Coronavirus Newsbites

CNN Coronavirus Update
America seems unable to get out of the first phase of the pandemic. The US is the worst-hit country globally, and the virus is now the third-largest cause of death in the country -- killing more people than Alzheimer's disease, accidents and diabetes.

The US has had the worst response to Covid-19 of any major country, expert says
The US has had the worst response to Covid-19 of any major country, Dr. Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Institute of Health, said Monday.

... “We didn’t get here overnight. This has really been one mishap after another,” Jha said. “The single factor that really differentiates us from everybody else is denialism that has pervaded our entire approach.” Jha said that the US has gone from believing that coronavirus was a hoax, to believing it was the flu, to now thinking the pandemic is nearly over because a vaccine is two months away.

“One message,” he said. “The vaccine is not two months away and we are nowhere near done with this pandemic.”

... Jha sees more challenges and “muddling along” in the coming weeks and months, with the pandemic being fought on a state-by-state basis. “What I’m worried about is that there will continue to be no real national strategy,” he said. “When things are bad in Florida, you can’t really protect New York or New Jersey or Washington state. We are all in this together.”

UNC-Chapel Hill reverses plans for in-person classes after 130 students test positive for Covid-19
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill abruptly decided it will no longer hold in-person classes on campus after about 130 students tested positive for Covid-19 in the first week since classes began.

In the past week, the Covid-19 positivity rate among students rose to 13.6% of the 954 students tested, and five employees also tested positive, according to the university’s Covid-19 dashboard. As of Monday morning, 177 students were in isolation and 349 were in quarantine, both on and off-campus.

The stunning rise in cases, just a week after classes began, illustrates the speed of Covid-19 and the difficulties of bringing young people into proximity during the pandemic, even as students begin their return to college campuses.

Fauci: "We've got our work cut out for us" when it comes to vaccine hesitancy
Vaccine skeptics and vaccine hesitancy can hurt efforts to protect Americans if and when a coronavirus vaccine comes out, America’s leading infectious disease expert said Monday.

“We have our work cut out for us,” Dr. Anthony Fauci said during an American Society for Microbiology briefing. “Society is not just jumping around waiting to get a vaccine. It’s not,” Fauci added. “We have got to change that.”

Fauci said there was some cause for optimism, and cited past experience with getting people to trust in treatments and preventions for HIV/AIDS as a roadmap for gaining trust. Clinical trial networks that get into the community, get the word out and generate enthusiasm will play a big role in improving the trust of Americans in an eventual coronavirus vaccine, he said.

New Zealand's Jacinda Ardern hits back at Trump, saying he is 'patently wrong' to suggest her country is experiencing a 'big surge' in coronavirus cases
  • New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern says Donald Trump is 'patently wrong' to suggest her country is experiencing a 'big surge' in coronavirus cases.
  • Trump claimed this week that New Zealand was in the midst of a 'terrible' upsurge in coronavirus cases.
  • New Zealand has been widely praised for containing the coronavirus but reported a small outbreak of cases this week linked to one family.

Poll: 6 in 10 Americans Oppose Reopening Schools In Person
As President Donald Trump continues to pressure states and schools districts to reopen in person in order to jump-start the economy – going so far as to condition federal aid on it – 61% of voters believe instead that returning students to brick-and-mortar schools will harm the economy further by fueling the spread of the coronavirus.

The findings are among those in a new poll from the Peterson Foundation, conducted among 1,001 likely 2020 voters across socioeconomic groups and across the country between Aug. 5-19.

While the poll found majority opposition to reopening schools for in-person instruction across all regions of the U.S., it also revealed a significant and perhaps unsurprising partisan divide, with 84% of Democrats opposing such reopening plans compared to 63% of independents and 30% of Republicans.

Across the country, 64% percent of voters said they are not confident that it will be safe for K-12 schools to reopen in person, according to the poll, with Democrats, Black voters, Hispanic voters and women the least confident.

The findings come as state education chiefs, school superintendents, principals and educators are scrambling to reopen schools for some 50 million children enrolled in the country's public school system, the majority of whom will be starting the school year remotely or with a hybrid model.

How MyPillow founder and CEO Mike Lindell went from exemplifying Trump's image of American entrepreneurship to touting a dubious coronavirus 'cure' to the FDA through the president
  • MyPillow founder and CEO Mike Lindell, a major Trump supporter and donor, has formed a close allyship with the president since the entrepreneur was first tapped for an event promoting American manufacturers.
  • Earlier this week, the MyPillow CEO has recently been embroiled in controversy with regards to his support for an unproven coronavirus "cure," the botanical extract oleandrin.
  • Lindell sits on the board of Phoenix Biotechnology, the company developing the product and has a financial stake in Phoenix, thus benefiting from potential sales of the product.

'Yes': Jared Kushner calls US handling of coronavirus a success story after being questioned on 170,000 death toll
Donald Trump’s son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner has described the administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic as a success – even as around 1,000 Americans are still dying every day. Interviewing Mr Kushner on CNN’s The Situation Room, host Wolf Blitzer played a clip from April in which Mr Kushner predicted that by July the country would be “really rocking again” after a “great success story” for the Trump administration. “More than 170,000 Americans are now dead from this pandemic over the last five or six months,” asked Mr Blitzer after rolling the tape. “Are 170,000 dead Americans, would you still suggest that this has been a success story?” ... Mr Kushner replied that while one American dying each day would be too much, the figure has dropped markedly since April and the case fatality rate has declined. He then urged Mr Blitzer to change the subject to developments in the Middle East.

Trump attacks Michelle Obama for citing an outdated COVID-19 death toll in her pre-recorded DNC speech. 20,000 more Americans have died since she recorded her speech
  • President Donald Trump attacked former First Lady Michelle Obama on Tuesday by pointing out that she cited an outdated coronavirus death toll in her pre-recorded DNC speech.
  • "She was over her head, and frankly, she should've made the speech live, which she didn't do," Trump told reporters. "She taped it. And it was not only taped, it was taped a long time ago, because she had the wrong deaths."
  • Trump's remarks were a reminder that his administration has largely failed to control the spread of COVID-19.