COVID Calling – EOH 10/2

An update from the UK:

The COVID hysteria unfortunately is not only an American issue, as COVID Karenism has become a major issue in the United Kingdom. Despite the decline in COVID-19 deaths in the UK to near zero and excess deaths less than the past five years, both conservative and liberal political leadership across the UK continues to enact more authoritarian measures, from continuing regional lockdowns to ending Christmas. If America didn’t have its own issues, the rapid rise of authoritarians in the UK would be daily headlines. 

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For our premium members, our data analyses will always be available to you and for general consumption, below is a new article on herd immunity. 

Aaron Ginn recently appeared on a podcast on COVID-19 lockdowns in the UK and the politics behind them. You can listen to it via the link below. 

COVID News

Manhattan Offices Are Nearly Empty, Threatening New York City’s Recovery

https://www.wsj.com/articles/manhattan-offices-are-nearly-empty-threatening-new-york-citys-recovery-11601371800?mod=hp_lead_pos11

New York is a zombie city.

Manhattan office employees are returning to work at a much slower pace than those in most other major U.S. cities, raising the risk that New York faces a more protracted and painful recovery from the coronavirus pandemic than much of the rest of the country. Wall Street bankers have been trickling back to their glass towers, while real-estate firms have tried to set an example by encouraging staff to return in force. But most of the city’s lawyers, media and publishing employees, tech industry workers and others have stayed away, real-estate brokers say. Overall, about 10% of Manhattan office workers were back as of Sept. 18, according to CBRE Group Inc., a commercial real estate services firm. That represents only a modest uptick from the 6% to 8% who were back in July, a month after the city allowed nonessential workers to return for the first time since offices closed in March because of the pandemic. The monthslong stretch of near-empty office buildings has had a debilitating knock-on effect in Midtown Manhattan and other business districts, leading many small shops and restaurants to shut down for good. Nationally, about 25% of office workers have returned as of this month, on average, according to real-estate services firms. Some large metropolitan areas are considerably higher, such as Dallas at 40% and the Los Angeles metro area at 32%, industry professionals say. The reoccupation rate in New York’s suburbs is 32%, according to CBRE, which manages 20 million square feet of office property in the region.The tech-heavy San Francisco region is also struggling, with office occupancy in the 15% range. Technology companies, which are more used to remote work than other businesses, have been among the slowest to return to the office. Some like Facebook Inc. and Twitter Inc. have announced plans to extend work from home well into the future.

San Francisco moves forward with more business reopenings

Governor Newsom’s forever lockdown California finally removed a handful of  restrictions in San Francisco. 

Good news for two Bay Area counties Tuesday. According to California’s COVID-19 map, San Francisco has moved into the orange “moderate” tier, which now allows for more indoor business operations to open with modifications. In the orange tier, San Francisco is now allowed to reopen: All retail indoors with modifications (no capacity) Shopping centers (malls, destination centers, swap meets) open indoors with modifications (no capacity), with closed common areas, reduced capacity food courts San Francisco has also set a timeline for opening indoor movie theaters and outdoor playgrounds. Indoor movie theaters are slated to reopen at a limited capacity and with modifications on Wednesday, October 7, and public outdoor playgrounds are planned to open in mid-October, now that State restrictions have eased. Tomorrow, the San Francisco Department of Public Health will issue final health and safety guidelines for indoor dining, places of worship, and other activities. Additionally, Contra Costa County has moved into the red “substantial” tier, down from the most restrictive purple tier.

Wisconsin’s September COVID-19 Spike ‘Couldn’t Have Come At A Worse Time’

https://www.wpr.org/wisconsins-september-covid-19-spike-couldnt-have-come-worse-time

Based on our past experience, will this time be different? . 

Wisconsin is experiencing a spike in new cases of the coronavirus that compares to New York in March or Arizona in June. The state’s accelerating rate of new infections means it likely hasn’t yet reached the peak — and Wisconsin’s situation won’t improve until people change their behavior. That’s the consensus of public health experts at the end of a September that saw a steep climb in new cases across the state. In the past two weeks, Wisconsin has repeatedly reported record numbers of new infections, its highest-ever positivity rate of tests, highest weekly averages and the highest number of hospitalizations from COVID-19 the state has yet seen.  “It’s bad,” said Ajay Sethi, a public health professor with the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and it’s likely to get worse. The pandemic has been present and spreading throughout the U.S. for months, but hotspots have moved through different regions of the country. In early spring, the first wave in the U.S. hit the East Coast, particularly New York City, the hardest. In the summer, many Southern states saw spikes in new infections, as did Arizona and California. Now, the same pattern of rapid increase and uncontrolled community spread is hitting the Upper Midwest. The New York Times’ COVID-19 tracking tool shows North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin as the top three states in the nation for growth of new cases per 100,000 people. “When you look at the epidemic curve and you ignore the … number of cases daily and just look at the shape of the line, we are New York in March,” Sethi said. “We are experiencing rapid rise.” On Thursday, Gov. Tony Evers warned that the growth represented a “new and dangerous phase” of the pandemic for Wisconsinites. And Evers last week extended the state’s mask mandate through late November.

University of Iowa reports hundreds of COVID-19 complaints, as police respond to house parties

https://www.thegazette.com/subject/news/education/university-of-iowa-reports-hundreds-of-covid-19-complaints-as-police-respond-to-house-parties-20200928

Wait till the puritans find out what else college kids do that is unsafe and unwise. 

Over the last two weeks, the University of Iowa has received more than 450 complaints related to violations of the campus’ COVID-19-related student safety expectations – including seven reports of failure to isolate or quarantine following a positive test or close contact with a confirmed case. And Iowa City police over the weekend handled a rash of loud party, noise, and COVID-19-related complaints as the UI tally of coronavirus cases topped 2,000 since Aug. 18. UI – including Monday and Friday reports – has added 41 more student cases since Wednesday, bringing that total to 1,985. It added six more employee cases over the same period, bringing its worker sum to 44 in the semester. Iowa State University on Monday reported another 68 new COVID-19 cases in a week among students and employees from both on- and off-campus testing, its lowest weekly tally – bringing its campus total since Aug. 1 to 1,701. University of Northern Iowa, updated its numbers to total 163 via on-campus testing since Aug. 17. UNI is reporting 78 self-reported cases since Sept. 1, although some of those could be duplicated in the on-campus test tally. UI officials last week touted measures state and local officials have taken to curb the COVID-19 spread across campus – including the governor’s Aug. 27 order shuttering bars and prohibiting alcohol sales after 10 p.m. in, among others, Johnson, Story, and Black Hawk counties, home to UI, ISU, and UNI. Gov. Kim Reynolds extended that order in just Johnson and Story counties through this coming weekend – with the mandate now set to expire Oct. 4.

Research

This Overlooked Variable Is the Key to the Pandemic

https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2020/09/k-overlooked-variable-driving-pandemic/616548/

The Atlantic forgets that it onced pushed for R as a primary metric – “Whoops! Trust me this time I know what I’m doing.”

There’s something strange about this coronavirus pandemic. Even after months of extensive research by the global scientific community, many questions remain open. Why, for instance, was there such an enormous death toll in northern Italy, but not the rest of the country? Just three contiguous regions in northern Italy have 25,000 of the country’s nearly 36,000 total deaths; just one region, Lombardy, has about 17,000 deaths. Almost all of these were concentrated in the first few months of the outbreak. What happened in Quito, Ecuador, in April, when so many thousands died so quickly that bodies were abandoned in the sidewalks and streets? Why, in the spring of 2020, did so few cities account for a substantial portion of global deaths, while many others with similar density, weather, age distribution, and travel patterns were spared? What can we really learn from Sweden, hailed as a great success by some because of its low case counts and deaths as the rest of Europe experiences a second wave, and as a big failure by others because it did not lock down and suffered excessive death rates earlier in the pandemic? Why did widespread predictions of catastrophe in Japan not bear out? The baffling examples go on. I’ve heard many explanations for these widely differing trajectories over the past nine months—weather, elderly populations, vitamin D, prior immunity, herd immunity—but none of them explains the timing or the scale of these drastic variations. But there is a potential, overlooked way of understanding this pandemic that would help answer these questions, reshuffle many of the current heated arguments and, crucially, help us get the spread of COVID-19 under control.

Charts and Graphics

New Confirmed Cases of COVID-19 in United States and Canada

Virus is going to virus.. 

Comparison of New Hospital Admissions – London and Northwest England 

Admissions  in London are gradually declining while cases in the Northwest keep climbing. 

Geographical Spread of COVID-19 in England

A spatial view of COVID-19 in the UK 

Weekly Recorded COVID and Non-COVID Deaths in Wales to 20th September

Looking scary…. 

UK Covid-19 Cases Have Been Resurgent Since July, but Deaths have not Followed

Looking very, very scary… 

International News

The Coronavirus Act should not be extended for another six months – here’s why

https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/coronavirus-act-extension-vote-boris-johnson-lib-dems-b713222.html

Lib Dem leader Ed Davey explains why the Liberal Democrats do not want the Coronavirus Act to be extended.  

Today, the government will ask MPs to vote to renew for a second six month period, the emergency Coronavirus Act parliament passed at breakneck speed back in March. Throughout the pandemic, Liberal Democrats have supported and continue to support all necessary measures to keep people safe – including the lockdowns and face-covering requirements. Yet we will oppose the renewal of the Coronavirus Act itself. Here’s why. The 348-page Coronavirus Act went through parliament in just three days in March, without a single vote. Recognising the gravity of the crisis facing the country, Liberal Democrats and other opposition parties worked constructively with the government to ensure vital emergency measures were in place before we went into lockdown. However, as I and my fellow Liberal Democrats argued at the time, many parts of the act have serious implications for people’s wellbeing, rights and freedoms. Most alarming to me was and is the watering down of the rights to care for elderly, disabled and vulnerable people, as the act relaxes the duties on local authorities to assess and meet people’s care needs. As a carer for my disabled son, I understand just how hard caring is, at the best of times. I know how important it is for families to get the support they need. I also know that this pandemic is making caring so much more difficult. According to the Disabled Children’s Partnership, three quarters of families with disabled children had their care stopped altogether during lockdown. Just imagine what that has meant for those families, on top of all the other hardships of lockdown, having the lifeline of caring support cut off completely. Just imagine what it meant for those children. Not to mention the hundreds of thousands of other vulnerable people, whose access to care was either stopped, reduced or remains under threat. The government should not be compounding lockdown hardships by reducing people’s rights to care, especially given that – by ministers’ own admission – there is currently no need to do so.

Why UK coronavirus deaths are falling even as cases are rising 

https://www.ft.com/content/c011e214-fb95-4a64-b23c-2bd87ebb29d7

The FT explains the “case-demic” phenomenon.

In Britain, as across Europe, coronavirus infections have been increasing for several weeks — but the resurgence has so far proven notably less deadly than the original pandemic. Since the beginning of July, when the decline in newly confirmed cases from their April peak stalled, infections have increased gradually back to levels last recorded in mid-June. Although hospitalisations and deaths lag infections, neither indicator has shown a corresponding increase even six weeks after the number of cases began to rise. Rather, hospital admissions and deaths attributed to Covid-19 are at record lows in Britain and several other European countries. In the week ending August 21, British hospitals admitted an average of just over 84 people a day with Covid-19 — less than at any stage during the pandemic. In the same week, the UK’s Department of Health and Social Care recorded an average of 6.7 new deaths per day, the lowest official toll since the earliest days of the pandemic.Please use the sharing tools found via the share button at the top or side of articles.  According to data from the Office for National Statistics, fatalities mentioning Covid-19 on the death certificate are at their lowest level in 21 weeks. The large spike in excess mortality seen earlier in the year has also largely disappeared: deaths from all causes in England and Wales were below the seasonal average of the past five years every week since the week ending June 19 until the week ending August 14, the latest period for which there is data. However, the ONS said the uptick was not due to Covid-19 but, more likely, because of hot weather.

Heading off revolt, UK hands lawmakers more say on coronavirus

https://www.reuters.com/article/healthcoronavirus-britain-parliament/update-5-heading-off-revolt-uk-hands-lawmakers-more-say-on-coronavirus-idUSL8N2GR41G

UK Parliamentarians revolt over Boris Johnson’s continued lockdown zealotry.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government defused a rebellion on Wednesday over its sweeping powers to introduce coronavirus restrictions, promising angry lawmakers more say over the introduction over any new national measures.Just hours after lower house Speaker Lindsay Hoyle accused the government of a “total disregard” for parliament when bringing in new measures to try to curb the spreading virus, health minister Matt Hancock moved to head off a rebellion in Conservative ranks. A defeat in parliament would have dented Johnson’s authority at a time when he is already under fire over his response to the growing pandemic. But after the government offered its olive branch to parliament, lawmakers passed the extension of the Coronavirus Act, which hands the government emergency powers to introduce restrictions, voting 330 to 24 in favour. “Today I can confirm to the House (of Commons) that for significant national measures with effect in the whole of England or UK-wide we will consult parliament, wherever possible we will hold votes before such regulations come into force,” Hancock told parliament. “But of course responding to the virus means that the government must act at speed when required and we cannot hold up urgent regulations which are needed to control the virus and save lives.” His words seemed to ease the concerns of many lawmakers who had been unhappy about extending the Coronavirus Act, saying it allowed government to rule by diktat. The depth of anger was underlined when Speaker Hoyle reprimanded Johnson’s government for disregarding parliament with its COVID-19 measures, saying ministers had shown “contempt” for lawmakers.

Peru Says One-Third of Population May Have Covid-19 Antibodies

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-09-30/peru-says-one-third-of-population-may-have-covid-19-antibodies

The worst might be over for Lockdown Peru. 

Peru, which has the world’s highest per capita death rate from coronavirus, will carry out a nationwide study to gauge the prevalence of Covid-19 antibodies. Cabinet Chief Walter Martos said Tuesday that between 30% and 35% of the population has probably already been exposed, which could mean that an eventual second wave of infections will be less destructive to the country’s health system and economy. Several studies published in July suggested 1 in 4 residents of the capital Lima had been infected while the rate in other parts of the South American country may have been as high as 70%. The Andean nation of almost 33 million has reported at least 32,000 deaths from the virus, giving it the highest per capita death toll ahead of Belgium, Bolivia and Brazil. Daily deaths and hospitalization rates have fallen steadily since early August but with countries in Europe grappling with a a resurgence of the virus, Peru’s government is seeking to allay public concern that another devastating wave of infections is around the corner. Martos told Lima-based Canal N that the government’s cautious approach to reopening the economy will help reduce the risk of a major resurgence. “Unlike Europe, we’re reactivating economic activities gradually,” he said.Peru authorized most industries to reopen between May and July but many businesses still aren’t allowed to operate at full capacity.

Vilified Early Over Lax Virus Strategy, Sweden Seems to Have Scourge Controlled

The Swedish strategy is redeemed; expect no apologies. 

The scene at Norrsken House Stockholm, a co-working space, oozed with radical normalcy: Young, turtleneck-wearing hipsters schmoozed in the coffee corner. Others chatted freely away, at times quite near each other, in cozy conference rooms. Face masks were nowhere to be seen. It seemed very last January, before the spread of Covid-19 in Europe, but it was actually last week, as many European nations were tightening restrictions amid a surge of new coronavirus cases. In Sweden, new infections, if tipping upward slightly, still remained surprisingly low. “I have potentially hundreds of tiny interactions when working here,” said Thom Feeney, a Briton who manages the co-working space. “Our work lives should not be reduced to just the screen in front of us,” he said. “Ultimately, we are social animals.” Normalcy has never been more contentious than in Sweden. Almost alone in the Western world, the Swedes refused to impose a coronavirus lockdown last spring, as the country’s leading health officials argued that limited restrictions were sufficient and would better protect against economic collapse. It was an approach that transformed Sweden into an unlikely ideological lightning rod. Many scientists blamed it for a spike in deaths, even as many libertarians critical of lockdowns portrayed Sweden as a model. During a recent Senate hearing in Washington, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the leading U.S. infectious disease specialist, and Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, angrily clashed over Sweden. For their part, the Swedes admit to making some mistakes, particularly in nursing homes, where the death toll was staggering. Indeed, comparative analyses show that Sweden’s death rate at the height of the pandemic in the spring far surpassed the rates in neighboring countries and was more protracted.

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