COVID-19 News Briefs for Tuesday, July 28, 2020

July 28, 2020

 Much of the world is now coping with a coronavirus resurgence. The number of new daily cases has risen more than 20% in both Europe and Canada over the past week, and it’s up about 40% in Australia and Japan. Hong Kong reported 145 cases yesterday, its highest 1-day count yet and the sixth straight day of more than 100 new cases. Experts said that as countries take steps toward more normal functioning — opening schools, workplaces, and restaurants, for instance — they will often spark new outbreaks, which in turn will require more tests, quarantines, and even limited lockdowns

 Europe’s tourism revival is running into turbulence only weeks after countries opened their border, with rising infections in Spain and other countries sparking concern over people bringing coronavirus home from the summer vacations. Over the weekend, Britain imposed a 14-day quarantine on travelers from Spain, and Norway, France, Austria, and Germany also issued their own stricter travel protocols. In North Africa, Morocco banned travel to and from major cities, and in the Asia-Pacific region, many countries are still essentially banning foreign travelers or requiring them to submit to Covid-19 testing and strict quarantines. The WHO said the pandemic continues to accelerate, with a doubling of global cases over the last 6 weeks

 Negotiations for a US Congress Covid-19 relief package is expected to stretch into the next week or beyond, past the expiration of some current benefits, such as the $600 additional weekly payment in unemployment. Senate Republicans rolled out major pieces of a $1 trillion economic relief plan that included a second round of $1,200 stimulus payments to many Americans and reduced federal unemployment payments from $600 weekly to $200. House Democrats had passed their own relief bill in May that included $1,200 checks and an extension of the $600 unemployment benefit

 Tall people could face a greater risk of getting Covid-19, according to research that adds weight to the theory the disease is airborne. Data from 2,000 people in the US and UK showed men above 6 feet tall were twice as likely to be diagnosed with coronavirus. Women also had higher odds but there were so few women over 6 feet that the results were not reliable. The researchers said the findings do not necessarily mean tall people are somehow genetically more vulnerable to the infection, but instead, the team believes it indicates Covid-19 spreads through tiny particles called aerosols that linger in the air after being exhaled. Taller people would be at no more risk if the virus was mainly spread through sneezing or coughing, which produce larger droplets that fall to the ground quickly

 As scientists begin to clear a path to a potential coronavirus vaccine, researchers and advocates are increasingly sounding the alarm over what they see as Facebook’s apparent inability to police dangerous falsehoods about vaccines. Since the onset of the pandemic, vaccine-related falsehoods have ballooned on the platform — and recent research suggests some of those inaccurate posts are gaining traction among people who were not previously opposed to vaccinations. Compounding the issue is Facebook’s history of hesitating to address misinformation until a particular subject has snowballed into an urgent problem

 The FDA issued a warning amid an increase in reports of injury due to people using, and sometimes ingesting, the more than 80 hand sanitizers on their toxic list — labeled to contain ethanol , also known as ethyl alcohol, but have tested positive for methanol contamination. Methanol, or wood alcohol, is a substance that can be toxic when absorbed through the skin or can be life-threatening when ingested

 Covid-19 is forcing changes to the way states conduct elections and prompting activists across the political spectrum to seek an advantage. The massive effort by political parties and other organizations to fight over whether Americans can vote by mail as an alternative to going to polls during a pandemic, is funneling millions of dollars to the issue which has become political for a practice that has long been non-controversial

 The Baltimore Orioles’ home opener against the Miami Marlins has been cancelled as 4 more Marlins players tested positive for Covid-19. MLB is trying to limit exposure to other teams because of the outbreak that occurred in the Marlins clubhouse while playing at the Philadelphia Phillies this past weekend. Multiple outlets have reported that the Marlins and Phillies will put their seasons temporarily on hold

 California’s Legislature on Monday proposed a $100 billion economic stimulus plan that relies on “future tax vouchers” along with speeding up other spending during the coronavirus pandemic. The plan would allow tax vouchers that proponents say could raise billions of dollars — the plan would let taxpayers prepay their taxes for a future budget year at a slight, as yet undetermined, discount and most likely to take advantage of the program would be wealthy enough to make it financially worthwhile

 Thousands of nurses and other medical staff, including some from Southern California, who were deployed to New York City at the start of the pandemic, are now battling the virus in other hot spots including south Texas. Contracted by staffing agencies, they are hired to help at besieged hospitals. 4,500 medical professionals were deployed in NY City and Texas is expected to eclipse that number. However, a lawsuit filed this Spring by 7 former contracted nurses alleges they were forced to work without sufficient PPE and to perform work beyond their scope of training, putting them and their patients in danger and when they complained, they were fired

 As most of California imposes stricter restrictions because of coronavirus surges, no place has been hit as hard as Imperial County. In the last 2 weeks, the county has averaged 688.1 infections per 100,000 people, compared to LA County’s 400.3. Its mortality rate is the highest in the state, averaging 25.5 deaths per 100,000 — 4 times greater than LA County. The county’s high rate of diabetes, heart disease, asthma, and obesity are contributing to the rates and experts say the county also lacks adequate testing and contract tracing. Gatherings are also a problem as residents travel to neighboring counties including Arizona. The surge has taken a particular toll among the county’s farm workers and essential workers — many of them are Latino, who cannot stay at home for financial reasons and have a hard time isolating in crowded living conditions

 Dr. Ferrer noted 2 bright spots for LA County including 1) the average daily death rate for every age group was declining, more so for those over the age of 65, and 2) the county’s 7-day positivity rate stood at 8.4% which was lower than seen in weeks

 LA County reported an additional 2,708 cases and 51 deaths. Totals are now 178,642 cases and 4,426 deaths. City Breakouts (Cases/Deaths): City of LA 72,414/2,055; Long Beach 7,582/163; Carson 1,175/39; El Segundo 97/0; Gardena 808/34; Hawthorne 144/2; Inglewood 1,857/75; Lawndale 432/8; Lomita 163/7; Manhattan Beach 254/4; PV Estates 70/2; Rancho PV 216/12; Redondo Beach 376/9; Rolling Hills 5/0; Rolling Hills Estates 31/2; Torrance 972/57

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