COVID-19 News Briefs for Monday, June 29, 2020

June 29, 2020

 The United Nations World Food Program said that millions of people have been pushed into hunger by the coronavirus pandemic as it appealed for nearly $5 billion to help feed the growing numbers in poor and middleincome countries. The aim is to assist 138 million people in 83 countries to provide food to the most vulnerable and to support governments working to curb the spread of Covid-19. The UN children’s agency UNICEF also warned that millions of children in war-torn Yemen are at significant risk of starvation as the virus is spreading rapidly across the Arab’s world poorest country, killing about 25% of those who come down with Covid-19 — 5 times the global average

 A fresh Covid-19 cluster has forced Chinese authorities to impose a strict lockdown in a province near the capital Beijing which they describe as “severe and complicated.” Over 500,000 people have been put in lockdown with only 1 person from each family allowed to go out once a day to purchase necessities such as food and medicine. The move comes after another 14 cases of the virus were reported in the past 24 hours in Beijing, taking the total number of cases in the city of over 20 million to 311. After China appeared to have largely brought the virus under control, hundreds have been infected in Beijing and cases have emerged in neighboring Hebei province in recent weeks

 As the virus spreads in many countries in Africa, it is threatening to push as many as 58 million people in the region into extreme poverty, experts at the World Bank say. The pandemic is also impacting Africa’s growing middle class which has been pivotal to the educational, political, and economic development
across the continent — about 170 million of Africa’s 1.3 billion people are now classified as middle class. But about 8 million of them could be thrust into poverty because of the coronavirus and its economic fallout

 Reports from hospitals and researchers suggest that about two-thirds to three-quarters of coronavirus patients in ICUs experience hospital delirium, the phenomenon previously seen mostly in a subset of older patients, some of whom already had dementia. Now, the condition is bedeviling coronavirus patients of all ages with no previous cognitive impairment. Some patients have hyperactive delirium, paranoid hallucinations and agitation, or confusion that causes patients to become withdrawn and incommunicative. The experiences can be terrifying and disorienting and can have detrimental consequences long after it lifts, extending hospital stays, slowing recovery, and increasing people’s risk of developing depression or post-traumatic stress. Researchers also found that previously healthy older patients with delirium can develop dementia sooner than they otherwise would have and can die earlier

 At the beginning of the pandemic, the coronavirus looked to be another respiratory illness. But the virus has turned out to affect not just the lungs, but the kidneys, the heart, and the circulatory system — even, somehow, our senses of smell and taste. Now researchers have discovered yet another unpleasant surprise — in many patients hospitalized, the immune system is threatened by a depletion of certain essential disease-fighting T cells, suggesting eerie parallels with H.I.V. and hints that a cocktail of antiviral drugs may be needed to bring the coronavirus under control. Growing research points to very complex immunological signatures of the virus

 Over half of American states have seen young people become seriously ill from a virus-related inflammatory syndrome (called Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children), most of them previously healthy, according to the first national report on such cases. Nearly 90% of the 186 patients were hospitalized, and most of those needed intensive care. 1 in 5 of the patients, who were all under 21, because so sick that they required ventilators, and 4 children died. MIS-C appears to arise 2 to 4 weeks after children become infected. Most seem to have no or very few of the initial respiratory symptoms that are a hallmark of the virus in adults, suggesting that their bodies were able to fight off the first strike of the infection

 After weeks of donating the antiviral drug remdesivir to hospitals with severely ill Covid-19 patients, the drug’s maker, Gilead Sciences, announced today that it settle on a price of $390 per vial, which works out to $2,340 per treatment course. Gilead also said it would charge more to private insurers in the US. Until recently, remdesivir was the only drug shown to help severely ill covid-19 patients, but the benefits were modest, and the drug did not improve survival in those patients

 During the pandemic, the US Postal Service lost $4.5 billion in the budget year’s second quarter, and Congress approved a $10 billion line of credit as part of an economic rescue plan. More than 3,420 of the Postal Service’s 630,000 employees have tested positive for Covid-19 and some have died. While package delivers have increased as Americans stay home, mail volumes plummeted as much as 30%. And the agency’s responsibilities are mounting with a dramatic shift in many states to voting by mail to protect voters from spreading the virus, but has already made more work for post offices and contributed to delays in determining post election winners

 Broadway theaters have extended their shutdown until early January because of the coronavirus pandemic — refunds or exchanges for tickets for shows will be extended

 The new California budget goes beyond providing $70.5 billion in funding for K-12 schools — it sets fundamental accountability rules for a new era of distance learning by requiring teachers to take online attendance and document student learning. The budget bill, which Governor Newsom is expected to sign, anticipates that schools will continue to rely heavily on online instruction when campuses reopen in the fall. It also acknowledges the deep learning losses of the last semester, especially among student from low-income families. The new directives establish minimum teaching parameters for distance learning while protecting teachers against immediate layoffs

 After more than 3 months of relaxed enforcement during the Covid-19 pandemic, Los Angeles parking officers will resume ticketing drivers on street-sweeping days starting July 6

 LA County will close it beaches Friday and ban fireworks displays in anticipation of the Fourth of July holiday, a move health officials say is necessary in light of an alarming spike in coronavirus cases. All public beaches, piers, public beach parking lots, beach bike paths that traverse the sanded portion of the beach, and beach access points will be closed from 12:01am Friday to 5:00am on Monday. The ban on fireworks displays applies only to the Fourth of July weekend and a modified health officer order will be issued Monday evening

 LA County confirmed 22 additional coronavirus-related deaths and 2,903 new cases Monday, the largest singleday number of new infections the county has reported since the pandemic hit the US. The daily tally brings the total number of coronavirus cases in LA County to 100,772 and total deaths are 3,326. Public Health Director Dr. Ferrer said that community transmission has definitely increased as the positivity rate of infection nears 9%, and that 1 in 140 residents are likely unknowingly infected with the virus, a huge increase since last week’s projection of 1 in 400. City Breakouts (Cases/Deaths): City of LA 44,189/1,620; Long Beach N/A; Carson 655/28; El Segundo 51/0; Gardena 502/30; Hawthorne 720/22; Hermosa Beach 74/2; Inglewood 1,010/63; Lawndale 196/7; Lomita 80/6; Manhattan Beach 131/3; PV Estates 50/1; Rancho PV 137/12; Redondo Beach 207/9; Rolling Hills 2/0; Rolling Hills Estates 22/2; Torrance 564/50

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; 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