COVID-19 News Briefs for Thursday, May 21, 2020

May 21, 2020

 The Mexican border city of Tijuana is the center of a coronavirus surge that has already been responsible for 392 deaths. The Mexican Red Cross, with 13 ambulances, handles the majority of emergency calls in the city of 1.8 million people and is averaging 40 Covid-19 calls a day. Tijuana’s mortality rate is twice the national average and hospitals are low on medical supplies while also facing staffing shortages as health workers fall ill

 The pandemic in the US has now surpassed 5 million reported cases, and 328,000 deaths. New research from Columbia University suggests that starting lockdowns one week earlier would have saved 36,000 lives, but advocates of reopening argue that shutting people in keeps them from routine checkups and worsens other health issues

 More than 35,000 deaths linked to Covid-19 have occurred at long-term care facilities in 37 states across the country, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. The data showed an increase of more than 5,000 deaths from last week. New York and New Jersey alone make up nearly one-third of the coronavirus deaths reported in these facilities

 2.4 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, which makes roughly 38.6 million people who have now filed for jobless aid because of the coronavirus crisis

 Reuters Health reports that a new model of how far saliva can travel after a cough suggests that current guidelines recommending that people keep 6 feet away from others may not be sufficient on a breezy day to avoid droplets containing Covid-19. Separately, the CDC is updating it guidelines now saying the virus “does not spread easily” by touching surfaces or objects, but the virus is mainly spread person to person through droplets from an infected person’s nose and mouth

 Exposure Notification, an Apple and Google system that helps authorities develop an app to notify users if they come into contact with a person who has tested positive for Covid-19, was released yesterday. Users who have downloaded the app for their region will be able to update their status if they test positive and the iOS and Android system will then notify other users who have been exposed to that person. Some governments have criticized the system because it doesn’t let authorities store data on who has the virus and track where it is spreading, so Apple/Google are allowing the optional collection, including zip codes and user phone numbers for health departments if users give permission

 A Florida Department of Health manager claims she was fired for refusing to manipulate Covid-19 tracking data as officials moved to reopen the state. Data reporting has turned into a sensitive political issue as some states have moved aggressively to restart their economies despite warnings from health officials that moving too soon could spark a new rise in coronavirus infections

 A US Census newly launched weekly survey found that more than half of California’s households have seen a loss of income due to the coronavirus crisis and nationally, 1 in 5 adults survey said they had slight or no confidence in their ability to pay their rent or mortgage in June. The survey results also showed an outsized financial impact on low-income, low-education, and minority households

 Pier 1 Imports is liquidating its business — the home furnishing chain had filed for bankruptcy in February, trying to reorganize and find a buyer, but the coronavirus crisis halted those plans

 California recorded 132 new coronavirus fatalities on Tuesday — the most in a single day since the pandemic began. The total deaths reported is now over 3,500. However, the number of new cases have dropped from the previous week and hospitalizations have fallen 15% from 6 weeks ago

 Many smaller California counties have reopened in recent weeks but businesses are hindered by the constraints of operating at reduced capacity to meet social distancing requirements and question whether that model of few customers can be sustainable in the long run. And customer traffic has been light in some shops and eateries — restaurateurs are worried that customers still have safety concerns

 After a 2-month hold on the intake of new inmates because of the Covid-19 pandemic, California’s prisons are expected to resume processing next week. Even with early releases of more than 3,500 inmates and lack of intake, outbreaks of Covid-19 have been reported in prisons across the state and the nation. Correction officers say that medical staff are now conducting surveillance testing in all state prisons to detect outbreaks in their early phases

 LA law enforcement officials and police across the country are reporting a surge in tips about online sex abuse as children spend more time on computers amid the stay at home orders. Officials say that sexual predators have ramped up their efforts to solicit pictures and videos, and The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children took in 4.1 million reports of child cyber abuse in April, a fourfold increase over April 2019

 LA County reported 1,204 positive cases and 46 deaths which now totals 42,037 cases and 2,016 deaths in the county. 14% of positive cases had to be hospitalized — this represents a slight decrease in hospitalization rates. Other positive signs include: the average rate of transmission (infected person infecting others) going from 3 people to 1 person; serology (antibody)random study done in April reflecting 4.1% of population with Covid-19 and a follow up study in May showing 2.1%; continuing to move in right direction regarding decrease in 7-day and 3-day averages in number of positive cases; meeting most targets regarding PPE for healthcare workers, number of diagnostic daily tests given, and contact tracing goal of responding in 1 day. Dr. Ferrer credited people following health guidelines and asked everyone to continue to wear face coverings, wash hands, and keep 6 feet away from others as people start to go back to work and are away from home more. City Breakouts (positive cases/deaths): City of LA 19,941/984; Long Beach 1,400/NA; Carson 361/20; el Segundo 32/0; Gardena 220/21; Hawthorne 341/9; Hermosa Beach 28/2; Inglewood 517/52; Lawndale 94/3; Lomita 48/6; Manhattan Beach 74/2; PV Estates 41/0; Rancho PV 81/10; Redondo Beach 131/7; Rolling Hills 2/0; Rolling Hills Estates 14/0; Torrance 345/43

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, daily 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