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The Latest on the Coronavirus — December

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Latest on COVID-19 in December — Updated
    
'Twas a Month Before Christmas
   
COVID-19 Letter from Chief Medical Officer of The Villages Health Latest letter dated December 24th.


12/25/2020: — Taking a break from COVID-19 news this week. Happy holidays to me too.

12/18/2020:
     2nd Coronavirus Vaccine Gets Emergency Authorization
    
States Confused as Government Reduces Vaccine Shipments
     FL Makes National News w/ Raid on Rebekah Jone's Home
     DeSantis Criticized as COVID-19 Cases Rise Rapidly
     This Week's Statistics
           
Florida Department of Health's dashboard
           
Florida's COVID-19 Action dashboard

12/11/2020:
     Military-grade Camera Shows Airborne COVID-19 Spread
     Britain first to Approve a Vaccine & Reactions
    
Can I stop wearing a mask after getting the vaccine?
     What if I skip the second vaccine shot
?
    
Do vaccinations slow the spread of the virus?
 
    This Week's Statistics
           
Florida Department of Health's dashboard
           
Florida's COVID-19 Action dashboard

12/4/2020:
     Another COVID-19 Spike Expected in Wake of Thanksgiving
     Pfizer Not Sure Its Vaccine Will Prevent Transmission
    
Florida Surpasses 1,000,000 Cases
     This Week's Statistics
           
Florida Department of Health's dashboard
           
Florida's COVID-19 Action dashboard


Friday, December 18th

  • A second coronavirus vaccine received emergency authorization Friday, so the U.S. now has two powerful tools to fight the pandemic. The authorization of a second vaccine will have an immediate practical impact that may begin to ease some of the logistical challenges and will free the country from the precarious position of relying on a single manufacturer as production ramps up of a type of vaccine that has never been made on a massive scale. And it adds a vaccine that can be stored in a regular freezer, making it easier to distribute to large swaths of the country. The government was preparing to ship almost 6 million doses of the Moderna vaccine to 3,285 locations in the first week after approval.
     
  • Officials in multiple states said they were alerted late Wednesday that their second shipments of Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine had been drastically cut for next week, sparking widespread confusion and conflicting statements from Pfizer and federal officials. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, in an CNBC appearance on Thursday, noted that Pfizer had slashed its manufacturing projection for this year from 100 million doses to 50 million doses, and said he would "like to have more visibility" into the company’s manufacturing capacity. But Pfizer promptly released a statement disputing that, saying the company faced no production difficulties and they had millions more doses sitting in their warehouse waiting for instructions on where to ship them.
     
  • Florida has made national news... yes, yet again. The latest embarrassment is the raid on Rebekah Jones' home, the Florida data scientist and developer of both the Florida Department of Health (DOH) and the COVID Action dashboards (data portals for virus information), who had been fired the end of April when she said she refused to manipulate Florida's data to make it appear that Florida's COVID case & death records weren't as bad as they were/are. Police showed up at her home, ordered her outside, drew guns, with one officer pointed his up the stairs at her husband holding the baby with their little boy cowering behind his father, ordering them all downstairs, then taking all phones, computers, and storage devices (e.g., thumb drives) from the home. A Miami-based state senator resigned in protest. Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Rick Swearingen released two body camera videos showing his officers’ actions before they entered the home (mostly waiting around outside until they decided to call her), but not the body cam footage of their actions when inside the home until they were almost ready to leave.
     
  • Tensions continue to rise between Gov. DeSantis and the leaders of several Florida cities as the number of new COVID-19 cases across the state took a massive jump and eight more local residents succumbed to the virus. With new cases being reported at an alarming rate, some mayors and government leaders are pushing back against the governor’s continual drive to fully reopen Florida. Accusations also are continuing to mount that DeSantis put politics over health in the weeks leading up to the presidential election by downplaying COVID-19 statistics, with ealth departments across the state basically going quiet in providing COVID-19 updates, especially when it came the number of deaths being reported.
     
  • I am showing statistics from both 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.)  The statistics between the two is quite different.
     
    Per the Florida Department of Health's dashboard* as of Friday, December 18th, cumulatively the state now has 1,161,953 residents testing positive for COVID-19, with 59,602 hospitalized, and 20,401 deaths.** The breakdown of confirmed cases in our tri-county area is:
    • Sumter County: 4,313 cases (4,291 residents), 364 hospitalizations, with 109 deaths
      (median age now: 61, now 54%
       males, 45% females)
        
    • Lake County: 13,157 cases (13,025 residents), 919 hospitalizations (17 non-residents), with 283 deaths (median age now: 45, holding at 46% males, 52% females)
        
    • Marion County: 15,642 cases (15,582 residents, 65 non-residents), 1,250 hospitalizations (3 non-residents), with 431 deaths (median age holding at: 44, with 42% males, 58% 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, December 18th, the state now has 1,276,824 residents testing positive (13,000 cases today, 75,813 cases this past week, 30,484 K-12 pediatric/staff cases this week); with 5,142 requiring hospitalization; and 20,690 deaths (96 deaths today, 713 deaths this past week). The breakdown of confirmed cases in our tri-county area is:

    • Sumter County: 4,576 cases since March 1st (92 cases today, 360 this week), 176 pediatric cases with 95 K-12 cases (72 students/23 staff), 44 current hospitalizations, and 109 deaths (0 deaths today, 7 this week).
        
    • Lake County: 13,923 cases since March 1st (191 cases today, 1,188 this week), 1,225 pediatric cases with 447 K-12 cases (32 students/135 staff), 106 current hospitalizations, and 287 deaths (7 deaths today, 17 this week).
        
    • Marion County: 16,123 cases since March 1st (214 cases today, 1,065 this week), 1,192 pediatric cases with 537 K-12 cases (261 students/176 staff), 68 current hospitalizations, and 431 deaths (1 death today, 18 this week).

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

     

Friday, December 11th

  • COVID-19 spreads most commonly through close contact, scientists say, but under certain conditions, people farther than six feet apart can become infected by exposure to tiny particles exhaled by an infected person. Those droplets and particles can linger in the air for minutes to hours. To visually illustrate the risk of airborne transmission in real time, The Washington Post used an infrared camera made by the company FLIR Systems that is capable of detecting exhaled breath to show the potential transmission risk in various settings. The highly sensitive camera system detects variations in infrared radiation that are not visible to the naked eye. The technology is more typically used in military and industrial settings.
     
  • Britain on Wednesday became the first country to approve a vaccine, authorizing 800,000 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to be distributed next week and have already started vaccinating people. As of Thursday, two of those vaccinated have had a reaction to the vaccine, prompting British health authorities to warn that people with anaphylaxis (a severe allergic reaction) should not take the vaccine (food allergies not included), at least not for now. The most common solicited adverse reactions were injection site reactions (84.1%), fatigue (62.9%), headache (55.1%), muscle pain (38.3%), chills (31.9%), joint pain (23.6%), fever (14.2%); severe adverse reactions occurred in 0.0% to 4.6% of participants, were more frequent after Dose 2 than after Dose 1.
     
  • Can I stop wearing a mask after getting a COVID-19 vaccine? No. For a couple reasons, masks and social distancing will still be recommended for some time after people are vaccinated. To start, the first coronavirus vaccines require two shots; Pfizer’s second dose comes three weeks after the first and Moderna’s comes after four weeks. And the effect of vaccinations generally aren’t immediate. It’s also not yet known whether the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines protect people from infection entirely, or just from symptoms. That means vaccinated people might still be able to get infected and pass the virus on. And even once vaccine supplies start ramping up, getting hundreds of millions shots into people’s arms is expected to take months.
     
  • The earliest COVID-19 vaccines will require two doses, but what happens if a patient takes one shot, doesn’t like the sore arm or a brief flu-like reaction and decides to skip the second shot? A few really bad things could happen. If someone who has had only a single dose is exposed to the virus, their immune system might not be able to kill it off. That could allow the virus to develop a response to the limited immunity provided by that one dose. If enough people skip a second vaccine, the virus could mutate and become vaccine resistant. Penn State University biologist David Kennedy is urging drug makers to be vigilant in watching for mutations, especially if second-shot no-shows become common.
     
  • As promising vaccine data keeps rolling in, one of the central unanswered questions has been whether inoculations can not only stop people from getting sick but also slow the spread of the virus? Oxford and Astra are the first vaccine developers to unveil data on asymptomatic infection rates in people who received their shot. Overall, it reduced such transmissions by 27% in a large study, so a vaccinated person may be protected from getting seriously ill, but could still spread the disease. If vaccinated people are silent spreaders of the virus, they may keep it circulating in their communities, putting unvaccinated people at risk.
     
  • 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, December 11th, the state now has 1,076,547 residents testing positive for COVID-19, with 57,468 hospitalized, and 19,591 deaths.** The breakdown of confirmed cases in our tri-county area is:
    • Sumter County: 3,893 cases (3,871 residents, 22 non-residents), 343 hospitalizations, with 101 deaths
      (median age now: 60, now 55%
       males, 44% females)
        
    • Lake County: 11,798 cases (11,678 residents, 120 non-residents), 884 hospitalizations (17 non-residents), with 265 deaths (median age holding at: 44, with 46% males, 52% females)
        
    • Marion County: 14,424 cases (14,373 residents, 51 non-residents), 1,206 hospitalizations (2 non-residents), with 413 deaths (median age holding at: 44, with 42% males, 58% 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, December 11th, the state now has 1,190,038 residents testing positive (11,335 cases today, 66,042 cases this past week, 26,214 K-12 pediatric/staff cases this week); with 4,478 requiring hospitalization; and 19,851 deaths (135 deaths today, 839 deaths this past week). The breakdown of confirmed cases in our tri-county area is:

    • Sumter County: 4,156 cases since March 1st (49 cases today, 289 this week), 162 pediatric cases with 93 K-12 cases (72 students/21 staff), 29 current hospitalizations, and 101 deaths (0 deaths today, 3 this week).
        
    • Lake County: 12,564 cases since March 1st (160 cases today, 753 this week), 1,057 pediatric cases with 347 K-12 cases (232 students/115 staff), 74 current hospitalizations, and 268 deaths (0 deaths today, 7 this week).
        
    • Marion County: 14,900 cases since March 1st (178 cases today, 940 this week), 1,192 pediatric cases with 465 K-12 cases (320 students/145 staff), 52 current hospitalizations, and 413 deaths (4 deaths today, 31 this week).

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

 

Friday, December 4th

  • Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country's leading infectious-disease expert, said Friday that the current record-setting surge of new coronavirus cases doesn't fully account for the expected increase after Americans traveled and gathered for Thanksgiving. In other words, it's about to get worse: "We have not yet seen the post-Thanksgiving peak," Fauci told NBC. We'll see more of a surge in a two or three weeks, as those who traveled and congregated for the holiday start experiencing symptoms.
     
  • Pfizer chairman Albert Bourla told Dateline host Lester Holt that the pharmaceutical company wasn't certain the vaccine would prevent the coronavirus from being transmitted. In November, Pfizer announced that its vaccine had been shown to be more than 90% effective at preventing COVID-19 and has applied for emergency-use authorization from the FDA. Though Pfizer’s vaccine has shown promising results, challenges have surfaced when it comes to distributing and administering it since the vaccine must be delivered and stored in extreme sub-zero temperatures, and once it is kept at normal refrigeration temperatures, it must be used within 4 — 5 days or be discarded.
     
  • Florida surpasses 1,000,000 COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, December 1st, as more Sumter County residents die. Florida is reporting 1,008,166 cases — an increase of 8,847 from Monday to Tuesday. It is the 3rd state to report a million cases.
     
  • 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, December 4th, the state now has 1,022,354 residents testing positive (!!!) for COVID-19, with 56,095 hospitalized, and 18,994 deaths.** As you can see, the number of cases continue the upward trend. The breakdown of confirmed cases in our tri-county area is:
    • Sumter County: 3,644 cases (3,623 residents, 21 non-residents), 332 hospitalizatins, with 101 deaths
      (median age now: 58, holding at 56%
       males, 43% females)
        
    • Lake County: 10,982 cases (10,880 residents, 102 non-residents), 860 hospitalizations (16 non-residents), with 258 deaths (median age holding at: 44, 46% males, 52% females)
       
    • Marion County: 13,644 cases (13,597 residents, 47 non-residents), 1,186 hospitalizations (2 non-residents), with 389 deaths (median age now: 44, 42% males, 58% 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, December 4th, the state now has 1,134,548 residents testing positive (10,177 cases today, 60,603 cases this past week, 23,271 K-12 pediatric/staff cases this week); with 4,336 requiring hospitalization; and 19,236 deaths (124 deaths today, 640 deaths this past week). The breakdown of confirmed cases in our tri-county area is:

    • Sumter County: 3,907 cases since March 1st (42 cases today, 233 this week), 161 pediatric cases with 92 K-12 cases (72 students/20 staff), 22 current hospitalizations, and 101 deaths (3 deaths today, 6 this week).
        
    • Lake County: 11,748 cases since March 1st (83 cases today, 527 this week), 988 pediatric cases with 335 K-12 cases (222 students/113 staff), 87 current hospitalizations, and 261 deaths (0 deaths today, 5 this week).
        
    • Marion County: 14,120 cases since March 1st (182 cases today, 781 this week), 1,094 pediatric cases with 465 K-12 cases (320 students/145 staff), 59 current hospitalizations, and 389 deaths (5 deaths today, 10 this week).

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

    See what had been learned about the virus in November.


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