Covid-19 News Briefs for Wednesday, September 30, 2020

September 30, 2020

 Daily case numbers in the European Union and United Kingdom this week reached record highs of more than 45,000 on a 14-day notification rate, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, and new restrictions are being imposed in places that were well into reopening. Leaders have raised fears over the pressure that hospitals could face in the coming months and the looming prospect of new national lockdowns. Europe’s death rate has been stable for 72 days, according to the ECDC, although Bulgaria, Croatia, Malta, Romania, and Spain are seeing death rate increases. The surge comes just after the summer vacation season, as workers return to city centers and children go back to school. The WHO has suggested the increase could be partly due to the relaxation of measures and people dropping their guard, and evidence indicates young people are driving the second surge in Europe. Despite the rising numbers of cases, and recent deaths in Europe, the continent still compares favorable to the US. Europe has reported 4.4 million cases and 217,278 deaths among a population of 750 million. The US has reported 6.7 million cases and over 206,000 deaths in a population of 330 million

 A vast study in India of nearly 85,000 coronavirus cases and almost 600,000 of their contacts offered some important insights: Children of all ages can become infected with the virus and can spread it to others; A small number of people were responsible for seeding a majority of new infections and overall, 5% of people were responsible for 80% of infections detected by contact tracing, and 71% did not seem to pass the virus on to anyone else; Initial infections were more likely to be among men who were older than their contacts and this is more likely due to the study being in India where men get to go out more; Deaths increased with age but seemed to drop off after age 65, perhaps since life expectancy in India is 69 year old; The median stay for Covid19 patients who died in the hospital was only 5 days, compared with 2 weeks in the US

 The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has signed a new joint agreement, along with 16 pharmaceutical companies, to commit to scaling up manufacturing of Covid-19 vaccines at an unprecedented speed and making sure that approved vaccine reaches broad global distribution as early as possible. The 16 pharma companies to
sign this agreement are AstraZeneca, Bayer, bioMerieux, Boehringer Ingelheim, Bristol Myers Squibb, Eisai, Eli Lilly, Gilead, GSK, Johnson & Johnson, Merck & Co, Merck KGaA, Novartis, Pfizer, Roche, and Sanofi. The industry has already made significant commitments regarding the global elimination of funding to pay for the
vaccines and forgoing profits and using tiered pricing to make their products as affordable as possible  For years, researchers have called out a glaring gap in many clinical trials — despite having far higher rates of many diseases, older adults are largely excluded from studies testing new therapies that might help them. For how extensively experts have studied the issue of age disparities, though, it remains a significant problem and one that has grown all the more pressing during the Covid-19 pandemic, given that the virus has hit older adults particularly hard. An analysis published this week found that older adults are likely to be excluded from more than half of Phase 3 Covid-19 trials on which could make it more difficult for researchers to evaluate doses, efficacy, and safety across all age groups

 A new report by researchers from the CDC found that children can catch, suffer, and die from the coronavirus — between March 1 and September 19, at least 277,285 schoolchildren in 38 states tested positive for the virus. And 51 of them, including 20 youngsters 5 to 11 years old, died of Covid-19. In all 3,189 children ages 5 to 17 were hospitalized. With more than 56 million US kids attending primary and secondary schools this fall, understanding how the coronavirus affects school-age children “might inform decision about in-person learning and timing and scaling of community mitigation measures,” the CDC researchers wrote. For instance, throughout the spring and summer, the incidence of coronavirus infections was about twice as high among middle and high schoolers as it was for elementary school students. School-age children with asthma and other chronic lung diseases accounted for roughly 55% of those who tested positive, and almost 10% had some kind of disability. As with adults, Latino children far outpaced their share of the population in testing positive, accounting for 46% of those who tested positive during the 6-1/2 month period studied by the CDC  According to three teams of epidemiologists asked by the NY Times to calculate how much of the US population is still susceptible to the coronavirus, they estimate that 80% to 90% is not yet immune

 The Indian Health Service a government program that provides health care to more than two million members of US tribal communities, has long struggled with mismanagement and shortages in funding, supplies, and doctors. Then the pandemic hit. The virus tore through native communities, claiming lives at disproportionate rates — Native Americans account for 5% of the population of Arizona and 11% of the state’s virus deaths. New Mexico’s population is 11% Native American but they represent nearly 30% of its caseload. Indian Health Service hospitals waited months for protective equipment from the government, some of which arrived already expired. A severe lack of hospital beds inhibited the I.H.S.’s ability to handle the flood of Covid-19 patients and tribal officials had to take matters into their own hands, spending millions of dollars to bolster the response  Nearly one is six restaurants in the US have closed since the pandemic began, according to a recent survey. And the coming winter will bring many more closures, as cold weather makes outdoor dining difficult in many parts of the country

 A new report confirms that cats and dogs can be infected by the coronavirus, though there is still no evidence that pets transmit it to humans

 California’s economy began to bounce back this summer thanks to an infusion of federal jobless benefits and business loans along with the reopening of some workplaces, but a full recovery from the coronavirus downturn will take more than two years, economists predict. The UCLA Anderson quarterly forecast released Wednesday suggests California’s payrolls will drop 7.2% this year to 16 million jobs, a loss of some 1.5 million since the Covid-19 pandemic hit. They are expected to be regained slowly, by just 1.3% next year and 3.5% in 2022. A precipitous drop in travelers has hammered California’s leisure and hospitality sector, in which payrolls are projected to fall 25% this year, but the housing market is an area that projected particular strength and a quick recovery to pre-recession levels

 Governor Newsom’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic contributed to his approval rating among the highest of any governor in the past 50 years at the same point in their first term, according to a new poll by the UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies. But the poll released Tuesday also shows that his popularity is being tempered by intense voter dissatisfaction over his handling of homelessness and California’s high housing costs. Among those surveyed, 49% said that the governor had done a good or excellent job handling the pandemic

 Governor Newsom has vetoed a bill that would have authorized California to give low-income immigrants $600 to buy groceries. The bill was aimed at helping people, including those living in the country illegally, who have been affected by the coronavirus but are not eligible for other state and federal assistance programs  Recent high school graduates nationwide have chosen to delay college as they are confronted with the lessthan-ideal realities of online education and the economic effects of the pandemic. Compared with fall 2019, undergraduate student enrollment declined 2.5% nationally, while graduate students are up 3.9%, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. However, USC’s new freshman class is the largest and most diverse in its history, reflecting similar trends in the UC system. USC offered admission to 2,000 more students in anticipation of the coronavirus crisis, and increased financial aid as well as widening access for students from financially disadvantaged backgrounds

 Following months of closure, shopping centers and nail salons in Los Angeles County will be allowed to resume indoor operations with limited capacity over the next 10 days. Outdoor playgrounds have also been given the green light to reopen following the state’s allowance on Tuesday. The decision to reopen parks falls to the jurisdiction that oversees such spaces, be it city or county. Nail salons and indoor malls will be allowed to reopen at 25% capacity and per state guidance, mall food courts and common areas will remain closed. Officials announced the update one day after the Board of Supervisors voted to direct the Department of Public Health to allow for school waiver applications for grade TK-2. The board also passed a motion to reopen outdoor operations at breweries, wineries, and card rooms. The county is taking a staggered approach for re-openings over the next 10 days and will announce reopening dates for individual sectors on Friday

 On September 1, LAPD responded to almost twice as many landlord-tenant disputes as they had on the day rent was due just one month before — 48 disputes versus 26 in August. Now, rent day is approaching again, and so is the potential for more confrontation, as the economy limps along due to the coronavirus, and unemployment in the city remains stuck at 18.5%. Rent-day service calls for disputes were low early in the year, then began rising as the spread of the coronavirus led to many business shutdowns and job losses

 LA County reported an additional 1,063 cases and 30 deaths. Totals are now 270,299 cases and 6,576 deaths. City Breakouts (Cases/Deaths): City of LA 109,895/2,785; Long Beach 11,900/246; Carson 1,859/63; El Segundo 131/1; Gardena 1,259/52; Hawthorne 1,956/46; Hermosa Beach 215/4; Inglewood 2,892/89; Lawndale 641/11; Lomita 240/9; Manhattan Beach 364/5; PV Estates 101/2; Rancho PV 312/13; Redondo Beach 561/11; Rolling Hills 12/0; Rolling Hills Estates 43/2; Torrance 1,444/70

Compiled by Charlene Nishimura