COVID-19 News Briefs for Friday, July 10, 2020

July 10, 2020

 Hong Kong, which has been lauded for its aggressive handling of the Covid-19 outbreak, is confronting a third wave of infections and shut down its school system. The city of 7 million people has reported more than 1,400 cases and just 7 deaths during the outbreak. The widespread use of face masks when the epidemic first broke out was credited with helping contain the virus. Authorities also forced all new arrivals to undergo a strict 2-week quarantine. But on Friday, officials reported 38 new cases, 32 of which were transmitted locally, prompting the city to shut down schools starting Monday

 An investigation by the NY Times and The Marshall Project revealed that even as lockdowns and other measures have been taken around the world to prevent the spread of Covid-19, ICE had continued to detain people, move them from state to state and deport them. Unsafe conditions and limited testing helped turn this into a domestic and global spreader of the virus. So far, ICE has confirmed at least 3,000 coronavirus-positive detainees in its detention centers, though testing has been limited. Over 750 domestic ICE flights since March, carrying thousands of detainees to different centers were tracked, including some who said they were sick and who were confirmed to have the virus just a few days later. Also tracked were over 200 deportation flights carrying migrants, some of them ill with coronavirus, to other countries from March through June. El Salvador and Honduras have accepted more than 6,000 deportees since March and so far, the governments of 11 countries have confirmed that deportees returned home with Covid-19

 The CDC released additional information which revealed non-white and Hispanic Americans under age 65 are dying in greater numbers than white people in that age group. The agency reported that 34.9% of deaths were among Hispanics under 65; 29.5% among non-white Americans under 65; and 13.2% among white people under

 CDC officials won’t revise their coronavirus guidelines for reopening schools despite criticism from the White House but will provide additional information to help states, communities, and parents decide what to do and when. They also will include a checklist that encourages parents to carefully consider whether they should send their kids back to school in person or seek virtual instruction — many districts nationwide are offering parents a choice of either mode of instruction

 Dr. Fauci said in a podcast with FiveThirtyEight that political divisiveness in the US is hurting the response to the pandemic which has resulted in a “not great” response in comparison to other countries

 Scientists have devised a way to use the antibody-rich blood plasma of Covid-19 survivors for an upper-arm injections that they say could inoculate people against the virus for months. The injections would be administered to high-risk healthcare workers, nursing home patients, or even at drive-through sites, potentially protecting millions of lives, the doctors and other experts say. However, federal officials have twice rejected requests to discuss the proposal and pharmaceutical companies, while acknowledging the likely efficacy of the plan, have declined to design or manufacture the shots. Federal health officials and industry groups say the development of plasma-based therapies should focus on treating people who are already sick, not on preventing infections in those who are still healthy

 The number of daily coronavirus tests conducted in the US is only 39% of the level considered necessary to mitigate the spread of the virus, as many states struggle to ramp up testing to outpace the record number of cases in recent weeks. An average of 634,000 people were tested over the past week, according to the Covid Tracking Project, far below the currently nationwide target of 1.6 million daily tests. The target, which is based on a methodology developed by researchers at the Harvard Global Health Institute, is different for each state and varies over time as infection rates change

 Overall, 1,018 federal TSA employees have tested positive for Covid-19, 647 employees have recovered, and 6 have died from the virus. This does not include non-airport TSA employees or contractors who have had limited interaction with the public

 In 1 month, coronavirus cases in the US military have more than doubled — 16,637 cases in the entire military, compared to 7,408 reported on June 10. 3 people have died since March, including a sailor on the aircraft carrier Theodor3 Roosevelt, which returned to port in the US earlier this week. More than 380 service members have been hospitalized. The trend is likely tied to the military’s persistence on continuing exercises, training courses, and deployments. Increased testing could also be a factor. Late last month more than 80 students at a survival course tested positive. In Australia, where more than a thousand Marines recently started their annual months-long deployment in Darwin, at least 1 Marine was found to have the virus, and on an aircraft carrier docked in San Diego, a dozen sailors have tested positive and 100 have been isolated

 Many business managers at companies large and small are finding themselves taking on new roles during the pandemic: counselor, supporter, wellness coach. As businesses grapple with the economic fallout and disruption caused by the coronavirus, experts say the pandemic may have a silver lining — helping to create a
new breed of managers who talk less and listen more. Inquiring after the well-being of employees and understanding their unique challenges has always been part of good management strategy and a global survey found that 57.7% of respondents say they are comfortable with the manager proactively asking them about their mental state, and 41% said they want their managers to ask them about it. Other responses included: 36% would rather talk to a coworker or peer, 35% to a manager or supervisor, 19% to somebody from Human Resources

 Now that many houses of worship have resumed in-person services, some have emerged as hot spots. Churches may be particularly vulnerable to the virus, with many people in a enclosed space, talking and singing for an extended period which is an ideal setting for transmission. Across the US, more than 650 cases have been linked to nearly 40 churches, religious events and Christian youth camps — many from the last month. With infection rates soaring in the South and West, some churches that fought to reopen in those regions are being forced to close again

 Johns Hopkins University has filed a lawsuit against the federal government over a rule that jeopardizes international students’ ability to stay in the US if their courses aren’t taken in-person during the coronavirus pandemic. The suit argues that the decision from ICE would completely upend the university’s reopening plans for the fall and claims the policy is an attempt to force universities to re-open with in-person classes. Harvard and MIT do not plan to offer any in-person instruction in the fall, and filed a separate suit against the federal government earlier this week

 At least 26 Mississippi lawmakers have contracted coronavirus in the biggest known outbreak in any state legislature in the nation. 10 people who work in the Capitol, where masks are not mandatory, have also tested positive, however, none have been hospitalized yet. Mississippi has seen a rapid rise in cases in the last 2 weeks

 For the first time in California history, every registered voter in the state will receive a mail in ballot to participate in the upcoming presidential election. State officials hope the absentee ballots will help increase safety during the coronavirus pandemic, but election officials and security experts said that some counties may not be prepared to handle hundreds of thousands of ballots without millions of dollars more in equipment and staffing

 As many as 8,000 California prisoners could be released ahead of schedule in an unprecedented attempt to stop the spread of Covid-19 inside state prisons, with more than half of the releases expected by the end of the month. On Monday, the top medical officer for the state prison was removed from his position following
criticism of inmate transfers that are believed to have led to a much larger coronavirus problem in prisons than existed this spring

 Californians are deeply split over whether school campuses can safely reopen amid the ongoing coronavirus surge. In a statewide poll, parents are grappling with the prospect of stressful, less effective learning at home, childcare concerns, and fears that children exposed at school could bring Covi-19 into their home. The LA teachers union called on the LAUSD today to keep campuses closed when the semester begins on August 18 and to focus on preparing for distance learning in the fall. UTLA said that the spike in infections, paired with a lack of resources from state and federal governments for schools to increase public health measures, would not allow schools to reopen safely

 June turned out to be a grim month in the Covid-19 battle, with people beginning to socialize again in ways that allowed the virus to spread rapidly across communities. Hospitals are being hit hard as patients who were infected weeks ago are now getting sick enough to require medical care. LA County has been reporting substantially higher number of daily deaths compared to an average of 34 deaths per day in June

 LA County reported an additional 2,667 cases and 51 deaths. Totals are now 127,358 cases / 3,738 deaths. City Breakouts (Cases/Deaths): City of LA 53,492/1,794; Long Beach 5,172/141; Carson 809/34; El Segundo 72/0; Gardena 608/32; Hawthorne 897/26; Hermosa Beach 107/2; Inglewood 1,247/67; Lawndale 276/8; Lomita 107/7; Manhattan Beach 194/4; PV Estates 60/2; Rancho PV 167/12; Redondo Beach 283/9; Rolling Hills 3/0; Rolling Hills Estates 29/2; Torrance 710/51

Compiled by Charlene Nishimura

Media Sources: Los Angeles Times; New York Times; Washington Post; Wall Street Journal; Forbes Magazine; Business Insider; USA Today; CBS News; CNN; KTLA; OZY; ABC World News Tonight; Spectrum News 1; The; WebMD; AP, Politico, Newsweek, Reuters, televised briefings from the White House, Governor Newsom, LA County Health Department, Mayor Garcetti; City of Torrance press releases; Torrance Area Chamber of Commerce press releases