As the United States approaches 200,000 coronavirus deaths, Dr. Tom Frieden, a former US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director, said Wednesday that the number of reported deaths are a “reflection of a failing national response.”
“The actual number is higher because not all deaths have been identified and this is just a horrifying number,” Frieden told Bioreports’s Wolf Blitzer. “It’s more people than die from suicide or overdose or homicide or HIV. In fact, Covid is on track to be the number three leading cause of death in all of the US for this year.”
The former CDC director said he’s concerned that Americans will get “hardened” to the number of coronavirus deaths.
As of Wednesday afternoon, the US has reported at least 196,465 coronavirus deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.
According to Johns Hopkins, 1,293 deaths were reported Tuesday, which is the highest one-day total since Aug. 19.
“If you look at Germany, one fifth are death rate,” Frieden said. “If you look at South Korea, 80 times fewer deaths than we’ve had. These are lives that have been lost and jobs that have been lost because we haven’t had an organized, consistent, coherent federal response.”
Mistrust in government agencies is hindering Covid-19 surveillance efforts, Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, said Wednesday.
“It is very challenging in many areas today, where we’re seeing people who do not want to participate in any kind of follow up with regard to surveillance, because of their distrust of government and the public health system,” Osterholm said during an American Public Health Association webinar.
Osterholm said that challenges in agencies, like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and US Food and Drug Administration, have eroded trust in the whole public health system.
“There has been more than enough public discussion of challenges about the validity of the information coming from those areas, that then often will translate into the public’s trust of even state and local health departments and the compliance with contact tracers,” Osterholm said.
Public health experts have long warned that the Covid-19 pandemic could worsen the world’s hunger crises. Now it appears that the number of people who face acute food insecurity has doubled, said Valerie Guarnieri, the World Food Program’s assistant executive director.
“Last year, we had anticipated — based on all of the assessments and all of the projections — that the number of people in a state of severe food insecurity this year would be 135 million,” Guarnieri told reporters during a virtual meeting hosted by the United Nations Foundation on Wednesday. “As a result of Covid, we are now anticipating that that number will be 270 million — so basically a doubling of acute food insecurity as a result of Covid and the Covid compounding impact on pre-existing crises.”
She said the World Food Program is looking to scale up its efforts to reach 138 million people who are food insecure this year.
The Global Network Against Food Crises — launched by the European Union, the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Food Program — released a report on Tuesday detailing how the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic are driving up acute hunger in vulnerable countries that were already facing food crises.
More details: The report notes that while currently the Democratic Republic of the Congo has the largest food crisis in absolute numbers, there has been a nearly 300% increase in acute food insecurity in Burkina Faso, a 73% increase in northern Nigeria, a 67% increase in Somalia and a 64% increase in Sudan.
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker spoke about the financial impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic and impacts on housing in the state, saying he would extend the state’s eviction moratorium for an additional 30 days.
Pritzker said at a news conference on Wednesday that he would continue to work with leaders in the general assembly and Congress to advocate for more federal assistance to keep people in their homes.
“Over 100,000 Illinois tenants and homeowners applied for our assistance program. But we only have enough funds to support approximately 40,000 of them. And ours is the largest pandemic housing stability program in the nation. It is for that reason that I will be extending out eviction moratorium for an additional 30 days,” he said.
The governor also said there have been outbreaks of Covid-19 over the summer, tied to youth sports across the state and across the world.
“Over the summer we saw outbreaks across Illinois and around the world, tied to a variety of youth sports leagues. Those continue today even among the lowest risk youth sports,” Pritzker said.
Over the past two weeks, the governor said, nearly every region in the state has seen a stable or declining positivity rate.
He said the Illinois Department of Public Health will continue to monitor the positivity over the next few says and that if the trend holds for three days, “we will remove the resurgence mitigations and return the entire region to phase four of the Restore Illinois Plan.”
Of all the viral diseases and emerging infections that he’s encountered throughout his career, Dr. Anthony Fauci said he has “never seen anything with a range” like the novel coronavirus, which he said suggests factors other than underlying medical conditions affect disease severity.
At least 40% of patients have no symptoms, while some stay ill for months on end, Fauci said.
“It’s just completely unique to see that degree of variability of a single microbe, which means there are things that are determining that, that we still at this point don’t understand,” Fauci said.
“It isn’t just whether you have an underlying disease or not – it’s just not the case. It’s something more than that,” he added during a virtual panel on the global pandemic sponsored by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute.
He said one of those factors may be “the rate of expression of ACE2 receptors.” These are molecular doorways into cells that the novel coronavirus appears to favor. Some cells have more of these receptors than others do.
Fauci said this variability has created confusion. It’s helped fuel misunderstandings about who can spread the virus and when.
“One of the things we’re dealing with in this country is a real lack of understanding of the importance of everybody trying to prevent getting infected rather than inadvertently… propagating the outbreak,” he said.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post incorrectly described the number of patients who lack coronavirus symptoms. It is at least 40%.
During a Covid-19 briefing Wednesday, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy addressed the party organized by YouTubers that authorities broke up Monday evening, calling it an “egregious display of knucklehead behavior” and “irresponsible from top to bottom in every respect.”
Murphy said that it took a “substantial” amount of law enforcement resources from neighboring towns to break up the party and urged attendees to get tested.
“We are continuing to see case numbers climb among young people. Many of these cases and clusters are a result of parties and social gatherings,” state health commissioner Judy Persichilli added.
Since mid-August, the percent positivity rate among 14-18 year-olds has grown from 3% to 7%, while for 19-24 year olds it’s risen from 2.7% to 7.1%, she said.
Murphy said that “the system is working inside the walls” of schools, while the state’s greater concern is what is happening outside of them. He went on to clarify that the state does not have any clear evidence of in-school transmission of the virus, and that proper protocol has been followed thus far if a case does arise.
What the latest numbers are: Murphy reported 447 new positive Covid-19 cases, bringing the state’s total to 197,792.
As of Sept. 12, New Jersey’s daily positivity rate is 2.06%, said Murphy, while the statewide rate of transmission remains at 1.06.
There were nine new fatalities reported, bringing state’s total to 14,263 virus-related deaths.
One thing to note: These numbers released by the New Jersey Department of Health may not line up exactly in real time with Bioreports’s database drawn from Johns Hopkins University and the Covid Tracking Project.
Miami Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez announced Wednesday that he will be signing an order to allow “certain indoor spaces” to opening on Friday.
The order will apply to movie theaters, bowling alleys, concert halls, convention spaces, banquet halls and certain indoor amusement venues, said Gimenez.
These businesses “can open at 50% capacity, but they must follow the guidelines in place, including obviously wearing masks, distancing of six feet and special HVAC systems to bring more fresh air into those spaces,” Gimenez said.
Gimenez said businesses must also follow food consumption rules established for casinos.
“No food or beverages will be allowed while watching movies or bowling, there must be designated areas for food and drink where people can take off their masks and practice social distancing”, said Gimenez.
As for bars and other entertainment venues, Gimenez said he plans to meet with medical experts and business owners next week “to discuss what’s doable in the future.”
The mayor said the county’s infection rate has steadily remained “under 5% daily.”
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci said Wednesday that he believes a coronavirus vaccine may be proven safe and effective by November or December of this year.
‘‘I would still put my money on November/December,” Fauci said, during a Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute panel on global pandemics.
Fauci said that current modeling indicates that about 150 infections need to occur in a vaccine trial to be able to make a determination of efficacy.
“Right now, the trials are over two thirds enrolled – really close to full enrollment on one, and over full enrollment on the other,” he said.
He pointed out that some people, like himself, think it’s likely that an answer about efficacy will be ready by November or December, while others have said it could be as early as October.
“It really depends on where the sites are and how many infections there are in a site,” Fauci said. “So you could get your answer sooner, or you can get your answer a bit later.”
Fauci said his projection of November or December is informed by calculations based on where the clinical trial sites are in their studies.
The final Covid-19 case count on Tuesday for the US has been corrected by Johns Hopkins University to 39,617 cases and 1,293 deaths. Earlier numbers should not be used.
With this fix, Tuesday’s death count is still the highest one-day total since Aug. 19.
Yesterday’s new case numbers are now in line with recent averages. The US is currently averaging 38,037 new Covid-19 cases a day, which is up 5% from the previous week.
The university explained that the discrepancy was the result of both a data dump in Alabama’s numbers and a misreading on its part, which led to a double count on a single day.
States often have data dumps when they change how to report cases/deaths, and the university normally redistributes those cases to the proper days.
The data dump and the dashboard error have both been fixed, the university told Bioreports.