Coronavirus Newsbites

Covid-19 superspreading event in Boston may have led to 20,000 cases, researcher says
One superspreading event may be connected to about 20,000 coronavirus cases in the Boston area, a researcher said on Tuesday. That event, a biotech conference attended by 200 people in late February, is now well known as a source of Covid-19 spread very early on in the pandemic.

The new study -- which has not yet been peer-reviewed -- claims to provide "direct evidence" that superspreading can profoundly alter the course of an epidemic.

U.S. Coronavirus Cases Top 6 Million
Confirmed cases of the coronavirus have topped six million in the United States and 25 million globally.

Twenty-two days.

It took more than three months for the United States to reach one million coronavirus cases after reporting its first confirmed infection, but less than a third of that time to notch the latest million-case leap.

California, as its infection rate falls, becomes the first state to top 700,000 known cases.
California this weekend became the first state to pass 700,000 known coronavirus cases, according to a New York Times database, even as its infection rate continued a steep decline.

By far the most populous state in the country, California has not been among the most severely affected by the virus on a per-capita basis: It ranks 21st among the states in cases and 26th in deaths per 100,000 residents. But along with the Sun Belt states, it has been among the hardest hit in the virus’s summer resurgence.

As cases decline in many states, the Dakotas report record numbers of new infections.
The number of new coronavirus cases in most of the United States is declining, but some states, including North and South Dakota, are announcing high numbers of new infections. Both states announced single-day records on Saturday: more than 370 in North Dakota and more than 420 in South Dakota.

... 28 coronavirus cases in North Dakota had been linked to the two-week motorcycle rally in the city of Sturgis that ended on Aug. 16.

In South Dakota, 88 cases have been associated with the rally, health department officials said at a briefing. Meade County, where Sturgis is located, reported 68 new cases on Thursday for a single-day record, and added a record 127 over the past week.

Minnesota, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Montana, Wyoming and Washington have also reported cases linked to the rally, according to The Associated Press.

Trump Program to Cover Uninsured Covid-19 Patients Falls Short of Promise
Some patients are still receiving staggering bills. Others don’t qualify because conditions other than Covid-19 were their primary diagnosis.

... The program has drawn little attention since, but a review by The New York Times of payments made through it, as well as interviews with hospital executives, patients and health policy researchers who have examined the payments, suggest the quickly concocted plan has not lived up to its promise. It has caused confusion at participating hospitals, which in some cases have mistakenly billed patients like Ms. Cortez who should be covered by it. Few patients seem to know the program exists, so they don’t question the charges. And some hospitals and other medical providers have chosen not to participate in the program, which bars them from seeking any payment from patients whose bills they submit to it.

Large numbers of patients have also been disqualified because Covid-19 has to be the primary diagnosis for a case to be covered (unless the patient is pregnant). Since hospitalized Covid patients often have other serious medical conditions, many have other primary diagnoses. At Jackson Health in Miami, for example, only 60 percent of uninsured Covid-19 patients had decisively met the requirements to have their charges covered under the program as of late July, a spokeswoman said.

‘Here We Go Again’: A Second Virus Wave Grips Spain
In the past week, Spain has recorded more than 53,000 new coronavirus cases, far more than anywhere else in Europe.

One of the hardest-hit European countries in the early stages of the pandemic, Spain reined it in with a strict lockdown, but then reopened rapidly. The return of nightlife and group activities has contributed to the resurgence.

But the mortality rate is roughly half the rate at the height of crisis in May. And national coordination is improving. Testing speeds are accelerating. The central government last week agreed to deploy 2,000 soldiers as contact tracers.

“It’s not like the first wave,” said Carmen Cerezo, 38, a train attendant waiting outside the Mรกlaga hospital while her father was tested for coronavirus inside. “We’re calmer now.”

China's Exports Are Surging Despite Tariffs and Coronavirus
China has come roaring back, with exports soaring to their second-highest level ever.

The country has grabbed a much larger share of global markets this summer from other manufacturing nations, establishing dominance in trade that could last long after the world begins to recover from the pandemic.

The export blitz came despite President Trump’s move to impose broad tariffs on Chinese goods, pressure on companies to shift production away from China, and the pandemic that crippled factories in January.

United, Delta, American Say They Are Dropping Change Fees For Domestic Flights
As airlines try to coax back customers wary of flying during the COVID-19 pandemic, United Airlines is bowing to consumer demand and permanently getting rid of many change fees.

"It's no secret that the coronavirus pandemic has had a historic economic impact on airlines," United CEO Scott Kirby said in a video statement. "When we hear from customers about where we can improve, getting rid of this fee is often the top request."

Previously the standard domestic change fee for the airline was $200. United said Sunday that it was "permanently getting rid of change fees on all standard Economy and Premium cabin tickets for travel within the U.S."

As of Jan. 1, 2021, the carrier also will allow customers to fly same-day standby for free – a service that used to cost $75 for people who didn't have status in its rewards program.

Delta's change applies to tickets within the domestic U.S., Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands. It does not include Basic Economy tickets, the airline's lower-cost fares.

American said that "change fees for all domestic and short-haul international flying on Premium Cabin fares and most Main Cabin fares will be eliminated."

Trump retweets false claim that CDC cut Covid-19 death toll by 94%
Social media posts shared thousands of times and retweeted by President Donald Trump claim the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cut the national Covid-19 death toll by 94 percent, citing a CDC comorbidity chart. The claim is false; the head of the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) said everyone included in the fatalities died from Covid-19 but the disease usually causes additional conditions, which are also listed.