Your Coronavirus Update – Today – Oct. 15, 2020
Photo: During a series of visits in New England – Boston, Cambridge, Rhode Island – Dr. Deborah Birx issued warnings about the growing “silent,” asymptomatic spread of COVID-19 in the northeast. – Newsbreak
NATIONAL & INTERNATIONAL
Harvard expert says coronavirus surge could arrive as early as November or December, according to a Harvard epidemiologist. Stephen Kissler, research fellow in the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. said that other coronaviruses peak “pretty reliably in December or January” in the Northern Hemisphere – read story, here: https://www.bostonglobe.com/2020/10/14/nation/harvard-expert-says-coronavirus-surge-could-arrive-november/?s_campaign=breakingnews:newsletter
Virginia Governor Northum was also targeted for kidnapping for his shut-down regulations regarding coronavirus.
World Health Organization rules lockdowns do more harm than good.
CDC study: “Exposures and activities where mask use and social distancing are difficult to maintain, including going to places that offer on-site eating or drinking, might be important risk factors for acquiring COVID-19. As communities reopen, efforts to reduce possible exposures at locations that offer on-site eating and drinking options should be considered to protect customers, employees, and communities. (https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/pdfs/mm6936a5-H.pdf)
Walmart says it will spread out its traditional one-day Black Friday deals over three weekends in November in an effort to reduce crowds in its stores during a pandemic.
Wisconsin: A judge has temporarily blocked the Gov’s attempt to restrict numbers in restaurants, bars, and social gatherings.
YouTube says it will take down videos with misinformation about the coronvirus – yet does not reveal who will be their medical reviewing team.
Nearly 9,000 residents of public housing in Los Angeles will receive free broadband internet access for the rest of the 2020-21 school year as part of a new partnership between the city, Microsoft and the start-up internet service provider Starry.
New England Journal of Medicine – An innovative COVID-19 vaccine co-developed by NIH’s Vaccine Research Center (VRC), in partnership with Moderna Inc., Cambridge, MA, is both well tolerated and effective in generating a strong immune response when given to adults of any age. (https://directorsblog.nih.gov/2020/10/13/covid-19-vaccine-appears-well-tolerated-and-effective-in-developing-antibodies-in-small-study-of-older-adults/)
European parents sent their children back to school a month ago after officials insisted there was scant evidence the virus would spread among children. Now schools are reporting thousands of cases in some of Europe’s biggest coronavirus hot spots.
Thomas Jefferson University to cut up to 600 jobs, and executive pay, implementing cost-cutting measures after losing nearly $300 million in the year ended June 30.
Alabama coach Nick Saban and athletic director Greg Byrne have tested positive for Covid-19, four days before the Southeastern Conference’s biggest regular-season showdown
A COVID-19 outbreak that infected 11 people across four states began with a 13-year-old Illinois girl who transmitted the virus during a three-week family vacation over the summer, according to a Centers for Disease Control report.
The NFL has no plans to move into a bubble as it takes several new steps to combat the spread of the coronavirus. The league will begin Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing for COVID-19 on game days starting this week, use of masks in walkthroughs are now mandatory and only play-callers will be permitted to wear face shields in lieu of masks or gaiters on the sideline.
England and Wales are among the highest per capita in death tolls.
Several historically Black colleges and universities will share a $15 million donation over the next three years from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to support Covid-19 testing on their campuses.
French President Emmanuel Macron declared a state of health emergency and instated a curfew on some regions.
Administrators at Brigham Young University’s campus in southeastern Idaho say they are “deeply troubled” by reports that students may have intentionally tried to contract COVID-19, lured by blood donation centers that are paying a premium for plasma with COVID-19 antibodies.
Drugmaker Pfizer has plans to start testing its experimental coronavirus vaccine in children as young as 12.
Public-health experts have found evidence that small household gatherings are starting to drive the growth in U.S. COVID-19 cases—and have warned that Thanksgiving could send the number of cases spiraling. U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield held a call with the nation’s governors on Tuesday. CNN obtained audio of the chat, in which Redfield said: “What we’re seeing as the increasing threat right now is actually acquisition of infection through small household gatherings… Particularly with Thanksgiving coming up, we think it’s really important to stress the vigilance of these continued mitigation steps in the household setting.”
Dr. Fauci says that Dr. Birx reported back to him yesterday that “household transmission now is assuming a greater element of the transmissibility. … Don’t assume because you’re in your own home with your own family that you’re not going to spread infection.”
Cam Newton has been cleared to go back to practice for the Patriots.
Melania Trump has recovered, “I am happy to report that I have tested negative and hope to resume my duties as soon as I can. I was very fortunate as my diagnosis came with minimal symptoms, though they hit me all at once and it seemed to be a roller coaster of symptoms in the days after. I experienced body aches, a cough and headaches, and felt extremely tired most of the time. I chose to go a more natural route in terms of medicine, opting more for vitamins and healthy food. We had wonderful caretakers around us and we will be forever grateful”. I encourage everyone to continue to live the healthiest life they can. A balanced diet, fresh air, and vitamins really are vital to keep our bodies healthy. For your complete well-being, compassion and humility are just as important in keeping our minds strong. For me personally, the most impactful part of my recovery was the opportunity to reflect on many things—family, friendships, my work, and staying true to who you are. “https://www.whitehouse.gov/articles/first-lady-melania-trump-personal-experience-covid-19/
President Donald Trump’s youngest son, Barron, tested positive for coronavirus while his parents recovered from Covid-19 but never showed symptoms of the disease – “Luckily he is a strong teenager and exhibited no symptoms.”
Miami & surrounding Southern Florida areas are expected to see a permanent population boost.
According to NBC National News, 52% of Americans plan to start stockpiling food and supplies to prepare for a new round of infections.
RHODE ISLAND & VICINITY
RI was selected to hold NCAA Championship March Madness for the US at The Dunk – but the Governor may eliminate that. Providence was also selected to host in 2025.
With many people still wary of indoor dining as winter approaches, some Massachusetts restaurants are choosing to close their restaurants until the spring in hopes of saving money.
Massachusetts will see a protest at their Governor’s house tonight over eviction assistance.
East Prov High School on Tuesday was closed for cleaning after one staff member tested positive and for contact tracing to be competed.
Bishop Tobin tweeting that isolation is harmful to people – in response to Gov’s expected new restrictions.
Newport Hospital will expand its rapid testing capability.
Johnson & Wales will return to in-person learning next week.
The Pawtucket Foundation, through the Take It Outside Initiative, has Outdoor Seating and Dining Grant Program grants up to $6,000 to create or expand upon outdoor seating and dining opportunities to support outdoor seating or dining starting in fall 2020. Examples of items include: Patio heaters/heat lamps, outdoor lighting, chairs, tables, tents or umbrellas, and fencing. Other items not listed may be requested, though funding for these items is at the discretion of the Foundation. (http://www.pawtucketri.com/city-clerks-office) .
The Atlantic has written an article about safety of opening schools: “But by not opening, we are putting people at risk, too”. (https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/10/schools-arent-superspreaders/616669/)
Governor Raimondo’s office reminds Rhode Islanders of the 3 Ws:
1) Wear your mask: Whenever you are in contact with people outside of your household, you should be wearing a cloth face covering. Masks prevent the spread of COVID-19 through airborne particles. Your mask should be made of at least two layers of washable, breathable fabric and should cover your nose and mouth without gaps. Remember, your mask isn’t just for your protection — it keeps you from spreading COVID-19 to those around you.
2) Wash your hands: You should wash your hands often, especially before handling food or touching your face. Use warm water and soap whenever possible, thoroughly scrubbing your whole hand and nailbed for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water aren’t available, use hand sanitizer that is at least 60% alcohol.
3) Watch your distance: Remain six feet away from people who are not your household contacts whenever physically possible. The more distance you can create between you and other people, the less likely it is that airborne particles from one person will be able to reach another.
With the December 30, 2020 deadline for states to allocate CARES Act funds fast approaching, Lt. Governor Dan McKee today sent a letter to Governor Gina Raimondo urging immediate revisions to the Restore RI Small Business Grant Program to ensure $40M in remaining funds will not expire. The Lt. Governor’s letter was a response to an update from Commerce Rhode Island that affirmed only $10M of the $50M designated for the Restore RI Grant Program has been awarded since the initiative was launched in July. The Lt. Governor warns that at this rate of distribution, Rhode Island is in danger of being forced to return the funds to the federal government as required under CARES Act guidelines. Based on dozens of meetings with small business owners, the Lt. Governor found that many small businesses are discouraged from applying for the grants because of the time-consuming application process paired with the small amount of funding they are eligible to receive. In his letter to the Governor, the Lt. Governor recommends several immediate revisions to the Restore RI Grant Program to ensure funds are swiftly and simply disbursed to small businesses before the deadline:
- Increase the minimum grant amount to $5,000 and create a simplified application process for businesses that qualify for the minimum amount
- Increase the maximum grant amount from $15,000 to $50,000 now that the employee cap is increased from 20 to 50
- For any business that was already approved, automatically double the amount of their grant or award them the new minimum amount of $5,000, whichever is greater
Providence’s Pot au Feu reopened and says it wants to be the safest restaurant in America
Gov. Gina M. Raimondo and R.I. Health Director Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott will be recognized with the Beacon of Hope Award from nonprofit Connecting for Children and Families at the organization’s annual Vision of Hope Awards ceremony, scheduled to be held virtually Oct. 21. They are being recognized for their leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a rare move, Providence Country Day School announced Oct. 1 that the private preparatory school will decrease its tuition for all its grades 6-12 by 35% for the 2021-22 academic year. The school said that tuition for grades 9-12, effective next academic year, will decrease from $39,250 to $25,000 and the middle school – grades 6-8 – will drop from $34,400 to $22,000. A lot of schools across the country were all looking at each other thinking who was going to go first, and we wanted to be a leader here. Affordability is the No. 1 issue on everyone’s mind, especially with the current [COVID-19] pandemic going on.”
Car pools are good for the environment and help ease congestion, but they can be risky in the midst of a pandemic. That’s the warning the Rhode Island Department of Health is sounding after tracing a spate of new infections to car pool clusters.So far, the number of infections is tiny.“Of all the people who have tested positive, roughly 15 have reported carpooling in the 14 days before symptom onset,” Rhode Island Health Department spokesman Joseph Wendelken said Tuesday in an email to NBC News. “They work for eight different organizations.”But Rhode Island is a tiny and very congested state. The average commute for state residents traveling by car, public transportation and other means is about 24.8 minutes, according to U.S. Census and other data compiled by the IndexMundi website.And many Rhode Islanders commute to work in Boston, which has some of the worst traffic in the nation.It wasn’t immediately clear how many Rhode Islanders rely on car pools. But a Brookings Institution analysis of 2016 census data found that 76 percent of Americans drive alone to work and just nine percent use car pools.Still, far more people carpool in the United States than use public transportation, according to an analysis of more recent census data by the venerable Eno Center for Transportation.
The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center is stretching its typically-seasonal Veggie Day program into the winter months.
Pawtucket Councilor Terry Mercer publicly backed the school board at an Oct. 7 council meeting, saying the governor’s assessment was “completely inaccurate” on several fronts, and he supports the committee entirely in its decision to have distance learning through the end of the calendar year. More: https://www.valleybreeze.com/2020-10-13/pawtucket/pawtucket-officials-defend-distance-learning#.X4gPoll7lmA
Data: 2.7% positives yesterday with testing. Way too high. Highest in 2 months. Aug. 3rd was highest. Deaths: 8 – this weekend: 9 deaths. 160 new cases. 131 hospitalized. 13 in ICU. 4 on ventilators. 8 new deaths: 4 yesterday. 2 in 60s, 1 in 70s, 3 in 80s, 2 in 90s.
Trend in wrong direction – time to course correct. Last week it was 1.6%. Expect next week to be even higher than this week. Big jump in new hospitalizations – last week, 106; previous week, 67; Past 5 weeks, doubling of hospitalizations. Still well below our capacity for rooms, ventilators and beds. A lot of testing does raise those numbers.
Wake-up call – mask wearing, stay home if sick, social distancing.
Case Trends – this outbreak is new. This is from small social gatherings. We know this is not schools. Not congregate care. (not nursing homes). Overwhelming number of cases spiking up are from small family and friend gatherings. Not wearing masks, not social distancing. This is what is going on all across US. Dr. Birx was raising an alarm bell for New England about small gatherings upticking the numbers.
Workplaces & Extended Family – you must keep your masks on. Small barbecue, break room, car pools, after funerals, etc.
The Wisconsin case – Seeing similar what we are seeing. Same problem, small gatherings. 250% increase in hospitalizations in 3 weeks. Percent positives more than doubled. Weekly case rate of 290 per 100K and they have to open a field hospital. This could be RI if we don’t get a handle on this. They have mandatory mask wearing.
New regs tomorrow – another press conference tomorrow – FB live on Friday.
One specific ask: anytime you are out of your home – wear your mask, keep your distance. “I don’t care if you go to visit your brother, and there’s just the two of you.” Keep distance. STAY OUTSIDE. Particularly true of older people and those with underlying conditions.
If you planned a Halloween party – CANCEL IMMEDIATELY.
Thanksgiving – if you are planning dinner, think about not traveling – not going.
Restrictions announced tomorrow – we are not going to be moving back to Phase 2. Not going to say we need to close down restaurants and commerce. Economic crisis is brutal. Need to keep working. No evidence to suggest kids in school are a problem. Will think targeted, data driven restrictions – small social gatherings, gatherings at work, etc.
We will enforce with more strength restrictions we put together tomorrow. Worried about Halloween and Thanksgiving.
Testing – need to increase to asymptomatic Rhode Islanders. Portal.ri.gov to sign up for free asymptomatic test – teachers, restaurant workers, clergy, house party attendees, etc.
Mandatory testing of asymptomatic people.
This week is deadline for all schools to be in school. Most districts have done a great job of meeting this deadline.
Providence & Central Falls Schools – in-person going well for young kids, ESL and special needs. Keeping these 2 cities in partial opening through end of semester. Concerned with trends we’re seeing in these dense areas.
Pawtucket – a big thank you, but a huge disappointment for the School Committee: why is it you are robbing the children of Pawtucket of the opportunity to learn in school? They are going to school everywhere else. I’m devastated for those kids and those parents. Asking Mayor and School Committee and Supt. to step up and do what you can to get as many kids in-school as is safely possible.
CommerceRI – expanded relief – Restore grants. Expansion to non-profits for grants. Take It Outside initiative big success.
NEW: US Supreme Court rules US Census will stop today.
K-12 Data has been upgraded. Systems are working, not seeing big outbreaks of cases. Testing and tracing is working around the clock. TY to school leaders for leadership. Please consult first about going virtual if 1 or 2 children test positive – it’s usually not necessary.
Governor said she will be tested weekly now – how many times have you been tested – 3 times – weekly cadence now going forward. Wants to lead by example. Public leaders should test more often.
New system of asymptomatic MANDATORY testing coming out next week – all commuters to CCRI or RIC as an example.
Are you going to force people to get tested who don’t want to be tested? You can’t really. You offer it. Make it free, easy, regular basis. You don’t want to have just the worried well get tested.
Small gatherings – how are you going to enforce that? Rules on small gatherings. We are NOT going to enforce – we are going to ask people to do the right thing.
Are we on the Second Wave? Is this Phase Two? Is this beginning of another lockdown? It is NOT the spring, Gov. says – we are testing and tracing…Gov says she is concerned about data, but good about the systems. If we don’t change, we will then have to go back a phase. If we look like Wisconsin, then that will happen.
Congregate Care Settings – No, things are looking pretty good in congregate care. We’re testing and isolating. Colleges are getting under control.
Money for small businesses – distributed only 20% of help so far – 1,400 businesses. Not as fast and as much as possible – restoreri.com – expanded to sole proprietors, child care and now nonprofits. 11 weeks to end of the year. Why not put more money out the door now? You will lose it if you don’t distribute it now. Reasonably confident there will be an extension. Gov: We Will Not Give the Money Back.
WHO says to step away from shutdowns. When will these lockdowns end? Gov says we do not have a lockdown – we can go out to dinner, etc. ?? We are in a reasonable targeted set of restrictions that will save people’s lives and jobs.
No evidence, world-wide that there is real spread in K-12. We are getting these kids in school. The Atlantic article shows no cause for teachers, etc. to be so concerned. Q: Why don’t you see kids testing positive a reason for concern in schools? A: It’s hard to be a teacher. We’re doing everything we can.
Who is getting hospitalized? And deaths? No significant in K-12, 2 hospitalizations in colleges (went home in 24 hrs) Community members and older people are getting sicker and staying in the hospital longer.
What’s the plan for school with cold weather? Answer? Bundle up.
Tomorrow Gov. will go through all the new restrictions and all the new enforcements.
Municipality List has been updated: Oct. 14, 2020
Summary of cases by city/town:
Macron, leader of France, has been extraordinary curfew measures into effect in Paris and surrounding large cities…