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The Latest on the Coronavirus — October

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The Lighter Side of Wearing Masks (Disney Animation) — New
Social Distancing (click on image on right and smile) New

10/30/2020:
     Graphic Explainer of Virus Spread in a Classroom, Bar & Room
New
     Household Spread is Common and Quick
New
     Dr. Birx Hits the Road
New
     New Infections and Misunderstood Deaths Data
New
     What a Coronavirus Vaccine Can & Cannot Do
New
     A Dose of Reality in the Vaccine Race
New
    
DeSantis & DOH Criticised Again — New
 
    This Week's Statistics
         
Florida Department of Health's dashboardUpdated
         
Florida's COVID-19 Action dashboardUpdated

10/23/2020:
    
More Than 80,000 Cases Reported Today Alone
    
14-year Old Wins 3M Award for a Possible COVID-19 Cure
    
CDC Revises What Constitutes "Close Contact"
     The False Promise of Herd Immunity
     COVID-19 Antibodies May Last for Months

     Cases Dropped by 75% in Arizona
     Thanksgiving Advice in the Time of Covid

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

10/16/2020:
     U.S. Tops 600,000 Cases on Thursday
    
Chris Christie Said He Should Have Worn a Mask
     Small, Indoor Groups Driving Spike in COVID-19 Cases
    
Johnson & Johnson and Pfiser Have Paused Vaccine Trials
     Inhaling COVID-19 a Major Way of Getting the Virus

     Florida Obscuring the Extent of its COVID-19 Cases
     The Villages Charter Schools Have Stopped Reporting Cases

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

10/9/2020:
     Florida Reported 2,908 New Cases & 18 New Deaths This Week

     Want to reduce your COVID-19 risk? Get your Zzzzs.

     Rose Garden Ceremony a Super Spreader Event
     Study of Super-Spreader Events

     COVID-19 lasts 9 Hours on Skin
     Reinfections are Sometimes Worse
 
    This Week's Statistics
         
Florida Department of Health's dashboard
         
Florida's COVID-19 Action dashboard

10/2/2020:
     President & First Lady Test Positive for COVID-19

     We're Nowhere Near End of the Pandemic
     More Than 100 New Cases in Sumter County
     Moderna's Vaccine Won't Be Ready Until Spring
 
    This Week's Statistics
         
Florida Department of Health's dashboard
         
Florida's COVID-19 Action dashboard
 

Friday, October 30th

  • El País produced a terrific explainer on how the coronavirus spreads in a classroom, a bar, and a room. The tutorial also explains how just the act of speaking spreads the virus so much faster, see the difference good ventilation makes, irrespective of whether safe distances are maintained. The calculations shown in the three different scenarios are based on studies of how aerosol transmission occurs, using real outbreaks that have been analyzed in detail.
     
  • A new CDC study finds that the spread of Covid-19 among members in a household after one person is infected is "common" and occurs quickly after the onset of illness. The research, part of an ongoing CDC-supported study, followed 101 people initially infected with Covid-19 between April and September. Over half of the people (53%) who lived with someone battling Covid-19 became infected within a week, with 75% of these secondary infections occurring within 5 days of the first symptoms in the initial patient.
     
  • Dr. Deborah Birx, a physician with decades of experience in global health, is deploying herself to take her message directly to the people and sidestep the misleading messages from Dr. Scott Atlas, a radiologist with no expertise in epidemiology. Without a coordinated national strategy, the only thing she can do is make people aware of the facts and the truth about how the virus is spreading, going to the hot spots, evaluating what they are doing or not doing, advising state and local officials on the right way to control the spread of the virus; the consequences of failure is grim. Her evaluate-then-lecture tactic is her new routine.
     
  • The United States reported a record high of more than 90,000 new coronavirus infections on Friday, and today's count is on pace to go even higher. The country has now exceeded 9 million cases since the outbreak began, with the last 1 million added in the last two weeks. More than 1,000 coronavirus deaths were also reported Thursday. In an interview on Fox News Thursday, Donald Trump Jr. claimed that the death rate had dropped to "almost nothing", citing a graph compiled from incomplete and outdated data. His chart showed 149 deaths for the week ending Oct. 24, but that number is now 1,119 and will undoubtedly rise in the weeks to come. How can his chart be so far off? It is because of the lag in time between when the death occurred and when the death certificate is completed, which can range from 1 to 8 weeks or more (the article shows a graph that illustrates this). Others have misunderstood the data and lag time, as well.
     
  • People worldwide are anxiously awaiting the creation of an effective vaccine for the new coronavirus, which is touted as a beacon of hope for ending the Covid-19 pandemic. But experts say the public should be measured in their expectations for the vaccine and shouldn't expect it to eradicate the virus entirely. A new vaccine can have setbacks in safety and effectiveness and have risks, and risks of those setbacks can increase when development is rushed. Experts also caution that a vaccine isn't likely to be a panacea for stopping the virus, not a one-time cure all or life-long, but more likely be like the seasonal flu vaccine, which doesn't protect against all strains of influenza, but reduces the risk of contracting it or lessens its severity. In addition, some might refuse to get the vaccine, further hampering efforts to stop the virus' spread. The Mayo Clinic has a good article giving the facts about a COVID-19 vaccine.
     
  • Pfizer’s admission Tuesday that it still doesn’t know whether its coronavirus vaccine works is a dose of reality for the historic global vaccine race. The company’s failure to meet its self-imposed goal — having proof of efficacy in October — is the latest reminder that vaccine development is a long, complicated process that doesn’t stick to political deadlines, and  a Covid-19 vaccine could still be months away. Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca were forced to pause their trials over safety concerns, but got the FDA all-clear to resume the studies last week. The fourth company with a vaccine in a late-stage U.S. trial, Moderna, has been chugging along quietly towards its goal of filing for FDA review in late November, but the company’s vaccine relies on new technology that has never been used in a shot that's reached the market.
     
  • Gov. Ron DeSantis and Florida's Department of Health (DOH) get more criticism for changing the way our state is reporting coronavirus data and making changes without telling people why they were made, which is used to help spot upticks in virus transmission. Florida has used a relatively rare method of filtering out residents who have already tested positive before, in effect, resulting in a lower rate of infection, creating a discrepancy in total testing numbers. The COVID Tracking Project, which also feeds the Johns Hopkins University dashboard, is used by other states, have consistently posted a higher rate of positive tests in Florida than the state reports, leading many to question Florida’s data. Earlier in the year, the governor and DOH were criticized for manipulating its data.
     
  • 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). (Click on images to enlarge them.)  However, their accuracy may be off since testing is down and there were reporting issues, but you still should be able to see the trends.
     
    Per the Florida Department of Health's dashboard* as of Friday, October 30th, the state now has 789,714 residents testing positive for COVID-19, with 49,185 hospitalized, and 16,720 deaths.** As you can see, the number of cases are on the rise again. The breakdown of confirmed cases in our tri-county area is:
    • Sumter County: 2,928 cases (2,880 residents), 288 hospitalizations, with 86 deaths
      (median age still: 55, 57%
       males, 43% females)
        
    • Lake County: 8,662 cases (8,554 residents), 731 hospitalizations (11 non-residents), with 228 deaths
      (median age now: 44, 46%
       males, 52% females)
       
    • Marion County: 10,902 cases (10,795 residents), 1,066 hospitalizations (1 non-resident), with 347 deaths 
      (median age still: 43, 41%
       males, 59% 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, October 30th, the state now has 854,256 residents testing positive (3,377 cases today, 23,895 cases this past week, 66,847 K-12 pediatric/staff cases this week); with 2,349 requiring hospitalization; and 16,652 deaths (20 deaths today, 430 deaths this past week). The breakdown of confirmed cases in our tri-county area is:

    • Sumter County: 3,137 cases this past week (37 cases today, 104 cases this week), 142 K-12 Pediatric (48 students/14 staff cases), and 86 deaths (0 deaths today, 3 this week).
        
    • Lake County: 9,182 cases (49 cases today, 280 cases this week), 173 K-12 Pediatric (188 students/55 staff cases), and 229 deaths (0 deaths today, 1 this week).
        
    • Marion County: 11,246 cases (83 cases today, 276 cases this week), 821 K-12 Pediatric (92 students/1 staff cases), and 347 deaths (0 deaths today, 6 this week).

    None of these counties meet the criteria for the next phase of reopening.


Friday, October
23rd

  • U.S. hits an all-time high for the number of COVID-19 cases reported in a single day, with more than 80,000 cases today alone, the highest count since the beginning of the pandemic. The average number of hospitalizations has jumped in at least 38 states over the past week. The rising numbers put the nation on the precipice of what could be its worst stretch to date in the pandemic, with some hospitals in the West and Midwest already overwhelmed and death counts rising. The country hasn't even hit the stretch of holidays, cold weather, or the flu season yet. Last time, just four states (AZ, CA, FL, TX) accounted for most of the cases. This time, 14 states account for that same lion’s share of cases, where 22 states have broken their records for single-day highs of cases in the past two weeks.
     
  • Some uplifting news — As scientists around the globe are feverishly searching for a possible COVID-19 cure (regardless of what you might have heard, there is no cure), the latest idea on how to beat it didn't come from big pharmaceutical companies or top-tier university labs. It comes from a 14-year old middle school student. Anika Chebrolu (click on link to play video) of Frisco, Texas, won this year’s 3M Young Scientist Challenge ($25,000 prize) for her work finding a molecule that can selectively bind to the virus’s spike protein. The eight grader used in-silico methodology for drug discovery to do it (as my eyes glaze over, lol).
     
  • On Wednesday, the CDC revised its definition of "close contacts" after a study suggests that COVID-19 can be passed during relatively brief interactions with someone with the virus. Previously, the CDC described a close contact as someone who spent 15 minutes or more within 6 feet of someone who was infectious. Now, the agency says it’s someone who spent a cumulative 15 minutes or more within 6 feet of someone who was infectious over a period of 24 hours, even if the time isn’t consecutive. The thought is that the longer someone is around someone else who is infectious, the higher level of virus they will be subjected to, and the more likely they are to get Covid-19. In other words, exposure can be cumulative; multiple brief encounters that add up to 15 minutes can infect you.
     
  • The administration's current mantra is to reach herd immunity through returning to normal and letting the virus run its course, the theory promoted by Scott Atlas, the president's new COVID-19 advisor, a diagnostic radiologist who reads and interprets imaging like X-rays, CT scans and MRIs. The belief is that the virus can’t spread because it keeps encountering people who are protected against infection. However, epidemiologists and scientists have repeatedly smacked down such ideas, saying that we've never been able to reach herd immunity before, and it will lead to unnecessary and untold human death and suffering. Arguments in favor of allowing the virus to run its course share a misunderstanding about what herd immunity is, and how best to achieve it. Herd immunity doesn’t actually confer immunity to the virus itself — it only reduces the risk that vulnerable people will come into contact with it, and even if herd immunity is attained across a population, it’s still possible to have large outbreaks. In addition, herd-immunity calculations are built on assumptions that might not reflect real life and no one knows yet whether people who have gotten the virus have immunity or how long it might last. If people become susceptible again and are reinfected (which has already happened), then the country can never reach herd immunity. If it turns out that anyone can become a super-spreader, then the assumptions made to get herd-immunity threshold estimates down to around 20% or 30% aren't accurate; the result is that it will be closer to 60–70%.
     
  • More than 8 million people in the U.S. have now tested positive for COVID-19. For those who’ve recovered, many wonder if their immune system will protect them from re-infection, and if so, how long will this acquired immunity last? New findings show that people who survive COVID-19 continue to produce protective antibodies against key parts of the virus for at least 3 — 4 months after their first symptoms. In contrast, other antibody types decline more quickly. Researchers characterized the development of three types of antibodies: immunoglobulin G (IgG), which may have the potential for sustained immunity; immunoglobulin A (IgA), which protects against infection on the body’s mucosal surfaces, found in the respiratory and gastrointestinal tracts, tears, mucus, and other bodily secretions; and immunoglobulin M (IgM), which the body produces to fight an infection. All three types were present by about 12 days after infection. IgA and IgM antibodies were short-lived against the spike protein that crowns SARS-CoV-2, allowing the virus to fuse with human cells, vanishing within about two months. The longer-lasting IgG antibodies persisted in these same patients for up to four months, as long as the researchers were able to look. Still, there are rare reports of individuals who survived one bout with COVID-19 and were infected with a different SARS-CoV-2 strain a few weeks later.
     
  • The number of new coronavirus cases in Arizona fell by about 75% in less than a month after mask-wearing became widely enforced and bars and gyms were shut down, according to a report released by the CDC. They stayed relatively stable from early March when the state first declared a public health state of emergency to May as stay-at-home orders were in place and nonessential businesses remained closed. However, when Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) phased out statewide stay-at-home orders in mid-May, declaring "we are clearly on the other side of this pandemic," the number of daily infections exploded. The average number of daily cases increased by about 151%, from 808 cases on June 1st to 2,026 on June 15th. The alarming rise in cases prompted Ducey to lift an executive order that had prohibited local officials from imposing mask mandates and most cities began immediately requiring masks in public.
     
  • StatNews suggests you consider a range of questions for the holidays now. The most stress-filled travel holiday of the year has taken on whole new dimensions with the emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic. If you are going to get together with family or friends, the gathering should be small and made up only of people who share your philosophy about taking precautions to avoid contracting the virus. Thanksgiving gatherings will set up a new round of infections that will show up mid-December, perhaps putting Christmas and other holiday gatherings in peril.
    • How do you safely get from point A to point B?
    • Does the state you’re traveling to require you to quarantine for two weeks on arrival?
    • Does your home state expect you to quarantine for two weeks on your return?
    • How many generations of family can one safely invite?
    • And what to do about Uncle Frank, who dismisses the disease as a "scamdemic" and won’t wear a mask?
       
  • 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). (Click on images to enlarge them.)  However, their accuracy may be off since testing is down and there were reporting issues, but you still should be able to see the trends.
     
    Per the Florida Department of Health's dashboard* as of Friday, October 23rd, the state now has 761,924 residents testing positive for COVID-19, with 47,953 hospitalized, and 16,340 deaths.** As you can see, the number of cases are on the rise again. The breakdown of confirmed cases in our tri-county area is:
    • Sumter County: 2,826 cases (2,815 residents), 276 hospitalizations, with 83 deaths
      (median age now: 55, 57%
       males, 42% females)
        
    • Lake County: 8,387 cases (8,330 residents), 711 hospitalizations (11 non-residents), with 227 deaths
      (median age still: 43, 46%
       males, 52% females)
       
    • Marion County: 10,630 cases (10,608 residents), 1,045 hospitalizations (1 non-resident), with 341 deaths 
      (median age still: 43, 41%
       males, 59% 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, October 23rd, the state now has 844,023 residents testing positive (3,689 cases today, 23,598 cases this past week, 65,752 K-12 pediatric/staff cases this week); with 2,120 requiring hospitalization (58 currently in the hospital); and 16,030 deaths (98 deaths today, 658 deaths this past week). The breakdown of confirmed cases in our tri-county area is:

    • Sumter County: 2,985 cases this past week (24 cases today, 93 cases this week, 130 K-12 pediatric/staff cases), 18 cases requiring hospitalization, and 83 deaths (0 deaths today, 4 this week).
        
    • Lake County: 8,830 cases (51 cases today, 311 cases this week, 727 K-12 pediatric/staff cases), 29 cases requiring hospitalization, and 229 deaths (51 deaths today, 311 this week).
        
    • Marion County: 10,886 cases (37 cases today, 291 cases this week, 804 K-12 pediatric/staff cases), 31 cases requiring hospitalization, and 341 deaths (1 death today, 6 this week).

    None of these counties meet the criteria for the next phase of reopening.


Friday, October 16th

  • For the first time since early August, the number of newly reported coronavirus infections in the U.S. on Thursday topped 60,000, with more than 36,000 people are hospitalized nationally with covid-19. This is not a regional crisis, but instead one that is intensifying almost everywhere in the country. The virus is spreading in rural communities in the heartland, far from the coastal cities hammered early in the pandemic. During the past week, at least 20 states have set record seven-day averages for infections, and a dozen have hit record hospitalization rates.
     
  • Former New Jersey governor Chris Christie admitted Thursday that he was wrong not to wear a mask at a White House event last month. "I believed that when I entered the White House grounds, that I had entered a safe zone, due to the testing that I and many others underwent every day. I was wrong," he said in a statement. Christie and more than a dozen people tested positive for the coronavirus after attending the event in the Rose Garden on September 26th to honor Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Amy Coney Barrett. As a result, he spent seven days isolated in the intensive care unit. He should have worn a mask as recommended by the CDC to the event and during sessions where he helped Trump prepare for the first debate with Joe Biden in late September. No one should be happy to get the virus and no one should be cavalier about being infected or infecting others.
     
  • This week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its advice on how people should handle the upcoming holidays, saying people at elevated risk of a severe covid-19 illness shouldn't attend in-person holiday celebrations because people tend to lower their guard (not washing hands thoroughly, social distancing and/or wearing a mask) around those they know. Small, indoor group gatherings are driving the current spike in new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in the U.S., said Centers for Disease Control Director Dr. Robert Redfield.
  • Particularly with Thanksgiving coming up, it's really important to be vigilant and mindful of following guidelines in household settings.
     
  • Johnson & Johnson and Pfiser have paused COVID-19 vaccine trials. Johnson & Johnson said Monday it has paused the advanced clinical trial of its experimental coronavirus vaccine because of an unexplained illness in one of the volunteers. The company didn't say what the unexplained illness was, but one point of clinical trials is to find out if vaccines cause dangerous side effects. The Johnson & Johnson trial is the biggest trial of the vaccine, 60,000 people. This is the second Phase 3 coronavirus vaccine trial to be paused in the US. AstraZeneca's vaccine trial was paused last month because of a neurological complication in a volunteer in Britain. Pfizer Chairman and CEO Albert Bourla said in a public statement Friday said it's possible they could have enough data this month to know whether the vaccine actually protects people from infection, but it won't have data showing that it's is safe before the third week of November. Polls show many Americans are hesitant about taking a coronavirus vaccine that has been rushed. Eli Lilly will also pause its testing an antibody treatment similar to the one that President Trump used a week ago. Five of 302 patients on LY-CoV555 were hospitalized, compared to nine of 150 patients who received placebo, citing the need for full publication of the results.
     
  • There is overwhelming evidence that inhalation of the virus is a major transmission route for COVID-19. There is now an urgent need for experts in virus-related fields to get on the same page about how the virus is transmitted. Viruses in droplets typically fall to the ground in seconds, near the source, and sprayed like tiny cannonballs onto nearby individuals. Because of their limited travel range, physical distancing reduces exposure to these droplets. However, viruses in aerosols can remain suspended in the air for many seconds to hours to be inhaled, are highly concentrated near an infected person, can infect anyone in close proximity, and can travel further and accumulate in poorly ventilated indoor air, leading to super-spreading events and going beyond person-to-person transmission. People with COVID-19, many without symptoms, release thousands of virus-laden aerosols when breathing and talking, so people are far more likely to inhale aerosols than be sprayed by a droplet, and so attention must be shifted to protecting against airborne transmission.
     
  • Florida has obscured the true extent of its COVID-19 pandemic by using a misleading measure of positive cases to justify reopening schools and businesses. While Florida has publicized that its positivity rate has regularly fallen below 5%, independent experts (including Johns Hopkins University) consistently list Florida’s positivity rate at 10% or higher, twice the recommended level for widespread reopening. Florida's DOH excludes anyone who has tested positive in the past, even though people with previous negative tests are still included, skewing the rate downward.
  • Some experts also find that Florida appears to compare two different kinds of testing, which is a no-no. In addition, Florida’s daily testing numbers have come down sharply from their July peak; if you are not testing, you are reporting fewer cases.
     
  • And then there's the problem of not reporting cases. Despite an outbreak of COVID-19 among students and staff, The Villages Charter School is no longer reporting the number of new cases. The decision to stop reporting daily COVID-19 numbers comes at the height of an apparent outbreak involving eight students and three staff members. It’s also forced about 80 students to quarantine at home, and since several of the victims are members of The Villages High School’s football team, this past Friday’s game against Leesburg High School was canceled, rescheduled, then shelved again. The charter school originally was included when the school district’s daily COVID-19 webpage was launched at the beginning of the school year. The school quickly shot to the top of the chart, and was leading the district with 12 cases by mid-September. The charter school is the only public school in the tri-county area that doesn’t have its COVID-19 numbers reported on local school district websites. Numbers from the charter school are included on a daily report released by the Florida Department of Health, but those numbers clearly lag behind the actual 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). (Click on images to enlarge them.)
     
    Per the Florida Department of Health's dashboard* as of Friday, October 16th, the state now has 739,050 residents testing positive for COVID-19, with 46,862 hospitalized, and 15,830 deaths.** As you can see, the number of cases are on the rise again. The breakdown of confirmed cases in our tri-county area is:
    • Sumter County: 2,731 cases (2,721 residents), 270 hospitalizations, with 79 deaths — age range: 0 — 99
      (median age now: 54, 57%
       males, 43% females)
        
    • Lake County: 8,083 cases (8,029 residents), 682 hospitalizations (9 non-residents), with 214 deaths — age range: 0 — 103  (median age still: 43, 46% males, 52% females)
       
    • Marion County: 10,345 cases (10,325 residents), 1,028 hospitalizations (1 non-resident), with 335 deaths — age range: 0 — 106  (median age still: 43, 41% males, 59% 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, October 16th, the state now has 820,680 residents testing positive (3,449 cases today, 19,714 cases this past week, 63,433 K-12 pediatric/staff cases this week); with 2,120 requiring hospitalization (58 currently in the hospital); and 16,030 deaths (98 deaths today, 658 deaths this past week). The breakdown of confirmed cases in our tri-county area is:

    • Sumter County: 2,890 cases this past week (15 cases today, 111 cases this week, 125 K-12 pediatric/staff cases), 18 cases requiring hospitalization, and 79 deaths (1 death today, 3 this week).
        
    • Lake County: 8,526 cases (36 cases today, 219 cases this week, 690 K-12 pediatric/staff cases), 40 cases requiring hospitalization, and 216 deaths (3 deaths today, 12 this week).
        
    • Marion County: 10,601 cases (44 cases today, 244 cases this week, 778 K-12 pediatric/staff cases), 21 cases requiring hospitalization, and 335 deaths (1 death today, 17 this week).

    None of these counties meet the criteria for the next phase of reopening.


Friday, October 9th

  • Florida added 2,908 coronavirus cases Friday to bring the statewide total to 728,921 infected. With 118 new virus fatalities reported statewide, 15,186 Florida residents are now dead. The DOH hasn’t reported a daily increase above 10,000 infections since July 25th, but testing has declined statewide since September 1st, down from about 32,000 daily tests in August and 54,400 a day in July. Central Florida accounts for 16% of the cases statewide and 15% of the deaths. According to John Hopkins, the state had a massive spike in COVID-19 cases just days after Gov. DeSantis lifted restrictions on restaurants and small businesses.
     
  • Want to reduce your COVID-19 risk? Decades of scientific evidence show that sleep is a solid way to bolster the immune system against colds, influenza, and respiratory infections. Chronic sleep deprivation has long-term consequences, raising risks for type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, dementia, and depression. Some of those chronic conditions are among the risk factors that increase susceptibility to COVID-19. Growing evidence also shows that sleep deprivation impairs your ability to fight off a disease once you are infected. So, catch your Zzzzs.
  •  
  • In an interview with Dr. Anthony Fauci today, the doctor identified the White House ceremony for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett as a "super spreader" event, where people were crowded together, most were not wearing masks, and a number of attendees have tested positive for the virus. (Watch a video that explains how that happened.) The data on masks and social distancing speaks for itself. Also, during an interview with Fox News on Thursday, the president was coughing, but Dr. Fauci didn't think there was cause for alarm. Having a lingering cough and even some shortness of breath is not at all unusual, and doesn't necessarily mean that he is still shedding virus. The president's doctor said the president may return to the public as soon as Saturday, when the level of detectible virus in his blood isn't high enough to infect others, but it won't be until Monday that the president will be fully in the clear. Tests will determine when he is not longer infected.
     
  • Kristin Nelson, an assistant professor of epidemiology at Emory University Rollins School of Public Health, joined a series of researchers who are publishing their findings about super-spreader events in Smithsonian Magazine. Studying super-spreader events, Nelson and her team studied found that 2% of people were responsible for 20% percent of new infections. Other studies found a similar correlation for wildfire viral spread. Researchers examining outbreaks in Hong Kong found that 20% of people created 80% of new infections, while about 70% didn't infect anyone. In Israel, investigators concluded that cases could be linked back to 1 to 10% of people. In a peer-reviewed paper, Adam Kucharski, an associate professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, has estimated that 10% of people may be responsible for 80% of the cases resulting from super-spreader events.
     
  • LiveScience reported, "Earlier in the pandemic, researchers in the U.S. analyzed how long SARS-CoV-2 could last on surfaces and found it remained viable on copper surfaces for up to 4 hours, on cardboard for up to 24 hours, and on plastic and stainless steel for up to 72 hours." It seems like every day we learn something new about this virus. New research shows the coronavirus can live and stay infectious on human skin 4 times longer than the seasonal flu virus. SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, remained viable on samples of human skin for about 9 hours, according to a recent study. Fortunately, both viruses are rapidly inactivated with hand sanitizer or washing with soap and water. The result of this finding is... wash your hands.
     
  • As reported earlier, COVID-19 reinfections have been emerging. There still isn't a lot of data on this yet, but researchers are paying attention to COVID-19 patients who are becoming reinfected and it appears that the second time around can be worse than the first. The first reinfection case, which was asymptomatic, showed up in Europe in August. Researchers had hope that might be the norm for reinfections. But as reinfection cases piled up, in Hong Kong; then Reno, Nevada; then the Netherlands; Ecuador and India; some of the reinfections have been worse than the first round. In India, for example, doctors say nurses were reinfected and that the second cases were worse partly because the patients had not fully recovered from the first illness. The Guardian reports that  Akiko Iwasaki, a professor of immunobiology at Yale University, has been following cases of reinfection closely.  She says, "It’s really hard to find a pattern right now. Essentially every case is different." 
     
  • Germans embrace fresh air to ward off the virus. Angela Merkel says ventilation may be one of cheapest and most effective ways of containing the virus since it has become known that 90% of Covid-19 patients pick up the virus indoors. Here in the U.S., with decades of obsessive attention to keeping windows closed and shutting off leaks in the name of energy efficiency, trapping stale air (and potentially virus-laden air) inside, opening windows is officially back in style. In fact, some believe the "ventilation" of stale indoor air should be pushed to the top of the list for steps to be adopted in reducing the spread of COVID-19. Does it work? The CDC thought so in the aftermath of SARS, and the best air flow system can't match the simple act of throwing open the windows.
     
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (link includes a video explaining how virus can spread through the air you breathe) acknowledged Monday that people can sometimes become infected with the novel coronavirus through airborne transmission, especially in enclosed spaces with inadequate ventilation. Not only does the virus spread from sneezes or coughs, but the virus likely also spreads through even tinier, longer-lasting aerosols particles from breathing or speaking (or flushing a toilet). These are so small they can linger in the air and remain suspended for many minutes up to 3 hours and travel far from the source on air currents after an infectious person has left, which may be a key element to super-spreading events: An infected person could seed a poorly ventilated indoor space with virus without even getting physically close to all the people they end up infecting.
     
  • 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). (Click on images to enlarge them.)
     
    Per the Florida Department of Health's dashboard* as of Friday, October 9th, the state now has 728,921 residents testing positive for COVID-19, with 45,675 hospitalized, and 15,186 deaths.** The breakdown of confirmed cases in our tri-county area is:
    • Sumter County: 2,612 cases (2,602 residents), 261 hospitalizations, with 76 deaths — age range: 0 — 99
      (median age now: 54, 56%
       males, 43% females)
        
    • Lake County: 7,862 cases (7,811 residents), 648 hospitalizations (8 non-residents), with 202 deaths — age range: 0 — 103  (median age still: 43, 46% males, 52% females)
       
    • Marion County: 10,102 cases (10,083 residents), 1,002 hospitalizations, with 317 deaths — age range: 0 — 106  (median age still: 43, 41% males, 59% 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, October 9th, the state now has 801,164 cases testing positive for COVID-19 (2,908 cases today, 17,353 cases this past week, 3,981 K-12 pediatric/staff cases this week); with 2,146 requiring hospitalization; and 61,350 deaths (118 deaths today, 642 deaths this past week). The breakdown of confirmed cases in our tri-county area is:

    • Sumter County: 2,771 cases this past week (19 cases today, 196 cases this week, 120 K-12 pediatric/staff cases), 22 cases requiring hospitalization, and 76 deaths this past week (1 death today).
        
    • Lake County: 8,305 cases (44 cases today, 260 cases this week, 667 K-12 pediatric/staff cases), 49 cases requiring hospitalization (49 hospitalizations today), and 8 deaths this past week (0 deaths today).
        
    • Marion County: 10,124 cases (24 cases today, 258 cases this week, 754 K-12 pediatric/staff cases), 2,146 cases requiring hospitalization (47 hospitalizations today), and 318 deaths (4 deaths today).

    None of these counties meet the criteria for the next phase of reopening.


Friday, October
2nd

  • President Donald Trump and the First Lady have tested positive for COVID-19. They were tested after one of the president’s closest aides, Hope Hicks, started showing mild COVID-19 symptoms and then tested positive. The president arrived at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center Friday evening and is expected to stay a few days. His symptoms were described as a low-grade fever, nasal congestion and a cough. He received the experimental antibody cocktail for Covid-19 as a precautionary measure after being diagnosed, as well as the antiviral drug Remdesivir that shortens hospital stay. Hopefully, they and other White House staffers recover quickly.
     
  • The first family’s diagnosis is just the latest indication that we are nowhere near the end of this pandemic. Early on we had a good sense of how to control the virus to protect ourselves, our families and those around us: wear masks, practice social distancing, and wash your hands regularly. More than 9 of every 10 people in this country have yet to be infected. We've already reached over 200,000 deaths in this country and it is projected that we'll reach 370,000 by the end of the year. If we follow the world’s top scientists and health experts, we won't be among them. Hopefully, a safe vaccine will become available, but the result is not a certain. We have no idea how effective any of these vaccines might be, how long they might last, or what side effects they might cause.
     
  • More than 100 confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been reported recently in Sumter County, according to the most recent updates from the Florida Department of Health. There were 84 cases on Thursday and a spike of 19 more on Friday in Sumter. Sumter’s case count now stands at 2,416, with a death toll of 70. The number of positive tests reported Friday translate to a positivity rate of 4.82% in Sumter County.
     
  • Moderna's CEO says its COVID-19 vaccine won't be ready for widespread use until spring. No matter what the president says, the company won't have enough safety data to be able to apply for emergency use authorization from the FDA until November25th the at the earliest. Three other vaccine candidates are in the final stages of testing in the United States, though one of them has been paused. And even with a vaccine, life will not return to normal. Early trial data has suggested that vaccines are triggering an immune response, but studies have not yet shown if this is enough to either offer complete protection or lessen the symptoms of Covid. Researchers warn that the issue of long-term immunity will still take some time to answer.
     
  • A Cornell University study of more than 1 million news articles concluded that the President was likely the largest driver of COVID-19 misinformation (he's a super-spreader of misinformation), which the researchers call an "infodemic". The media YouTube, and social networks disseminated this misinformation. The study from Cornell University looked at how misinformation has spread during the pandemic. Misinformation was broken into 11 categories: Miracle Cures (e.g., chloroquine/hydroxychloroquine), New World Order/Deep State, a Democratic Party Hoax (e.g., Eric Trump claiming the pandemic was intentional to coincide with the impeachment trial), Wuhan Bio-weapon, Bill Gates (e.g., Gates planned to equip COVID-19 vaccines with microchips), 5G Technology,  Anti-Semitic Conspiracies, Population Control, Dr. Anthony Fauci (e.g., accusing him of exaggerating deaths), Plandemic (e.g., debunked YouTube pseudo-documentary), and Bat Soup (e.g., virus initially caught by consuming bats in Wuhan).
     
  • 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). (Click on images to enlarge them.)
     
    Per the Florida Department of Health's dashboard* as of Friday, October 2nd, the state now has 711,804 residents testing positive for COVID-19, with 44,489 hospitalized, and 11,750 deaths.** The breakdown of confirmed cases in our tri-county area is:
    • Sumter County: 2,406 cases, 218 hospitalizations, with 55 deaths — age range: 0 — 99
      (median age now: 55, 55%
       males, 45% females)
        
    • Lake County: 7,554 cases, 602 hospitalizations, with 194 deaths — age range: 0 — 103
      (median age now: 43, 46%
       males, 52% females)
       
    • Marion County: 9,850 cases, 975 hospitalizations, with 297 deaths — age range: 0 — 106
      (median age now: 43, 41%
       males, 59% 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, October 2nd, the state now has 711,804 cases testing positive for COVID-19 (2,660 cases today, 16,541 cases this past week, 3,981 K-12 pediatric/staff cases this week); with 2,058 requiring hospitalization; and 14,730 deaths (111 deaths today, 647 deaths this past week). The breakdown of confirmed cases in our tri-county area is:

    • Sumter County: 2,575 cases this past week (19 cases today, 30 K-12 pediatric/staff cases — a 3.7% increase over last week), 12 cases requiring hospitalization, and 4 deaths this past week (no deaths today).
        
    • Lake County: 8,049 cases (39 cases today, 71 K-12 pediatric/staff cases — an 8% increase over last week), 2,058 cases requiring hospitalization (39 hospitalizations today), and 6 deaths this past week (1 death today).
        
    • Marion County: 10,124 cases (62 cases today, 258 cases this past week, 96 K-12 pediatric/staff cases — a 4% increase over last week), 2,058 cases requiring hospitalization (8 hospitalizations today), and 297 deaths (2 deaths today).

See what had been learned about the virus in September.


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