COVID-19 News Briefs for Friday, June 26, 2020

June 26, 2020

 In those Western European countries hardest hit by the coronavirus, calls are growing louder for leaders and officials to explain their actions — and inaction — as Covid-19, the illness caused by the virus, has swept through Britain, France, Spain, and Italy. By and large, it is bereaved individuals and grass-roots groups that are raising the greatest outcry asking for investigations and inquiries, prosecution and penalties in the belief that lives were lost unnecessarily and that the same mistakes must not be made again

 Several airports, including ones in Anchorage, Vienna, and Reykjavik, Iceland, have begun offering Covid-19 tests as travel starts to revive. The 14-day quarantine period can be avoided if the travelers land, get tested, and receive a quick negative result. Starting August 1, anyone who shows proof they’ve tested negative for Covid-19 will be allowed to skip the mandatory 2-week confinement period when traveling to Hawaii

 The CDC on Thursday broadened its warning about who is at risk of developing severe disease from Covid-19 infections, suggesting even younger people who are obese or have other health conditions can become severely ill if they contract the virus. Cardiovascular disease, chronic kidney disease, COPD, obesity, an immunesuppressing condition, sickle cell disease, a history of an organ transplant, and type 2 diabetes are classified as having strong evidence of increasing the risk of Covid-19 infection. Conditions that are considered ones that might increase the risk of severe illness are chronic lung diseases including asthma, cystic fibrosis, high blood pressure, a weakened immune system, neurologic conditions such as dementia, a history of stroke, liver diseases, and pregnancy. The new advice frames the risk as rising with age, overriding earlier warnings that mainly those over 65 faced higher risk. Also, it puts greater emphasis on the risk presented by a number of health conditions, including having a body mass index of 30 or over — the previous warning related to people who had a BMI of 40 or over

 In response to concerns if air conditioning is facilitating the spread of Covid-19, the CDC said there was little evidence. Rather, the risk more likely comes from the longer amount of time spent indoors in close proximity to others. With proper ventilation, coronavirus transmission should not be an issue

 The list of symptoms for Covid-19 has exploded and has been found to have a diversity of effects on so many organs including: the gut (diarrhea, nausea, abdominal pain); kidney (78% of those in ICU develop acute kidney injury); smell (41% of patients had lost their sense of taste or smell or both); lungs (inflammatory response that can explode into acute respiratory distress syndrome); pancreas (17% with severe Covid-19 had pancreas damage); heart (high incidence of cardiac arrests and arrhythmias); gallbladder (damage which causes digestive symptoms)

 The CDC is also warning that being pregnant may increase a woman’s risk of being hospitalized and having a severe bout of the illness, based on a study of more than 8,000 pregnant women in the US who were diagnosed with Covid-19. The study found that pregnant women were 50% more likely to be hospitalized with Covid-19
than infected women who weren’t pregnant and had a 70% great chance of needing mechanical ventilation than non-pregnant women with the infection. However, the study did not find an increase risk of death among pregnant women

 A new survey reveals a wide range of serious psychiatric and neurological complications tied to Covid-19 — including stroke, psychosis, and a dementia-like syndrome. The study underscores how aggressively the coronavirus can attack beyond the lungs, and the risk the disease can pose to younger adults

 The WHO and key partners unveiled a plan today to purchase 2 billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines for the highest-risk populations of the world. The plan anticipates that by the end of 2021, the doses could be delivered to countries to vaccinate high risk individuals, likely including health care workers, people over 65, and other adults who suffer from conditions like diabetes

 As criticism mounts that the White House is not doing enough to combat the worsening coronavirus surges in the South and West, VP Pence headed the coronavirus task force public briefing today to tout what he said have been successful administration initiatives to minimize the damage of the virus and celebrate that all states were in the process of safely and responsibly reopening. He and health officials stressed that individual decisions to keep distance from people, wear masks, and wash their hands could make a difference in transmission

 The NBA which will tentatively restart its season on July 30, is hoping that a futuristic titanium ring will help mitigate the spread of coronavirus. In addition to a number of safety protocols including daily testing, players and staff will have an option to wear a $300 ring made by Finnish company Oura that measures temperature, pulse, respiratory rate, and other physiological data that could theoretically be helpful for detecting whether someone has Covid-19, even before they start exhibiting symptoms. However, the FDA has yet to approve any wearables for sensing Covid-19, and privacy concerns have been voiced

 In a major reversal, the governors of Florida and Texas rolled back their states’ aggressive re-openings Friday and ordered bars to close and restaurants to reduce capacity as coronavirus infections surged. North Carolina paused further re-openings for 3 weeks and ordered residents to wear face masks in public. The latest developments call into question any suggestion that the worst of the pandemic has passed in the US, as rising outbreaks in the South and West threaten to upend months of social distancing meant to help keep the virus at bay

 The surge in new coronavirus cases in California has alarmed health officials and put renewed strain on hospitals and appears to be driven at least in part by younger people. As of Wednesday, 56% of people diagnosed with Covid-19 were 18-49 years old, though they account for only 43.5% of the state’s population. That figure has risen consistently throughout the outbreak but surged sharply in recent weeks. Meanwhile, people older than 65, who used to make up nearly a quarter of those testing positive, now account for few than 15% of positive coronavirus tests, roughly in line with their proportion of the population. The increasingly young demographics of coronavirus infections are being seen in LA County where 40% of cases are occurring among those 18-40 years old. That matches the experience in Japan where a study published by the US CDC found that the people probably spreading the coronavirus in more than 60 clusters were mostly young adults, ages 20 to 39. Most did not show symptoms when they transmitted the virus, and almost none had a cough

 Governor Newsom on Thursday declared a state budget emergency, citing California’s $54.3 billion budget deficit, clearing the way for more funds to fight the coronavirus pandemic. The move ensures the availability of funding for personal protective equipment, medical equipment, and other expenditures necessary to support a recent spike in Covid-19 cases and the potential for a hospital surge as well as necessary services to vulnerable populations. As of Thursday, the state reported 195,571 coronavirus cases and 5,733 deaths

 A group of about 50 farm workers went on strike Thursday at a Central California pistachio farm demanding face coverings, gloves, and information from the farm’s owner after they learned from the media that dozens of the coworkers tested positive for Covid-19

 Some Dodgers employees have tested positive for Covid-19 and the club has joined a growing list of teams that have acknowledged positive cases in recent days, including the Angels, Philadelphia Phillies, Toronto Blue Jays, and Colorado Rockies

 LA County reported an additional 1,809 cases and 25 deaths. Totals are now 93,232 cases / 3,267 deaths. The positive Covid-19 cases are spiking among county residents who are between the ages of 18 – 40 (up 44% in the last 16 days). City Breakouts (Cases/Deaths): City of LA 41,328/1,592; Long Beach 3,509/123; Carson 619/28; El Segundo 48/0; Gardena 468/30; Hawthorne 63/2; Inglewood 939/61; Lawndale 186/7; Lomita 75/6; Manhattan Beach 112/3; PV Estates 49/1; Rancho PV 126/12; Redondo Beach 184/8; Rolling Hills 2/0; Rolling Hills Estates 22/2; Torrance 532/50

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 Hill.com; 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