COVID-19 News Briefs for Tuesday, June 23, 2020

June 23, 2020

 The European Union is opening their borders July 1 but said they may bar Americans from traveling this summer to its member states, due to the US’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic. Visitors from Russian and Brazil would also be barred. The EU’s primary benchmark for considering a country is “safe” is the average number of new infections per 100,000 people over the past 2 weeks. For the EU, that number is 16. The US’s current average number is 107, Brazil’s is 190, and Russia’s is 80. The US has seen more than 2.3 million Covid-19 cases and 120,000 deaths

 In many parts of the developing world, coronavirus lockdowns have sparked concern about increased illegal hunting that’s fueled by food shortages and a decline in law enforcement in some wildlife protection areas with people living in rural areas resorting to poaching wild bush-meat animals for food. At the same time, border closures and travel restrictions slowed illegal trade in certain high-value species, such as the endangered pangolin in Africa and Asia, and ivory from rhinos in Southeast Asia

 Saudi Arabia said that because of coronavirus, only very limited numbers of people will be allowed to perform the haji, the annual pilgrimage that traditionally draws 2 million Muslims to Mecca from around the world. The haji is one of the world’s biggest gatherings with pilgrims staying in close confines and walking and praying shoulder-to-shoulder. It has never been cancelled in the 90 years since the country was founded, and normally generates about $6 billion in revenue. The Ministry of Haji said only people of various nationalities already residing in the country would be allowed to perform the pilgrimage at the end of July. Saudi Arabia has one of the highest rates of coronavirus in the Middle East, with more than 161,000 confirmed cases and 1,307 deaths

 A new study suggests that as many as 8.7 million Americans came down with coronavirus in March, but more than 80% of them were never diagnosed. A team of researchers looked at the number of people who went to doctors or clinics with influenza-like illnesses that were never diagnosed as coronavirus, influenza or any of the other viruses that usually circulate in winter. There was a giant spike in these cases in March — only 100,000 cases were officially reported during that time period, and the US still reports only 2.3 million cases as of Monday. But there was a shortage of coronavirus testing kits at the time

 After months of lockdown in which outbreaks of the coronavirus often centered in nursing homes, prisons, and meatpacking plants, the US is entering a new and uncertain state of the pandemic — new Covid-19 clusters have been found in a Pentecostal church in Oregon, a strip club in Wisconsin, Tigerland nightlife district in Louisiana, Christian summer camp in Colorado, and casinos, restaurants, and hotels in Las Vegas. These clusters of cases, ranging from a handful to hundreds, are being seen in large and small cities and experts say are likely to persist as states reopen economies and Americans venture back into public. New known virus cases are on the rise in 23 states, and hospitalizations for coronavirus reached their highest levels yet in the pandemic in Arizona and
Texas, with Missouri reporting its highest single-day case totals over this past weekend

 Experts at the Brookings Institution and nonprofit March of Dimes predict the coronavirus pandemic will likely lead to a baby bust in the US — possibly leaving the nation with about half a million fewer births than otherwise would be expected. They examined previous economic studies on fertility during the recession of 2007-2009 as well as the 1918 influenza pandemic and other factors such as job losses

 Several industry officials said they had received indications over the last week from the White House that lifting the national emergency declaration for coronavirus was being considered. Healthcare leaders confirmed that the administration is unwillingly to publicly commit to an extension of the emergency declaration which enable loosened rules on hospitals and other medical providers to route badly needed money to states to quickly hire more hospital staff, add more beds, and expand tele-health visits if needed

 US health officials are recommending expanding mail voting because of the coronavirus crisis to allow people to stay away from crowded voting polls — 5 states already use vote-by-mail exclusively and all states allow this to some extent. However, political and financial concerns have complicated the shift, with the White House claiming it will lead to increased fraud, and that the cost to get 50 states to all vote by mail by the November election would be substantial and unrealistic

 Cruises won’t restart at US ports until at least September 15 because more time is needed to fine-tune safety procedures, according to the world’s largest cruise industry trade association. If your cruise is cancelled, you may be eligible for a refund or value-added cruise voucher

 Because of the pandemic, Apple’s next iPhone operating system will include an option to put a face mask on a personalized emoji, and upgraded software for the Apple Watch will also detect when wearers wash their hands

 Unable to forge an agreement between owners and players on compensation, Major League Baseball’s commissioner exercised his authority to impose a pandemic-shortened regular season — expected to be 60 games — without fans in the stadiums, starting around July 24, provided a health and safety protocol can be
finalized this week

 California shattered a daily record for new coronavirus cases with more than 6,000 infections reported Monday – – the largest single day count in the state since the pandemic hit the US. In LA County, officials reported more than 2,000 new cases for the third time in the last week. In San Diego county, officials reported more than 300 new cases for the second day in a row after breaking a record with more than 310 cases Sunday. Officials warn that they expect transmission rates to increase as more businesses reopen and people resume normal activities after months-long orders to stay at home. Hospitalizations in the state are also beginning to rise — up 16% over the last 2 weeks

 Hoping to make flying safer, LAX will today begin a 12-week period of testing thermal cameras to identify passengers with high body temperatures as a way of slowing the spread of coronavirus. The cameras will scan streams of passengers arriving and department from the Tom Bradley International Terminal to detect anyone with a temperature of 100.4 or higher. Travelers will also be required to wear face masks and maintain physical distancing when possible and LAX has installed 250 hand sanitizer dispensers throughout the terminal. Under the LAX program, department passengers with a high temperature will be pulled aside and tested again — if the high temperature is confirmed, the passenger will be advised, but not prevented, from travel. For arriving international travelers, anyone with a high temperature will be directed to CDC staff for possible quarantine

 LA County’s Project Roomkey has secured 3,601 rooms for medically vulnerable homeless people — about a fourth of the number needed to house all those who are eligible. The goal of the project is to provide private hotel or motel rooms to homeless people considered most likely to need hospitalization or die if infected with Covid-19. Officials are now changing course, saying they will continue to work to find permanent housing for all those eligible

 LA County reported an additional 2,364 cases and 34 deaths. Totals are now 88,262 cases / 3,171 deaths. City Breakouts (Cases/Deaths): City of LA 39,416/1,548; Long Beach 3,042/120; Carson 591/27; El Segundo 44/0; Gardena 433/29; Hawthorne 633/22; Hermosa Beach 61/2; Inglewood 887/60; Lawndale 181/7; Lomita 69/6;
Manhattan Beach 103/3; PV Estates 48/1; Rancho PV 124/12; Redondo Beach 179/8; Rolling Hills 2/0; Rolling Hills Estates 21/1; Torrance 514/50

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, 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