The Australian state of Victoria reported zero new coronavirus deaths in the past 24 hours, according to its Department of Health and Human Services, the first time in two months since infections surged in July.
“Yesterday there were 42 new cases reported and 0 lives lost. Our thoughts are with all affected. The 14 day rolling average & number of cases with unknown source are down from yesterday as we move toward COVID Normal,” the DHHS tweeted on Tuesday.
New phase of reopening: Victoria’s Premier Daniel Andrews announced that regional Victoria would enter the third phase of its reopening on Wednesday. The state capital Melbourne, however, will remain under lockdown restrictions until September 28.
“Having reached a 14-day average of 3.6 and with no mystery cases, regional Victoria has reached the necessary ‘trigger point’ in our road map – meaning our public health experts have advised we can take this next step,” Andrews said in a statement Tuesday.
In the third phase of reopening, the government will allow “household bubbles,” where one household can choose another household to visit with up to five visitors.
The third phase will also allow for outdoor and non-contact sports, and up to 10 people will be allowed for public gatherings. The third phase will also allow for regional travel and businesses to reopen with proper social distancing measures, Andrews said.
Local health officials have ordered a number of Michigan State University fraternities and sororities to quarantine for two weeks following hundreds of reported cases in the area.
In an emergency order issued on Monday, Ingham County Health Department listed 30 addresses in East Lansing, Michigan, that will be required to quarantine from Monday until September 28.
“Through case investigation, the Ingham County Health Department (ICHD) has identified congregate housing in the city of East Lansing as a risk factor,” Linda Vail, a health officer for the Ingham County Health Department, wrote in the order. “The health department has identified several fraternity and sorority houses, and several large rental houses with known cases or exposure to COVID-19.”
Surging infections: The decision comes after at least 342 people affiliated with the university have tested positive for Covid-19 since August 24, the health department said.
Ingham County experienced a 52% increase in total case count since August 24, with one third of Ingham County cases since the pandemic started being reported in the past three weeks. The majority of all new cases reported come from students at Michigan State University.
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Japan recorded 270 new Covid-19 cases on Monday, the lowest daily spike since July 13 before the country was hit by a second wave of infections, according to the Health Ministry.
Nine new deaths were also recorded Monday, bringing the total death toll to 1,464, with the total caseload at 76,670, the Health Ministry said.
Eighty new cases were recorded in Tokyo on Monday, marking the first time the capital’s daily new infections fell below 100 in eight days, according to the Tokyo metropolitan government. The city has reported a total of 23,083 cases.
As daily infections drop, authorities are planning to ease restrictions. In central Tokyo, the 10 p.m. closure request for bars and restaurants that serve alcohol will end today.
The people responsible for a weekly report released by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have been in “trench warfare” with Washington officials over the report’s scientific integrity, infectious disease specialist Dr. William Schaffner said Monday.
Schaffner said he was “very disturbed” by the news that Trump-appointed officials at the Department of Health and Human Services pushed the CDC to change its weekly science reports so they would not undermine President Donald Trump’s political messages.
“I’ve since learned that the people who run that program, who put out that bulletin, have been in trench warfare with the folks in Washington,” Schaffner told Bioreports. “They have struggled and succeeded, I think, in maintaining the scientific integrity of those reports, but that struggle continues.”
Schaffner, a professor of infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center who spent a brief time at CDC and who often works closely with the agency, added that it’s “totally inappropriate” for Washington to try to influence the report, but the American people can still trust the information they are getting from the CDC.
“We can trust what we’re getting. These are professional people,” said Schaffner. “They’re just working on behalf of the American people.”
Former United States Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson said Monday that President Donald Trump’s comments that “nothing more could have been done” to handle the coronavirus pandemic was “absurd.”
“By mid-April here in the northeast in the New York-New Jersey area where I live, the densest part of the country, we knew how to flatten the curve,” Johnson said. “We knew how to slow the spread of the virus through aggressive physical distancing, through hygiene, wearing masks, but after April even though things slowed down here in the northeast, we had the spikes in the rest of the country simply because our national leadership, our President, allowed this to become a political issue.”
Some context: Trump’s comments were from an Aug. 14 call he made to veteran journalist Bob Woodward. It was their 19th conversation, following 18 interviews that formed a key component of Woodward’s book “Rage.” Trump had privately told Woodward in February he knew critical details about how deadly the virus was, and in March admitted he was playing it down.
“This didn’t have to be this way,” Johnson said. “You have a nation on Earth with the mightiest public health care apparatus, that has had the most dismal public health care response and it didn’t have to be this way.”
The Covid-19 pandemic has worsened mental health issues, especially for young people of color, a mental health expert said Monday.
Isha Weerasinghe, who leads mental health work for the Center for Law and Social Policy, said that poor support for mental health in many communities has been made worse during the pandemic. She cited a lack of connectedness due to isolation, economic hardships, increased stress due to police brutality and its impacts, and anti-Asian violence and bullying.
“You pair that with increased anxiety and increased isolation, it’s no wonder that there have been increased mental health conditions, adverse mental health conditions, which includes self-harm and suicide ideation and attempts,” Weerasinghe said at an American Foundation for Suicide Prevention briefing.
She added that the lack of access to health care in many communities extends to a lack of mental health care.
“There have been, of course, through the pandemic relaxed regulations in terms of telehealth, but when we’re talking about people living in low income communities and households … they are privileges that only some of us are able to access,” Weerasinghe said.
Many of these communities were burdened with higher levels of mental health issues before the pandemic began.
She cited data from recent years showing disproportionately high rates of suicide, self-harm, anxiety and depression among young people of color, whose communities have now been hit harder by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We’ve seen an egregious increase in suicide rates for Native young people, said Weerasinghe, citing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Fatal Injury and Violence data from 2016 to 2018. “We’ve seen an increase in suicide rates in Black and Hispanic young men, and we’ve seen an increase in rates of non-fatal self-harm for all young people, with an increase particularly among Black young people.”
The CDC recently released a report showing more people were thinking about suicide this June.
Nearly 550,000 children in the US have been diagnosed with Covid-19 since the onset of the pandemic, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association.
The groups found that 72,993 new child cases were reported from Aug. 27 through Sept. 10. This is a 15% increase in child cases over two weeks, bringing the total to at least 549,432 cases, the groups said in their weekly report on pediatric coronavirus cases.
Cases listed by age are provided by health department websites of 49 states, New York City, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Guam, but only a subset of states report hospitalizations and mortality by age.
From the data available from 24 states and New York City, children made up 0.6% to 3.6% of total reported hospitalizations, and between 0.3% and 8.2% of all child Covid-19 cases ended up in the hospital. From the 42 states that track mortality by age, children were 0% to 0.3% of deaths, and 18 states that reported on deaths by age had no deaths among children.
The AAP would like even more detailed reporting from states.
“At this time, it appears that severe illness due to Covid-19 is rare among children,” the report said. “However, states should continue to provide detailed reports on Covid-19 cases, testing, hospitalizations, and mortality by age and race/ethnicity so that the effects of Covid-19 on children’s health can be documented and monitored.”
Children represent nearly 10% of all reported cases in the US, according to the report. The child cases are likely underreported because the tally relies on state data that is inconsistently collected.