Covid-19 News Briefs for Tuesday, August 11, 2020

August 11, 2020

 The coronavirus pandemic has sickened more than 20,148,200 people, according to official counts. As of Tuesday afternoon, at least 737,600 people have died, and the virus has been detected in nearly every country. The pandemic is ebbing is some countries that were hit hard early on, but the number of new cases is growing
faster than ever worldwide, with more than 200,000 reported each day on average. The number of known cases in the US continues to grow — at least 5,150,300 across every state, plus Washington, D.C. and 4 US territories, have tested positive for the virus, and at least 164,000 patients with the virus have died

 Russia became the first country to approve a coronavirus vaccine, a move that was met with international skepticism and unease because the shots have only been studied in dozens of people. President Putin announced the Health Ministry’s approval and said 1 of his 2 adult daughters already was inoculated. He said
the vaccine underwent the necessary tests and was shown to provide lasting immunity to the coronavirus, although Russian authorities have offered no proof to back up claims of safety or effectiveness. Scientists in Russia and other countries said that rushing to offer the vaccine before final-stage testing could backfire since a Phase 3 trial — which involves tens of thousands of people and can take months — is the only way to prove if an experimental vaccine is safe and really works. And the WHO added that all vaccine candidates should go through full stages of being tested before being rolled out and warned that vaccines that are not properly tested can cause harm in many ways — from harming health to creating a false sense of security or undermining trust in vaccinations

 Top infectious disease expert Dr. Fauci last week said that it will probably require 50% to 75% of a population to be immune before achieving herd immunity — a goal that should be achieved not just through infected people recovering but also through vaccination. California has a long way to go before the vast majority of residents have been infected. In May, only about 2% of LA County residents had test results indicating previous exposure to the virus. That means 98% of LA County’s residents were still susceptible to infections. Sweden famously pursued a herd immunity strategy when it decided not to impose a severe lockdown but ended up having one of the highest mortality rates in Europe, and a worse rate than the US: 57 deaths per 100,000 compared to the 50 deaths per 100,000 people in the US. And Sweden appears to be nowhere near herd immunity, with only 7% of the population testing positive for antibodies to the coronavirus

 Coronavirus cases among children and teenagers are surging in California, up 150% last month, a rate that outpaces the growth of Covid-19 cases overall and establishes minors as a small but rising share of the state’s Covid-19 cases. The increase also appears to outpace the number of cases among children nationally, which grew 40% in the second half of July, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Assn. Nationally, children with Covid-19 represent about 8.8% of all US cases at the end of July, compared with 9% in California. That number is continuing to climb, with more than 50,000 cases among
children and teenagers in California this week, representing about 9.5% of total cases. The data come amid heated debate over when and how schools will be allowed to reopen, and what life will look like for students and teachers when they do

 A group of Duke University researchers tested 14 different types of face coverings and N95 masks came out on top. Surgical masks and cotton homemade masks were also effective, however, neck fleeces, knitted masks, and bandannas proved not to be effective at all because the material is thin and if they become saturated with germs, they can actually be worse than wearing nothing

 In early April as the virus began spreading around the world, more than 85% of the 1.6 million Chinese students enrolled overseas in 2020 remained abroad. Tens of thousands of them were in California universities which draw more Chinese students than schools in any other state and millions more were working abroad. Then
strict travel restrictions were imposed as many Chinese living abroad were eager to return home and scammers seized on the opportunity. While figures for the number of people swindled are not available, victims of ticket scams have lighted up social media during the pandemic and with so many students stranded abroad, efforts by their country’s officials to assist them have fallen short. Because these criminals are operating on Chinese-based social media, police in China are much better suited to investigate and while the FBI and other US federal agencies have aggressively targeted pandemic-related scams around the US, there is little they can do unless the victim quickly contacts their bank and is able to freeze the transaction

 The NBA has not announced a positive test among players since July 13, and before that, only 2 players who entered the bubble before that tested positive out of nearly 350. A “MagicBand” serves as a medical tracker, and players, coaches, reporters, referees, and NBA officials alike all must wear them any time they are out of their rooms — that and a mask and a credential, except when playing, coaching, or exercising. The Walt Disney World bubble is an experiment that takes the willingness of its inhabitants to submit to stringent protocols, to provide almost invasive amount of information, and to agree to near-constant surveillance. Everyone living here and workers who don’t must be tested every day and a skipped test can result in quarantine. There are questions about just how long this will work because like anyone, players and others miss their families, friends, and pets

 The Big Ten announced that it is postponing the fall sports season, the first Power 5 conference to do so, and will aim to play in the spring. The conference’s decision is the latest blow to college football amid uncertainty induced by the coronavirus pandemic. Other sports affected include men’s and women’s cross country, field hockey, men’s and women’s soccer and women’s volleyball

 Far fewer people are flying during the pandemic, but those who are seem more likely to try to bring firearms on the plane — the rate of passengers carrying guns through US airport security tripled in July, compared to the same month last year. And about 80% of the firearms uncovered were loaded. The TSA did not offer an explanation for the rise in the rate of firearms, but it noted that gun sales have jumped since the pandemic took hold in the US. FBI statistics show that firearm background checks have climbed 80% in the last year, from 2 million in July 2019 to 3.6 million last month

 The coronavirus economic downturn is bringing rents down in major cities across the country, including LA, as landlords seek to fill rising vacancies by trimming prices. The declines appear concentrated at the top end of the marketplace, according to multiple data sources, but there are signs rents are falling on the lower end as well. Developers had been able to command sky-high rents in part because they’ve persuaded people to pay more for additional perks such as dog runs, poolside barbeques, and club rooms. Now, shared places are closed and other reasons people might pay top dollar to live in the city — bars, restaurants, and sporting events — are also shut down

 WarnerMedia began slashing its workforce Monday, laying off at least 600 employees as movie theater shutdowns and streaming competition ravage its film and TV business. The bulk of the job cuts came from the Warner Bros. studio in Burbank, including high-level studio executives. Since the Covid-19 stay-at-home orders
have upended the movie business, and major studio releases have been delayed, analysts say US box office receipts this year could be down as much as 70% compared to last year. The pandemic also prompted a temporary shutdown of TV and film production, which means there are fewer projects in the pipeline, further
eroding revenues

 Following a statewide trend, the number of those hospitalized with Covid-19 in the Inland Empire has dipped after record-setting data were reported last month. The drop in hospitalizations came as California topped 10,000 deaths from the virus and following reports that the state’s system for tallying cases had failed to log 250,000 to 300,000 results in the database. It is possible the decline in hospitalizations is linked to the reinstatement of state shutdown orders in mid-July, but the trend is also due in part to younger people falling sick, as well as better control over the disease’s spread in higher risk settings, such as nursing homes

 LA County reported an additional 1,440 cases and 63 deaths. Totals are now 211,808 cases and 5,057 deaths. City Breakouts (Cases/Deaths): City of LA 86,333/2,268; Long Beach 8,879/183; Carson 1,433/41; El Segundo 104/0; Gardena 965/36; Hawthorne 1,589/30; Hermosa Beach 167/3; Inglewood 2,303/80; Lawndale 527/9; Lomita 194/7; Manhattan Beach 284/4; PV Estates 76/2; Rancho PV 242/12; Redondo Beach 470/9; Rolling Hills 5/0; Rolling Hills Estates 33/2; Torrance 1,155/61

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