COVID-19 News Briefs for Sunday, June 28, 2020

June 28, 2020

 The world surpassed 2 sobering coronavirus milestones today — 500,000 confirmed deaths, 1 in 4 in the US, and 10 million global confirmed cases. It also hit another high mark for daily new infections as governments attempt to reopen

 Interviews with doctors and public health officials in more than a dozen countries show that for 2 crucial months, and in the face of mounting genetic evidence, Western health officials and political leaders played down or denied the risk of symptomless spreading. Leading health agencies including the WHO and European
Center for Disease Prevention and Control provided contradictory and sometimes misleading advice. A crucial public health discussion devolved into a semantic debate over what to call infected people without clear symptoms. The 2-month delay was a product of faulty scientific assumptions, academic rivalries, and perhaps
most important, a reluctance to accept that containing the virus would take drastic measures. The resistance to emerging evidence was one part of the world’s sluggish response to the virus. It is impossible to calculate the human toll of that delay, but models suggest that earlier, aggressive action might have saved tens of thousands of lives. Countries like Singapore and Australia, which used testing and contact-tracing and moved swiftly to quarantine seemingly healthy travelers, fared far better than those that did not

 The number of new coronavirus cases in the US is surging to levels not ever seen in the course of the pandemic. Infections nationwide have risen 65% of the past 2 weeks, including in several states that were among the first to reopen. By Saturday evening, more than 41,000 cases of the coronavirus had been announced across the US, including single-day records in Nevada, South Carolina, and Florida

 Nearly 6 months after the first case of coronavirus reached the US, a majority of registered voters say they are anxious, exhausted, and angry, according to a poll by the NY Times and Siena College. Yet even as they brace themselves for months of challenges from the virus, many remain optimistic about the country’s future, viewing this moment of pandemic, economic devastation, and social unrest as an opportunity for progress — one they can help shape

 The IRS has reopened the general taxpayer helpline that was closed because of the coronavirus pandemic, and it has added thousands of phone reps to a special hotline to deal with stimulus payment problems — it is (800) 919-9835

 VP Pence called off campaign events in Florida and Arizona this week as the states experienced a surge of new coronavirus cases. He will still travel to these states saying he will meet with governors and their health teams

 The same problems that have plagued the US service and entertainment industry businesses in recent months have affected zoos and aquariums, their staffs, and the contractors. Deprived of a public that pays admission and buys food and drinks, zoos collectively lost tens of millions of dollars of revenue during the pandemic. One exception is the LA Zoo, which unlike most zoos, is a city department versus a private nonprofit. Nonetheless, city workers may have their pay cut and the zoo is cutting back its conservation grants to other organizations

 Nursing homes accounted for 43% of all fatalities in California and a LA Times review found the failure of inspections to identify problems indicated how the industry and regulators were unprepared for coronavirus and failed to act quickly to slow its spread. Nursing homes lacked basic supplies like protective masks and gloves, and regulators failed to require universal testing of residents and staff. The California health department said that inspectors were instructed to focus on providing support to the beleaguered facilities rather than enforcement resulting in a failure to contain the virus. Elder care advocates said a lack of enforcement shows that the state regulators abdicated their primary responsibility to police nursing homes at a critical moment. California’s nursing homes, like most states, have suffered a heavy toll from Covid-19 — as of Tuesday, 2,441 employees and residents of the state’s skilled nursing facilities have died, not including staff and residents at assisted living centers, which are not regulated by the health department and also have been hard hit

 Early in the coronavirus pandemic in March, at least 3 flights carrying infected passengers arrive at LAX and attempts at contact tracing proved insufficient, with public health officials failing to notify other passengers of the risk. On the third flight from Germany, the infected person was not displaying symptoms but since that time, the risk from asymptomatic people has become more clear. Air travel, with people sharing close quarters for sustained periods, poses a heightened risk of transmission, and the CDC has said it is crucial to track those exposed on planes and to move quickly to prevent new cases

 Citing the rapid pace of coronavirus spread in some part of the state, Governor Newsom on Sunday ordered 7 counties including Los Angeles, Fresno, Kern, San Joaquin, Tulare, Kings, and Imperial Counties, to immediately close any bars and nightspots that are open and recommended another 8 counties take action on their own to close those businesses

 LA County health officials warned that residents are entering a “critical moment” and that some of the easing of stay-at-home orders is in jeopardy unless the increasing trend of coronavirus cases and hospitalizations is reversed. Many other parts of California are also seeing big Covid-19 surges in recent weeks where statewide cases surpassed 210,000

 LA County officials are receiving reports of bogus mask exemption cards that depict a government seal with threatening language. They said the information is false, and everyone except children younger than 2 should wear a face covering any time they leave the house

 LA County reported an additional 2,542 cases and 20 deaths. Totals are now 97,894 cases / 3,305 deaths. City Breakouts (Cases/Deaths): City of LA 42,968/1,610; Long Beach 3,643/125; Carson 646/28; El Segundo 51/0; Gardena 495/30; Hawthorne 706/22; Hermosa Beach 72/2; Inglewood 982/62; Lawndale 193/7; Lomita 78/6;
Manhattan Beach 124/3; PV Estates 50/1; Rancho PV 134/12; Redondo Beach 197/8; Rolling Hills 2/0; Rolling Hills Estates 22/0; Torrance 555/50

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