COVID-19 News Briefs for Tuesday, July 21, 2020

July 21, 2020

 There is more evidence that those with Type A blood are more likely to become severely ill if infected with Covid-19, with the most recent report published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Type A was associated with a 45% increased risk of having severe Covid-19, while Type O was associated with a 35% reduced risk of the disease. Blood type did not seem to be linked to the risk of needing to be put on a mechanical ventilator. Also, the study did not allow researchers to make any determination about whether blood type was associated with the risk of infection, or upon infection, the risk of becoming severely ill. Although why blood type would have anything to do with Covid-19 is still not clear, 2 other studies have found similar results.

 Across the globe, only 6 countries are reportedly Covid-19-free. With the exception of North Korea, all of them — Kiribati, Palau, America Samoa, Nauru, and Micronesia — are Pacific Island nations that closed their borders to outside travelers. And the Marshall Islands are still coronavirus-free which greatly contrasts with what Marshallese immigrants are experiencing in the US who have been disproportionately infected with Covid-19, in part because many of them serve as essential workers

 For months, as the coronavirus tore through Brazil, the Kanamari had sought to shield themselves from the pandemic by strictly limiting access to their riverside villages in the secluded Javari Valley, 1 of Brazil’s largest Indigenous territories. However, many people assigned to care for the Indigenous had been infected, exposing remote communities to the virus and health workers say they have been plagued by insufficient testing and protective gear. More than 15,500 Indigenous Brazilians have been diagnosed with coronavirus, including at least 10,889 living in protected territories, and 523 have died. More than 1,000 workers with the federal health service have also tested positive for the virus as of early July

 Epidemiologists have long believed that the actual number of virus cases in the US is much higher than the official count, which is currently more than 3.8 million. Now, a new analysis based on antibody tests, the largest of its kind to date, has proved them right. The CDC study found that the number of infections in different parts of the country was 2 to 13 times higher than the reported case count, suggesting that many people who were asymptomatic or did not seek treatment might have helped spread the virus. But the findings also indicated that the virus has touched relatively few people — only 2 to 3% — in many regions, including South Florida. New York City showed a rate of 23.3%, but even that is far from achieving herd immunity, which experts say could happen once 60% of a population has been exposed

 As digital health tools proliferate, health data experts are raising a new round of alarms about the need to educate consumers about data privacy until legislative protections catch up. The pandemic has sidelined many in-person visits, driving flocks of potential new users toward mental health apps, virtual visits, and other digital tools to manage their care. But consumers are often unaware that the rules that govern health data privacy in hospitals don’t extend to these sprawling, digital territories — each of which can effectively enforce its own policies around how to handle sensitive data, experts said

 As the coronavirus surges across the US, the military is emerging as a potential source of outbreaks both at home and abroad. Since April, the infection rate among the country’s military services has doubled, and more than 20,000 members have tested positive for the virus. The US is the only country in the world with a military presence in dozens of other countries, and outbreaks have emerged on bases in Japan and South Korea, and in war zones including Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria. There is evidence that the military may be spreading the virus domestically — officials in Georgia and California have traced outbreaks to local bases, which can be ideal environments for the virus to spread. Barracks are tightly packed, intense elbow-to-elbow training sessions are the norm, and recruits often head off base to socialize at bars and beaches

 A Mayo Clinic article penned by staff members reported that people who have had Covid-19 sometimes are made to feel shunned or excluded from social situations. The stigma includes members of ethnic groups with people of Asian descent especially targeted during the Covid-19 pandemic. Another CDC article noted that people with an unrelated cough, those who live in group settings, or are homeless are also shunned with extreme examples including — being stigmatized by verbal or physical abuse, and being denied housing, education, or employment. The term being coined is “Covid Shaming” and has led to some who have recovered from the virus to be reticent to provide information to contact tracers to help track the disease

 Less than 3 weeks after reopening its borders to international visitors, the Bahamas announced that it was closing all its airports and seaports to tourists from the US, effective Wednesday. The US and Florida in particular, represent the largest tourist market for the Bahamas and the island has seen Covid-19 infection spikes since the country’s borders fully opened July 1

 The Florida Education Association filed a lawsuit Monday to block the reopening of face-to-face instruction in public schools as reckless and unsafe. Florida reported another 10,000 new coronavirus cases on Monday, the 12th day since the 4th of July that the number of cases has topped that threshold. The state’s totals are now 360,000 positive cases and 5,100 deaths

 Tests of Yosemite National Park’s raw sewage have confirmed the presence of Covid-19, although no park employee or resident has tested positive or reported being sick since a phased reopening commenced on June 11. Based on how much of the virus was taken from untreated wastewater and analyzed by a lab, it’s possible
that 170 people were infected in the Yosemite Valley

 One day after a record-breaking number of new coronavirus infections, California has surpassed 400,000 overall cases. By comparison, the New York health department reported more than 408,000 infections — but that state has reported more than 25,000 deaths, while California’s death toll is approaching 8,000. The news comes after California again reported its highest number of coronavirus cases in a single day, with 11,554 cases on Monday

 A seventh death row inmate at San Quentin State Prison has died from Covid-19. The outbreak at San Quentin occurred after 121 prisoners were transferred from the California Institution for Men in Chino last month. There have been nearly 7,000 confirmed Covid-19 cases among inmates in the state prison system, including more than 2,000 active cases and 39 deaths. More than 800 employees also have active cases, according to corrections officials

 Los Angeles may soon be the largest US city to receive a second stay-at-home order amid a surge of coronavirus cases and hospitalizations that so far shows few signs of slowing. On Sunday, Mayor Garcetti said a decision will come in the next week or 2 as officials determine whether restrictions imposed in late June slowed the rapid community spread of Covid-19. The new wave has also hit surround counties of Orange, San Bernardino, and Riverside and all of California is seeing a rise in cases, although the Bay Area has seen fewer than half as many new cases over the last 2 weeks compared with LA County on a per capita basis
 Downtown LA skyscraper US Bank Tower will be sold at a discount to the developer of One World Trade Center

in New York as the pandemic drives down office leasing around the country and raises questions about the future of high-rise office buildings. Most offices are sparsely used as tenants work from home to avoid exposure of the virus and it’s unclear when or if they will want to come back to tall buildings. Leasing in LA fell to its lowest point since the Great Recession in the second quarter, about 60-70% below normal for that time of year

 The shortage of medical equipment, including gowns and gloves, triggered by the coronavirus crisis, may be helping to spread dangerous germs within healthcare facilities, according to officials who warned of a potentially deadline fungus in a LA County healthcare facility. The C. auris is a fungus that can cause bloodstream infections and is particularly dangerous because antifungal medications are often ineffective against it. It can live on surfaces for several weeks and spread through hospitals and nursing homes by contact with infected people and contaminated surfaces. The fungus can also survive many routinely used disinfectants

 Car thefts in LA soared to a record high in the second quarter of 2020 and LAPD data revealed that 5,744 cars were stolen, up 57.7% from the same period last year. Although crime in general has decreased since schools and businesses were closed to slow the spread of Covid-19, the rise in car thefts marks a break with the past decade. Law enforcement officials say the pandemic has created new opportunities for car thieves, with many Angelenos leaving their vehicles parked on the streets for extended periods and another factor may be the “zero bail” policy in LA which eliminated the bail requirement for low-level felonies and misdemeanors

 LA County reported an additional 2,741 positive cases and 50 deaths. Totals are now 161,673 cases and 4,154 deaths. City Breakouts (Cases/Deaths): City of LA 66,099/1,952; Long Beach 6,522/159; Carson 1,061/36; El Segundo 89/0; Gardena 734/34; Hawthorne 1,160/29; Hermosa Beach 135/2; Inglewood 1,654/71; Lawndale
392/8; Lomita 153/7; Manhattan Beach 230/4; PV Estates 63/2; Rancho PV 204/12; Redondo Beach 353/9; Rolling Hills 4/0; Rolling Hills Estates 30/2; Torrance 885/53

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