Covid-19 🦠 Newsbites
Giving up control of the virus is dangerous, WHO Director General says
"We must not give up." That was the message from WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who warned Monday that ditching efforts to control the pandemic, as suggested by a senior Trump official, was dangerous.

He acknowledged that "pandemic fatigue" was real, but should not deter leaders from fighting the virus while balancing "the disruption to lives and livelihoods."

His comments come a day after White House chief of staff Mark Meadows told CNN the Trump administration was prioritizing mitigation measures, like therapies and vaccines, over efforts to contain Covid-19.

But Tedros said countries can do both, pointing to European nations that have managed to contain the virus and minimize deaths. "When leaders act quickly and deliberately, the virus can be suppressed," he said, adding that if we don’t all play our part, lockdowns would be unavoidable.

Russia imposes a nationwide mask mandate in new set of coronavirus restrictions
Russia is introducing a nationwide mask mandate starting Wednesday as daily increases in Covid-19 cases remain high.

According to a decree published by Russia’s health and consumer rights regulator, Rospotrebnadzor, on Tuesday, citizens across the country must wear masks in public spaces, public transport, parking lots and elevators.

Rospotrebnadzor is also limiting opening hours for “entertainment venues,” including bars and restaurants, which will only be able to open between 6 a.m. and 11 p.m.

On Tuesday, Russia reported 16,550 Covid-19 cases and its highest number of deaths within a 24-hour period, with 320 fatalities.

Minnesota reports three Covid-19 outbreaks related to Trump campaign events in September
At least 23 cases have been traced to outbreaks occurring at rally events in Bemidji on September 18, a speech held by Vice President Mike Pence on September 24 in Minneapolis, and another rally held by President Donald Trump on September 30 in Duluth, the department said in an email to CNN.

Minnesota defines an outbreak as "two or more cases of illness related by time and place in which an epidemiologic investigation suggests either person-to-person transmission occurred" or some other vehicle, such as contaminated water, is implicated. Public health experts say it is difficult to pinpoint any one event to overall changes in trends in light of the fact that there is overall increased community transmission. But experts also agree that holding such events in this climate is not a best practice for public health. Trump's Bemidji rally took place in an airport hanger. According to a CNN producer who attended the event, at least 2,000 people were in attendance. Based on contact tracing by the state Department of Health, at least 16 cases, including two hospitalizations, were identified among attendees. ... On September 24, Pence and the President's daughter, Ivanka Trump, held a "Cops for Trump" listening event indoors at the InterContinental Hotel in Minneapolis-St. Paul. The state Department of Health has found three event attendees with Covid-19 infections. ... Another four cases have been traced by the Minnesota Department of Health to a rally the President held on September 30 in Duluth.

Here's why you need to wear masks, from Dr. Fauci's team
People are going to have to wear masks until vaccines are widely available -- which means well into next year at the very least, Dr. Anthony Fauci and two top staffers argued Monday.

And people who whip off their masks to speak in public are missing the point, Dr. Andrea Lerner, a clinical associate at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, along with Fauci’s chief of Staff Greg Folkers, wrote in an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

They spoke out on defense of cloth masks -- recently attacked by Sen. Rand Paul -- and said taking tests regularly is not enough to absolve people of the need to wear a mask.

Masks block large particles that blast out of people’s mouths and noses.

... And with winter coming, people will have to wear masks even more, they said.

... Testing can help but is not enough to prove someone is free of infection. “No test is perfect; all have a lower limit of detection for viral material and the potential for false negatives. In addition, the result of a test represents just one point in time and does not indicate an individual’s status outside of the moment the specimen was collected,” they noted.

And cloth masks can work just fine. “Surgical masks can reduce respiratory virus shedding in exhaled breath, and the filtering efficacy of some materials used in cloth masks may approach that of surgical masks,” they noted.

Mexico City’s mayor tests positive as the city grapples with a surge in cases.
The mayor of Mexico City has tested positive for the coronavirus, becoming the most high-profile politician in Mexico to contract the virus as the country struggles to contain a rise in new cases.

In a tweet posted Tuesday, the mayor, Claudia Sheinbaum, said she did not have symptoms, felt “strong” and would continue to “coordinate all activities from a distance, with the same commitment as usual.”

Mexico’s dense capital — the center of its pandemic — has been grappling with a recent surge in hospitalizations, which had been declining even after much of the city reopened in July following a lockdown. It is among several Mexican cities awash in new cases, including Juárez, where local officials recently declared a state of emergency and forced businesses to suspend operations to contain the outbreak.

The U.S. virus outlook continues to worsen as more records fall.
The United States reported more than 74,300 new cases of the coronavirus on Monday, pushing the country’s daily average over the past week above 71,000, the most in any seven-day stretch of the pandemic.

Across the country, the outlook continues to worsen. More than 20 states are reporting case numbers at or near record levels. Bars and restaurants are facing new limits. In a handful of places, business curfews have been ordered or field hospitals have opened.

In North Dakota, 5 percent of residents have now tested positive for the virus, the highest rate of any state.

In Wyoming, officials reported 436 new cases and nine new deaths on Monday. Both were single-day records for the state.

As the virus reaches nearly every corner of the U.S., 3 counties still have not reported a case.
Every county in America has reported at least one case of Covid-19 — except for some of the smallest and most far-flung places in Texas, Nevada and Hawaii. The reach of the virus into rural and urban counties alike shows how the pandemic, once concentrated in metropolitan hot spots, has now left few of even the most remote communities untouched as a third surge of infections has firmly taken hold.

Only three counties in the 50 states have never reported a Covid-19 case, according to a New York Times database — Esmeralda, Nev.; Loving, Texas; and Kalawao, Hawaii, a former leper colony on the island of Molokai. (County-level data is not available in some parts of Alaska.)

Two of those are the least populous counties in the nation: Kalawao, with 86 residents according to 2019 census estimates, and Loving with 169.

Exactly why these places haven’t had a confirmed case yet is hard to say. But they share some traits: They are sparsely populated, and fairly remote.

A timeline of Trump's statements about the coronavirus, juxtaposed with new cases throughout the pandemic
Since the US confirmed its first coronavirus case in January, Trump has repeatedly given misleading, unprovable, or incorrect statements about the pandemic.

On January 22, when the US reported its first case of COVID-19, Trump said the situation was "totally under control." As the virus silently spread through the country in January and February amid a testing shortage, he said it would disappear "like a miracle."

Trump told journalist Bob Woodward in early February that the coronavirus was "deadly stuff," but said publicly a month later that the disease's risk to most Americans was "very, very low."

Then in March, as daily case rates ticked up, he repeatedly said the pandemic would soon be over. He's still painting a rosy picture that contradicts the data: "We're rounding the turn, it's going to be over," Trump said at a rally in New Hampshire on Sunday.

Trump's rhetoric and his administration's overall handling of the pandemic appear to be hurting his chances at a second term. A recent poll found that 66% of Americans disapprove of how Trump has handled the coronavirus. The US has recorded more COVID-19 cases and deaths than any other country. It ranks ninth in both total cases per capita and deaths per capita.

Now, just one week until Election Day, more than 226,000 Americans have died from COVID-19 and more than 8.7 million have gotten sick.