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The Latest on the Coronavirus — July

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7/31/2020:
     More Hand Sanitizers to Avoid Added to FDA's List

     Child COVID-19 Cases & Hospitalizations Jump 23%

     The Toll that Covid-19 Takes on the Heart

     6 Distinct Types of COVID-19
          Virus Almost Killed Healthy Woman with No Normal Symptoms
     New COVID-19 Data System Not Faster or More Complete
     President Pushing
Hydroxychloroquine Again & Not Wearing a Mask (His authority — Dr. Stella Immanuel)
         
Woman in The Villages taking Hydroxychloroquine
     Another Reason to Wear a Mask

          37 Places You're Most Likely to Catch Coronavirus

     This Week's Statistics (updated 7/31/2020):
         
Florida Department of Health's dashboard
         
Florida's COVID-19 Action dashboard

7/24/2020:
     Wearing a Mask is now Patriotic

    
Businesses
Requiring Face Masks Is Growing
     Get COVID-19 more than once — relapse or something else?
    
FDA Updates List of Hand Sanitizers to Avoid
     Letter Advising a Shut-down & Restart for Some States

    
Governors Still Not Getting Supplies
    
How a Struggling Nursing Home Keeps COVID-19 at Bay

    
This Week's Statistics (updated 7/24/2020):
         
Florida Department of Health's dashboard
         
Florida's COVID-19 Action dashboard

7/17/2020:
    
This Week's Statistics (updated 7/17/2020):
         
Florida Department of Health's dashboard
         
Florida's COVID-19 Action dashboard
     Masks Required to Shop at Walmart & Sam's Club
     U.S. Sets a New Record for Cases & Deaths
    
Can you catch COVID-19 more than once?
    
Vaccine May Not Be Enough to Stop the Pandemic
    
18 States in the Coronavirus "Red Zone"
    
Coronavirus Outbreak Timeline
    
Expert Debunks Myths About Face Masks
    
Order to Open Schools
    
How Vulnerable Are Children?
     In Duval County, 26.3% of Children Tested Positive
     Safety for Teachers
     COVID-19 Infections at Summer Camps

    
Opening Schools When in a Red Zone
     Youngest Person to Die in Florida
     In Duval County, 26.3% of Children Tested Positive
     COVID-19 Infections at Summer Camps
 

7/10/2020:
    
This Week's Statistics:
         
Florida Department of Health's dashboard
         
Florida's COVID-19 Action dashboard
     COVID-19 Miniscule Particles in the Air
     Even Mild Cases Dangerous
     Check Labels on Hand Sanitizers

7/3/2020:
    
This Week's Statistics:
         
Florida Department of Health's dashboard
         
Florida's COVID-19 Action dashboard
     European Union (EU) Bans Americans
     U.S. Airlines Require COVID-19 Questionaires
     States Quarantine Travelers from High-incident States
     Infections Rising in the Young People of Florida
    
Coronavirus Wreaks Havoc from Head to Toe
     Dealing with Masks in the Summer Heat
     Public Believes CDC Information Accurate


Friday, July 31st

The following has been learned this past week.

  • More hand sanitizers have been added to the list of products to avoid that contain toxic methanol, bringing the number of dangerous products now to 87 (ooops, 94 as of 7/31). Ongoing FDA testing has found sanitizers containing methanol from 1% to 80%. 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.

  • In Duval County, Child COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations jump 23% in eight days as Florida schools prepare to reopen under an emergency order, up 62% in the past two weeks. On July 16th, the state had a total of 23,170 children ages 17 and under who had tested positive since the beginning of the pandemic, which jumped to 31,150 by July 24th. That’s a 34% increase in new cases among children in eight days. Meanwhile, South Korean researchers found that children 10 — 17 transmit the virus as easily as adults, contrary to the current reason for ordering schools open.

  • Two new studies from Germany paint a sobering picture of the toll that Covid-19 takes on the heart. One study examined the cardiac MRIs of 100 people who had recovered and compared them to heart images from 100 people who were similar but not infected with the virus. Their average age was 49 and two-thirds of the patients had recovered at home. More than two months later, infected patients were more likely to have troubling cardiac signs: 78 patients showed structural changes to their hearts, 76 had evidence of a biomarker signaling cardiac injury typically found after a heart attack, and 60 had signs of inflammation. These were relatively young, healthy patients. The other study, which analyzed autopsy results from 39 people who died early in the pandemic and whose average age was 85, found high levels of the virus in the hearts of 24 patients. The two studies, published Monday in JAMA Cardiology, suggest that in many patients, Covid-19 could presage heart failure. It is too soon to say whether the changes are temporary or permanent, but cardiologists are worried.

  • A new study of COVID-19, based on data from a symptom tracker app, determined that there are six distinct "types" of the disease was reported on CBS. Typically, doctors will look for key symptoms like cough, fever, loss of smell, etc. to detect the virus. The study (not yet peer-reviewed) says the six different "types" of COVID-19 can vary by severity and come with their own set of symptoms:

  1. Flu-like with no fever: Headache, loss of smell, muscle pains, cough, sore throat, chest pain, no fever (1.5% chance of needing breathing support such as oxygen or a ventilator, only 16% needing hospitalization).

  2. Flu-like with fever: Headache, loss of smell, cough, sore throat, hoarseness, fever, loss of appetite (4.4% needed breathing support).

  3. Gastrointestinal: Headache, loss of smell, loss of appetite, diarrhea, sore throat, chest pain, no cough (3.3% needed breathing support).

  4. Severe level one, fatigue: Headache, loss of smell, cough, fever, hoarseness, chest pain, fatigue (8.6% needed breathing support).

  5. Severe level two, confusion: Headache, loss of smell, loss of appetite, cough, fever, hoarseness, sore throat, chest pain, fatigue, confusion, muscle pain (almost 10% needed breathing support).

  6. Severe level three, abdominal & respiratory: Headache, loss of smell, loss of appetite, cough, fever, hoarseness, sore throat, chest pain, fatigue, confusion, muscle pain, shortness of breath, diarrhea, abdominal pain (nearly 20% needed breathing support).

This could be why it seems that new symptoms keep appearing each week. Scientists hope the discovery, once further studied, could help predict what types of care patients with COVID-19 might need, and give doctors the ability to predict which patients would fall into which category. 

  • CBS also reported on a healthy 44-year old woman who woke up one morning with a numb arm. She never had a cough or fever, never lost her sense of taste or smell, and it took doctors days to diagnose COVID-19, and even longer to figure out how to stop her body's reaction to it. The disease quietly caused her body to attack itself, inflaming her brain, paralyzing half of her body, rendering her unable to see or speak, and almost killing her in the process. It looked like she'd had a stroke, but tests revealed that she had COVID-19. MRI scans showed half of her brain was severely inflamed, she couldn't move half of her body, she couldn't see clearly, and she couldn't communicate with her doctors or her husband. Once she no longer tested positive, the doctor treated her with high dose steroids and blood plasma exchange. After the plasma exchange started, she started regaining movement gradually returned. A study published on July 8 in the neurology journal Brain found that of 43 patients with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 infections, 12 suffered inflammation of the central nervous system, including the brain. Of those 12, one made a full recovery, 10 made partial recoveries, and one died. She had type 5 (above). Since then, similar cases have cropped up.
     
  • The Hill reported on July 31st that according to data analysts interviewed by NPR, the Trump administration's new online COVID-19 data system that bypasses the old platform managed by the CDC leads to delays and misinformation. However, the data aggregated by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) allegedly contains errors and inconsistencies, and medical facilities have been reporting difficulties sending their information to HHS and had only a few days to make the change. HHS said the change was necessary because the CDC's system is too slow, but current hospital capacity data from HHS was last updated July 23, leaving more than a week of unknown changes in the data until the next update arrives. By contrast, the CDC estimates was updated three times a week and was vetted for accuracy before being posted publicly. The promise of better data... unfulfilled. The data now available to the public appears to be neither faster nor more complete.
  • So much for the president's concession that we should wear masks and that wearing one is patriotic. On Monday, he endorsed Dr. Stella Immanuel by retweeting video clips and her proclamations that there is a cure for the virus that includes using hydroxychloroquine and since there is a cure, there is no need to wear a mask. Hydroxychloroquine was touted by Trump for many months before being disproven by several studies with patients, followed by the FDA quickly revoking the drug's emergency-use authorization for treating COVID-19. Dr. Immanuel is a Houston pediatrician who has many interesting theories, some involving alien DNA and dream sex, and she has yet to provide any proof of her hydroxychloroquine claims. The videos and tweets went viral. Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube have removed those tweets and videos for violating their rules against COVID-19 disinformation.
     
    The president's step backward prompted Dr. Fauci to step up immediately to publicly respond, reemphasizing medical findings and facts that have been proved through clinical trials, cruise infections, as well as observation. On July 29th, Dr. Fauci also recommended wearing goggles or eye shields in addition to a mask to further protect yourself since some patients contracted the virus through their eyes, not just their nose or mouth. It is not universally recommended, but if you have one, he said use it to remind yourself not to touch your face or protect your eyes from spatter. It wouldn't hurt.

  • Woman in The Villages taking Hydroxychloroquine calls the drug's side effects horrid (click on link to see the effects, which makes the president's claim that he takes it dubious) and asks why anyone would consider taking a serious drug like this unless it was prescribed by a doctor?

  • Eat This, Not That! published an article on July 28th about the ways that a mask can protect you besides preventing you from spreading COVID-19 to others, especially since you may not have any symptoms. Using observation and animal experiments, researchers determined that even if a mask doesn't stop all virus particles, it can filter the amount that gets through so you get or develop a milder case. Data shows that an estimated 40% of infected people are asymptomatic. With cruise ship infections, before mask-wearing was the norm, more than 80% of those infected aboard Japan's Diamond Princess were infected with virus and showing symptoms. However, when a ship left Argentina the next month, with masks being issued when a passenger came down with a fever, the level of symptomatic cases was lower than 20%.
     
    Eat This, Not That! also published the 37 places you're most likely to catch coronavirus. Last week, a team of doctors from the
    Texas Medical Association ranked nearly every activity, from opening your mail (lowest risk number 1) to going to a bar (highest risk level 9) — by their risk level.

  • I am continuing giving you 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, July 31st, the state now has 465,030 residents testing positive for COVID-19 (a spike of 67,560 cases over last week), with 26,533 hospitalized (up by 3,308 hospitalizations this week), and 6,843 deaths (up by a whopping 1,190 deaths just this week). The breakdown of confirmed cases in our tri-county area is:
    • Sumter County: 1,069 cases (128 more cases than last week), 154 hospitalizations (22 more than last week), with 30 deaths (6 more deaths than last week) — age range: 4 — 77 (median age: 64)
    • Lake County: 4,484 cases (594 more cases than last week), 220 hospitalizations (37 more than last week), with 51 deaths (13 more deaths than last week) — age range: 0 — 103 (median age: 51)
    • Marion County: 4,879 cases (1,774 more cases than last week), 394 hospitalizations (91 more than last week), with 60 deaths (17 more deaths than last week) — age range: 0 — 97 (median age: 40)

    * 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, July 31st, the state now has 492,037 cases testing positive for COVID-19 (a spike of 73,015 new cases this past week, with 9,007 new cases on Friday alone), with 8,246 requiring hospitalization, and 1,198 deaths (with 257 deaths on Friday alone). The breakdown of confirmed cases in our tri-county area is:
    • Sumter County: 1,147 cases (150 more cases than last week, with 19 cases on Friday alone) & 78 more cases than DOH reported), 154 cases requiring hospitalization, and 154 deaths (6 more deaths than last week, with 3 on Friday alone)
    • Lake County: 4,685 cases (662 more cases than last week, with 108 cases on Friday alone & 201 more cases than DOH reported), 225 cases requiring hospitalization, and 52 deaths (13 more deaths than last week, but no new deaths)
    • Marion County: 4,974 cases (1,799 more cases than last week, with 210 cases on Friday alone & 95 more cases than DOH reported), 394 cases requiring hospitalization, and 60 deaths (7 more deaths than last week, with 4 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, July
24th

The following has been learned this past week.

  • Wearing a mask is now patriotic. Who knew? After months of downplaying the importance of them and not wearing one, Trump told us Monday that we should use them and social distance, that it is patriotic to do so. So, PLEASE, wear a mask whenever you might come in contact with other people and may not be able to social distance. It's not a matter of your personal rights, it's patriotic.
     
    Popular Science has an excellent article on the topic, which also includes a chart showing which normal activities are the most & less risky (click on chart to open it). The chart assumes you are wearing a mask and are social distancing. With several months of research and data being constantly examined by epidemiologists and virologists around the world, it’s become clear that covering your face works. Along with washing your hands frequently and staying away from people outside your own household as much as possible, mask wearing is the best tool we have to prevent the spread of COVID.
     
    There’s now mounting evidence that silent spreaders are responsible for the majority of transmission of the coronavirus — making universal masking essential to slow the spread of the highly contagious disease. Significant amounts of virus can start coming out of people’s noses and mouths even when they feel well, so even though wearing a mask may not be full-proof, it reduces the amount of virus that can get through so that if you do get the virus, it will be less severe.
     

  • Nearly 40 states now require masks in public places, with Alabama, Arkansas and Colorado adding mandates and Ohio requiring masks in a dozen counties. For states that refuse to do that, businesses are taking things into their own hands to protect their customers and employees. Last week Walmart & Sam's Club, Lowe's, Target, CVS, Walgreens, Costco, Apple stores, Starbucks, Best Buy, Panera Bread, Kroger, Macy's, Dollar Tree, American Eagle, Kohl's, Publix, Home Depot, Whole Foods, Fresh Market, Gap, PetSmart, and Chipolte started requiring masks. Starting July 27th, Aldi, Office Depot, and Staples will require the same, with McDonald's starting August 1st. The list of businesses requiring masks continues to grow. Individual businesses can choose to institute further restrictions, and the National Retail Federation is encouraging retailers to set nationwide mask policies to protect shoppers and employees. Those who won't shop at businesses that require masks are going to become more isolated than ever.

  • Can you get COVID-19 more than once? Cases have been reported that indicate that you can, most said it was worse the 2nd time around. Doctors don't think that this is widespread, but some think that some people could be suffering from a reemergence of the same illness from virus that had been lurking somewhere in their body, or they could have been hit with a different virus with similar symptoms. Their positive coronavirus tests could have been false positives — a not-insignificant possibility given accuracy issues with some tests — or picked up dead remnants of virus, as authorities believe happened in hundreds of people who tested positive after recovering in South Korea. If people can get it twice, it makes developing a vaccine more difficult. The article goes into arguments, some of the studies being done, and more about the relapses.

  • A CDC report released Friday (7/24) finds 'prolonged illness' is common, even if people weren't sick enough to go to the hospital. The report found about a third of 274 respondents who were symptomatic when tested "had not returned to their usual state of health when interviewed 2–3 weeks after testing." The report follows widespread reports from "long-haulers" who report life-altering symptoms for weeks or months after first getting sick. Common lingering symptoms include fatigue, cough, and headache, the report says. It found that young adults and people with no underlying conditions were among those who reported long-term illness.

  • Hand sanitizer demand has skyrocketed during the pandemic. Since June, the Food and Drug Administration has identified at least 77 products (2 more added this week) that consumers should avoid. Many of the products’ labels say they contain ethanol (also known as ethyl alcohol) but FDA tests show that they contain methanol, or wood alcohol, which can be toxic when absorbed through the skin. The recalled products (click on link for video) have been carried by such retailers as CVS, Costco and Walmart. The FDA also advises to be wary of products that claim to be "FDA-approved" (none exist) or provide protection for "up to 24 hours." Some of the brands include: Blumen, Assured, LumiSkin, QualitaMed, Earths Amenities, Agavespa Skincare, All-Clean, Lavar 70 Gel, CleanCare NoGerm, Saniderm, NeoNatural, Optimus, Shine and Clean, Mystic Shield Protection, Born Basic, Scent Theory, Keep It Clean, Real Clean, and more. Click on FDS Drug Safety a complete list.

  • In an open letter addressed to President Donald Trump, federal officials and governors, published earlier this week, more than 150 health professionals are urging government leaders to hit the reset button: Shut it down and restart. "Tell the American people the truth about the virus... take bold action to save lives — even when it means shutting down again," the letter, spearheaded by the nonprofit U.S. Public Interest Research Group, arguing that the U.S. reopened too quickly. Nonessential businesses should close again, Americans should mostly stay home, and government officials need to invest more in testing, contact tracing, and personal protective equipment capacities, warning that if they don't take these actions, the consequences will be measured in widespread suffering and death."

  • Some good news... in West Baltimore, amid a raging pandemic that has infected nearly 10,000 people in the city, this nursing home has remained free of covid-19. To outsiders, it may seem that they've accomplished that only by the grace of God, but there have been other man-wrought blessings, too: a relatively small population of 29 residents, a strong history of infection control, a dedicated staff and — this has been key — the cynicism that comes with residing in an underserved community, often the last to get help. Not only is this an inspiring story, but it provides a blueprint for how other nursing homes can accomplish the same.

  • Florida surpassed 400,000 total coronavirus cases on Friday (7/24), one day after Gov. Ron DeSantis said the state had "clearly stabilized with the cases." The state logged an average of 10,700 cases per day over the last seven days. The U.S. recorded more than 1,100 deaths from COVID-19 on Thursday, marking the third straight day the nation passed that grim milestone as the pandemic escalates in southern and western states. The nation also passed a total of more than 4 million coronavirus infections since the first U.S. case was documented in January, according to a Reuters tally, reflecting a nationwide escalation of the pandemic. The average number of new cases is now rising by more than 2,600 per hour nationwide, the highest rate in the world.

  • Earlier this week, Trump boasted that his administration has met most governors' requests for supplies. That's not true. Officials in Oregon, Indiana, Georgia, New Hampshire, Alaska, Montana, Wyoming, North Carolina, Maryland, Michigan, Idaho, Utah and Washington told ABC News they are either still waiting for requests to be fulfilled, had identified orders that were never filled, or have made requests they understand are still being processed. Several states said they are waiting for orders for personal protective equipment, known as PPE, which has been in short supply throughout the pandemic and critical for responders on the front lines. Supplies, tests, and reagents (chemicals needed for the tests) continue to be a problem.

  • A 9-year-old girl in Putnam County is the youngest person to die of the coronavirus in Florida, health officials announced. Putnam County Health Officer Mary Garcia told CNN that she is not aware of any underlying conditions that contributed to the girl’s death. According to data tracked by state health officials, four other children have died in Florida: a 17-year-old boy, a 17-year-old girl, a 11-year-old boy and a 11-year-old girl. Some schools in Florida are reopening in the fall, despite concerns that children can pass the virus to older adults. Although children are less likely to develop serious symptoms or die of the virus than adults.
  • I am continuing giving you 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, July 24th, the state now has 397,470 residents testing positive for COVID-19 (another spike of 74,468 cases this week), with 23,225 hospitalized (up by 3,034 hospitalizations this week), and 5,653 deaths (up by a whopping 848 deaths just this week). The breakdown of confirmed cases in our tri-county area is:
    • Sumter County: 941 cases (another big jump of 171 cases, with ), 132 hospitalizations, with 24 deaths (up by 6 deaths) — age range steady: 4 — 77
    • Lake County: 3,890 cases (a spike of 751 cases), 183 hospitalizations, with 38 deaths (up by 2 deaths) — age range steady: 0 — 103
    • Marion County: 3,105 cases (a huge spike of 949 cases), 303 hospitalizations, with 43 deaths (big spike of 24 deaths) — age range steady: 0 — 97
       
    Per the Florida's COVID Action dashboard as of Friday, July 24th, the state now has 419,022 cases testing positive for COVID-19, new cases on Friday alone: 12,444 (a spike of 78,904 new cases this past week), with 9,422 requiring hospitalization, and 4,912 deaths (up by a whopping 709 deaths this past week, with 136 on Friday alone). The breakdown of confirmed cases in our tri-county area is:
    • Sumter County: 997 cases (a spike 0f 177 cases since last week, 39 cases just Friday & 56 more cases than DOH reported), 24 deaths (an increase of 5 deaths, with 3 Friday alone)
    • Lake County: 4,023 cases (a spike of 773 cases since last week, 133 cases just Friday & 133 more cases than DOH reported), 39 deaths (an increase of 2 deaths since last week, with just 1 Friday)
    • Marion County: 3,175 cases (a whopping spike of 956 cases since last week, 178 just Friday & 70 more cases than DOH reported), 43 deaths (up by 28 deaths, with 5 just Friday)

    None of Florida's counties meets the state's criteria (minimum of two weeks of declining cases) for reopening and moving to the next phase of opening the economy, yet continue to open businesses and now schools, with a walk-back for gyms and bars. The state continues to ignore its own criteria.

 
Friday, July 17th

The following has been learned this past week.

  • I am continuing giving you 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, July 17th, the state now has 323,002 residents testing positive for COVID-19 (yet another spike of 68,557 cases this past week), with 20,191 hospitalized (up by 2,111 hospitalizations this week), and 4,805 deaths (up by a whopping 3,784 deaths just this week). The breakdown of confirmed cases in our tri-county area is:
    • Sumter County: 770 cases (another big jump of 181 cases), with 18 deaths (up just 1 death) — age range steady: 4 — 92
    • Lake County: 3,139 cases (a huge spike of 850 cases), with 36 deaths (up by 10 deaths) — age range steady: 0 — 103
    • Marion County: 2,156 cases (another huge spike of 449 cases), with 19 deaths (up by 4 deaths) — age range steady: 0 — 97

        
    Per the Florida's COVID Action dashboard (name change) as of Friday, July 17th, the state now has 340,118 cases testing positive for COVID-19 since March 1st, new cases on Friday alone: 11,466 (a spike of 91,698 new cases this past week), with 8,565 requiring hospitalization, and 4,912 deaths (up by a whopping 709 deaths this past week, with 130 on Friday alone). The breakdown of confirmed cases in our tri-county area is:
    • Sumter County: 820 cases (another spike 0f 190 cases, higher than last week's, 13 cases just today & 50 more than DOH is reporting), 19 deaths (up by just 2 deaths)
    • Lake County: 3,250 cases (up by a whopping 861 cases since last week, 11,466 just today & 111 more cases than DOH is reporting), 37 deaths (up by 10 deaths since last week & 2 deaths just today)
    • Marion County: 2,219 cases (a whopping spike of 859 cases since last week, 99 just today & 55 more cases than DOH's numbers), 15 deaths (up by 3 deaths)
       

    Not a single county in Florida meets the state's criteria (minimum of two weeks of declining cases) for reopening and moving to the next phase of opening the economy. The state continues to ignore its own criteria, with no intention of following them. They are for show, just a tick mark on an objective met (the exercise of writing it, not following it). Look at any of the graphs on either of these dashboards. None of them are declining. In fact, they look like a rocket taking off from Cape Canaveral. Our government leaders miss the whole point of the guidelines and metrics — to save human lives! And right now, Florida is pushing ahead regardless of the cost of Floridian lives.

  • On Wednesday, July 15th, Walmart announced that masks will be required to enter Walmart and Sam's Club stores across the country starting THIS Monday, July 20th. It's a simple step everyone can take for their own safety as well as the safety of others — to keep shoppers and associates safe during this pandemic. I heard today that Home Depot and other chains are doing the same. With no overall, cohesive plan for the nation and the patchwork of restrictions from town-to-city-to-county-to-state, the virus will continue to wreak its havoc across the nation. If government officials won't take this step of requiring masks whenever going out, a policy that has repeatedly proven to cut the number of COVID-19 infections world-wide, businesses will. A friend sent me the picture of a newspaper clipping on the left (click on it to read) that is worth sharing.
     
  • USA Today and other news outlets reported that the U.S. has again set a daily record of new COVID-19 cases and daily deaths today. The rising numbers are a stark reminder of Dr. Anthony Fauci's warning to Congress last month that the U.S. could eventually see 100,000 new infections a day. I think we beat the doctor's projection.
     
  • Researchers and doctors have been trying to determine whether you can catch COVID-19 more than once? While there’s still much that isn't known about the new virus, a small but growing number of cases are appearing that may indicate that herd immunity may be wishful thinking. Some COVID-19 patients do appear to be getting the virus a second time, usually a much worse case the second time around. A patient in California and two patients in New Jersey, appear to have contracted Covid-19 a second time almost two months after fully recovering from their first infection. It appears that not all patients develop antibodies after infection, or if they do, the immunity wanes quickly afterward — an issue of increasing scientific concern that puts the effectiveness of what is known about immune responses into question.
     
  • There are concerns that a vaccine may not be enough to end the pandemic. Another case of wishful thinking? The World Health Organization (WHO) continues to review the evidence on antibody responses to COVID-19 infection so it can share what has been learned across the globe to help every country fight this virus. And looking at the chart on the right, is it any wonder that Americans are not welcome in other countries and are being refused entry?
     
  • A document prepared for the White House coronavirus task force, dated July 14th and obtained by The Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit newsroom, recommended that 18 states in the coronavirus "red zone" should roll back reopening measures amid their surging cases. The "red zone" is defined as "those core-based statistical areas (CBSAs) and counties that during the last week reported both new cases above 100 per 100,000 population, and a diagnostic test positivity result above 10%." The red zone states include Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Nevada, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Utah. Just today  as of 3:00 p.m. (7/17), Florida has 11,466 new cases and 130 new deaths, the 2nd highest numbers in the nation (as of today, Texas is still #1), and the graph continues to explode. Last Friday, even The Villages Daily Sun urged people to take this seriously.
     
  • CNN Health has updated its Coronavirus Outbreak Timeline, spanning from December 31st, 2019 — when China finally reported cases of pneumonia to WHO through to July 6th, 2020 — when 239 scientists from around the world published an open letter in the Journal of Clinical Infectious Diseases urging WHO and other health agencies to be more forthright in explaining the potential airborne transmission of coronavirus. It's an interesting refresher of COVID-19 facts and events that we've been living.
     
  • An expert debunks myths about wearing face masks. Medical establishments have endorsed universal masking as essential for the nation to find its way out of a crippling COVID-19 pandemic and to get schools back in session and the economy restarted. "The data is clearly there, that masking works," Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Myths are being circulated that masks are not needed or are somehow harmful, but Dr. Peter Chin-Hong, professor of medicine and an infectious disease specialist at UC San Francisco, debunks four of those myths.
     
  • Contrary to what we heard from Gov. DeSantis today, nothing is looking up, leveling off, or showing any sign of slowing down. Parroting president Trump, DeSantis is ordering Florida schools to reopen in spite of Florida still being one of the COVID-19 hot spots of the nation, rapidly moving up to #1. The graph on the right (click on it to enlarge it) shows the reality in our state, which looks like anything but the virus being under control and ready for a rush to reopen schools. Is it any wonder that parents and teachers are apprehensive at the prospect of being ordered back to school, and without money needed to sanitize everything in the school and put protocols in place for keeping everyone safe. Also, schools were not created for social distancing. They were created to fit as many students as possible together to make education economical. Where do students in excess of the space needed for social distancing go?
     
  • So, how vulnerable are children to the coronavirus and what role do they play in its spread. Compounding these worries, health officials in some states are reporting outbreaks in camps and daycare facilities. So, how and when do we safely reopen schools? The Tampa Bay Times sought to answer these questions. Children represent about 22 percent of the U.S. population, but only around 5 percent of confirmed COVID-19 cases, according to recent data from the CDC. More than 4 percent of COVID-19 cases in the United States have been fatal, but only about 0.2 percent of patients under the age of 17 have died. "The risk is if there's a big spread and if families are not doing social distancing, that very rapidly within households, the virus, if it does spread rapidly from children to others, could make it up the chain in terms of ages and reach high-risk populations."
     
  • In Duval County, 2,904 children have been tested and 26.3% of those tests were positive, according to the Department of Health. A News Channel 8 broadcast reported that of the children tested for the virus, 31% were positive. More than 17,000 people under the age of 18 have been diagnosed with COVID-19, which includes 213 pediatric hospitalizations and four children who have died. While the virus clearly can infect children, it is not as deadly for them. However, if there is a big spread or family members aren't social distancing, the virus can spread quickly. Several studies are underway — one of children needing medical care due to COVID-19 and another determining whether asymptomatic children pass the virus on or get it from family members. "We've seen some examples where it's gone well and other examples where opening up schools has led to outbreaks … and significant transmission."
     
  • On the other hand, the safety for teachers was in the news this week. Three elementary school teachers in Arizona tested positive for COVID-19 after teaching virtual summer school lessons together from the same classroom. One of those teachers died. They all took precautions and followed CDC guidelines, kept their distance, wore masks and constantly used hand sanitizer, but that didn't protect them from getting sick. For now, the district will be online-only when classes resume because even with good hygiene practices, they felt it is too soon to return considering Arizona is still a hot spot. And even though the surviving teachers have been clear for four weeks now, they are still experiencing residual effects from the virus, four weeks later. In addition, a new report concluded that teachers over 65 or those with an underlying health condition are more vulnerable to complications from the disease. About 24% of teachers fit into that category.
     
  • Opening schools before the virus is controlled in a community could lead to situations similar to recent COVID-19 infections at summer camps. A summer camp in Arkansas and another in Missouri have closed down after campers and staff tested positive for Covid-19. In Missouri, 82 campers, counselors and staff tested positive for Covid-19. While 31 of the infected were tested onsite, many of the other cases were tested after they had returned to their homes. The camps at six locations opened with new safety measures in place, including new low-contact drop-off procedures, new air filtration systems, daily temperature checks, quarantine protocols, and more. But on June 26th, the camp had two positive COVID-19 cases at one of the camp locations and over the next few days, the number of cases climbed to 82. That camp shut down, and parents from 10 states scrambled to pick up their children early.


Friday, July 10th

The following has been learned this past week.

  • I am continuing giving you statistics from two dashboards (statistics presented in easy to understand overviews) or data portals: Florida's Dept. of Health (DOH) statistics and Florida's Community Coronavirus statistics (both developed by Rebekah Jones, but the DOH numbers are under counted). As of 7/10/2020, The Villages has had 23 new cases in 24 hours.

    Per the Florida Department of Health's dashboard* as of Friday, July 10th, the state now has 244,151 residents testing positive for COVID-19 (yet another spike of 68,557 cases this past week), with 17,602 hospitalized (up by 2,111 hospitalizations this week), and 4,102 deaths (up by a whopping 3,784 deaths just this week). The breakdown of confirmed cases in our tri-county area is:
    • Sumter County: 589 cases (a big jump of 188 cases), with 18 deaths (up just 1 death) — age range steady: 4 — 92
    • Lake County: 2,298 cases (another spike of 695 cases), with 26 deaths (up by 4 deaths) — age range steady: 0 — 103
    • Marion County: 1,307 cases (another huge spike of 490 cases), with 15 deaths (up by 3 deaths) — age range steady: 0 — 97

        
    Per the Florida's Community Coronavirus dashboard as of Friday, July 10th, the state now has 254,601 cases testing positive for COVID-19 since March 1st, new cases on Friday alone: 11,433 (a spike of 91,698 new cases this past week), with 17,916 requiring hospitalization (huge spike of 11,594 hospitalizations this past week), and 4,203 deaths (up by 418 deaths this past week, with 93 on Friday alone). The breakdown of confirmed cases in our tri-county area is:
    • Sumter County: 630 cases (a spike of 188 cases since last week & 41 more cases than DOH's numbers), 17 deaths (up by just 1 death)
    • Lake County: 2,398 cases (up 695 cases since last week & 100 more cases than DOH's numbers), 27 deaths (up by 3 deaths)
    • Marion County: 1,362 cases (a spike of 550 cases since last week & 55 more cases than DOH's numbers), 15 deaths (up by 3 deaths)
       

    The report card for counties that meet the state's criteria (minimum of two weeks of declining cases) for reopening and moving to the next phase of opening the economy continues to be ignored, with no intention of enforcing them. They are for show, just a tick mark on an objective met. Look at any of the graphs on either of these dashboards. None of them are declining. In fact, they look like a rocket taking off. At this time, the only state having a higher number of cases and deaths than us is Texas! Our government leaders miss the whole point of the guidelines and metrics — to save human lives! And right now, Florida is floundering, pretending that the virus will just fade away.... We should be so lucky....

  • The World Health Organization (WHO) believed that the coronavirus spreads primarily from person to person (expelled when a person with COVID-19 coughs, sneezes, speaks, shouts or sings), but now there is evidence that miniscule particles of the virus float around in the air to be inhaled by anyone in the area (the reason why enclosed, indoor areas are so dangerous), possibly explaining the virus' rapid spread and the difficulty in stopping it, even when people are following the guidelines. In an open letter to the agency, 239 scientists in 32 countries outlined the evidence and are asking the Who to revise recommendations.
     
  • Taking comfort in WHO reports that over 80% of global Covid-19 cases are mild or asymptomatic? Think again. One thing is becoming increasingly clear: even "mild" cases can be more dangerous and harder to shake than many first thought. Many survivors of "mild" Covid-19 infections experience lasting side-effects, and even death. Otherwise healthy people who thought they had recovered from the virus are reporting persistent and strange symptoms, which may last for months. Mount Sinai hospital started giving anticoagulant drugs to people with Covid-19 in May to prevent the strokes they were seeing in "younger patients with no or mild symptoms". In a Dutch report, researchers surveyed 1,622 Covid-19 patients who had reported continuing symptoms. The patients (average age of 53) reported intense fatigue (88%), persistent shortness of breath (75%), and chest pressure (45%). Ninety-one per cent of the patients weren’t hospitalized, suggesting they suffered these side-effects despite their cases of Covid-19 qualifying as "mild". While 85% of the surveyed patients considered themselves generally healthy before having Covid-19, only 6% still did so one month or more after getting the virus. In one case, a 26-year old became sick on March 17th and was briefly hospitalized for fever, cough and shortness of breath. Doctors told her to return if those symptoms worsened, but instead of returning symptoms, she experienced a slew of new symptoms: sinus pain, sore throat, really severe gastrointestinal issues, loss of weight making her weak, a lot of fatigue, headaches, loss of sense of smell, and more. It wasn't until mid-May that she started feeling better, although some of her symptoms still routinely re-emerge.

    (This past week, a doctor was interviewed on TV who said her group was giving chest x-rays to patients with mild symptoms or those who tested positive but were asymptomatic, and they are finding that even if the patient never has any symptoms, there is still some lung and other damage, with scar tissue forming. They will be following those people to determine the long-term effects of the disease. I'm sure we'll be hearing more about that in upcoming weeks and months.)

     
  • Using a lot of hand sanitizers? You need to check the ingredients to make sure they are safe. The FDA is warning that some products are actually toxic. The ones you should avoid or discard contain methanol (wood alcohol) include:
    • All-Clean Hand Sanitizer (NDC: 74589-002-01)
    • Esk Biochem Hand Sanitizer (NDC: 74589-007-01)
    • CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 75% Alcohol (NDC: 74589-008-04)
    • Lavar 70 Gel Hand Sanitizer (NDC: 74589-006-01)
    • The Good Gel Antibacterial Gel Hand Sanitizer (NDC: 74589-010-10)
    • CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 80% Alcohol (NDC: 74589-005-03)
    • CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 75% Alcohol (NDC: 74589-009-01)
    • CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 80% Alcohol (NDC: 74589-003-01)
    • Saniderm Advanced Hand Sanitizer (NDC: 74589-001-01)

    Five more products were added to the list this week.

    • Grupo Insoma's Hand Sanitizer Gel Unscented 70% Alcohol (with NDC numbers 75744-0200-3; 75744-0200-4; 75744-0201-5; 75744-0202-1; 75744-0250-1; 75744-0250-2; 75744-0500-1; 75744-1000-1; 75744-1000-3; 75744-1001-1)
    • Transliquid Technologies' Mystic Shield Protection hand sanitizer (with NDC numbers 75477-435-02; 75477-435-10; 75477-435-12; 75477-435-25; 75477-435-50; 75477-534-10)
    • Soluciones Cosmeticas SA de CV's Bersih Hand Sanitizer Gel Fragrance Free (with NDC numbers 75165-003-02; 75165-004-01; 75165-005-01; 75165-006-01; 75165-008-01; 75165-250-01; 75165-600-01)
    • Soluciones Cosmeticas SA de CV's Antiseptic Alcohol 70% Topical Solution hand sanitizer (no NDC numbers listed)
    • Tropicosmeticos SA de CV's Britz Hand Sanitizer Ethyl Alcohol 70% (with NDC numbers 76676-402-01; 77676-402-02; 77676-402-03; 77676-402-04; 77676-402-05; 77676-402-06; 77676-402-07; 77676-402-08; 77676-402-09; 77676-402-10; 77676-402-11; 77676-402-12; 77676-402-13; 77676-402-14; 77676-402-16; 77676-402-17; 77676-402-18; 77676-402-19; 77676-402-20)

These products are potentially dangerous when absorbed through the skin or if ingested, and you should seek immediate treatment if you show signs of methanol poisoning: nausea, vomiting, headache, blurred vision or permanent blindness, seizures, coma, permanent damage to the nervous system, or death. Got my attention!

Sorry, but this has been a very busy week and I've only been able to get to a small portion of all the information being learned about this virus each week. Hopefully, I'll be able to wade through more for next week. Stay well and keep smiling.


Friday, July 3rd

The following has been learned this past week.

  • I am continuing giving you statistics from two dashboards (statistics presented in easy to understand overviews) or data portals:
    Florida's Dept. of Health (DOH) statistics (developed by Rebekah Jones) and Florida's Community Coronavirus statistics (also developed by Rebekah Jones). There is still quite a difference.

    Per the Florida Department of Health's dashboard* as of Friday, July 3rd, the state now has 175,594 residents testing positive for COVID-19 (another spike of 55,020 cases this past week, two days in a row), with 15,491 requiring hospitalization (up by 1,504 hospitalizations this past week), and 3,684 deaths (up by 318 deaths this past week). The breakdown of confirmed cases in our tri-county area is:
    • Sumter County: 401 cases (jump of 88 cases), holding at 17 deaths — age range steady: 4 — 92
    • Lake County: 1,603 cases (huge spike of 620 cases), 22 deaths (up just 1 death) — age range steady: 0 — 103
    • Marion County: 817 cases (another spike of 293 cases), holding at 12 deaths — age range steady: 0 — 97
        
    Per the Florida's Community Coronavirus dashboard as of Friday, July 3rd, the state now has 189,044 cases testing positive for COVID-19 since March 1st, new cases today alone: 9,488 (a spike of 91,698 new cases this past week), with 15,795 requiring hospitalization (up by 1,514 hospitalizations this past week), and 3,785 deaths (up by 321 deaths this past week). The breakdown of confirmed cases in our tri-county area is:
    • Sumter County: 442 cases (up 88 cases since last week & 41 more cases than DOH's numbers), holding at 17 deaths
    • Lake County: 1,703 cases (up 628 cases since last week & 100 more cases than DOH's numbers), 24 deaths (up just 1 death)
    • Marion County: 872 cases (up 293 cases since last week & 55 more cases than DOH's numbers), holding at 12 deaths

    The report card for counties that meet the state's criteria (minimum of two weeks of declining cases) for the next phase of reopening is being ignored. In fact, Florida has been slipping backward for three months now, each month setting new highs in cases and deaths. This week, none of Florida's 68 counties have met that criteria, yet the state is going full speed ahead in reopening. In fact, Florida shattered records on Thursday when it reported over 10,000 new cases, the biggest 1-day increase in the state since the pandemic started.

    This dashboard also gives a Social Distancing (6-feet from others) grade to each county. All three counties continue to get an F (failing) grade.

    Rebekah Jones has created this "community-based dashboard that doesn't hide or fudge numbers", which she hopes to fund through GoFundMe donations or a Florida COVID Action site, where you can also donate using PayPal. Read the whole June 14th NPR (National Public Radio) story.

     

  • It's official — the European Union (EU) has banned American travelers. As of July 1st, European nations (all members of the European Union, as well as the non-E.U. European nations of Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein) are expected to begin opening their borders to residents of other countries, but not to residents of the United States according to the official recommendation. (Click on graph on the left to enlarge it.) That is, unless they qualify for an exception like health workers, seasonal farm workers, diplomats, asylum seekers, students and "passengers traveling for imperative family reasons," among a handful ofclass="css-1g7m0tk" title rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank" style="text-size-adjust: 100%; font-style: normal; font-variant-ligatures: normal; font-variant-caps: normal; font-variant-numeric: inherit; font-variant-east-asian: inherit; font-weight: 400lign: baseline; text-decoration: underline; letter-spacing: normal; orphans: 2; text-align: start; text-indent: 0px; text-transform: none; white-space: normal; widows: 2; word-spacing: 0px; -webkit-text-stroke-widpadding: 0px; background-color: rgb(255, 255, 255)" href="https://data.consilium.europa.eu/doc/document/ST-9208-2020-INIT/en/pdf">here for the full list of exceptions.
     
  • U.S. airlines will start requiring passengers to answer a series of health questions before boarding and will be asked to commit to wearing a face covering at the airport and on their flight as an additional level of protection during the pandemic. Passengers who fail or refuse to complete the health acknowledgment may be deemed unfit to travel and each carrier will resolve the issue in accordance with its own policies.
     
  • On top of that, some states now want travelers from high-incident states like Florida to be quarantined for 2 weeks before venturing out, many imposing penalties for violating the quarantine (e.g., Hawaii: $5,000 or jail time, New York having the highest: $10,000). New York, New Jersey & Connecticut have banded together with a similar travel advisory for anyone arriving from any one of 16 states, Florida being one of them. Other states are doing the same, but the rules are a patchwork, and enforcement differs state by state. Lawsuits have been filed questioning travel restrictions and other public health orders that violate civil liberties, but the states do have the authority when they have a public health crisis.
     
  • In recent weeks, coronavirus infections have become more prevalent among young people in Florida. According to the latest state data, patients between the ages of 25 and 34 make up 20% of the state's Covid-19 cases. Those between the ages of 15 and 24 make up another 16%. On Thursday, it was announced that there were two Covid-19 deaths of patients under the age of 18 (one was an 11-year old). A 23-year old mother of a 2-year old who was recovering from the virus urged peers in a YouTube video to take the disease seriously. When asked about people not taking social distancing and wearing a mask, she admitted that she acted the same way when Florida started to reopen. The CDC has listed new symptoms for COVID-19 and urges parents to check for symptoms in children. Kids and teens infected with the disease will likely be asymptomatic or only have mild symptoms, but it doesn’t mean they can’t spread the disease to their family members or others.
     
  • On June 26th, Stat published an article that provides more information about how the new coronavirus wreaks havoc from head to toe. Infecting cells is only the first way the virus wreaks havoc. Patients with severe Covid-19 also suffer a runaway inflammatory response and, often, clot formation that can cause symptoms as different as a lack of blood flow to the intestines and the red, inflamed "Covid toe." It even effects the brain and nervous system. They've had five cases where a patient's gut had to be removed. Mayo Clinic and nference reported that loss of a sense of smell is "the earliest signature of Covid-19," appearing days before a positive swab test, so the assumption that it was primarily a respiratory infection was misplaced. The article goes on to say how the virus infects the gut, kidneys, sense of smell, lungs, pancreas, heart, and gallbladder. Another related article explains how the virus hijacks cells.
     
  • WebMD provides some tips for dealing with masks and the summer heat. COVID-19 continues to spread even in the humid heat of summer, so it's important to keep wearing masks and maintaining social distancing to prevent transmission. Masks can reduce transmission of the new coronavirus — if everyone wears one. The heat can make your mask stifling, but keep wearing it if near other people or in enclosed areas, even if you a a little uncomfortable. It's important to keep both your nose and mouth covered, so you might want to switch to a lightweight one that's more breathable. Sweat is another problem. Keep several on hand so you can switch when one gets sweaty. If struggling to breathe, distance yourself, take a break and lift your mask. Be sure to stay hydrated.
     
  • The Pew Research Center’s new poll shows two-thirds of the public think the CDC gets information about COVID-19 right, and only a third believe the president gets basic facts right about the pandemic. A growing number of Americans, especially Republicans, say the outbreak has been exaggerated, conversations about the virus are increasingly partisan and not as focused on medicine and science as a few months ago, and are finding it more difficult to determine what is true.


See what had been learned about the virus in June.


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