COVID-19 News Briefs for Friday, July 17, 2020

July 17, 2020

 India surpassed a million confirmed infections and 25,000 deaths today, weeks after the government lifted a nationwide lockdown in hopes of getting the economy up and running. Now India is recording about 30,000 new cases a day, almost 3 times as many as a month ago, and with testing still sparse, the true figure is likely to be much higher. Critics say that India imposed the lockdown before it was needed, then lifted it too soon. Regardless, Indian now ranks third in the world — behind only the US and Brazil — in both total infections and the number of new ones recorded each day

 For the first time, the number of coronavirus cases reported in the US passed 77,000. 77,255 new cases were reported on Thursday, topping the previous high of 67,791 which occurred 2 days ago. And 943 people were reported to have died from Covid-19 that day. As much of the country sees a sharp rise in coronavirus cases, the test results data that many cities and states depend on to make important decisions about resources and reopenings is lagging. About 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are being tested each day, however, test results are taking about a week to process

 Like cats, minks can get Covid-19 and 92,700 of them being raised in Spain for their pelts, had to be destroyed after 87% of them tested positive. 7 farm workers also tested positive and had to be isolated on the farm since late May. Spanish authorities are monitoring 120 human outbreaks since the lockdown was lifted in June. A similar scenario at 20 Dutch farms led to the killing of tens of thousands of mink

 US jobless claims dropped by just 10,000, signaling that challenges to the economic recovery are multiplying. Initial claims in the week which ended July 11 totaled 1.3 million with an additional 17.3 million Americans claiming ongoing unemployment benefits — signs that the labor market recovery is stalling as coronavirus cases surge and re-openings pause or reverse around the country

 Since February, the share of employed US adults 65 or older dropped by 16%, versus an 11% decline for all Americans 16 years or older. In this pandemic, older workers face new hurdles to working longer because of their increased risk for severe illness from Covid-19 which makes them both less likely to want to return to the workplace or less likely to get new jobs. Researchers say that this downturn has disproportionately affected older workers even more than in previous recessions. To delay retirement, older workers often take “bridge jobs,” for instance temporary positions in retail sales or work as administrative assistants or drivers. But in a public health crisis, these jobs often involve more contact or can’t be done remotely, which might dissuade older people from taking on the work. And older workers also face more age discrimination in hiring now with women hit harder by the Covid-19 economic crisis. It was also noted that the downturn is hitting both ends of the age spectrum — young Americans are also being disproportionately impacted and this group may experience lasting
disadvantages in the labor market, such as being stuck in lower-level, lower-wage jobs

 New research suggests that Black business owners seeking PPP loans are treated less favorably than white applicants. The study, conducted by the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, used match-paired testers, a common method for showing discrimination in housing, lending, and employment. In 43% of cases,
Black borrowers who contacted banks were offered less information about PPP loans, were discouraged from becoming new banking customers, or were offered less favorable products, compared with slightly less qualified white borrowers. Many Black testers were subjected to multiple forms of discrimination

 Mortgage rates dropped to their lowest level in almost 50 years of record-keeping for the third straight week and the seventh time since the coronavirus outbreak began roiling financial markets. The average rate for a 30- year fixed rate loan fell to 2.98%. The low rates have prepped up home prices and helped the housing market hold up better than expected amid the economic fallout from the pandemic

 The California Supreme Court decided to permanently lower the passing score for the bar exam and allow aspiring lawyers to take it remotely in October because of the Covid-19 pandemic. The state’s highest court also directed the State Bar to expedite creation of a provisional licensing program, allowing 2020 law graduates to practice law under supervision until they can take and pass the bar, expiring no later than June 1, 2022

 Cal/OSHA has more than 50 inspector vacancies out of an authorized 270 positions and fewer than 50 inspectors are conducting on-site visits for all of California, according to the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER.) The group also alleges the agency has a growing backlog of 3,000 complaints of unsafe working conditions and a couple hundred delayed inspections into workplace fatalities, illnesses, and injuries which are required by law to be inspected promptly in person. PEER added that Cal/OSHA employees were forced to work a 4th of July weekend inspection blitz and have not since been tested for Covid-19. Agency management disputed the claims of a massive backlog of complaint responses

 California’s testing delays and inadequate resources for contact tracing have made it impossible to halt the spread of coronavirus, something that the governor and state health officials had said the state needed to be prepared to do before opening up. An analysis by the Harvard Global Health Institute suggests California is conducting less than half the daily tests necessary to mitigate the virus and far fewer than needed to stop the spread, while states such as New York show greater success with testing. California’s testing rate was even lower on June 12 when counties initially began to reopen bars and gyms

 Most California public school campuses will not reopen when the academic year begins, shifting instead toward full-time distance learning in response to the summer surge in coronavirus cases. Education officials said that schools will remain closed in 32 counties on the state’s Covid-19 monitoring list, a mandate confirmed by the governor’s office. At schools that can open, state officials will require all staff and students in grade 3-12 to wear masks and younger students will be encouraged to wear them. Schools in counties being monitored for coronavirus spread would not be able to reopen until those counties see at least 14 consecutive days of declining cases and the threshold for closing additional schools will be dependent on testing. The new directives represent state government’s most far-reaching effort to direct the operations of more than 10,500 schools across California during the pandemic. But for many as one-quarter of the state’s 6 million schoolchildren, the mandate only reinforces plans already announced by local officials

 Over the last week, Orange County, Riverside, and San Bernardino Counties are reporting worse coronavirus cases rates per capita than LA County, according to a LA Times analysis. The shift is all the more dramatic because LA County — long the epicenter of the virus in California — continues to see huge spikes in cases. The 3 counties opened many businesses a week before LA County and all 3 made decisions to rescind local maskwearing orders which some experts saying that sent an unintended message to residents that they could go back to old routines. Also, Orange and Riverside Counties have seen the numbers of hospitalized patients with
Covid-19 triple in the last 2 months, and in San Bernardino County, the number has quadrupled

 RiteAid is expanding its Covid-19 testing capacity with nearly 100 sites opening Thursday across California, including 38 locations in LA, Orange, Riverside, and San Bernardino Counties. The no-cost testing will be available by appointment for people 18 or older, regardless of whether the person is experiencing symptoms, and results are expected in 3-5 days, according to a company spokesperson

 While LA County is seeing outbreaks at a variety of workplaces, the sectors with the highest numbers are food processing and distribution facilities, including meatpacking plants, manufacturing facilities, garment factories, and wholesale warehouses. Often the locations are not enforcing physical distancing among employees or implementing infection control procedures, including the proper use of face coverings and frequent sanitation

 LA County reported 2,885 additional cases and 62 deaths. Totals are now 150,319 cases and 4,047 deaths. City Breakouts (Cases/Deaths): City of LA 61,698/1,906; Long Beach 6,252/157; Carson 971/36; El Segundo 86/0; Gardena 698/34; Hawthorne 1,076/28; Hermosa Beach 132/2; Inglewood 1,526/70; Lawndale 356/8; Lomita 121/7; Manhattan Beach 222/4; PV Estates 62/2; Rancho PV 193/12; Redondo Beach 333/9; Rolling Hills 4/0; Rolling Hills Estates 30/2; Torrance 831/52

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