the Florida Department of Health's dashboard* as of Friday, February 19th, cumulatively the state has now had 1,856,427 residents testing positive for COVID-19; with 77,408 hospitalized; and 29,692 deaths;** 113,673 residents have been tested, with a 5.85% positivity rate. The breakdown of confirmed cases in our tri-county area is:
    • Sumter County: 7,714 cases (7,636 residents, 78 non-residents); 496 resident and 1 non-resident hospitalizations; with 226 deaths; only 357 residents tested, with a 6.72% positivity rate.
      (median age holding at: 65, with 51%
       males, 47% females)
        
    • Lake County: 23,786 cases (23,454 residents, 332 non-residents); 1,220 resident and 23 non-resident hospitalizations; with 534 deaths; 1,442 residents tested, with a 5.69% positivity rate.
      (median age holding at: 45, with 45% males, 53% females)
        
    • Marion County: 26,832 cases (26,723 residents, 8 non-residents), 1,662 resident and 8 non-resident hospitalizations, with 722 deaths; 1,137 residents tested, with a 7.12% positivity rate.
      (median age holding at: 45, with 43%
       males, 57% females)

    * The new data includes the number of test results the department receives from the counties, along with additional demographics and graphs that show hospital admissions for patients complaining of cough, fever or shortness of breath. Previously, that data was only provided for larger counties. Still not included is how many infected people have recovered from the virus and, unlike other states, Florida does not report "probable" deaths from the virus.
     

    *
    * The newest reported deaths are the latest logged into the DOH system, and that process could take as long as two weeks or longer before they show up.
     

    Per the Florida's COVID Action dashboard as of Friday, February 19th, the state now has 2,027,970 residents testing positive (6,683 cases today, 43,070 cases this past week); with 4,306 requiring hospitalization; and 30,214 deaths (224 deaths today, 1,153 deaths this past week); 34,384 residents have been tested today, with a 21.375% positivity rate. Today, 53,113 residents have gotten their 1st dose of vaccine, with 1,294.225 having both doses. The breakdown of confirmed cases in our tri-county area is:
    • Sumter County: 8,582 cases since March 1st (26 cases today, 156 this week), 70 current hospitalizations, and 226 deaths (2 deaths today, 11 this week), 141 residents have been tested today, with an 18.4% positivity rate. Today, only 463 residents have gotten their 1st dose of vaccine, with 8,874 having both doses.
        
    • Lake County: 25,678 cases since March 1st (58 cases today, 630 this week), 86 current hospitalizations, and 545 deaths (3 deaths today, 33 this week), 390 residents have been tested today, with a 14.9% positivity rate. Today, 635 residents have gotten their 1st dose of vaccine, with 30,709 having both doses.
        
    • Marion County: 28,084 cases since March 1st (84 cases today, 714 this week), 73 current hospitalizations, and 726 deaths (3 deaths today, 49 this week), 370 residents have been tested today, with a 22.7% positivity rate. Today, 1,496 residents have gotten their 1st dose of vaccine, with 24,572 having both doses.


Friday, February
12th

  • The CDC has outlined 5 tips to make your face mask more protective, especially with these new and more infectious variants of the virus spreading. Public-health experts have underscored the importance of making sure masks are layered and sealed tightly against your face — you really want to protect your eyes, nose, and mouth from other people's air space. On Wednesday, the CDC outlined theirfive helpful tipsto make masks more protective. Masks with nose-bridge wires ensure a tight seal and keep your glasses from fogging up, mask braces can improve filtration by up to 90%, using the "knot & tuck" technique of putting your mask on also reduces air leaks, wearing a cloth mask over a surgical one is more effective than just one.
     
  • I am showing statistics from both dashboards/data portals: Florida's COVID-19 Dept. of Health (DOH) statistics and Florida's COVID-19 Action statistics (both developed by Rebekah Jones). (Click on images to enlarge them.)  The statistics between the two continues to be quite different.
     
    Per the Florida Department of Health's dashboard* as of Friday, February 12th, cumulatively the state has now had 1,814,422 residents testing positive for COVID-19, with 75,734 hospitalized, and 28,564 deaths,** 120,930 residents have been tested, with a 6.22% positivity rate. The breakdown of confirmed cases in our tri-county area is:
    • Sumter County: 7,551 cases (7,472 residents, 79 non-residents), 464 resident and 1 non-resident hospitalizations, with 215 deaths (median age holding at: 65, with 51% males, 47% females)
        
    • Lake County: 23,215 cases (22,905 residents, 310 non-residents), 1,199 resident and 21 non-resident hospitalizations, with 503 deaths (median age holding at: 45, with 44% males, 53% females)
        
    • Marion County: 26,111 cases (26,006 residents, 105 non-residents), 1,590 resident and 8 non-resident hospitalizations, with 673 deaths (median age holding at: 45, with 43% males, 57% females)

    * The new data includes the number of test results the department receives from the counties, along with additional demographics and graphs that show hospital admissions for patients complaining of cough, fever or shortness of breath. Previously, that data was only provided for larger counties. Still not included is how many infected people have recovered from the virus and, unlike other states, Florida does not report "probable" deaths from the virus.
     

    *
    * The newest reported deaths are the latest logged into the DOH system, and that process could take as long as two weeks or longer before they show up.

     

    Per the Florida's COVID Action dashboard as of Friday, February 12th, the state now has 1,985,965 residents testing positive (7,617 cases today, 51,095 cases this past week); with 5,137 requiring hospitalization; and 29,061 deaths (190 deaths today, 1,148 deaths this past week); 36,815 residents have been tested today, with a 23.156% positivity rate. So far, 59,524 residents have gotten their 1st dose of vaccine, with 963,004 having both doses. The breakdown of confirmed cases in our tri-county area is:
    • Sumter County: 8,419 cases since March 1st (29 cases today, 225 this week), 41 current hospitalizations, and 215 deaths (0 deaths today, 9 this week), 256 residents have been tested today, with a 17.8% positivity rate. So far, 25,655 residents have gotten their 1st dose of vaccine, with 5,879 having both doses.
        
    • Lake County: 25,107 cases since March 1st (116 cases today, 734 this week), 89 current hospitalizations, and 512 deaths (9 deaths today, 45 this week), 745 residents have been tested today, with a 20.9% positivity rate. So far, 46,801 residents have gotten their 1st dose of vaccine, with 23,151 having both doses.
        
    • Marion County: 27,363 cases since March 1st (163 cases today, 886 this week), 95 current hospitalizations, and 677 deaths (1 death today, 24 this week), 1,713 residents have been tested today, with a 27.8% positivity rate. So far, 39,866 residents have gotten their 1st dose of vaccine, with 16,581 having both doses.


Friday, February 5
th

  • Who is spreading the virus? Science magazine published COVID-19 data that helps us see who is spreading the virus the most. As you’d expect, the biggest spreaders of the coronavirus are the 35 — 49 year olds (41.1% of the spread), with the 20 — 34 year olds coming in second (34.7% of the spread), with the 50 — 64 year olds next in line (15.3% of the spread).
     
  • Coronavirus cases in the U.S. have surged after almost every major holiday of the past year, including Memorial Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas This weekend brings another major holiday, even if it’s not an official one: Super Bowl Sunday. And there is reason to worry that it will turn into Superspreader Sunday. Polls show nearly 30% of adults said they would attend a gathering at someone’s home or watch the game at a restaurant or a bar. This year’s game is also happening when contagious new variants of the virus have begun to spread.
     
  • How do you prepare for being vaccinated? Once you have the appointment, make sure to follow all instructions and bring all required documentation, and wear your mask. CNN Health provides tips, answers questions about the vaccine and possible side effects, the reasons you should NOT skip the second dose. Should you take pain relievers when you get your shot? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization advise that you not use pain relievers before you get the shot. A study done by Yale researchers that was published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Virology says nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, commonly known as NSAIDs, can reduce the production of antibodies and make your vaccination less effective. The study found that you should not take NSAIDs before or after you get the vaccine.
     
  • As evidence has accumulated over the course of the pandemic, scientific understanding about the virus has changed. Studies and investigations of outbreaks all point to the majority of transmissions occurring as a result of infected people spewing out large droplets and small particles called aerosols when they cough, talk or breathe. The virus is in the air, not so much on surfaces. A year into the pandemic, the evidence is now clear. The coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 is transmitted predominantly through the air — by people talking and breathing out large droplets and small particles called aerosols. Catching the virus from surfaces seems to be rare. Still, there is nothing wrong with taking sensible precautions. The World Health Organization says, "Avoid touching surfaces, especially in public settings, because someone with COVID-19 could have touched them before. Clean surfaces regularly with standard disinfectants."
     
  • CDC data says men do not take COVID-19 as seriously as women and are less likely to follow safety measures even though, globally, 70% of COVID-19 deaths are men, and in the U.S., about 57% of COVID-19 deaths are men. The data says men wash their hands less often and are less likely to social distance or wear masks. Jessica Calarco, a professor of sociology at Indiana University, surveyed Indiana mothers as part of a Pandemic Parenting Study and found nearly 40% of respondents report increases in pandemic-related frustrations with their partners. Those frustrations were twice as common among mothers with partners who were less supportive of steps they took to reduce COVID-19 risks.
     
  • Varghese Mathai, a physicist at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, conducted simulation studies to understand how air flows inside a car and its implications for covid-19 airborne transmission. He explains the optimal ways to ensure maximum airflow inside a car. It’s important to have good ventilation to get as much outside air as possible to mix with the air inside the cabin and then flush it out. He also answers the question of how effective barriers or screens are in reducing transmission in taxis and ride-share services like Uber and Lyft.
     
  • I am showing statistics from both dashboards/data portals: Florida's COVID-19 Dept. of Health (DOH) statistics and Florida's COVID-19 Action statistics (both developed by Rebekah Jones). (Click on images to enlarge them.)  The statistics between the two continues to be quite different.
     
    Per the Florida Department of Health's dashboard* as of Friday, February 5th, cumulatively the state now has 1,731,931 residents testing positive for COVID-19, with 73,970 hospitalized, and 27,457 deaths,** 188,595 residents have been tested, with 5.8% testing positive. The breakdown of confirmed cases in our tri-county area is:
    • Sumter County: 7,323 cases (7,249 residents, 74 non-residents), 441 hospitalizations, with 206 deaths (median age holding at: 65, with 51% males, 47% females)
        
    • Lake County: 22,500 cases (22,208 residents, 292 non-residents), 1,170 hospitalizations (19 non-residents), with 459 deaths (median age holding at: 45, with 44% males, 53% females)
        
    • Marion County: 25,221 cases (25,119 residents, 102 non-residents), 1,590 hospitalizations (8 non-residents), with 649 deaths (median age holding at: 45, with 43% males, 57% females)

    * The new data includes the number of test results the department receives from the counties, along with additional demographics and graphs that show hospital admissions for patients complaining of cough, fever or shortness of breath. Previously, that data was only provided for larger counties. Still not included is how many infected people have recovered from the virus and, unlike other states, Florida does not report "probable" deaths from the virus.
     

    *
    * The newest reported deaths are the latest logged into the DOH system, and that process could take as long as two weeks or longer before they show up.

     

    Per the Florida's COVID Action dashboard as of Friday, February 5th, the state now has 1,859,214 residents testing positive (11,543 cases today, 65,316 cases this past week); with 5,616 requiring hospitalization; and 27,913 deaths (215 deaths today, 1,228 deaths this past week), 56,461 residents have been tested today, with a 22.926% positivity rate. So far, 1,894,209 residents have gotten their 1st dose of vaccine, with 554,502 having both doses. The breakdown of confirmed cases in our tri-county area is:
    • Sumter County: 7,586 cases since March 1st (42 cases today, 327 this week), 44 current hospitalizations, and 206 deaths (19 deaths today, 20 this week), 290 residents have been tested today, with a 21.3% positivity rate. So far, 21,649 residents have gotten their 1st dose of vaccine, with 2,745 having both doses.
        
    • Lake County: 23,266 cases since March 1st (189 cases today, 986 this week), 121 current hospitalizations, and 467 deaths (6 deaths today, 36 this week), 905 residents have been tested today, with a 20.9% positivity rate. So far, 40,688 residents have gotten their 1st dose of vaccine, with 14,069 having both doses.
        
    • Marion County: 25,697 cases since March 1st (218 cases today, 1,049 this week), 117 current hospitalizations, and 653 deaths (7 deaths today, 75 this week), 905 residents have been tested today, with a 24.1% positivity rate. So far, 34,804 residents have gotten their 1st dose of vaccine, with 7,668 having both doses.

    None of these counties meet the criteria for the next phase of reopening, but are open all the same.


See what had been learned about the virus in January.


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