U.S. coronavirus cases rise by nearly 50,000 in biggest one-day spike of pandemic

https://www.yahoo.com/news/u-coronavirus-cases-rise-nearly-013221004.html

Dr Fauci warns US could see 100,000 new coronavirus cases PER DAY ...

New U.S. COVID-19 cases rose by nearly 50,000 on Wednesday, according to a Reuters tally, marking the biggest one-day spike since the start of the pandemic.

The record follows a warning by the government’s top infectious diseases expert that the number could soon double to 100,000 cases a day if Americans do not come together to take steps necessary to halt the virus’ resurgent spread, such as wearing masks when unable to practice social distancing.

In the first week of June, the United States added about 22,000 new coronavirus cases each day. But as the month progressed, hotspots began to emerge across the Sun Belt. In the last seven days of June, daily new infections almost doubled to 42,000 nationally.

Brazil is the only other country to report more than 50,000 new cases in one day. The United States reported at least 49,286 cases on Tuesday.

More than half of new U.S. cases each day come from Arizona, California, Florida and Texas, home to 30% of the country’s population. All four states plus 10 others saw new cases more than double in June.

The daily increase in new cases could reach 100,000 unless a nationwide push was made to tamp down the fast-spreading virus, Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told a U.S. Senate committee on Tuesday.

“We can’t just focus on those areas that are having the surge. It puts the entire country at risk,” Fauci said.

The rise in cases is not just the result of more testing. Hospitalizations are also skyrocketing.

Nationally, 7% of coronavirus diagnostic tests came back positive last week, up from 5% the prior week, according to a Reuters analysis. Arizona’s positivity test rate was 24% last week, Florida’s was 16%. Nevada, South Carolina and Texas were all 15%, according to the analysis.

(Open https://tmsnrt.rs/2WTOZDR in an external browser for a Reuters interactive)

Some of the recent increase traces back to Memorial Day holiday celebrations in late May. Health experts are worried about Independence Day celebrations this weekend, when Americans traditionally flock to beaches and campgrounds to watch fireworks displays.

 

 

3 moral virtues necessary for an ethical pandemic response and reopening

https://theconversation.com/3-moral-virtues-necessary-for-an-ethical-pandemic-response-and-reopening-140688?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20June%2026%202020%20-%201662516009&utm_content=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20June%2026%202020%20-%201662516009+Version+A+CID_98447eb9cb25b06b85aed07c7fd721bd&utm_source=campaign_monitor_us&utm_term=3%20moral%20virtues%20necessary%20for%20an%20ethical%20pandemic%20response%20and%20reopening

3 moral virtues necessary for an ethical pandemic response and ...

The health and economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic are not equally felt. From the United States to Brazil and the United Kingdomlow-wage workers are suffering more than others and communities of color are most vulnerable to the virus.

Despite the disparities, countries are reopening without a plan to redress these unequal harms and protect the broader community going forward. Our ethics research examines the potential for using virtues as a guide for a more moral coronavirus response.

Virtues are applied morals – actions that promote individual and collective well-being. Examples include generosity, compassion, honesty, solidarity, fortitude, justice and patience. While often embedded in religion, virtues are ultimately a secular concept. Because of their broad, longstanding relevance to human societies, these values tend to be held across cultures.

We propose three core virtues to guide policymakers in easing out of coronavirus crisis mode in ways that achieve a better new normalcompassion, solidarity and justice.

1. Compassion

Compassion is a core virtue of all the world’s major religions and a bedrock moral principle in professions like health care and social work. The distinguishing characteristic of compassion is “shared suffering:” Compassionate people and policies recognize suffering and take actions to alleviate it.

As the French philosopher André Comte-Sponville said, compassion “means that one refuses to regard any suffering as a matter of indifference or any living being as a thing.”

Individual acts of compassion abound in the coronavirus crisis, like frontline health care professionals and neighbors who deliver food, among other examples.

Compassion and solidarity on display at New York’s Elmhurst Hospital, during the April peak of the city’s coronavirus outbreak. Noam Galai/Getty Images

Some pandemic-era policies also reflect compassion, such as regulations preventing evictions and expanding unemployment benefits and giving food aid to poor familes.

A compassion-guided reopening aimed at preventing or reducing human suffering would require governments to continually monitor and alleviate the pain of their people. That includes addressing new forms of suffering that arise as circumstances change.

2. Solidarity

In a global pandemic, the actions people do or don’t take affect the health of others worldwide. Such shared emergencies require solidarity, which recognizes both the inherent dignity of each individual person and the interdependence of all people. As United Nations officials have emphasized, “we are all in this together.”

Public health measures like stay-at-home orders, social distancing and wearing masks reflect solidarity. While compliance in the United States has not been universal, data indicate broad approval for these measures. A new study found that 80% of Americans nationwide support staying home and social distancing and 74% support using face coverings in public.

To achieve these acts of solidarity, the leaders most praised in their countries and abroad – from U.S. National Institutes of Health director Dr. Anthony Fauci to New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern – have relied primarily on moral persuasion, not threats of punishment.

By delivering clear information, giving simple and repeated behavioral guidance, and setting a good example, they’ve helped convince millions to take personal responsibility for protecting their community.

Face masks signal that wearers care about protecting others around them. Islam Dogru/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

3. Justice

Justice focuses on the fair distribution of resources and the social structures that enable what the Dutch philosopher Patrick Loobuyck has called a “condition of equality.”

Justice-oriented policies are necessary for a moral reopening because of the pandemic’s disproportionate health and economic impacts. The evidence clearly shows that communities of colorlow-income populationspeople in nursing homes and those on the margins of society, such as homeless people and undocumented immigrants, are hardest hit.

Justice-oriented policies would aim for equitable balancing of necessary pandemic resources. That means directing testing and health equipment toward vulnerable communities – as identified by COVID-19 tracking data and risk factors like housing density and poverty – and ensuring free, widespread vaccine distribution when it becomes available.

In the U.S., economic justice will also require aggressively investing in minority-run businesses and poorer areas to guard against further harm to owners, employees and neighborhoods.

Similarly, all American school children have lost critical classroom hours, but lower-income children have been disproportionately damaged by remote learning in part due to the digital divide and loss of free lunch programs. Justice would demand channeling additional resources to the students and schools that need them most.

A moral reopening

Using virtues to guide social policies is an old idea. It dates back at least to the Greek thinker Aristotle.

Social distance stickers to prepare Nepal’s empty Tribhuwan International Airport for reopening. Narayan Maharjan/NurPhoto via Getty Images

New Zealand is a good example of virtuous pandemic policymaking, even considering its advantages in having wealth, low density and no land borders. Its coronavirus response included not only aggressive public health measures but also a well articulated message of being united in the COVID-19 fight and recurring government payments so workers did not have to risk their health for their job.

Note that it isn’t enough to apply just one virtue in a crisis of this magnitude. Policies built on compassion, solidarity and justice should be deployed in combination.

A compassionate post-pandemic response that does not address underlying inequalities, for example, ignores certain communities’ specific needs. Meanwhile, tackling specific injustices without engaging everyone in efforts like mask-wearing endangers the public health.

Bolstered by scientific evidence, virtue ethics can help nations reopen not just economically but morally, too.

 

 

 

 

Nebraska governor says he’ll withhold federal money from counties that require masks

https://www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2020-06-18/nebraska-governor-mask-requirement-will-cost-counties-money

Nebraska governor: Mask rules will cost counties money meant to ...

Nebraska’s governor told local governments they will not receive any federal money to help fight the effects of the coronavirus pandemic if they require people to wear masks in public buildings.

The mandate from Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts seems at odds with his usual message, often delivered at his regular news conferences to address the COVID-19 outbreak, encouraging people to wear masks to slow the spread of the virus, the Omaha World-Herald reported.

Ricketts stands by that advice, his spokesman Taylor Gage said. Local governments can encourage mask-wearing in courthouses and other county government buildings, he said, but the governor “does not believe that failure to wear a mask should be the basis for denying taxpayers’ services.”

“Counties are not prohibited from requiring masks, but if they want CARES Act money, they have to be fully open, and that means they cannot deny service for not wearing a mask,” Gage said.

The mandate is drawing objections from county officials, who say it runs counter to Nebraska’s long-held bent toward local control and the advice of public health officials.

In Lincoln, officials planned to require all visitors to wear masks when entering the City-County Building, but those rules were dropped when officials learned that doing so would cost Lancaster County any chance at the $100 million that has been allotted to Nebraska counties as part of the federal economic rescue law.

“We’d like to have a little bit more ability to call the shots in our courthouse, but we realize that he has the right to set the rules,” said Deb Schorr, a longtime Lancaster County Board member.

Dakota County Assessor Jeff Curry said the order could have dire consequences in his county, which is home to a Tyson Foods meatpacking plant and has been one of the hardest-hit counties in the nation for the virus.

Curry said he was hoping that a mask requirement could be in place for the courthouse through July 1.

Nebraska continues to pull back on restrictions meant to slow the spread of the virus, even as more cases are recorded. On Wednesday, the state saw nearly 200 news cases of the virus reported, bringing Nebraska’s total to 17,226, according to the state’s online virus tracker. Nebraska has seen a total to 234 deaths related to the COVID-19 virus.

 

 

 

Two Trump campaign staffers who attended rally test positive for coronavirus

https://www.axios.com/trump-campaign-rally-tulsa-coronavirus-d3b09725-129c-4aa4-ba2a-1ea868a6ecdd.html?stream=health-care&utm_source=alert&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=alerts_healthcare

How TikTok Teens Taking Tickets Lowered Trump's Tulsa Rally Crowd ...

Two members of the Trump campaign staff who attended the president’s rally in Tulsa on Saturday have tested positive for the coronavirus, according to the campaign’s communications director Tim Murtaugh.

The big picture: The campaign says the two staffers wore face masks during the entire event, which drew thousands of supporters. Health officials, including several in Tulsa, had urged the campaign to delay the rally, warning of the risk of spreading the virus. Six campaign staffers for the president were quarantined after testing positive before the rally last week.

What he’s saying:

“After another round of testing for campaign staff in Tulsa, two additional members of the advance team tested positive for the coronavirus. These staff members attended the rally but were wearing masks during the entire event. Upon the positive tests, the campaign immediately activated established quarantine and contact tracing protocols.”

— Tim Murtaugh

Worth noting: The White House said on Monday it is “scaling back” coronavirus temperature checks for visitors who enter the complex.

 

 

 

 

Trump says Covid-19 is ‘dying out.’ Experts fear his dismissiveness could prolong the crisis

Trump says Covid-19 is ‘dying out.’ Experts fear his dismissiveness could prolong the crisis

The Trump Administration Paid Millions for Test Tubes — and Got ...

The White House is taking a new position on the coronavirus pandemic: a daily count of 750 deaths is a testament to the federal government’s successful pandemic response.

On Wednesday, when U.S. health officials reported nearly 27,000 new Covid-19 cases, President Trump said in a television interview that the virus was “dying out.” He brushed off concerns about an upcoming rally in Tulsa, Okla., because the number of cases there is “very miniscule,” despite the state’s surging infection rate. In a Wall Street Journal interview Wednesday, Trump argued coronavirus testing was “overrated” because it reveals large numbers of new Covid-19 cases, which in turn “makes us look bad,” and suggested that some Americans who wear masks do so not only to guard against the virus, but perhaps to display their anti-Trump animus.

But a range of public health experts told STAT that this messaging not only diverts attention from a pandemic that has already caused 120,000 U.S. deaths, but has more practical implications: It could make it difficult for local governments to enlist the public in the mitigation measures necessary to reduce the continued spread of the virus.

“The science behind how people process public warnings in a crisis supports this: You have to have people speaking with one voice,” said Monica Schoch-Spana, a medical anthropologist at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. “You need a chorus.”

Conflicting directives can make it more difficult for recommendations coming from state and local leaders to have an impact, said Sara Bleich, a professor of public health policy at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

“It sends a mixed message, which is confusing, particularly because while many people will get infected, most will not get severely sick, so it’s easy to say this won’t happen to me,” she said. “And it’s that sort of attitude that will keep us in this situation for a very long time.”

While the president has for weeks, if not months, underplayed the pandemic, his sharp and repeated remarks this week represent a remarkable attempt from the leader of American government to effectively declare the U.S. Covid-19 epidemic over.

The president’s rhetoric comes at a time that his coronavirus task force, which once conducted daily briefings, has not addressed the public since May. The president’s resumption of campaign rallies flouts federal guidance that encourages mask use (Trump’s campaign will hand out masks and hand sanitizer at the rally, but has not said it will require attendees to use them) and discourages large indoor gatherings. And the president has repeatedly claimed, misleadingly, that persistently high U.S. case totals are simply the result of increased testing.

Health experts say that political leaders preaching caution and modeling proper behavior — such as wearing a mask and demonstrating proper hand hygiene — can send a powerful signal to people that these steps can not only protect them, but their communities. They say that, essentially, national and state leaders need to walk the walk in a situation when individual behavior, like staying home when sick and cooperating with contact tracing, can make a large impact in curbing contagion.

Trump’s counterproductive behavior, Schoch-Spana said, extends far beyond the consistently dismissive tone he has taken toward the health risks of Covid-19. With few exceptions, the president has refused to wear a mask in public, and has insisted on continuing in-person briefings and White House events that effectively defy federal health guidance about gathering indoors in large groups.

“It’s not just words, it’s actions,” she said. “So when you have the nation’s top executive refusing to wear a mask, holding meetings where people are shoulder to shoulder, where he’s signing executive orders — that is also a form of communication.”

Experts also say continued federal commitments to combating the virus are crucial as the public grows tired of abatement measures. Instead, Trump has only elevated his monthslong campaign of downplaying the virus.

And Vice President Mike Pence, in a Wall Street Journal op-ed, framed the declines in cases and deaths since April as “testament to the leadership of President Trump” — even as hundreds of Americans are still dying every day and cases are not dropping further.

Rep. Donna Shalala (D-Fla.), who served as health secretary during the Clinton administration, said she hoped Americans would listen to public health guidance from local officials, not Trump and Pence.

“The president of the United States is dangerous to the health of the people of my district, because he’s giving out misinformation and false hope,” she said. “For those that believe him, they’re putting themselves and their families at risk.”

Public health experts have raised a number of issues with the administration’s messaging.

For one, a plateau of cases and deaths should not be celebrated, they say. While some countries in Europe and Asia have not only flattened their curve but driven them down, that hasn’t happened in the United States. Daily cases and deaths dipped from the peak in April, but have averaged about 20,000 and 800, respectively, for weeks.

Beyond those numbers representing real people getting sick and dying, there are other problems with sustained high levels of spread. The more cases there are, the more difficult it is for the surveillance system, including contact tracing, to keep up. It’s also more likely that some of the cases will spiral into explosive spread; 20,000 cases can turn into 40,000 a lot faster than one case can turn into 20,000.

Plus, a failure to suppress spread now could lead to more prolonged disruptions to daily life. If transmission rates come fall are still what they are now in certain communities, that makes it harder to reopen schools, for example.

Experts also point to evidence suggesting that the daily case and death numbers won’t stay flat for long. While new cases in the Northeast and Midwest are declining, a number of states in the West and South — Arizona, Texas, Florida, California, and Oregon among them — have reported record number of new cases this week. What worries public health officials is that, without measures to stem those increases, those outbreaks could keep growing. Those thousands of new cases also signal that, in a week or two, some portion of those people will show up in the hospital, and, about a week after that, a number of them will be dead, even as clinicians have learned more about treating severe Covid-19.

Some states in the South and West are already reporting record hospitalizations from Covid-19.

The White House’s shrug has been echoed by some governors, who insist, like Pence and Trump, that increased testing explains away the rise in cases. That is certainly one reason; testing has become more widespread, so states are capturing a more accurate reading of their true case burden.

But experts say increased testing can only account for some of the data states are reporting. Other metrics — including rising hospitalizations, filling ICUs, and the increasing rate of tests that are positive for the virus — signal broader spread.

Until Wednesday, leaders of Texas and Arizona also bristled at efforts from city and county officials to institute mask requirements, but acceded to growing pressure even as they have not ordered statewide mandates.

Cameron Wolfe, an infectious disease expert at Duke University, said he was seeing a growing “fatigue” among the public to keep up with precautionary steps like physical distancing and mask wearing. People letting down their guard was coinciding with an increase of cases in states, including North Carolina.

He said medical experts and health workers needed to model proper behavior to show others that the coronavirus epidemic was still something that required action. But, he added, “that also comes from political leaders buying into this.”

Federal and state authorities, he said, need to be “taking this to heart. That has not yet happened. That needs to change if we’re going to get people to buy into this.”