Covid-19 🦠 Newsbites
The world is approaching 1 million coronavirus deaths
Nearly 1 million people across the world have died since the start of the coronavirus pandemic and new outbreaks are continuing to crop up.

The World Health Organization has warned that a doubling of that number is "certainly unimaginable, but it's not impossible," if countries don't work together to suppress the virus' spread.

In the United States, India and Brazil -- which account for more than half of all global cases -- the pandemic shows no sign of slowing down.

21 US states are reporting increased Covid-19 cases as experts warn of a fall surge
The US, which surpassed 7 million cases on Friday, could see an explosion in Covid-19 infections as fall and winter set in, health experts warn. India, which hit 6 million cases on Monday, isn't far behind -- the country has recorded 5 million infections in the past two months alone. And the pandemic continues to roil South America. Though Brazil is the region's worst-affected nation, with more than 4.7 million infections, Argentina, Colombia and Peru are recording thousands of new cases daily.

Coronavirus can float in air and WHO and CDC should tell people that, experts say
Aerosolized spread is the potential for the coronavirus to be passed not just by respiratory droplets, but by even smaller particles called aerosols.

Unlike droplets, respiratory aerosols linger in the air long after someone talks, breathes, sings, sneezes or coughs, and can spread farther than 6 feet. This becomes "very relevant" when you are indoors and there is poor ventilation, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said.

"There's good enough data to say that aerosol transmission [of coronavirus] does occur," Fauci said, adding that there’s an easy way to help minimize the risk: "Wear the mask."

1 in 3 parents won't get flu shots for their child during Covid-19, study finds
One-third of American parents have no plans to get their children vaccinated for the flu this year, a study has found, despite the very real risk they could also catch Covid-19.

"Children younger than 5 years old -- especially those younger than 2 -- are at high risk of developing serious flu-related complications," the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said, adding that getting a flu shot during the pandemic -- for all ages -- is more important than ever.

Trump team using $300 million in taxpayer dollars to make us feel better about Covid-19
Trump typically only does what he believes benefits himself personally and, in this case, he apparently believes the optics of holding packed rallies will somehow help his flailing campaign close the nine-point gap between him and Democratic nominee Joe Biden.

Instead, Trump's latest ploy is to try to convince voters into believing he did a great job handling the virus — and the worst part is he's using our tax dollars to do this. As Politico recently reported, Trump's Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is moving quickly to roll out a $300 million-plus advertising campaign to "defeat despair" about Covid-19. The campaign will include celebrities like actor Dennis Quaid and singer CeCe Winans and Politico reported that HHS is said to be pursuing television host Dr. Mehmet Oz and musician Garth Brooks to take part as well.

While the latest ads have not yet aired, senior House Democrats have already raised concerns that it smacks of Trump using the apparatus of government to help win reelection. Earlier this month, House Democrats demanded new documents about department's contract with the marketing firm handling a campaign on coronavirus, writing: "We have grave concerns that, rather than focus on planning and executing a national strategy to contain the coronavirus, the Trump Administration is using a quarter of a billion dollars in taxpayer money to fund what appears to be a political propaganda campaign just two months before a presidential election."

Democrats have good reason for these concerns given that the person said to have conceived of the campaign is Trump's hand-picked HHS spokesman Michael Caputo, a Republican political operative with no medical or scientific background and a history of racist tweets about Chinese people.

You'd have to be living under a rock or in complete denial of reality not to be at least concerned Trump is trying to use this HHS ad campaign to help himself politically. Perhaps the ads will try to reinforce Trump's false view that the worst of the virus is behind us — even though the experts say he's wrong.

The director of the CDC was overheard saying 'everything' Trump's new COVID-19 task force adviser says 'is false'
  • NBC News reporter Monica Alba says she overheard Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, discussing Trump's new COVID-19 task force adviser Dr. Scott Atlas during a commercial airline flight on Friday.
  • "Everything he says is false," Alba heard Redfield say.
  • Redfield confirmed to Alba that he was discussing Atlas after the flight, and the CDC did not dispute what he was heard saying.
  • Public health experts, including Atlas's former colleagues at Stanford Medical School, have warned that Atlas has spread misinformation about the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Does zinc protect against Covid?
As part of our “Is It a Scam?” series, we took a deep dive into zinc, the second most common trace mineral in our bodies. It affects all organs and cells and is needed for metabolism and for our sense of taste and smell.

It may also help with the common cold. But beware: There is no definitive scientific evidence that it will help fight Covid-19.

In fact, the Food and Drug Administration has sent warning letters to five companies for promoting zinc products for the prevention and treatment of the virus.

Remembering those who have died from Covid-19
A Chinese doctor who tried to warn the world. A father-of-six from Pakistan who emigrated to the United States to give his family a better life. A 15-year-old boy who left his remote home in the Amazon to study at a nearby school.

They all died due to Covid-19.

In eight months, the coronavirus has taken lives on every continent except Antarctica. Few countries remain untouched. More than 33 million people have been diagnosed -- and more than 1 million have died.

That's at least four times as many people who died in the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami, and more than 335 times the number of people who perished in the September 11, 2001 attacks.

But the tragedy isn't just in the death toll. It's in the grim truths it has revealed about who we are and how we treat our most vulnerable. The pandemic has exposed shocking failures of governance, worsened deep-rooted inequalities to access to healthcare, and inflamed a long-waged war on facts preventing scientists from conveying information that could save lives

Some Workers Face Looming Cutoffs in Health Insurance
Facing the pandemic’s economic fallout, some U.S. employers are cutting health coverage, potentially leaving tens of millions of workers without insurance by the end of the year.

Coverage is a major expense for employers, especially those in small businesses, as they deal with the pandemic’s economic fallout. Many may face end-of-year renewal deadlines that are harder and harder to afford.

Global partnership to make available 120 million affordable, quality COVID-19 rapid tests for low- and middle-income countries
As governments scramble to contain new surges of Covid-19, the World Health Organization announced on Monday that a global initiative will supply 120 million affordable, rapid antigen tests to low- and middle-income countries. The tests, which will cost just $5 and deliver results in 15 to 30 minutes, rather than hours or days, could save thousands of lives.

They also have the potential to transform the way governments react to the pandemic, enabling officials to more quickly detect and respond to outbreaks before they spread.

"High-quality rapid tests show us where the virus is hiding, which is key to quickly tracing and isolating contacts and breaking the chains of transmission," Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director general, said. "The tests are a critical tool for governments as they look to reopen economies and ultimately save both lives and livelihoods."

The news, which came as the world eclipsed 1 million Covid-19 deaths, is a small ray of hope in the fight against the virus.

Trump announces plan to deploy 150 million Covid rapid tests previously touted
Announcing the distribution plan Monday afternoon in the White House Rose Garden, Trump claimed the testing effort would "allow every state on a very regular basis test every teacher who needs it."

"I'm pleased to report we're announcing our plan to distribute 150 million Abbott point of care tests in the coming weeks," Trump said in the Rose Garden on Monday.

Of course, many schools across the country have already been opened for weeks without comprehensive testing access amid the Trump administration's ongoing push to reopen schools and businesses despite the ongoing pandemic.

And the plan marks a pivot by the Trump administration and by the President, who has repeatedly and inaccurately claimed that more coronavirus testing in the US would lead to more coronavirus cases.

At one point earlier in the pandemic, Trump said he'd told his staff to slow down coronavirus testing, but leading federal health officials have asserted that they have not been asked to do so.

CDC was pushed to play down the risks of Covid-19 in reopening schools, former Pence staffer says
A former top adviser to Vice President Mike Pence has said the CDC was pushed by the administration to play down the risks of the coronavirus pandemic in reopening schools for in-person classes.

Boston's 'Salt Bae' restaurant fails Covid-19 safety regulations and must close, city says
A popular Instagram star is catching flak after Boston's Licensing Board ordered his latest restaurant venture to close for failing to meet Covid-19 public safety standards, a city spokesperson told CNN.

The restaurant, Nusr-Et Boston, is part of a chain of steakhouses headed by Turkish celebrity chef Nusret Gökçe. "

"Salt Bae," as he is better known, became famous on social media for the dramatic flair he added when butchering and salting his meat.

Violations listed on the city's website included patrons and employees not wearing masks, along with blocked fire exits. Multiple complaints on the city's 311 website also described cramped quarters, with many customers and employees going maskless. Video Gökçe posted to Instagram last week showed people closely lined up outside the restaurant, most in masks but some without, as crowds cheered the chef.

The city responded to the violations by ordering the restaurant to immediately cease operations, and indefinitely suspended its alcohol beverages license.

Trump Allies Say the Virus Has Almost Run Its Course. ‘Nonsense,’ Experts Say.
TIn the last week, leading epidemiologists from respected institutions have, through different methods, reached the same conclusion: About 85 to 90 percent of the American population is still susceptible to SARS-CoV-2, the virus causing the current pandemic.

The number is important because it means that “herd immunity” — the point at which a disease stops spreading because nearly everyone in a population has contracted it — is still very far off.

... “Immunity in 2020 is no closer to being just around the corner than prosperity was in 1930,” said Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, a former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “The route to immunity without a vaccine would be through graveyards filled with hundreds of thousands of Americans who did not have to die.”

... More than 200,000 Americans have already died, and models estimate that if people return to old habits, such as gathering indoors without masks, more than 300,000 and possibly 400,000 could die before a vaccine is widely available.

Titans Suspend Activities After Positive Covid-19 Tests
After an auspicious beginning to the N.F.L. regular season played during a pandemic, the league got news of its first coronavirus outbreak after Week 3’s games.

The Tennessee Titans suspended all in-person activities Tuesday after three players and five members of the team’s personnel tested positive for the virus, the first such outbreak to hit a team since training camps began in late July. The Minnesota Vikings, who hosted the Titans on Sunday, had not received any positive results as of Tuesday morning, they said in a statement, but also shut down in-person activities.