COVID-19 News Briefs for Thursday, July 16, 2020

Ju;y 16, 2020

 Phase 3, the final test during the trial of a vaccine, is also its biggest — that’s when the vaccine is given to tens of thousands of people, along with a placebo group, to determine its safety and effectiveness and is the final step before a vaccine is approved and distributed to the public. Of the more than 155 coronavirus vaccines in development around the world, only 4 have reached Phase 3. The Chinese military issued the first approval for a vaccine last month but only for limited use. 3 more potential vaccines appear ready to enter Phase 3 — one by biotech company Moderna, a second from Russia, and another from Pfizer. Experts agree that we will need multiple vaccines because no single company can quickly produce billions of doses the world needs

 As India’s coronavirus caseload approaches 1 million, lockdowns are being re-imposed in parts of the country as governments try to shield the health system from being overwhelmed. Indian authorities reported nearly 30,000 new cases and 582 more deaths, raising the country’s totals to more than 936,000 cases and more than
24,000 fatalities. The actual numbers are likely far higher because of limited testing and poor surveillance

 Sri Lankan authorities have claimed that 1 man was responsible for triggering nearly half of the country’s more than 2,600 coronavirus cases. Government officials blamed “Patient 206” for at least 3 clusters of Covid-19 cases, including about 900 Navy sailors who were infected after some took part in an operation in the town where the patient lived

 Britain, the US, and Canada accused Russian hackers today of trying to steal information from researchers seeking a coronavirus vaccine, warning scientists and pharmaceutical companies to be alert for suspicious activity. Intelligence agencies in the 3 nations alleged that the hacking group APT29, also known as Cozy Bear, and said to be part of the Russian intelligence service, is attacking academic and pharmaceutical research institutions involved in Covid-19 vaccine development

 Drug overdoses in the US have skyrocketed and demand for addiction treatment medicine has soared as the coronavirus pandemic continues. But many cash-strapped states are nevertheless slashing budgets for opioid crisis programs. And mental health services are also expected to be cut as the pandemic continues to dry up
state revenues

 After initial resistance from some, Congress is inching closer to an agreement to extend at least some of the $600 a week federal unemployment insurance subsidy approved this past spring to help American workers hurt by the coronavirus crisis. When they return next week to begin talks on another major relief bill, lawmakers face a tight deadline to renew the popular benefit, which expires at the end of July

 There has been a major drop in the number of people behind bars in the US because of the Covid-19 crisis. Between March and June, more than 100,000 people were released from state and federal prisons, a decrease of 8% according to a nationwide analysis by The Marshall Project and AP. By comparison, the state and federal
prison population decreased by 2.2% in all of 2019

 Target and CVS joined Walmart and other companies in saying they will also start requiring all customers to wear a face covering when shopping at locations nationwide

 In Imperial County, California’s hardest hit by the coronavirus, a new hot spot is emerging at Calipatria State Prison where 18 inmates tested positive over the weekend where no cases had appeared before Thursday. Calipatria’s incarcerated population is younger, and the Covid-19 positive individuals were largely asymptomatic and will be monitored by health workers for new symptoms. With 3,116 inmates, the state prison is at 135% occupancy. More than 6,500 California prisoners — of a population near 113,000 — have tested positive for Covid-19 and the spread is believed to be linked to inmate transfers between prisons

 The next 2 weeks are shaping up to be critical for California as officials wait to see if the sweeping restrictions imposed in late June and July show any signs of slowing the rapid spread of coronavirus in communities across the state. Because the virus takes weeks to incubate, much of the current surge is still tied to people exposed to Covid-19 in June, as counties rapidly reopened the economy and many returned to old but now dangerous routines such as bar-hopping and attending parties and other social events. As of Wednesday, the state reported 354,000 confirmed cases and more than 7,300 deaths, with more than 6,700 being hospitalized — more than double the daily average of hospitalizations in May

 The total number of positive cases in licensed childcare facilities increased by 12.1% from July 9 to July 12, according to the California Department of Social Services. There were 998 positive Covid-19 cases statewide across more than 38,000 facilities among state facilities that care for at least 9 children — this data includes positive cases for children, parents and teachers. LA County tops the list with 170 cases and by far, has the most facilities open during the pandemic. Child care providers are limited to a small group of 10 to 12 children. Parents are barred from entering the facility or home and there are mandatory temperature checks at the door, and questions to make sure neither the parents, their kids, or anyone in the home has been exposed to coronavirus. The CDC requires workers to change all of a child’s clothing each time they cry — and then change their own shirt as well. State guidelines also require kids to nap in cots that are 6 feet apart at nap time while arranging cots feet to head alternately. The logistics are a challenge for many providers, especially the smaller
home services. However, the child care landscape is much more optimistic now that it was 6 weeks ago

 A report by LAUSD analysts found that 50,000 Black and Latino students did not regularly participate in the school system’s main platform for virtual classrooms after campuses closed in March because of the coronavirus shutdown. Nearly every category of students included large numbers who did not regularly participate in
distance learning. However, low-income students and Black and Latino students showed participation rates between 10-20% lower than white and Asian peers. English learners, student with disabilities, homeless students, and those in the foster-care system also had lower rates of online participation

 LA County health officials did an analysis of areas that had the greatest need for coronavirus testing based on positivity rates, mortality rates, and the rate at which residents are accessing testing sites, and results showed portions of South LA, Southeast LA County, the San Gabriel Valley, the Pomona Valley, the San Fernando Valley, and the Antelope Valley, needed greater access to testing. 6 new testing sites will open in Montebello, South Gate, Azusa, Panorama City, Compton, and the Downey-Norwalk area. And capacity will be added at sites in Bellflower, Pomona, El Monte, and East LA. The analysis added to evidence of the disproportionate impact the pandemic is having on Latino and Black communities

 The chief medical officer of LA County USC Medical Center, the county’s busiest hospital located north of downtown LA, said they on the verge of capacity with ICUs very full, and medical teams stressed and weary because of the Covid-19 surge. The hospital, with one of the country’s largest trauma units, is part of a publiclyowned health system under the County Department of Public Health, designated for treating Covid-19 patients. Hospitalizations in the county, a key indicator watched by public health officials, have steadily rose at all facilities throughout LA County as the economy began to reopen in May, going from about 1,400 to now more than 2,100 as of Tuesday. Roughly 27% were in ICUs and 19% on ventilators.

 LA County reported an additional 4,592 cases and 59 deaths. Totals are now 147,468 cases and 3,988 deaths. City Breakouts (Cases/Deaths): City of LA 60,720/1,890; Long Beach 6,042/156; Carson 959/36; El Segundo 84/0; Gardena 688/34; Hawthorne 1,047/27; Hermosa Beach 127/2; Inglewood 1,488/70; Lawndale 327/8; Lomita 121/7; Manhattan Beach 217/4; PV Estates 62/2; Rancho PV 192/12; Redondo Beach 326/9; Rolling Hills 4/0; Rolling Hills Estates 30/2; Torrance 810/51

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