COVID-19 News Briefs for Thursday, June 18, 2020

June 18, 2020

 The number of coronavirus cases continues to grow globally, with 2 of the highest tallies in the history of the pandemic recorded this week, driven by outbreaks in the Latin America, Africa, South Asia, and the US, which still posts some of the highest counts of new cases. 77 nations have seen a growth in new cases over the past 2 weeks, while only 43 have seen declines

 At a meeting in Hawaii with a top Chinese diplomat, US Secretary of State Pompeo urged China to reveal all it knows about the Covid-19 pandemic. He stressed the need for full transparency and information sharing to combat the pandemic and prevent future outbreaks. The White House administration had criticized China’s
response to the outbreak, including giving credence to a theory that the virus may have emerged from a Chinese laboratory in Wuhan. The WHO last month bowed to calls from most of its member states to investigate how it managed the response to the virus, but the evaluation would stop short of looking into the origins of the virus. China maintains that controlling the virus’s spread should be given priority

 Health experts agree that coronavirus false negative tests are a concern. Early research out of China stipulated the false negative rate of around 30%, however, a study on the Abbott 15-minute test was found to have a false negative rate of about 15%. If testing is done at the optimal moment — not too early or late after exposure — the false negative rate goes down. Generally speaking, viral load peaks around 2-4 days after symptom onset and many experts are encouraging people to get tested around 3-6 days after they think they may have been exposed to Covid-19. However, if you get a negative test result and are feeling sick, health experts say to continue to self-quarantine for 7-10 days after all symptoms go away

 Antibodies to Covid-19 may last only 2-3 months in the body, especially in people who never showed symptoms while they were infected, according to a new study published in Nature Medicine. The study only looked at 37 people but it is the first to offer a characterization of the immune response in such people. It suggests that asymptomatic people mount a weaker response to the virus than people who develop symptoms. And within weeks, antibody levels fall to undetectable levels in 40% of asymptomatic people and 13% of symptomatic people. If levels of immunity decrease so soon after illness, the authors suggest that people who have had the infection once might fall ill a second time

 US employers are still shedding jobs at a heavy rate, a trend that points to a slow and prolonged recovery. The number of laid-off workers seeking unemployment benefits barely fell last week to 1.5 million — that was down from a peak of nearly 7 million in March, and it marked an 11th straight weekly drop. But the number is still more than twice the record high that existed before the pandemic. And the total number of people receiving jobless aid remains 20.5 million. The figures disappointed analysts who had expected far fewer people to seek unemployment aid as states increasingly reopen their economies and businesses recall some laid-off people back to work. The data also raised concerns that some recent layoffs may reflect permanent losses as companies restructure their businesses
 Online for-profit colleges have seen an opportunity to increase enrollment during the coronavirus pandemic.

Their flexible programs may be newly attractive to unemployed workers, to those seeking to change careers, or to college campuses whose campuses are closed. However, few of the largest for-profit colleges operating primarily online have track records to justify their advertising claims — some have put students deep in debt while posting dismal graduation rates amid a history of investigations by state and federal agencies, including many that have led to substantial financial settlements, according to The Hechinger Report, a nonprofit newsroom

 The pandemic has disrupted coin circulation and the US Mint’s production of coin also decreased because of measures put in place to protect its employees. Bank coin orders have increased as states reopen, causing the coin inventory, which the Mint prints but the Fed manages, to dip below normal levels

 Businesses across the US have begun intensive Covid-19 disinfection regimens, exposing returning workers and consumers to some chemicals that are largely untested for human health, a development that’s alarming health and environmental safety experts

 Rapid increases in coronavirus cases are being reported in states including Florida, Arizona, and Texas and the governors there say they are not considering another shutdown. Dr. Fauci said that these surges in cases are still part of the “first wave” and states must continue to follow safety standards or risk further outbreaks

 Protests over mask orders and reopening strategies have been held across the country, including in Orange County where the county health officer had resigned last week. For months, the anti-mask protesters have been joined by anti-vaccine activists against restrictions aimed at preventing the spread of Covid-19, and this alliance is taking direct aim at country health officials. Threats and intimidation tactics have included protesting at officials’ homes, disclosing personal information, and issuing threats to cause harm to their families. Hot off the press: Governor Newsom just ordered all Californians to wear face coverings while in public, including shopping, taking public transit, or seeking medical care, amid growing concerns that coronavirus cases have increased because residents have failed to take that precaution voluntarily

 Cinemark, one of the nation’s largest cinema operators, will start reopening its door Friday at 3 Dallas locations amid enhanced safety protocols. LA theaters expect to be reopened in mid-July  Despite a temporary moratorium of rental evictions because of the coronavirus outbreak in mid-March, LAPD data showed the police responded to more than 290 instances of potential illegal lockouts and utility shutoffs, and the largest share of the calls were in predominantly Black and Latino neighborhoods in South LA which represent some of the county’s highest rates of infection

 LA County has given the green-light for several more businesses to reopen Friday. The list includes bars, wineries, breweries, and tasting rooms, personal care services, and card rooms, satellite wagering facilities, and racetracks without spectators. All are subject to implementing the county’s requirements regarding reopening

 LA County reported an additional 1,051 cases and 36 deaths. Totals are now 78,227 cases / 3,027 deaths. City Breakouts (Cases/Deaths): City of LA 35,494/1,481; Long Beach 2,783/116; Carson 558/27; El Segundo 41/0; Gardena 375/28; Hawthorne 570/21; Hermosa Beach 48/2; Inglewood 790/58; Lawndale 166/6; Lomita 61/6;
Manhattan Beach 93/3; PV Estates 47/1; Rancho PV 116/11; Rolling Hills 2/0; Rolling Hills Estates 18/0; Torrance 471/50

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 Hill.com; 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