COVID-19 News Briefs for Wednesday, June 24, 2020

June 24, 2020

 Worldwide, more than 9.2 million people have been reported to be infected with Covid-19, and more than 476,000 have died. The WHO said the epidemic is now moving toward a peak in a number of large countries including South Africa, India, Pakistan, Mexico, Colombia, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, and including the US which
leads the world with 2.3 million cases and more than 121,000 deaths  The US reported more than 36,000 new infections today, surpassing the previous single-day record set on April 25. Texas, Florida, and California led the way, with all 3 states reporting more than 5,000 new cases apiece. Even as case numbers climb, reports circulated that the federal government is poised to stop providing federal aid to testing sites in some hard-hit states, including Texas

 A state-owned Chinese biotech firm will carry out large-scale human trials for a coronavirus vaccine in the United Arab Emirates. None of the experimental vaccines being tested around the world have so far passed these vital “Phase 3” trials. Meanwhile, South Africa will launch the continent’s first vaccine pilot this week

 Top-ranked tennis player Novak Djokovic said he and his wife tested positive for Covid-19 after he played in a series of exhibition matches in Serbia and Croatia with no social distancing. Raising questions about the fullfledged return of tennis, including the US Open planned for August, Djokovic is the fourth player to come down with coronavirus after participating in matches

 The IRS is calling people back to work following the coronavirus shutdown, but employees are confronting an almost incomprehensible backlog of paperwork and requests for help. Millions of paper returns are sitting in trailers, waiting to be entered in the IRS computers, and no one has been available to process electronic returns that were flagged because of problems

 Major League Baseball players signed off on health and safety protocols and agreed to report to training camps at their home stadiums by July 1 in preparation for a pandemic-shortened regular season of 60 games

 New York Governor Cuomo, in conjunction with New Jersey and Connecticut governors, announced that travelers to the tri-state area from states seeing Covid-19 outbreaks will have to self-quarantine for 14 days, effective at midnight. The threshold for a state requiring its travelers to quarantine will be either a 10%
infection rate for Covid-19 testing, or 10 new cases per 100,000 people on a 7-day rolling average. States immediately affected include Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Washington, Utah, and Texas

 UCLA economists said California is unlikely to recover its pre-coronavirus prosperity over the next 3 years, even as the state slowly rebuilds from a catastrophic economic lockdown. Even that forecast of a gradual return to normal activity is based on a somewhat optimistic scenario — that the Covid-19 pandemic will subside avoiding a pause in the recovery or another wave of shutdowns

 Coronavirus cases in California continued a troubling surge this week — Tuesday marked a second consecutive day the state had a daily record for new cases, with more than 6,600 infections were reported. The positivity rate over the previous 14 days increased to 4.8% from 4.5%, and the number of hospitalizations of patients with confirmed infections jumped by 16% over the last 2 weeks. In LA County, the daily 7-day average positivity rate jumped to 8.8% and there are 1,515 people hospitalized, 27% of them in intensive care. This data is raising questions about whether the reopening process is moving too fast. Officials are tying the increase in hospitalizations to the resurgence of social gatherings as well as the lack of universal mask-wearing. LA County health director Dr. Ferrer also said it was highly likely that the overall increase is related to the recent protests as well as gatherings in restaurants and private parties, and Governor Newsom said that the state might have to reverse course on reopening if case counts keep climbing

 California’s Yosemite National Park is reversing course 2 weeks after reopening and now says it will hold off on reopening some campgrounds through July because of social distancing concerns. There have not been any confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the park, but California as a whole has seen a spike in infections

 A LA surgeon’s invention to kill germs in airplane cabins with UV light has been acquired by Honeywell to build the UV invention and distribute it to the world’s airlines. The company plans to build more than 100 units by the end of July with production increasing the following months. The invention, which looks like a beverage cart with 2 mechanical arms, can disinfect a cabin in about 10 minutes at a cost of $10

 In the weeks since the George Floyd protests, LA County residents say they have struggled to secure testing appointments, even as officials report a troubling surge in people infected with Covid-19. On Tuesday, LA County officials confirmed that there were no appointments available at more than 40 sites run by the city, county, and state. They added that the testing shortfall was in part because of the paring down of sites and slots, a move they had been discussing for weeks because of a large number of unfilled appointments. Any drop in testing would probably complicate efforts to combat a recent rise in Covid-19 cases in California and LA County

 A Covid-19 $100 million rent relief program was passed by the LA City Council to help families hurt by the economic and health fallout from the pandemic. The money would provide up to $2,000 in rental assistance for low-income households in LA who have lost work, fallen ill, or had to assist sick family members during the crisis.

 Santa Anita Racetrack reported 17 positive cases of Covid-19, said to be for the entire 6-month race meeting, and counted people who list Santa Anita as their work place. The health department closed down racing on March 27 but did allow training. There are about 750 people who live near the stable area and 300 more who
come in from offsite

 USC student athletes will begin a multiphase return to campus for voluntary workouts beginning today. 6 teams — football, men’s and women’s basketball, women’s soccer, women’s volleyball, and men’s water polo — will be included in the first phases of return with only those who live locally

 Coronavirus infection among LA police officers spiked in recent weeks, reflecting a broader increase in cases regionally and raising fresh questions about the role of protests in the spread. Police officials have said that officers were exposed on skirmish lines as they worked to disperse screaming crowds. Protesters say officers recklessly arrested people en masse without wearing masks, exposing not just themselves but others. In the last week, positive cases within the LAPD workforce jumped from 170 to 206, according to Chief Moore

 LA County reported an additional 1,260 cases and 34 deaths. Totals are now 89,490 cases / 3,205 deaths. City Breakouts (Cases/Deaths): City of LA 39,841/1,560; Long Beach 3,273/121; Carson 600/27; El Segundo 44/0; Gardena 445/29; Hawthorne 639/22; Hermosa Beach 62/2; Inglewood 906/60; Lawndale 184/7; Lomita 71/6;
Manhattan Beach 105/3; PV Estates 48/1; Rancho PV 125/12; Redondo Beach 182/8; Rolling Hills 2/0; Rolling Hills Estates 21/2; Torrance 521/50

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