Coronavirus: How R-0 can be used to fight COVID-19
R-0 may be the most important scientific term you’ve never heard of when it comes to stopping the coronavirus pandemic.
Lane County Public Health reported the county’s seventh COVID-19-related death.
The 82-year-old man from the Eugene-Springfield area died Wednesday from COVID-19-related causes, LCPH reported.
He had not been hospitalized prior to his death.
Outbreak ‘ripple effect,’ officials anticipate Labor Day jump
A majority of new COVID-19 cases are still attributed to an outbreak at a Lane County assisted living facility, county heath officials said Thursday.
So far, 18 cases have been counted as part of the outbreak at Evergreen Memory Care in Eugene. However, Lane County Public Health spokesman Jason Davis said contract tracers found at least eight secondary cases — people in the community who were infected by someone from the facility.
The county does not count these cases as part of the outbreak, but Davis described outbreaks as having a “ripple effect throughout the community.”
“It helps you understand the impact of an outbreak,” he said. “It goes beyond that immediate facility and stretches out to other parts of the community.”
Davis said county officials are “very concerned” about a potential jump in cases as a result of the upcoming Labor Day weekend.
“We did see some cases as a result of the July 4 holiday,” Davis said.
County officials recommend that people who intend to celebrate the long weekend keep their gatherings small, outside and distanced.
“Really, look at how you can make whatever you’re doing, whether it’s backyard barbecue or a float down the river, as safe as possible,” Davis said.
The county spokesman also emphasized that travel remains a leading cause for cases in the county, accounting for 17% of new cases this week. Travel-related cases are infections that result from both Lane County residents who travel out and back to the county, returning with COVID-19, and out-of-towners who come to visit and bring the virus.
Local health officials remain concerned about the disproportionate representation of Latinos in the case count. This week, Latino patients made up 25% of new cases. In the past, Latinos accounted for up to 30% of the county’s cases.
“So, 25% is an improvement. However, it’s still far too high, especially since only 9.1% of our population identifies as Latinx,” Davis said. “I just want to make sure that our community does understand that there is still a disproportionate representation in our case count.”
The county’s total case count is 750. Two people are hospitalized and 46 remain infectious.
Of the 56,022 total tests administered in the county, 55,272 tested negative.
Oregon had 274 new cases, and three new deaths, of COVID-19 reported Thursday, bringing the state’s total to 27,336.
— Tatiana Parafiniuk-Talesnick, The Register-Guard
Report: CDC says vaccine could be ready by November
The CDC is telling some health officials around the country to be ready to start distributing a vaccine to prevent the coronavirus by November, the New York Times reports.
That would be on the early side of what officials have laid out as a best-case scenario: that a vaccine will be ready by the end of the year. A COVID-19 vaccine could be available earlier than expected if ongoing clinical trials produce overwhelmingly positive results, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease official, told Kaiser Health News.
“Limited COVID -19 vaccine doses may be available by early November 2020, but COVID-19 vaccine supply will increase substantially in 2021,” reads the CDC document.
At least two clinical trials of 30,000 volunteers are now expected to conclude by the end of the year, but Fauci said an independent board has the authority to end the trials weeks early if interim results are overwhelmingly positive or negative.
— USA TODAY
Oregon has lowest number of new cases since June
For the second time in three days, Oregon had its lowest number of new cases of COVID-19 reported in two months.
The state had 140 new cases reported Wednesday, bringing the state’s total number of cases to 27,075.
That’s the lowest number of new cases in the state since June 25, when 124 new cases were announced.
The state announced three new deaths Wednesday. Oregon had had 468 people die from the coronavirus.
Lane County Public Health reported 11 new positive COVID-19 cases Wednesday, bringing the county total to 737.
Forty-five people in the county are considered infectious, and three are currently hospitalized. There have been six deaths attributed to the coronavirus in the county.
— Salem Statesman Journal and The Register-Guard
Outbreak hits Lane County assisted living facility
An outbreak of COVID-19 cases at a Eugene assisted living facility has so far resulted in 18 additional cases in Lane County, bringing the county’s case count to 736.
Lane County Public Health officials said 46 cases are currently infectious.
Congregate living facilities such as student dorms, elder care facilities and army barracks have proven particularly vulnerable to the spread of the coronavirus.
“To some degree, we believed it was inevitable,” Jason Davis, a spokesman for Lane County, said. “This really could happen to any facility.”
The assisted living facility, Evergreen Memory Care, is reportedly working with health officials to control the outbreak. No infected residents have yet been hospitalized, but this may be because the facility can provide some of the around-the-clock complex medical care often provided by a hospital.
Davis said it’s unlikely residents caught the virus “organically” because residents are not out in the community. It is more likely that the virus entered the facility through staff or visitors.
Davis added that travel-related cases remain a top concern for local health officials.
“We are seeing travel continuing to be a problem where healthy individuals leave Lane County and they come back with COVID or people have family coming into town that bring COIVD,” Davis said.
Of the 54,837 total tests administered by the county, 54,111 tested negative.
— Tatiana Parafiniuk-Talesnick, The Register-Guard
First COVID-19 death linked to massive Sturgis biker rally
The first COVID-19 death associated with a massive biker rally in Sturgis, South Dakota has been reported weeks after the event attracted more than 400,000 vehicles and drew widespread concern from public health officials.
The death was reported by Minnesota Department of Health Infectious Disease Director Kris Ehresmann at a Wednesday briefing. Minnesota — South Dakota’s neighbor to the east — is tracking an ongoing outbreak of 50 cases tied to the August event, Ehresmann said. That outbreak only includes people who attended the event.
A Minnesota man who died was in his 60s and had underlying health conditions. The rally went forward despite fears it could become a super-spread event. South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem welcomed bikers and the tourist dollars they spend.
— USA TODAY
Budget deficit headed to $3.3 trillion
The federal budget deficit is projected to hit a record $3.3 trillion because of COVID-19 costs and the recession, the Congressional Budget Office said Wednesday.
That’s more than triple the 2019 shortfall. The deficit projection was attributed to the coronavirus disruption of the economy and the cost of legislation enacted by Congress in response to the pandemic.
It was less than a year ago that Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell warned lawmakers that the ballooning federal debt could hamper Congress’ ability to support the economy in a downturn – and that was months before the coronavirus appeared in the U.S.
“The federal budget is on an unsustainable path, with high and rising debt,” Powell told the Joint Economic Committee in November.
— USA TODAY
Many more vaccine volunteers will be needed
Three Phase 3 trials have started in the U.S. for vaccines against the coronavirus and volunteers have been stepping up to be human guinea pigs to make sure they are safe.
But with seven candidate vaccines now funded by the federal government on their way towards Phase 3, a lot more volunteers will be needed – a combined total of at least 210,000.
Half receive the active vaccine and half a placebo. Participants won’t know whether they got the actual vaccine until their trial ends in about two years. In the meantime, they are left wondering whether their lack of a sore arm or fever means they received the placebo or just got lucky.
“If I got the placebo, then I will go and get the actual shot when ready,” said one volunteer, Dusta Eisenman, 44, of San Jose, California. Want to volunteer? Here’s how.
— USA TODAY
Wear a mask during sex, says Canada’s top doctor
Canada’s chief medical officer issued some guidelines Wednesday on having sex in the age of COVID-19.
Dr. Theresa Tam advised Canadians to wear a mask during sexual intercourse and to check for any symptoms beforehand, especially with a new partner.
While COVID-19 is not easily transmittable through bodily fluids, reported Reuters, Tam advises against kissing or any face-to-face contact during sexual intimacy.
“Canadians can find ways to enjoy physical intimacy while safeguarding the progress we have all made containing COVID-19,” Tam said.
— USA TODAY
Three-quarters of Greek housing at IU-Bloomington under quarantine
Seven more Greek houses at Indiana University-Bloomington are being directed to quarantine because of COVID-19, bringing the total up to 30 out of 40 Greek houses as of Wednesday evening.
IU Bloomington reported an 8.1% positivity rate among students living in fraternity and sorority housing during its mitigation testing, according to a Monday update to its testing dashboard. Residence halls had a 1.63% positivity rate.
All communal living houses are directed to suspend in-person activities other than dining and housing until at least Sept. 14, said IU spokesperson Chuck Carney.
– Lydia Gerike, Indianapolis Star
Kentucky hops up poll worker hunt with beer can labels
With volunteer ranks thinned by fear of the coronavirus, Kentucky is trying to put some fizz into its recruitment effort for poll workers for November’s general election by soliciting for them on beer cans.
Secretary of State Michael Adams’ office is working with the Kentucky Guild of Brewers to get out the word on beer labels. The message includes a QR code linked to a site where people can register to vote and apply to be a poll worker.
“Last year I testified to the Legislature that we had a poll worker crisis in Kentucky,” Adams said in a statement. “COVID-19 certainly hasn’t helped. We need younger generations to step up and be good citizens, and so we enlisted the help of Kentucky’s craft breweries to reach them.”
– Emma Austin, Louisville Courier Journal
Study finds steroids can help severely ill COVID-19 patients
A package of new studies published Wednesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association confirms that patients severely ill with COVID-19 can benefit from steroids. The drugs can save about 1 in 12 patients treated.
Both dexamethasone, which has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use on COVID-19 patients, and hydrocortisone are equally effective, the research found.
Overall, the research found the most severely ill COVID-19 patients, those who are on ventilators, benefited the most, Dr. Todd Rice of Vanderbilt University, who co-wrote the editorial, said in a JAMA interview. Steroids likely tamped down an immune system overreaction.
Patients who were considered mildly ill with COVID-19, those who were hospitalized but not overwhelmed with inflammation, did not benefit from steroids, the studies found. There is a gray area, the researchers admitted, where it’s hard to determine whether to give steroids to patients who have relatively mild disease at the moment but seem likely to decline.
— USA TODAY
After shift to online learning, Miami schools now face cyberattacks
First came a shift from classroom instruction to online learning because of the coronavirus. Now comes cyberattacks that could lead to a halt online learning.
Florida’s largest school district has faced multiple cyberattacks this week that appear to be aimed at disrupting instruction via personal computer, Miami-Dade County Public Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said in a tweet Wednesday.
So far, he said the hackers haven’t been able to penetrate the district’s servers. The FBI and Secret Service have been asked to investigate.
— USA TODAY
TSA tests touchless system that avoids COVID-19 risks
The Transportation Security Administration is testing a system that matches your ID to your face, avoiding person-to-person contact that could spread the coronavirus.
The system, now part of a pilot program at Washington’s Reagan National Airport, is similar to a technology that was tested last year at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas. However, the new system will allow passengers to insert their ID into the scanner, rather than handing it to a TSA officer.
“In light of COVID-19, advanced health and safety precautions have become a top priority and part of the new normal for TSA,” said Administrator David Pekoske in a statement Tuesday.
Pekoske said if the pilot program proves successful, it may be implemented at more airports.
— USA TODAY
Pompeo defends decision not to participate in global vaccine effort
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday defended the Trump administration’s controversial decision not to participate in a global alliance to develop and distribute a COVID-19 vaccine.
The White House confirmed earlier this week that it would not be part of the vaccine alliance, which is being led in part by the World Health Organization and involves more than 170 other countries. The global effort involves not only developing an effective vaccine but also ensuring it is equitably distributed across the globe.
Pompeo told reporters Wednesday the U.S. would not participate in the global vaccine effort because the WHO is too political. The vaccine alliance is being co-led by Gavi, which focuses on providing vaccines to children in poor countries, and other groups. The Trump administration has moved to withdraw the United States from the WHO, arguing it was too soft on China when the novel coronavirus first emerged.
Critics say this decision isolates the United States and risks hindering the worldwide race to find an effective vaccine.
— USA TODAY
Federal government says ventilator stockpile is full, cancels contracts
The U.S. government is canceling some of its contracts to buy new ventilators, saying the national stockpile is full after some states feared they’d run short on the life-saving machines in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Department of Health and Human Services said Tuesday that it has nearly 120,000 ventilators available for deployment to state and local health officials if needed. The Trump administration had signed nearly $3 billion in contracts to get more ventilators as demand surged in the spring, but the cancellation of some of the contracts was billed as a cost-savings measure as demand was no longer as high.
President Donald Trump faced criticism in March from some mayors and governors who urged him to use his powers under the Defense Production Act to ramps up production of ventilators. At the time, the national stockpile had only about 16,660 ventilators ready to deploy.
— USA TODAY
Convalescent plasma not recommended, NIH panel says
The COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines Panel, part of the National Institutes of Health, said there’s no solid evidence for or against recommending convalescent plasma to treat hospitalized COVID-19 patients.
The statement Wednesday comes less than 10 days after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency authorization for using plasma taken from patients who have recovered from the coronavirus. The panel reviewed data from a preliminary study by the Mayo Clinic and found that while the treatment may be beneficial for non-intubated patients, there was no comparable difference in death rates.
“There are currently no data from well-controlled, adequately powered randomized clinical trials that demonstrate efficacy and safety of convalescent plasma for COVID-19,” the panel wrote.
— USA TODAY
First come, first served won’t cut it when vaccine becomes available
The first coronavirus vaccine doses to become available should go to front-line health care workers at the highest risk of being exposed to the virus, with paramedics, firefighters and police also would get priority, according to a draft report released by the National Academies of Science, Medicine and Engineering.
Next on the priority list should be people of all ages with underlying conditions, the report said. A vaccine probably would be in scarce supply initially, with enough doses for only 3% to 4% of the U.S. population, the report said.
Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, and Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, created the panel that wrote the draft. The panel is made up of doctors, ethicists, public health officials and scientists.
— USA TODAY
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan says all businesses can reopen Friday
All businesses in Maryland will be able to open Friday as the state enters the third phase of its coronavirus recovery plan, Gov. Larry Hogan announced. Up to 100 people will be allowed at indoor venues, or 250 people at outdoor venues. All retail stores as well as churches and houses of worship will be able to increase capacity from 50% to 75%. Local jurisdictions will still be able to decide not to open as much as the state plan allows.
“I want to remind the people of Maryland that moving into Stage 3 does not mean that this crisis is behind us and remind them that we must remain vigilant so that we can keep Maryland open for business,” Hogan said at a news conference.
— USA TODAY
Hurt by COVID-19, Australia slips into first recession in 28 years
Australia’s economy has suffered its sharpest quarterly drop since the Great Depression because of the pandemic. Data released on Wednesday confirmed the country is experiencing its first recession in 28 years. The latest national accounts showed the economy shrank 7% in the June, the biggest contraction since records began in 1959. Combined with a smaller 0.3% drop in the March quarter, the definition of a technical recession – two consecutive quarters of contraction – has been fulfilled.
— USA TODAY
Lane County COVID-19 ZIP code map
By the numbers: COVID-19 cases in Oregon
Reported by Oregon Health Authority, updated at 8 a.m. Wednesday.
27,075: Total cases confirmed by test and presumptive cases
468: Total deaths
25,765: Tests that are positive
539,307: Tests that were negative
565,072: Total number of tests given
Cases by age group
0 to 9: 1,264 (5%)
10 to 19: 2,788 (10%)
20 to 29: 5,876 (22%), 3 deaths
30 to 39: 4,758 (18%), 5 deaths
40 to 49: 4,453 (16%), 8 deaths
50 to 59: 3,450 (13%), 29 deaths
60 to 69: 2,198 (8%), 78 deaths
70 to 79: 1,312 (5%), 121 deaths
80 and older: 959 (4%), 224 deaths
Not available: 17 (0%)
Female: 13,995 cases (52%), 198 deaths (42%)
Male: 12,994 cases (48%), 270 deaths (58%)
Non-binary: 3 case (0%), 0 deaths
Not available: 83 cases (0%), 0 deaths
Hospitalized: 2,167 (8%)
Not hospitalized: 22,063 (81%)
Not provided: 2,876 (11%)
Source: Oregon Health Authority
Directories of open local businesses, including those doing delivery, take-out
The Eugene and Springfield chambers of commerce are compiling listings of local businesses that are open and the modified ways they are offering their goods and services to make it easier for people to support them while staying home.
Closures, cancellations and postponements