Covid-19 🦠 Newsbites
200,000 people have died from Covid-19 in the US. That's more than the US battle deaths from 5 wars combined
What happened today seemed impossible to many Americans six months ago.

When Dr. Anthony Fauci predicted in March that Covid-19 could kill 200,000 people in the US, skeptics lambasted him and accused him of fearmongering.

But Fauci was right. And the US reached that bleak milestone much earlier than some experts predicted.

Behind those numbers are people: A beloved radio host, a navy veteran, a progressive pastor, 20-year-old siblings.

Covid-19 is now the second-leading cause of death in the US, just after heart disease, according to the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME).

What happens next with the pandemic largely depends on personal responsibility and how much Americans are willing to fight this battle together.

Already, Covid-19 has killed more people in the US than Americans killed in battle during the five most recent wars combined: the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Iraq War, the War in Afghanistan and the Persian Gulf War.

... What did Trump have to say about the desperate milestone? "It's a shame."

Trump again minimizes the pandemic as officials warn of a fall surge
A new clash between Donald Trump's political goals and his duties to public health threatens to deprive America of presidential leadership in the critical weeks that will decide if a second wave of Covid-19 swamps the country this winter.

As the US death toll from the pandemic passed 200,000, Dr. Anthony Fauci warned Tuesday that he was worried that the high base level of infections could make it difficult to keep the virus under control in the colder months.

While the government's top infectious diseases specialist, who has been marginalized by Trump, said serious trouble was not "inevitable," he added at the Citizen by CNN conference that "it's not acceptable to not realize that we are entering into a risk period and we've got to act accordingly."

But there is no visible sign of concern from the White House about this potential pivot point on which thousands of lives may depend. That may be because it coincides with the moment of highest tension in a presidential race in which the President is trying to convince voters that the worst of the emergency has passed.

"I think we've done an amazing job ... in my opinion we're rounding the turn," the President said in an interview with a local Fox station in Detroit in which he continued to minimize the danger. On Monday, he had claimed the virus "affects virtually nobody" while doubling down on previous claims that young people are "virtually immune" -- a staggering comment on the eve of such a tragic milestone.

'It affects virtually nobody': Fact-checking Trump's continued efforts to downplay the risks of coronavirus
Trump continues to try to falsely narrow the types of people affected by coronavirus. For one, it's not true that the virus only affects elderly people with heart or other health problems. It's also clearly not true that the virus "affects virtually nobody." Trump's comments ignore warnings from public health officials about how contagious the virus is. Even if people who catch the virus don't get that sick, they are still liable to transmit it to others who may be more at risk. Research shows the effects of getting the virus can also be long-lasting.

As of September 16, the under 65 population accounts for the majority of cases and about 20% of US coronavirus deaths, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The elderly, specifically individuals over age 65, represent only around 15% of cases according to the CDC, but they account for more than three-quarters of US coronavirus deaths. Young, previously healthy people have also died from the virus.

... It's also important to note more than 40% of US adults have at least one underlying condition that can put them at higher risk of severe complications from Covid-19, according to the CDC. Those conditions include obesity, heart disease, diabetes and chronic kidney disease.

People who have cancer, an organ transplant, sickle cell anemia, poorly controlled HIV or any autoimmune disorder are also at higher risk.

And Covid-19 patients with pre-existing conditions -- regardless of their age -- are six times more likely to be hospitalized and 12 times more likely to die from the disease than those without pre-existing conditions, CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta said.

Washington Post: Pentagon used funds for coronavirus response supplies for jet engine parts, body armor
The Defense Department used portions of a $1 billion fund from Congress meant to aid in procuring medical supplies for the coronavirus pandemic response to purchase military equipment, The Washington Post reported Tuesday.

Defense contractors were awarded "hundreds of millions of dollars from the fund, mostly for projects that have little to do with the coronavirus response" weeks after the $2 trillion stimulus package, the CARES Act, was passed in March, according to the newspaper.

Firms like Rolls-Royce and ArcelorMittal received $183 million to "maintain the shipbuilding industry" and "tens of millions of dollars" were given for space surveillance, drone and satellite technology, the Post reported. Spirit AeroSystems, Inc., a Wichita, Kansas aircraft parts business, was awarded $80 million and American Woolen Company, a manufacturer of Army dress uniform fabric in Connecticut, was awarded $2 million, according to the Post.

The newspaper also reported that some defense contractors were given the funds from the Defense Department while they were also tapped into the Paycheck Protection Program, which allocated billions of dollars in forgivable loans to the small businesses impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

Pentagon spokesperson Jessica Maxwell said the CARES Act does not require all the money distributed to be spent on medical resources.

Notre Dame postpones football game after multiple student-athletes test positive for Covid-19
The University of Notre Dame was forced to postpone its football game against Wake Forest on Saturday after multiple student-athletes tested positive for Covid-19.

Seven out of 94 football players on the Fighting Irish tested positive, Notre Dame said in a news release Tuesday. Those individuals are in isolation and contact tracing is underway.

In a statement, Notre Dame Athletics announced that the football program has decided to pause all football-related activities until further testing can be completed. Combined with testing results from last week, a total of 13 football players are now in isolation with 10 in quarantine.

...As of Tuesday, Notre Dame has 408 confirmed cases among the campus community in South Bend, Indiana, according to its Covid-19 dashboard. The university has 8,731 undergraduates and 3,950 graduate students for a total enrollment of 12,681.

Notre Dame isn't the first to delay a game due to the coronavirus pandemic. Last week, the Baylor Bears and Houston Cougars postponed their game, as did Florida Atlantic University and Georgia Southern University.

Fauci says no one in the administration has seen vaccine data despite Trump's boasts that the US will have one 'very soon'
  • Top US infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci said no one has seen the coronavirus vaccine data yet, despite President Donald Trump asserting that the US will have one "very soon."
  • Fauci told The Daily Beast in an interview that only one person has access to the data, at this stage of development, who will assess the data and determine whether the vaccine is ready for production or needs to undergo more testing.
  • "These are blind placebo-controlled trials. The only ones who see the data intermittently is the safety data monitoring board…. a single unblinded statistician," Fauci told The Daily Beast. "Those data are not public data, no one can know what those data show."
  • "That person looks at the data and says, 'OK, let's keep the trial going, we don't have enough data to make a decision.' Or that person can look at the data and say, 'You know, there really is a very strong signal of efficacy, let's make it known,'" he continued.
  • That would mean that Trump himself hasn't even seen the vaccine data, though he told reporters last week, "We essentially have it."
  • The president has stepped back from his assertion that the vaccine would be made available as soon as October of this year, instead saying that it would be distributed likely around April 2021.
  • The infectious disease expert told The Daily Beast that the efficacy of a vaccine could be determined by November or December of this year, but it won't necessarily be ready for distribution at that time as well.
  • Even if a coronavirus vaccine were to be distributed, there is the added task of whether or not Americans would choose to be vaccinated.
  • Fauci described the "lack of trust in a vaccine" as "multifaceted," a characteristic that is further complicated by the mixed messaging coming out of the federal government.
  • "Even if there weren't any mixed signals coming out of the government, there still would be a bit of an anti-vaxx feeling," Fauci told The Daily Beast. "You superimpose a part of that... the kind of mixed signals that are coming out of different agencies, people read that in the newspaper, whether it's real or not, and they get concerned... can you believe what the government says?”

Johnson & Johnson’s Vaccine Advances, Sparking Optimism in Race
Johnson & Johnson is in the final stage of clinical trials for a coronavirus vaccine that could have a big advantage over its competitors: It would require just one shot instead of two.

The trials, which began on Monday, will be the largest in the U.S., with plans to enroll 60,000 participants from around the world. Another plus: The vaccine does not need to be frozen. The freezing requirement could make distribution difficult, especially to places without advanced medical facilities.

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson also tests positive for COVID-19 after wife shows symptoms
The governor’s office said the first lady began showed mild symptoms and got a rapid test Wednesday morning. After her positive test result, the governor got tested as well and received a positive test as well. Gov. Parson said he feels healthy and is not displaying any symptoms.

Parson has repeatedly urged residents to wear masks and maintain social distancing, but he has been an outspoken opponent of mask mandates, sometimes appearing at functions without one.

His opposition to statewide mask mandates continued even after the White House Coronavirus Task Force recommended a face covering requirement in Missouri as the state’s number of COVID-19 cases climbed.

College Football’s Worst Fear in the Pandemic: The Death of a Player
The death of a college football player from Covid-19 is raising questions for his university, and is prompting more athletes to think about their risks.

Thousands of commercial flight passengers may have been exposed to coronavirus in 2020, CDC says
In a statement emailed to CNN, the CDC says it was made aware of 1,600 flights between January and August where a person on board may have had Covid-19, potentially exposing 10,900 people "within a 6-foot range for droplet transmission" to coronavirus.

Trudeau declares second wave already underway in most of Canada
“We’re on the brink of a fall that could be much worse than the spring. I know this isn’t the news that any of us wanted to hear and we can’t change today’s numbers or even tomorrow’s. Those were already decided by what we did or didn’t do two weeks ago,” said Trudeau during a rare address to the nation.

“It’s all too likely we won’t be gathering for Thanksgiving, but we still have a shot at Christmas. Together we have the power to get this second wave under control,” Trudeau said telling Canadians they have the power to flatten the pandemic curve once again.

Canada's Thanksgiving holiday is Oct. 12.

5 lessons from the pandemic to tackle the climate crisis
  1. Science denial can be deadly
  2. The search for a cure is global but your chances of survival are local
  3. Individual behavior saves lives but can't fix the problem
  4. Humanity is capable of fast, sweeping changes
  5. In the age of "threat multipliers," the health of your body depends on the health of the planet now more than ever

Wisconsin declares new public health emergency after surge in coronavirus cases among young people
Wisconsin will continue to require people to wear face masks indoors after the state saw a surge of new Covid-19 cases.

The order was issued by Gov. Tony Evers on Tuesday, coupled with the declaration of a public health emergency. The order is effective immediately, according to the governor's office, and is due to steeply rising cases, particularly among people between the ages of 18 and 24.

"We continue to learn more about this virus, but what we do know is that we are facing a new and dangerous phase of the COVID-19 pandemic here in Wisconsin," said Evers in a news release.

"We are seeing an alarming increase in cases across our state, especially on campus. We need folks to start taking this seriously, and young people especially -- please stay home as much as you are able, skip heading to the bars, and wear a mask whenever you go out. We need your help to stop the spread of this virus, and we all have to do this together."

This survivor could be 'the first person on the planet' to battle Covid-19 and an imminent heart attack — and win
A professional drummer since age 15, Bettinelli has opened for such music greats as Bon Jovi and Pat Benatar, as well as Asia, the Average White Band, The Tubes and the Split Enz, among others.

His step-daughter, actress Holly Marie Combs, even played Piper in the hit TV series "Charmed."

..."After Covid-19 he had robotic, minimally invasive coronary bypass surgery, which comprises less than 1% of all cardiac surgery," said Dr. John Puskas, chair of cardiovasular surgery at Mount Sinai Morningside in New York City, who operated on Bettinelli.

"So I will be willing to bet he's the first person on the planet to have recovered from Covid-19 and then had invasive, robotic bypass surgery."

It was early February -- Covid-19 was still a distant threat in China -- when Bettinelli learned that he was in danger of having a "widow maker" heart attack. It meant he had a 100% blockage in a critical artery on the left of the heart -- most don't survive, hence the name. To make matters worse, he also had major blockage in several other blood vessels.

Again, Bettinelli was lucky. Unlike many with the condition, he had an attack of painful angina -- collapsing to the floor in his home -- as a warning. Still, learning he had a genetic condition that could kill him at any second was a shock. He'd aced his last few physicals.

"I've always kept myself in shape," Bettinelli said. "I am the last person on the basketball court to tire. I've run 10 marathons. I had no idea I had a heart problem." ..."I hate to say it, but it's ignorance," Bettinelli said. "Because there's no way you live through what I lived through and then say, 'Oh, I don't need to wear a mask. This virus is fake. This isn't happening.' That's a dangerous situation."