COVID-19 News Briefs for Sunday, July 12, 2020

July 12, 2020

 The coronavirus pandemic has been detected in nearly every country and sickened more than 12,720,500 people globally and as of Sunday morning, at least 565,100 people have died. It is ebbing in some of the countries that were hit hard early on, but the number of new cases is growing faster than ever worldwide, with
more than 100,000 reported each day. America has more than 3 million Covid-19 cases and deaths have topped 134,000, the most in the world, though the UK still leads major nations in the most deaths per capita. South America is becoming a global hotspot — particularly in Brazil. Bolivian interim President Anez and Brazilian President Bolsonaro both tested positive for the virus this week

 Denmark and Finland were among the first to reopen their schools, with both nations phasing in starting with the youngest children. Denmark mandated extra spacing and hand-washing, and encouraged more classes to be held outside. Wuhan went back to school with mass testing and temperature checks. And the Australian state of New South Wales is starting with one day a week of in-person instruction. Overseas school re-openings have not tended to be linked with large outbreaks, however, an event at an Israeli high school did cause an outbreak caused by a super-spreading teacher

 After months of declines, an AP analysis has found that the 7-day rolling average for daily Covid-19 fatalities in the US has increased — from 578 2 weeks ago to 664 on Friday. A coronavirus death, when it occurs, typically comes several weeks after a person is first infected and experts predicted the deaths would climb in states that saw increased cases and hospitalizations. California is averaging 91 reported deaths per day, and Texas is averaging 66. Florida, Arizona, Illinois, New Jersey, and South Carolina are also seeing sizable rises

 Filling the middle seats of airplanes nearly doubles the risk of catching Covid-19, according to a new study from an MIT professor. While the risk remains relatively low, partly thanks to the air circulation and filters on most airplanes, the statistical model shows that the risk is significantly lower when middle seats are left empty. The study comes as American Airlines and United face criticism for filling planes, while Delta and Southwest are for now leaving middle seats open

 Many of America’s college campuses brought back athletes to train for the return of sports which is often a critical cash draw, however, the result was sometimes clusters of coronavirus cases. Also, some schools are reporting partying collegians with little interest in social distancing making life risky for faculty and staff. Meanwhile, several schools that are keeping students away are suing the federal government which wants to kick international students, another source of cash, out of the country if they’re not able to take in-person classes. Distance learning also raises the question of whether students should have to keep paying the full tuition, not including room and board

 Florida reported more than 15,299 new coronavirus cases, the highest single-day total for any US state so far. The previous daily record was 12,487 set by New York in April. States like Florida, South Carolina, Arizona, Texas, and Georgia have seen large spikes in new cases since easing restrictions on businesses. With nearly 270,000 total infections, Florida has the third-worst coronavirus outbreak among US states, behind only New York and California

 California’s Employment Development Department is receiving an unprecedented number of calls as well as complaints from the unemployed who have lost jobs during the coronavirus crisis. In June, the agency recorded 11 million call attempts from 500,000 individuals and was able to answer 27% of the calls with a live representative. EDD acknowledges that antiquated computers are holding up processing of complaints and Governor Newsom said there is a historic backlog and that thousands of state employees have been retrained and transferred to help EDD. State lawmakers have been intervening to help their constituents and there is now
a Twitter feed to highlight people’s struggles with the agency

 A LA Times investigation has found that California was unprepared, overwhelmed, and constantly lagging early in the coronavirus outbreak, and those early failures regarding testing left the state far behind in the fight against Covid-19, and it continues to struggle as cases are again surging. The investigation’s findings include: Key local virus spreaders in the budding outbreak were going unnoticed and untraced; The laboratory testing process relied on strikingly inefficient instruments with 1 public health lab per million state residents due to ongoing budget cuts; When the federal government turned to private partners to scale up testing, cotton swabs and other needed testing equipment were in short supply and by March 25, 1 lab had 160,000 tests they could not process; By early May, California had gone from 2,000 to nearly 40,000 tests per day, but the state only had 1,759 contact tracers for more than 10 million residents and no effective methods to force compliance; In early June, LA County still had only tested three-quarters of the residents and staff at 400 skilled nursing facilities and testing at other areas are now, in July, limited due to dwindling supplies

 Governor Newsom announced plans to spend $72.4 million in emergency wildfire funds to hire 858 more firefighters and 6 California Conservation Corps. crews to make up for a shortage of inmate firefighters who have been released from prison because of the coronavirus outbreak. He added that California will shelter
wildfire evacuees in hotels, require temperature checks, and make other changes to protect people from Covid19 as the state battles an increase in blazes during the pandemic. Firefighters will also be required to physically distance, conduct remote briefings, and alternate shifts to reduce the chance of infection

 LA County bus drivers staged a protest outside MTA headquarters Friday demanding hazard pay for transit employees who are working during the Covid-19 pandemic. Metro cut bus service in April by 29% after ridership and revenues plummeted, but riders are coming back, drivers say, and they face a greater risk of contracting
coronavirus as cases surge in LA County and bus lines grow more crowded. Nearly 4 dozen drivers have tested positive for Covid-19 and 1 driver has died

 LA County reported an additional 3,322 cases and 18 deaths. Totals are now 133,549 cases and 3,809 deaths. City Breakouts (Cases/Deaths): City of LA 55,635/1,823; Long Beach 5,388/147; Carson 860/34; El Segundo 75/0; Gardena 641/33; Hawthorne 940/26; Hermosa Beach 117/2; Inglewood 1,305/67; Lawndale 288/8; Lomita 111/7; Manhattan Beach 200/4; PV Estates 60/2; Rancho PV 174/12; Redondo Beach 295/9; Rolling Hills 4/0; Rolling Hills Estates 30/2; Torrance 739/51

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