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Coronavirus

U.S. Coronavirus Death Toll Reaches 150,000, Highest in the World

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The nation’s death toll from the coronavirus pandemic officially surpassed 150,000 on Wednesday as 18 states set single-day case records this week.

What We Know:

  • In April, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the United States’ leading authority on infectious diseases said he believed, and hoped, that the coronavirus would claim no more than 60,000 lives in the country. A few weeks later, a revered research center predicted that number would be just over 70,000 deaths by August. After a surge in the death toll in May, President Trump believed no more than 100,000 Americans would die. Unfortunately, on Wednesday, the death toll in the United States reached 150,000, making it the highest in the world.
  • Virginia Pitzer, a professor of epidemiology at Yale, said it’s impossible to predict human behavior therefore impossible to predict the scope of the pandemic. “To what extent are people going to socially distance themselves? To what extent are politics going to influence whether you wear a mask?” Pitzer questioned. “All of these factors are impossible to factor in.”
  • As of Wednesday evening, 150,909 people are known to have died from the coronavirus pandemic in the United States, with more than 4.4 million reported infections. Experts believe that these figures may even be undercounted as it probably doesn’t include people who died early in the pandemic. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention predict that 2 to 13 times more people could be infected than the tallies of reported cases show.
  • In mid-April, the United States hit its peak in weekly averages of reported deaths, mostly due to the enormous surge in New York State. But that weekly average began to climb again this month, with the nation now reporting 1,000 deaths a day.
  • Texas has become the state with the highest death toll relative to its population with nearly 2,200 deaths reported this week. 18 states have set daily case records over the past week and 40 states have increased cases per capita in the last 2 weeks. The 18 states which contributed heavily to the rising death tolls and reported cases this week are California, South Carolina, North Dakota, Kentucky, Hawaii, Alabama, Alaska, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Utah, and West Virginia.
  • Although it’s unclear what percentage of people who get the virus die from it, the World Health Organization’s chief scientist, Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, said last month that it was likely to be about 0.6 percent. Dr. Sarah Fortune, the chair of immunology and infectious diseases at the T.H. Chan School of Public Health at Harvard said that the death toll goes hand-in-hand with our precautions, or lack thereof, of transmission, especially keeping the virus from individuals at high-risk or in high-risk environments like nursing homes. “We have to do better in terms of limiting transmission,” Fortune stated. “We have this terrible death toll because we have done a lousy job at limiting transmission.”

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation now projects around 220,000 deaths by November.

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Sophie Robinson is a recent graduate from Clemson University and is a Digital Intern at UnmutedCo.

Coronavirus

Connecticut Issues First $1,000 Fines to Travel Violators

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Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont speaks to reporters before surveying storm damage, Friday, Aug. 7, in Westport, Conn. (John Minchillo/AP)

The Department of Public Health of Connecticut has distributed its first $1,000 fine on Monday to two individuals who Gov. Ned Lamont said failed to follow the travel advisory for citizens who return home from states with high COVID-19 infection rates.

What We Know:

  • Lamont stated that the two anonymous people came back to Connecticut from being in Louisiana and Florida. Neither completed the health form needed from anyone coming from any state.
  • Aside from not filling out a form, one of the people did not want to quarantine for the necessary 14 days and was given an additional fine of $1,000. Lamont said a coworker had told state officials that the person was not obeying Lamont’s executive order. Additionally, officials received a hint about the other person.
  • Lamont’s chief operating officer, Josh Geballe, said the incidents happened a couple of weeks ago. One of the individuals is from Windham County, and the other is from Hartford County. For the moment, he stated, there are further investigations currently happening regarding possibly other offenders.
  • Geballe said in a statement that this is real and people need to obey these rules and comply since this is one of the riskiest areas for the state of Connecticut right now as people are traveling into this state, bringing the virus with them. People need to fill out the form and need to quarantine, and are expected to do that. He continued to say, “If not, there will be consequences.”
  • Geballe stated that the information on the forms is critical in case someone tests positive and officials need to trace who they may have come in contact with. So far, more than 20,000 of the health forms had been handed in so far, with approximately 1,000 filed every day. Geballe said its significant amount of data that can be used if needed.

Lamont told reporters during his coronavirus briefing that he “hates” to do it, but they are serious and want to show people how serious they are. He continued to say that people are incredibly doing the right thing, and those who are not, please be on notice.

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Southeast L.A. County Becomes Epicenter of Coronavirus Resurgence, Officials Blame Young Adults

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Assistant manager Luis Garcia sanitizes outdoor tables at Gloria's Restaurant in Huntington Park. (Brian van der Brug/Los Angeles Times)
Assistant manager Luis Garcia sanitizes outdoor tables at Gloria's Restaurant in Huntington Park. (Brian van der Brug/Los Angeles Times)

A recent analysis suggests Southeast Los Angeles County has become the epicenter for the resurgence of the coronavirus, according to the LA Times. County health data all point towards a trend of working-class Latino communities being affected the most.

What We Know:

  • Memorial Day marked the first major holiday of the summer and with plans to reopen states soon following, COVID-19 spread like wildfire virus throughout the workforce since then. Many communities with higher rates of poverty, crowding and many essential workers who keep the economy afloat are the hardest hit by the wave of unemployment caused by the pandemic.
  • As of Sunday, Los Angeles County reported nearly 1,800 new cases of COVID-19 and a dozen more deaths, pushing the county’s totals over 208,500 cases and nearing 5,000 deaths. Younger residents are, unfortunately, a majority of all the new cases reported as of late. About 69% of positive cases are under the age of 50 at this point.
  • These statistics alone erased the regions once-promising reduction in cases, to now one of the highest rates in the country, and just under other areas of Los Angeles.
  • Data collected by the Times reported a county record of over 27,000 new COVID-19 cases in the region the past two months. The area now accounts for “19% of new infections, although it comprises just 12% of the countywide population.”
  • The upward trend of spikes in infections target the younger demographic of work-classing residents, such as Latinos, regardless of rural or urban settings. It is yet another weight Southern California faces after a historic issue of pollution, healthcare accessibility, gang violence, and more.
  • The dispersity of the Eastside, compared to the Westside, is the east has a greater percentage of low-income, essential workers and are more subject to overcrowding. According to experts, these are all perfect ingredients for COVID-19 to thrive.

On the other hand, the Westside isn’t experiencing the same troubles. Given that the Westside has always been predominantly white and more well off, the increase has not been as significant. Much of this can be credited to better access to testing and healthcare.

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New Zealand Faces New COVID-19 Cases

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Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern made the announcement at a press conference late Tuesday night.

What We Know:

  • This comes just after New Zealand celebrated 100 days without transmission of new COVID-19 cases. New Zealand now has four new confirmed cases of COVID-19, and twenty-three cases are in managed isolation. All of the previous twenty-three cases are travelers who have returned home to the country.
  • The first new case has been identified as someone in their 50’s who had not traveled out of the country. All four of the new cases are within the same family, and more than one place of business is involved. Contract tracing is currently in progress. Close contacts of those who tested positive will be asked to self-isolate for 14 days.
  • Starting at noon local time on Wednesday, August 12th, the city of Auckland went on level 3 lockdown until midnight on Friday, August 14th. Under level 3 restrictions, Auckland will require non-essential workers to work from home, while travel into the city is restricted to those who live in the area. The rest of New Zealand went on level 2 lockdown, which still allows people to attend work and school.
  • Prime Minister Ardern described the need for the restrictions.

“These three days will give us time to assess the situation, gather information, make sure we have widespread contact tracing so we can find out more about how this case arose and make decisions on how to respond to it.”

  • Director-General of Health for New Zealand, Dr. Ashley Bloomfield, noted the need for vigilance to defeat the virus, “This case is a wake-up call against any complacency that may have set in. We cannot afford to let this virus spread.”

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, New Zealand has recorded a total of 1220 cases and 22 deaths due to the virus.

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