Not so Hot Hotspots – EOH 08/08

Despite fears earlier in the summer that states like Georgia, Texas, Florida or Arizona, the new “hotspots” would end up becoming New York like in deaths, this fear has not  turned out to be the case. In practice, all these states despite being called “hotspots” still had lower cases & low deaths per 100,000 people then the original hotspots of New York and New Jersey did. Again, while well meaning, the “new hotspot” portion of the COVID-19 news cycle stoked up unnecessary hysteria, which caused unneeded action that ended up harming the livelihoods of those living in the new “hotspots”. As Yinon Weiss points out in his chart below, despite AL/FL/TX cases being heralded as a “2nd wave”, even combined the deaths for the states never reached a level as bad as New York.

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COVID News

Texas to allow limited visitation in nursing homes with no active coronavirus cases

https://www.texastribune.org/2020/08/06/texas-nursing-home-visits-coronavirus/

“For the first time in nearly five months, visitors will be allowed in Texas nursing homes on a limited basis, state health officials announced Thursday evening, reversing a policy intended to keep the state’s most vulnerable populations safe from a pandemic that has proved especially deadly for older people. Residents of Texas’ long-term care facilities have been separated from their family and friends for more than 140 days, since Gov. Greg Abbott shut down visitation in mid-March. At assisted-living facilities, some indoor visits will be permitted, provided there are plexiglass barriers, there are no active cases of the novel coronavirus among residents and there are no confirmed cases among staff in the last two weeks. Physical contact between residents and visitors will not be permitted, state officials said.”

New Covid-19 cases are declining in Arizona, once a hotspot. Here’s how the state is turning things around

https://www.cnn.com/2020/08/06/us/arizona-covid-19-cases-decline/index.html

“In late June, Arizona was confronting a dramatic rise in Covid-19 cases, forcing officials to reimpose a slew of coronavirus restrictions about two months after the state started reopening its economy. Today, that decision appears to have paid off. A CNN analysis of Covid-19 data from Johns Hopkins University shows that on July 8, Arizona averaged about 3,501daily new cases over a seven-day period. That average has been steadily declining week-over-week, and on Wednesday, the state averaged 1,990 daily new cases over a seven-day period. US can get coronavirus levels ‘way down’ by Election Day in November, Fauci says This turnaround has caught the attention of health experts, who have praised Arizona as an example of a state that successfully reimplemented mitigation efforts as cases rose.”

Alabama sees second day below 1,000 new COVID-19 cases

https://www.wsfa.com/2020/08/05/alabama-sees-second-day-below-new-covid-cases/

“For the second day in a row, the Alabama Department of Public Health reported a sub-1,000 case day of COVID-19 positive test results. The state confirmed 886 cases Wednesday, down from Tuesday’s 963, which brought the first triple-digit day of increases in a month.”

Tennessee removed from hot spot list; Bradley County still a ‘red zone’

http://clevelandbanner.com/stories/tennessee-removed-from-hot-spot-list-bradley-county-still-a-red-zone,114186

“Tennessee has been removed from the White House Coronavirus Task Force list of hot spots based on the percentage of positive tests in the last seven days, according to a report from the Center for Public Integrity.  Along with Tennessee, Kentucky and Virginia were also removed from the Task Force’s “red zone” list. The Center for Public Integrity reports that Dr. Deborah Birx, coordinator for the White House Coronavirus Task Force and previously the coordinator for the U.S. AIDS/HIV response, recently added California and Nebraska to the red zone list as potential hot spots for COVID-19.”

Research

COVID-19 in Africa: Dampening the storm?

https://science.sciencemag.org/content/369/6504/624

“Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has spread rapidly and extensively to most countries in the world, resulting in considerable mortality in Europe and the United States, as well as in numerous upper-middle-income countries in South America and Asia. Experts predicted millions of COVID-19 deaths in Africa because many countries in the continent rank poorly on the United Nations Development Programme’s Human Development Index. However, more than 4 months after the first cases in Africa were detected, prevalence and mortality are still low. It remains unclear if Africa is really spared from substantial cases and deaths. However, differences between Africa and the most affected countries in reliable reporting and death registration, lockdown stringency, demography, sociocultural aspects, environmental exposures, genetics, and the immune system could help to explain the experience of COVID-19 in Africa.”

Misinformation in your backyard: Viral photos misinterpreted (Florida Beaches)

https://firstdraftnews.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/FD0035_USElectionSummit-Mid-FellowshipReport-20200805-1.pdf

“While crowd photos have become a staple of the pandemic, camera angles and other variables mean they are not always accurate depictions of risk. Given what is now known about how Covid-19 is spread, beaches are one of the less risky environments. Yet news outlets continue to use photos of beaches to accompany articles about rising caseloads.”

Misleading media coverage of Sweden’s response to covid-19 

https://www.bmj.com/content/bmj/370/bmj.m3031.full.pdf

“Sweden does not have a herd immunity strategy, and it is irresponsible for The BMJ to perpetuate this myth.1 Similarly, the decision not to “lockdown” is only “controversial” because the media have framed it as such. It is time for the word lockdown to be replaced with precise, non-sensational language that describes the measures taken. Most of the media coverage has focused on country level data, which is misleading. Stockholm county has 91 deaths per 100 000, whereas Skåne county, including Malmö, has about 15; Blekinge has the lowest, with 4.4 deaths per 100 000. I am still waiting for an article on what we can learn from Blekinge’s approach to covid-19.”

Are you infectious if you have a positive PCR test result for COVID-19?

“PCR detection of viruses is helpful so long as its accuracy can be understood: it offers the capacity to detect RNA in minute quantities, but whether that RNA represents infectious virus may not be clear. During our Open Evidence Review of oral-fecal transmission of Covid-19, we noticed how few studies had attempted or reported culturing live SARS-CoV-2 virus from human samples. This surprised us, as viral culture is regarded as a gold standard or reference test against which any diagnostic index test for viruses must be measured and calibrated, to understand the predictive properties of that test. In viral culture, viruses are injected in the laboratory cell lines to see if they cause cell damage and death, thus releasing a whole set of new viruses that can go on to infect other cells. We, therefore, reviewed the evidence from studies reporting data on viral culture or isolation as well as reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), to understand more about how the PCR results reflect infectivity.”

Cross-reactivity towards SARS-CoV-2: the potential role of low-pathogenic human coronaviruses

https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanmic/article/PIIS2666-5247(20)30098-7/fulltext

“The human body is capable of producing antibodies in response to severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection, the causative agent of COVID-19. The principle of antigen-antibody reaction has been widely explored to develop enzyme immunoassays for studying seroprevalence. Kelvin Kai-Wang To and colleagues found a seropositive rate of 2·73% (53 of 1938 serum samples) in SARS-CoV-2 enzyme immunoassays for individuals who had probably not been exposed to the virus. This finding raises the possibility of antibody cross-reactivity with other human coronaviruses.”

Wrong person, place and time: viral load and contact network structure predict SARS-CoV-2 transmission and super-spreading events

https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.08.07.20169920v1.full.pdf

“SARS-CoV-2 is difficult to contain because most transmissions occur during the pre-symptomatic phase of infection. Moreover, in contrast to influenza, while most SARS-CoV-2 infected people do not transmit the virus to anybody, a small percentage secondarily infect large numbers of people. We designed mathematical models of SARS-CoV-2 and influenza which link observed viral shedding patterns with key epidemiologic features of each virus, including distributions of the number of secondary cases attributed to each infected person (individual R0) and the duration between symptom onset in the transmitter and secondarily infected person (serial interval). We identify that people with SARS-CoV-2 or influenza infections are usually contagious for fewer than two days congruent with peak viral load several days after infection, and that transmission is unlikely below a certain viral load.”

Charts and Graphics

@pdubdev Weekly Counts of Deaths by Age Group (California)

Death counts by age group for per 65 year olds and especially below the age of 25 don’t deviate very much from the death counts from years prior.

@Hold2LLC NJ vs. A-F-T Date of Death: 8/7/20 – Adjusted for Population@Hold2LLC TMC Daily New COVID-19 Hospitalizations 

Much like in the graph earlier for New York comparing the same three states, Arizona, Florida, and Texas despite being part of the “2nd wave” never reached the same level of deaths as New Jersey.

@Hold2LLC TMC Daily New COVID-19 Hospitalizations 

An analysis of new hospitalizations in the TMC chain of hospitals in Texas. One can see that cases are gradually declining and that even the entire chain at the worst load is still doing better then NYC did.

Hawaii COVID-19 Cases Per day (7 Day Moving Average)

Despite doing all the needed actions such as movement restriction and mask wearing, Hawaii in the end still got hit with a 2nd wave of COVID-19 cases. Doing measures before or after the fact isn’t very helpful when trying to stop a pandemic.

FREOPP 80 Million Students Affected by U.S. School Closures

The majority of students affected by school closures are those in elementary or middle school, despite the majority of media coverage consisting of complaints of how private schools are dealing with COVID-19, and not the public school system.

Florida COVID-19 Deaths by Date of Dead and Date of Report 

Florida “2nd wave” shows that despite fears of the creation of a 2nd New York, that did not turn out to be the case, and despite the caseload rising, the rate of deaths did not grow rapidly.

Deaths by Date (Florida July-1st to Aug-3rd)

A rolling bar-chart series of deaths by date, with the majority of deaths occurred before July 14 and shows that how long it takes from COVID-19 can widely vary from just a few days, to spending nearly a month in the hospital.

San Diego Hospital Patients in the ICU

Coverage of the last few months of ICU usage of a hospital in San Diego. The accuracy of the data gradually improved as the hospital was able to learn what patients had COVID-19 versus just “suspected” of having COVID-19.

@Hold2LLC Kansas COVID-19 7 Day Rolling Average of Daily Cases / Per 100k population (Mask Counties Vs. No-Mask Mandate Counties)

A comparison of the amount of cases that counties that required masks vs did not require masks. In fairness, this could measure several things, that counties with rapidly increasing case loads adopt mask measures after the fact, or that counties that require masks simply are more dense, as you don’t really need to wear a mask if you are in a rural area.

International News

How dare politicians scapegoat the young for their lockdown failings

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/08/04/dare-politicians-scapegoat-young-lockdown-failings/

“Pity poor Nicola Sturgeon! Scotland’s First Minister has had a tough few days. Seeing pictures of “largely younger people” socialising in newly reopened venues last weekend made her “want to cry”, she told reporters this week. Though imposing new curbs on pubs and restaurants would be “the last thing I want to do”, she added, feckless youth may have forced her hand.

Her remarks suddenly took me back to my own teenage years, recalling a cartoon from a school history lesson many moons ago. One of David Low’s inter-war masterpieces, it satirises the breakdown of the League of Nations’ world disarmament convention in 1934. A crocodile, representing the assembled leaders, weeps to the waiting world (embodied by a group of sheep). “My friends, we have failed,” sobs the crocodile. “We just couldn’t control your warlike passions.” Low’s message is clear; though the talks broke down through a failure of political will, the impulse, naturally, was to blame the public….”

Never has a virus been so oversold

https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/never-has-a-virus-been-so-oversold

“There’s nothing unprecedented about Covid-19 itself. The equally novel, equally infectious Asian flu of 1957 had commensurate fatalities in Britain: scaled up for today’s population, the equivalent of 42,000, while the UK’s (statistically flawed) Covid death total now stands at 46,000. Globally, the Asian flu was vastly more lethal, causing between two and four million deaths. The Hong Kong flu of 1968-69 also slew up to four million people worldwide, including 80,000 Britons. Yet in both instances, life went on..”

Coronavirus: Five deaths and 69 new cases confirmed in Ireland

https://www.thejournal.ie/ireland-covid-19-2-5169437-Aug2020/?utm_source=shortlink

“HEALTH OFFICIALS HAVE confirmed that there have been 69 further cases of Covid-19 in this country and five further deaths. The new infections bring to 26,372 the number of confirmed cases we have had in this country since the first case was recorded at the end of February. Four of the newly recorded deaths are from April and June. A total of 1,768 people with the disease have now died in the Republic of Ireland. Of the new cases, just two have been identified as being from community transmission.”

Australia: New Coronavirus Lockdown Melbourne Amid Sex, Lies, Quarantine Hotel Scandal

https://www.forbes.com/sites/tamarathiessen/2020/07/07/australia-coronavirus-melbourne-lockdown-hotel-sex-scandal/#7ca64518131d

“A serious outbreak of Covid-19 has sparked a new “hard” lockdown in Australia’s second largest city, Melbourne, amid a scandal over quarantine and security breaches at hotels. From midnight on Wednesday, the City of Melbourne will return to strict lockdown for a six-week period, the state Premier Daniel Andrews announced Tuesday. So too will regional Mitchell Shire just north of the city fringe.”

France rules out ‘total lockdown’ in case of Covid-19 second wave

https://www.france24.com/en/20200708-france-rules-out-total-lockdown-in-case-of-covid-19-surge

“The French government said Wednesday it was girding for a possible surge in coronavirus cases in coming months but would not respond to any new outbreak with another nationwide lockdown. “My aim is to prepare France for a possible second wave while preserving our daily life, our economic and social life,” new Prime Minister Jean Castex said in an interview on RTL television. “But we’re not going to impose a lockdown like the one we did last March, because we’ve learned… that the economic and human consequences from a total lockdown are disastrous,” he said. Instead, any business closures or stay-at-home orders would be “targeted” to specific areas, he said.”

A Suggestion

This week, 2,750 tonnes of explosive ammonium nitrate exploded in a dockside warehouse in Beirut, Lebanon, after being stored there for six years despite several lawsuits trying and failing to move the nitrate elsewhere.

On top of the explosion, Lebanon due to incompetent leadership has fallen into minor sectarian conflict yet again. If you have the capability to do so, perhaps donating a little money to those who are suffering in the country would go a long way to alleviating a lot of pain.