Covid-19 News Briefs for Friday, September 25, 2020

September 25, 2020

 Global cases of Covid-19 are now 32.36 million with 984,906 reported deaths. In the US, there are now more than 7 million cases reported and 203,329 deaths from coronavirus

 The coronavirus has forced adjustments to, and sometimes outright cancellations of, religious rituals across the globe. Many Christians and Jews found their respective Easter and Passover celebrations curtailed, while for Muslims, Ramadan observances and the annual haji to Mecca was drastically scaled back. In Israel, the holiest period on the Jewish calendar — which culminates Monday with Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement — is coinciding with the first re-imposition of a national lockdown anywhere in the world. After initially earning praise for its handling of the pandemic, the Israeli government is now under fire for mismanagement that allowed a second wave of infections to sweep the country

 For the first time in a century Brazil’s world-famous carnival parade will be postponed amid concerns about the coronavirus outbreak. The parade typically draws millions of people to the streets of Rio every summer  Tens of thousands of Australians have been stranded abroad because of government coronavirus restrictions that cap the number of people allowed on flights into the country. Australia is one of the few places in the world that is barring citizens from leaving their own country and limiting the number of those who can return. The tough regulations have raised legal concerns about the right to freedom of movement  Swiss health authorities have ordered a quarantine for 2,500 students at a prestigious hospitality-management school in the city of Lausanne after significant outbreaks of the coronavirus that are a suspected byproduct of off-campus partying. The university has a total student body of 3,500 and only 67 of the undergraduates affected by the quarantine live on campus. The WHO, national health authorities, and others have cautioned that young people, who tend to have milder Covid-19 symptoms, have been a key driver of the continued spread of the coronavirus in recent weeks, particularly in Europe

 The US recorded 44,110 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus on Thursday, bringing the national 7-day average of new infections to 43,321 — up nearly 9% from the week prior, according to Johns Hopkins University. Daily new infections in the US have been growing and 7 states hit record highs in average daily new cases on Thursday, including Montana and Wisconsin which both new infections spiked more than 62% on a weekly basis

 And on Friday, California officials announced that they expect to see an 89% increase in Covid-19 hospitalizations over the next month amid growing signs that the spread of coronavirus may be intensifying again. While the proportion of Californians testing positive for the virus continues to remain low at 3% over the
past 2 weeks, and the total number of patients in hospitals continue to decline, some other metrics are prompting concern in the wake of the Labor Day holiday and more businesses reopening. Many regions have seen a slight increase in the rate of cases per 100,000 residents, and Covid-19-related emergency room visits
have trended upward over the past week in virtually all areas of the state. This forecast comes as the coronavirus cases in California topped 800,000 on Friday, another milestone in a state that is leading the nation in infections

 An analysis of 17,000 children shows an uptick in the average heart rate coinciding with the surge of the Covid19 pandemic in the US. Video game data looking at heart rate was collected from July 2019 to July 2020. The change from a historical average of between 90 and 90.5 beats per minute to more than 92 beats per minute is a significant and persistent change. On a purely physical level, kids’ hearts are working a lot harder than they were before the pandemic. Millions of families whose children are cut off from their schools, friends, and normal activities are reporting their children experiencing emotional shifts and kids’ bodies are being changed as they endure the constant stress and weight of the pandemic. Children often don’t have words for the changes they are feeling, but this can be seen in manifestations like rising heart rates or in their behaviors — poor sleep, less joy, and more undirected anger and frustration

 That the communities hardest hit by Covid-19 have also been woefully underrepresented in clinical trials is no coincidence, and in racing to find 30,000 participants who could represent an even broader population, pharma companies have found themselves face to face with health care’s deepest fault lines. Being Black, Latino, Native American, or Pacific Islander, for instance, means that you are more likely to go without health insurance than if you’re white, and that makes a difference. If you want people to sign up as test subjects for experimental vaccines, it helps if they feel comfortable going to a hospital — and are able to take sick leave. The focus on underserved communities is closely tied to the fact that many among them are frontline workers — more likely, by the nature of their jobs, to be exposed to the coronavirus. Yet the logistics can be tough if your employer doesn’t allow you the flexibility if you need to visit a clinic for injections and follow ups, or if your local trial site is far from where you live and work. And some aren’t sure they want to participate after seeing the government’s indifference to their needs throughout the pandemic

 Doctors have identified another disturbing side effect of the coronavirus pandemic — infected patients shedding large quantities of hair. The phenomenon, doctors believe, may not stem from the virus itself, but from the psychological stress of fighting it off. Experts say the pandemic is actually leading to 2 types of hair loss. One is called telogen effluvium, in which a stressful experience trips up the cycle of shedding and growing, leading to hair loss that usually lasts around 6 months. The other condition is alopecia areata, in which the immune system attacks hair follicles, and usually starts with a patch of hair on the scalp or beard. Experts think that the storm of immune system inflammation set off in some Covid-19 patients might elevate molecules linked to conditions like alopecia. Doctors say the conditions should be temporary, although they can last months and if a patient continues to experience stress, the condition may become chronic

 Pay cuts introduced by US employers in the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic — meant to stave off layoffs and retain key employees — have proved less temporary than perhaps originally envisioned. The majority of workers who took a reduction as the virus brought the economy to a halt are still earning less than they were before the outbreak, according to a Pew Research Center study released Thursday. And half of adults who say they lost a job because of the pandemic remain unemployed

 Facing a worrying surge in coronavirus cases in some Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods, New York health officials carried out emergency inspections at private religious schools on Friday, and the police also stepped up enforcement of public health guidelines in several Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods in Queens and in Brooklyn, where residents often do not wear masks or follow social-distancing guidelines. Four yeshivas have already been closed because of violations

 Two former leaders of a Massachusetts veterans’ home were indicted on charges of criminal neglect in connection to the coronavirus deaths of at least 76 residents at the facility. Investigators focused on events where staff members combined 2 dementia wards with infected veterans and healthy residents because of
staffing shortages  Joining a growing number of colleges that have taken disciplinary action against Greek organizations that violate health rules, Indiana University has forced a fraternity to shut down through next summer because it held a large event at which people did not wear face masks or socially distance. More than 130,000 coronavirus cases have been identified at American colleges over the course of the pandemic. That figure has grown by tens of thousands of cases since early September as fall classes have continued despite major, uncontrolled outbreaks

 The Pac-12 Conference, home to Oregon, Stanford, and UCLA, announced it would resume its college football season in November. The Big Ten and Pac-12 are the lone conferences to have secured daily antigen testing and the hope is that being able to test players each day will mitigate the risk of outbreaks and lead to more manageable contact tracing if there is a positive case. All of the sport’s major conferences now plan to play this year

 A severe flu season this fall and winter could overwhelm California hospitals that are preparing for an uptick in Covid-19 cases as the economy further reopens, officials said Thursday. They urged people to get vaccinated to prevent that from happening. Officials recommend every Californian 6 months and older receive a flu shot this year. In past years, less than half of the state’s adult population and less than two-thirds of children have gotten the flu vaccine

 California Governor Newsom is allowing health officials to hide their addresses under a state program designed to protect people from harassment and violence as critics angered by coronavirus restrictions bombard them with threats

 Pummeled by a plunge in sales tax revenue during the Covid-19 pandemic, the MTA on Thursday locked in steep cuts to LA County bus and rail service for nearly a year — a $1.2 billion reduction in the 2021 fiscal year. The plan extends previously temporary cuts to service and trims budgets for new rail lines and planning work

 Orange County school districts serving more than 200,000 students are opening their school gates this week and next, marking a major, widely watched test of the ability of California schools to safely resume in-person classes amid the coronavirus. All the campuses are using hybrid schedules that allow a portion of students back at one time while others learn online — to help maintain social distancing by keeping classes small  A class action lawsuit filed Thursday on behalf of LA public school parents alleged that the LAUSD’s distance learn plan had caused enormous learning losses and left thousands of Black and Latino students without a basic education

 With recent increases of coronavirus cases in LA County after nearly a month of decline, LA Mayor Garcetti said the next few weeks will be crucial if the city wants to see more re-openings. If the positivity rate and the number of Covid-19 cases remain low, the county will be able to enter a new tier which means fewer
restrictions. The county is currently in Tier 1, which means schools and many businesses are closed and to progress through the tiered system, a county must meet certain thresholds for 2 consecutive weeks

 LA County reported an additional 1,401 cases and 34 deaths. Totals are now 265,775 and 6,488 deaths. City Breakouts (Cases/Deaths): City of LA 107,917/2,758; Long Beach 11,727/243; Carson 1,834/61; El Segundo 131/1; Gardena 1,234/50; Hawthorne 1,932/45; Hermosa Beach 209/4; Inglewood 2,855/89; Lawndale 634/10;
Lomita 240/9; Manhattan Beach 361/5; PV Estates 98/2; Rancho PV 302/13; Redondo Beach 553/11; Rolling Hills 12/0; Rolling Hills Estates 43/2; Torrance 1,421/70

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, STAT, 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