AstraZeneca, Puerto Rico beaches, Mexico travel warning
COVID-19 widespread testing is crucial to fighting the pandemic, but is there enough testing? The answer is in the positivity rates.
Drug developers are racing to create a COVID-19 vaccine, but a post-pandemic world won’t suddenly arrive when one is successfully developed.
But a return to “normal living” won’t come until “several months” after a vaccine first arrives, Dr. Anthony Fauci said on CNN. That’s likely to be about a year away, as a successful vaccine still needs to be manufactured and distributed at a massive scale.
In the meantime, Americans are learning more about risks associated with several parts of normal life that remain. Recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention studies documented health challenges in dining and daycare. One study found dining out was linked with higher infection rates in adults. Another study documented children who were infected in daycare and spread the virus at home.
Meanwhile colleges continue to be hotspots for the virus: Of the 25 hottest outbreaks in the U.S., communities heavy with college students represent 19 of them.
Some significant developments:
📈 Today’s numbers: Montana, North Dakota, Guam and Puerto Rico set records for deatsh this week, according to a USA TODAY analysis of Johns Hopkins data through late Friday. No state records for new cases were set. The U.S. has more than 6.4 million confirmed cases and more than 193,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Globally, there are more than 28 million cases and more than 916,000 fatalities.
📰 What we’re reading: Not everyone wants to rush to reopened restaurants and beaches during the pandemic, but they may be at odds with opinions from friends and family. Here’s how to say no to weddings, holiday dinners and more.
🗺️ Mapping coronavirus: Track the U.S. outbreak, state by state
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The candidate Gov. Mike DeWine had tapped to be the next director of the Ohio Department of Health has withdrawn from consideration, the governor’s office said in a press release Thursday night.
Dr. Joan Duwve cited unspecified personal reasons for her decision. She was meant to replace interim director Lance Himes, who had been filling in since Dr. Amy Acton stepped down as director of the health department in June amid criticism from Republicans over her actions to protect the health and safety of Ohioans.
Duwve, a native Ohioan, is currently the director of public health for South Carolina’s Department of Health and Environmental Control, DeWine said. She was expected to start her new role here in October, he said.
– Max Filby, The Cincinnati Enquirer
Pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca is expected to resume clinical trials of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate after a brief global pause in testing, Oxford University, which is co-developing the vaccine, said in a statement Saturday.
AstraZeneca put a hold on its COVID-19 clinical trials worldwide this week while it investigated an adverse reaction in a trial participant in the United Kingdom. One volunteer in a trial in the United Kingdom apparently developed a serious neurological problem after receiving the vaccine.
A standard review process triggered the study pause on Sunday, Oxford said, and an independent safety review committee and national regulators reviewed the group’s safety data.
“The independent review process has concluded and following the recommendations of both the independent safety review committee and the UK regulator, the (Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency), the trials will recommence in the UK,” Oxford said in a statement Saturday.
India – the country with the second-most confirmed COVID-19 cases in the world, behind the U.S. – reported a record surge of 97,570 new cases in 24 hours Saturday, pushing the nation’s total above 4.6 million cases.
India also reported another 1,201 deaths Saturday, bringing total deaths to 77,472, the third highest in the world.
India’s single-day spike far exceeds the U.S.’s greatest single-day surge. On July 16, the U.S. reported more than 77,000 new daily COVID-19 cases, according to Johns Hopkins.
– The Associated Press
Puerto Rico’s governor announced Thursday she would reopen beaches, casinos, gyms and movie theaters across the U.S. territory as officials report a recent drop in COVID-19 cases and deaths that some experts worry could again spike.
The changes will be in effect from Saturday until Oct. 2. Face masks and social distancing, especially at the beach, remain mandatory, bars and clubs will stay closed, and a 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew will continue.
The island of 3.2 million people has reported more than 500 deaths, along with more than 17,000 confirmed cases and another 19,000 probable ones. More than 420 people remain hospitalized.
– The Associated Press
This week, the U.S. State Department downgraded its travel warning for Mexico. The news comes less than two weeks before the current border closure agreement between the U.S. and its southern neighbor is set to expire.
The entire country is no longer under a Level 4 “Do not travel” warning. Instead, the State Department is listing Mexico’s new status as Level 3 “Reconsider travel,” along with specified advisories for individual regions. There are still “Do not travel” warnings for five states due to crime and kidnapping concerns.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has kept Mexico at Level 3, its most severe threat level. The current U.S.-Mexico border closure agreement is due to expire Sept. 21; extensions have typically been announced the week before the expiration date.
– Jayme Deerwester
Stress and isolation brought on by the pandemic are certainly bad for our mental health, but dentists say they’re seeing evidence our oral health is suffering too.
Reports of a huge spike in cracked teeth have received national media attention in recent days, but multiple dentists told USA TODAY that’s just the start of the problem.
“It’s like a perfect storm,” Dr. Michael Dickerson, an independent practice owner with Aspen Dental in Tarpon Springs, Florida, told USA TODAY. The patients he’s seeing now need “a ton of work,” as compared to the past, he said. Read more here.
The New York City teachers union warns it won’t let the nation’s largest school district reopen for in-person classes this month if the city doesn’t issue protective equipment, conduct testing and clean schools properly.
Union leader Michael Mulgrew in a Friday video accuses the city of not acting with enough urgency on the pandemic. The return of public school students to classrooms was delayed from Sept. 10 to Sept. 21 so coronavirus safety precautions could be worked on further.
Mulgrew says the city knows what it needs to do to make schools safe and, in his words, “if you can’t make that happen before the children come into schools, then we’re not going to let you open these schools.”
– The Associated Press
The director of the National Institutes of Health, Dr. Francis Collins, expressed disappointment in the political divisiveness over protection measures against the coronavirus, as seen by the large crowds that gather at President Donald Trump’s rallies.
“As a scientist, I’m pretty puzzled and rather disheartened,” Collins said Thursday when asked during a CNN town hall what he thinks of large events such as Trump’s Michigan rally where few wore masks or kept distance from each other.
Trump’s campaign rally on Thursday, held at MBS International Airport near Saginaw, drew more than 5,000 supporters. Despite state guidelines that require masks in areas where it is not possible to maintain 6 feet of distance from others, many in the crowd were seen without them.
Trump’s recent rallies have often featured largely maskless crowds. The Republican National Convention was also criticized for speeches delivered in front of large crowds.
— Jeanine Santucci
What we’re reading
Children who caught the coronavirus at day cares and a day camp spread it to their relatives, according to a new report that underscores that kids can bring the germ home and infect others.
Scientists already know children can spread the virus. But the study published Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “definitively indicates — in a way that previous studies have struggled to do — the potential for transmission to family members,” said William Hanage, a Harvard University infectious diseases researcher.
The findings don’t mean that schools and child-care programs need to close, but it does confirm that the virus can spread within those places and then be brought home by kids. So, masks, disinfection and social distancing are needed. And people who work in such facilities have to be careful and get tested if they think they may be infected, experts said.
The study also shows that children with no symptoms, or very mild symptoms, can spread the infection, just like adults can.
— The Associated Press
Eating out at restaurants is a high-risk activity, according to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The study found adults with confirmed COVID-19 were about twice as likely as other study participants to say they dined out at a restaurant in the 14 days before becoming sick.
Also, positive patients were more likely to report going to a bar or coffee shop when the analysis was limited to those without close contact to people with known coronavirus.
The study included 314 symptomatic adults who were tested for COVID-19 in July at 11 health care facilities across multiple states. Of that group, 154 patients tested positive for COVID-19.
Ohio State University students can expect the “new normal” on campus this semester to last at least through the spring, officials said in an announcement Friday.
The university announced plans to continue a mix of in-person and online courses for the spring semester, cancel spring break and make other changes to the academic calendar as it continues to work through the COVID-19 pandemic.
Provost Bruce A. McPheron said in an email to the university community that existing health measures and policies will continue to be in place in the spring. Instead of spring break, there will be two “instructional breaks,” or days with no classes.
“This approach will keep our community together throughout the semester and reduce travel-related exposures,” McPheron said.
– Jennifer Smola, The Columbus Dispatch
Contributing: The Associated Press
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