Covid-19 🦠 Newsbites
Jared Kushner bragged in April that Trump was taking the country 'back from the doctors'
As the coronavirus pandemic worsened in the United States last spring, Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, boasted that the President had taken the "country back from the doctors" in what he called a "negotiated settlement."

Kushner made the comments on April 18 in a taped interview with the journalist Bob Woodward, proclaiming triumphantly that the US, which at that time had seen more than 40,000 deaths, was swiftly moving through the "panic phase" and "pain phase" of the pandemic and was beginning "the comeback phase."

But, six months later, the US is anything but the comeback kid of the global pandemic. The country is facing a fall surge of infections that is again breaking records and the death toll of over 220,000 -- the world’s highest -- continues to climb.

US may not be back to normal until 2022, Fauci says
Dr. Anthony Fauci said it was clear that there had been a "pivot" away from focusing on public health, which had left the country in a precarious position. "We are not in a good place," he said, predicting that even with a vaccine, it would be "easily" late 2021 or into the following year before Americans experience any degree of normalcy. He has also said in recent days that the US needs a nationwide mask mandate to combat the rising tide of infections.

... The surge is hitting all regions of the country. As of Wednesday, 40 states were trending in the wrong direction, with at least 10% more new cases this past week compared to the previous week, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Missouri is the only state with at least 10% fewer cases, and the remaining nine states are relatively steady.

... Until a vaccine is available, experts say social distancing, wearing masks and staying in your select bubble of people are crucial to helping quash this pandemic.

Taiwan just went 200 days without a local coronavirus transmission
Taiwan on Thursday marked 200 straight days without recording any locally transmitted Covid-19 infections, according to the Taiwanese Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

The island, which last saw a new local case on April 12, has recorded 554 total coronavirus infections -- just 55 of them locally transmitted, according to the CDC.

In a news conference on Wednesday, Taiwan's Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) asked the public to continue to adhere to virus prevention measures, such as washing hands, wearing masks, and observing social distancing.

Success story: Taiwan, a self-governing island of more than 23 million people, is a world leader in its handling of the coronavirus. The government sprang into action after word of the virus' emergence in the Chinese city of Wuhan began to spread on social media last December.

Taiwan's Foreign Minister Joseph Wu told CNN earlier that health officials began screening passengers arriving from Wuhan and put in place additional travel restrictions before Beijing public acknowledged the gravity of the outbreak.

As much of the world waited for more information, Taiwan activated its CECC, which coordinates different ministries in an emergency, and the military was brought in to boost the production of face masks and other personal protective equipment.

Sisters charged for allegedly stabbing store security guard 27 times after he told them to wear a mask
The sisters entered a retail store and got into a verbal altercation with the victim, a 32-year-old man who was working as a security guard, Chicago Police said. The Cook County State's Attorney's Office said the man had told the sisters they had to wear a mask and use hand sanitizer.

Their argument became physical when Jessica Hill, 21, pulled out a knife and stabbed him in his back, neck, and arms 27 times, according to the criminal complaint.

Her sister, 18-year-old Jayla Hill, held the victim down by his hair while the attack occurred, according to the complaint.

Police said the victim is in stable condition.

Jail records show they are currently being held without bond.

U.S. Coronavirus Cases Surpass 9 Million With No End in Sight
Twenty-one states added more cases in the seven-day period ending Wednesday than in any other seven-day stretch of the pandemic. In total, the U.S. has identified more cases than any other country and has one of the world’s highest per capita infection rates.

“We have pandemic fatigue, everybody’s sick of this, right?” said an epidemiologist in Texas. “But you know what, the virus doesn’t care.”

A U.S. mask mandate would probably face a legal challenge, but Biden, if elected, would have ways to promote it.
Over the past week, a string of prominent public health experts — notably Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease specialist, and Dr. Scott Gottlieb, a former F.D.A. commissioner under President Trump — have said it is time to seriously consider a national mask mandate.

Overseas, President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia this week became the latest foreign leader to impose a national mandate for citizens to wear masks. Mr. Trump is opposed to a mandate, and Mr. Biden has conceded that a presidential order for all Americans to wear masks would almost certainly face — and likely fall to — a legal challenge.

“Instead of making it about the president’s coercive authority under law it should be about whether the president can support a norm that supports public health, which is in people’s self interest,” said Harold Koh, a law professor at Yale University and an expert in national security and human rights.

Experts say the scientific evidence is growing that face masks can considerably reduce the transmission of respiratory viruses like the one that causes Covid-19. Even when mask wearing does not prevent infection, it can reduce the severity of disease by diminishing the intensity of a person’s exposure to the virus. Research also shows that states that have passed mask mandates have had lower growth rates of Covid-19, beginning on the day the mandate was passed.

At least 116 attendees of school retreat in Wisconsin over the summer tested positive, C.D.C. report says.
A ninth-grade student who received a false negative result to a required coronavirus test triggered a super-spreading event that infected three-quarters of the 152 students, counselors and staff who attended a faith-based overnight summer school retreat in Wisconsin in July and August.

The illnesses were mild, and none required hospitalization, according to a description of the outbreak in a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that was released on Thursday. The report did not identify the religious organization that sponsored the retreat, or say where in Wisconsin it took place.

The people who attended the boys’ retreat came from 21 states and territories and two foreign countries. They were required to provide either documentation of a positive test result for antibodies to the coronavirus that causes Covid-19, within the past three months, or proof of a negative result to a diagnostic test taken within a week of departing for the retreat. They were also asked to quarantine within their households for a week before the trip, and told to wear masks while traveling.

Once they were at the retreat, however, only the teachers observed social distancing and wore masks during classes. The students and counselors were not required to do so, and mixed freely.

Classes were held outside but students were seated less than six feet apart, and they slept in dormitories, four to six in a room, and in yurts, with up to eight in a room. Counselors also roomed together in dormitories and yurts. Only the teachers resided in separate housing units.

The ninth grader who was the index patient, and who had tested negative, developed a sore throat, cough and chills two days after arriving, and soon found out that a family member had just tested positive. Although he was quickly isolated and 11 of his close contacts were briefly quarantined, the virus spread. Ultimately at least 116 people at the retreat tested positive for the virus.