COVID-19 News Briefs for Tuesday, July 14, 2020

July 14, 2020

 Congestion, runny nose, nausea and vomiting, and diarrhea are 4 most recent Covid-19 symptoms that the CDC has added to its growing list of potential signs of the virus. These are in addition to fever or chills, muscle or body aches, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, headache, sore throat, and a new loss of taste or smell

 There is mounting evidence that wearing a mask, in addition to protecting others from your germs, also protects the wearer — wearing any kind of face covering will reduce the amount of virus that your body will take in if you are unlucky enough to get infected with coronavirus. Breathing in a small amount of virus may lead to no disease or a far more mild infection. But inhaling a huge volume of virus particles can result in serious illness or death, according to medical experts

 Researchers reported strong evidence that the coronavirus can be transmitted from a pregnant woman to a fetus. A baby born in a Paris hospital in March to a mother with Covid-19 tested positive for the virus and developed symptoms of inflammation in his brain. The baby, now 3-months old, recovered without treatment
and is clinically normal and the mother who needed oxygen during the delivery is also healthy. Since the pandemic began, there have been isolated cases of newborns who have tested positive for the coronavirus, but there has not been enough evidence to rule out the possibility that the infants became infected by the mother after they were born. Another case in Texas provided more evidence that transmission of the virus during pregnancy can occur

 The first Covid-19 vaccine tested in the US provided an immune boost researchers reported today as the shots are poised to begin key final testing. The experimental vaccine, developed by the National Institutes of Health and Moderna, Inc. will start its most important step around July 27 with a 30,000-person study to prove if the shots really are strong enough to protect against the coronavirus

 The Russian Center for Clinical Research announced Sunday that human trials for a coronavirus vaccine had been completed and it proved that the vaccine is safe. The volunteers will be discharged on July 15 and July 20 but no other information was given on when this vaccine would enter commercial production

 The French government agreed with unions to provide $8.5 million for health worker pay increases. Most of the money will go toward $208 monthly raises for nurses and care providers. Strictly public-sector doctors will also see increases

 How some countries are dealing with the education challenges cause by the pandemic include: Argentina’s government is broadcasting 14 hours of live educational content every day, each lesson accompanied by a teacher and a subject expert; Poland, 1 of the world’s largest video game exporters, has launched a Minecraft
server with each student allotted a plot of virtual land to construct buildings with the best gamers receiving awards; Large parts of sub-Saharan Africa don’t have reliable internet so have turned to radio classes, delivered daily to millions of students; Bangladesh has turned to boats to ferry teachers from 1 river bank to another, where small groups of students wait for their socially distanced classes

 Barbados recently announced a 12-month “Welcome Stamp” visa for visitors who would like to work remotely from the Caribbean country. The year-long invitation is their answer to the economic difficulties travel companies and tourist destinations are facing as people all over the world are encouraged to stay home to
mitigate the virus’ spread. The island nation has had only 100 Covid-19 cases so far

 Mass transit systems around the world have implemented unprecedented and expensive cleaning protocols to try to curb the spread of Covid-19. All that cleaning does cut the threat of catching the virus, experts say, but the benefits are limited since it might not help if you are stuck in close quarters with an infected person. No cleaning technology is going to be perfect and it is going to have to be used in conjunction with good behaviors, like wearing a face covering

 The coronavirus pandemic has exposed a sharp generational divide — people over 70 are much more vulnerable to the disease, yet it is those younger than 40 who have suffered the biggest economic impact. Policy analysts say that many US millennials should be entering peak earning years. Instead, the combination of the 2008 financial crisis and the coronavirus crisis is a double blow that could amount to a devastating setback. In addition, this generation is experiencing record high student loan debt and the prohibitively high cost of property ownership in many areas

 The pandemic has caused a historic loss in health insurance with more than 5.4 million Americans losing coverage between February and May

 Hong Kong Disneyland is closing once again after a reported outbreak of Covid-19. The park will temporarily close from July 15 but the hotels will remain open with adjusted levels of services. 52 new confirmed cases were reported in the region Monday, forcing the park to shut its gates

 The White House administration, in a little-noticed document posted this week, has ordered hospitals to bypass the CDC and beginning tomorrow, send all coronavirus patient information to a central database in Washington. Officials say the change will streamline data gathering at the Department of Health and Human Services, and help the White House coronavirus task force track the virus and allocate scarce supplies like PPE and the drug remdesivir. However, critics worry that centralizing data within the administration would allow the White House to use the it for political purposes. Separately, more than 1,000 CDC employees have signed a letter calling for the agency to address a “pervasive and toxic culture of racial aggressions, bullying, and marginalization” against Black employees

 Fracking companies in the US are shutting down because of the decreased demand for energy during the pandemic. Experts say that 1 risk is that abandoned wells may lead planet-warming pollutants

 The National Hockey League announced that it would hold all of its remaining games this year in 2 Canadian cities because the US isn’t safe enough. The 24 hockey teams with the best records, 18 of which are US-based, will travel to Toronto or Edmonton for a 2-month tournament without fans, starting August 1. Las Vegas had been a leading candidate to serve as a host city until the recent virus surge across the Sun Belt

 For non-hospital patients, it is taking a week or more to get results of a Covid-19 test as high demand overwhelms US labs. Hospital patients can get their results within a day, however, people tested at urgent care centers, community health centers, pharmacies, and government-run drive-through or walk-up sites are often waiting a week or more. Health experts advise people to act as if they have Covid-19 while they’re waiting — meaning they should self-quarantine and limit their exposure to others, but they acknowledge that the longer the wait, the more difficult it is for people to comply

 The Treasury Department reported a $864 billion deficit last month, the biggest monthly deficit in the history, as spending programs to combat the coronavirus-related recession skyrocketed while millions of job losses cut into tax revenues. The June deficit was driven higher by spending on government relief programs such as the extra $600 per week in expanded unemployment benefits and the PPP that provided support to businesses to keep workers on their payrolls. Another reason for the deficit surge was the government’s decision to delay tax payments to July 15. Congress, which has already approved more than $3 trillion in rescue packages, is scheduled to debate another support effort when it returns from recess on July 20

 A Bloomberg News analysis shows that the data for the PPP loans totaling more than $521 billion, released on July 6, are riddled with anomalies which cast doubts about the accuracy of the data for the $2.2 trillion relief package, including whether it supported the 51.1 million jobs that the government has claimed. The PPP program is already facing backlash for doling out millions of dollars to big-name law firms and Wall Street companies with ties to politicians, and now critics say the data issues make it difficult to evaluate how the program worked especially because the borrower names were redacted for smaller loans that account for 87% of the number of loans

 Facing 8 federal lawsuits and opposition from hundreds of universities, the White House administration today rescinded a rule that would have required international students to transfer or leave the country if their schools held classes entirely online because of the pandemic

 3 immigration courts in Baltimore, Newark, and Detroit were reopened Monday as the government extended its push to fully start the clogged system despite rising coronavirus cases where many of the small courtrooms are located. Courts started reopening over the last month to non-detained immigrants in Honolulu, Boston, Buffalo, Hartford, Las Vegas, New Orleans, Chicago, Cleveland, and Philadelphia. However, changes in reopening schedules have been frequent and last-minute and the agency is requiring face coverings and social distancing, but it has not shared its safety protocols

 WeWork’s executive chairman said they have seen strong demand for its flexible work spaces since the start of the pandemic and is on track to have positive cash flow in 2021, after it cut its workforce by 8,000, renegotiated leases, and sold off assets

 Robots that can cook, from flipping burgers to baking bread, are in growing demand as virus-wary kitchens try to put some distance between workers and customers. Starting this fall, the White Castle burger chain will test a robot arm that can cook French fries and other foods. The robot, dubbed Flippy, is made by Pasadena-based Miso Robotics. The company said the robot can free up employees for other tasks like disinfecting tables of handling the rising number of delivery orders. They added that a touch-free environment that minimizes contact is also increasingly important to customers

 The Texas Supreme Court supported Houston’s refusal to allow the state Republican convention to hold inperson events in the city amid the Covid-19 pandemic. The state GOP convention had been scheduled to begin
Thursday at Houston’s downtown convention center and was expected to draw thousands of participants. Houston’s major hospitals have reported exceeding their based ICU capacity because of a recent influx of Covid19 patients  Orange County education leaders voted to approve recommendations for reopening schools in the fall that do not include mandatory use of masks or increased social distancing in classrooms amid a surge in coronavirus cases. The Board of Education did, however, leave reopening plans up to individual school districts. Among their recommendations are daily temperature checks, frequent hand washing, the use of sanitizer, in addition to nightly disinfection of classrooms, offices and transportation vehicles

 LA County public health officials today reported the highest single-day count of Covid-19 cases and related hospitalizations since the pandemic hit the US. Officials confirmed 4,244 new cases and 2,103 hospitalizations. Of those hospitalized, 27% are in ICU. The county also reported 73 additional deaths — 1 of the highest singleday counts reported although it’s possible that number may reflect a lag in reported deaths over the weekend. The surge in numbers come after officials warned that Los Angeles is inching closer to the highest threat level and an imminent shutdown of the city, as dangers posed by the coronavirus continue to loom. City Breakouts (Cases/Deaths): City of LA 58,106/1,850; Long Beach 5,616/149; Carson 908/34; El Segundo 79/0; Gardena 660/34; Hawthorne 979/26; Hermosa Beach 122/2; Inglewood 1,409/67; Lawndale 299/8; Lomita 116/7; Manhattan Beach 208/4; PV Estates 62/2; Rancho PV 179/12; Redondo Beach 308/9; Rolling Hills 4/0; Rolling Hills Estates 30/2; Torrance 770/51

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