COVID19 🦠 Newsbites
Fauci says it's 'obvious' that it would be 'better' for public health if Trump facilitated a smooth transition to Biden
  • Dr. Anthony Fauci, the longtime director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Sunday on CNN it would be "better" if he and other public health officials were able to work with the Biden transition team.
  • Since he has refused to officially concede his loss in the 2020 presidential election, President Donald Trump has circumvented the typically smooth transition of power between an outgoing and incoming administration.
  • "It's almost like passing the baton in a race," Fauci said Sunday. "You don't want to stop and give it to somebody, you want to keep things going."
"I've been through multiple transitions now having served six presidents for 36 years, and it's very clear that transition process we go through — that time period measured in several weeks to months — is really important in a smooth handing over of the information," Fauci said during an appearance Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union."

Also during the Sunday interview, Fauci called a nationwide lockdown order, which Trump has long resisted, unlikely, calling for the doubling down of mitigation measures like social distancing, hand washing, and patience until a vaccine could be widely distributed.

"We're not going to get a national lockdown, I think that's very clear," he said. "But I think what we're going to start seeing in the local levels, be they governors or mayors or people at the local level, will do as you said, very surgical-type of restrictions, which are the functional equivalent of a local lockdown."

Moderna's coronavirus vaccine is 94.5% effective, according to company data
The Moderna vaccine is 94.5% effective against coronavirus, according to early data released Monday by the company, making it the second vaccine in the United States to have a stunningly high success rate.

"These are obviously very exciting results," said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease doctor. "It's just as good as it gets -- 94.5% is truly outstanding."

Moderna heard its results on a call Sunday afternoon with members of the Data Safety and Monitoring Board, an independent panel analyzing Moderna's clinical trial data.

"It was one of the greatest moments in my life and my career. It is absolutely amazing to be able to develop this vaccine and see the ability to prevent symptomatic disease with such high efficacy," said Dr. Tal Zacks, Moderna's chief medical officer.

Vaccinations could begin in the second half of December, Fauci said. Vaccinations are expected to begin with high-risk groups and to be available for the rest of the population next spring.

They saved lives during the pandemic -- now they're facing deportation from Ireland
As a qualified health care assistant, Lily -- not her real name -- has worked at a nursing home in Dublin throughout the pandemic, taking only three weeks off when she contracted the virus herself in April.

Then the news arrived. "You no longer have permission to remain in the State and you must now return voluntarily to your country of origin or be deported," said a letter from Ireland's Department of Justice and Equality. The letter told her she had five days to inform the authorities of her decision.

British prime minister is self-quarantining after Covid-19 exposure
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced yesterday that he had come into contact with someone who then tested positive for Covid-19 and has been told to self-quarantine. "The good news is that NHS Test and Trace is working ever-more efficiently, but the bad news is that they've pinged me and I've got to self-isolate,” Johnson said in a video on his official Twitter account.

Johnson was admitted to intensive care in a London hospital earlier this year after testing positive for the virus, and has since recovered. “It doesn't matter that I've had the disease and I'm bursting with antibodies. We've got to interrupt the spread of the disease and one of the ways we can do that now is by self-isolating for 14 days when contacted by Test and Trace."

Walmart will start counting customers again as coronavirus cases reach record levels
Walmart has resumed counting and monitoring the number of customers that enter and leave it stores. This comes as coronavirus cases in the United States hit daily highs.

In April, the company began restricting the number of people to 20% of its store capacity, or lower if mandated by local officials. But for a brief period of the time, its stores stopped counting the number of customers that entered it stores.

"We know from months of metering data in our stores that the vast majority of the time our stores didn't reach our self-imposed 20% metering capacity," said Kory Lundberg, a Walmart (WMT) spokesperson. "Out of an abundance of caution, we have resumed counting the number of people entering and leaving our stores."

... Although it's pushing people to shop online and use its curbside pickup option, shoppers that go to its stores won't experience the pandemonium of the past. Instead, they will form single-file lines at the entrance and be given sanitized shopping carts. "Health Ambassadors" will be stationed at entrances to remind people to put on their masks. Social distancing will be enforced inside with capacity controls and one-way lanes.

Walmart said the changes at its stores "will be safer and more manageable for both our customers and our associates."

Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner's children withdrawn from school after administrators raised concerns about adherence to Covid precautions
Administrators at the posh Washington private school that the three young children of Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner attended for the last three years expressed concern about the couple's public flouting of Covid-19 guidelines, ultimately resulting in President Donald Trump's daughter and son-in-law withdrawing their children from the school, a longtime parent at the school told CNN.

... Kushner and Trump "repeatedly violated a number of the guidelines" outlined in the school's parent handbook for Covid-19 precautionary rules, according to the source.

"There was no secret about their behaviors, because everyone could see them," the parent said, referencing the televised nature of Trump's and Kushner's jobs, as well as news reports of positive Covid-19 cases in their workplace, the White House.

... The chief worry was Trump and Kushner worked in and among an environment where cases of the highly contagious virus were rampant, and where wearing face coverings and maintaining social distance were not regulated.

With 11 Million Cases in the U.S., the Coronavirus Has Gotten Personal for Most People
What was once a health crisis that Americans feared has evolved into one virtually everyone has experienced up close. That will affect behavior, but in many different ways.

As Covid-19 cases surge in almost every part of the country, researchers say the United States is fast approaching what could be a significant tipping point — a pandemic so widespread that every American knows someone who has been infected. But, as reflected in the polarized response to the virus, the public remains deeply divided about how and whether to fight it, and it is unclear whether seeing friends and relatives sick or dead will change that.

Many who have seen people close to them seriously affected say they are taking increased precautions. Others, though, are focusing on how most people recover and are shrugging off the virus — and calls for concerted efforts to combat it.

The United States surpassed 11 million reported virus cases on Sunday, with one million of those tallied in just the last week. The daily average of new cases is up by 80 percent from two weeks ago. More than 69,000 people were in American hospitals with Covid-19 on Saturday; more than 1,100 deaths are being reported each day on average.

Those alarming numbers — the highest case numbers and death toll in the world — underscore a reality found in small towns, big cities and sprawling suburbs alike: The coronavirus has become personal.

Researchers estimate that nearly all Americans have someone in their social circle who has had the virus. About a third of the population knows someone — from a close relative to a neighbor to a co-worker to a friend of a friend — who has died from the virus, researchers say. But not everyone is hunkering down in fear or taking precautions as simple as wearing a mask.

“As more and more people know someone who gets sick and dies, more and more Americans are likely to take this disease seriously,” said Nicholas A. Christakis, a Yale sociologist and the author of “Apollo’s Arrow,” a new book about the impact of the virus. “But the effect of knowing people who survived it may lead people to misread Covid as not being as bad as it is.”

The Navajo Nation reinstates a stay-at-home order for three weeks.
The Navajo Nation on Monday reinstated a stay-at-home order for the next three weeks after health officials warned of “uncontrolled spread” of Covid-19 in dozens of communities across the vast reservation.

The move on the country’s largest tribal reservation points to one of the most aggressive efforts anywhere in the United States to fight the coronavirus.

After a devastating outbreak early in the pandemic, Navajo officials made inroads over the summer with vigorous mitigation efforts, only to face a resurgence in cases in recent weeks.

During the time the new order is in effect, residents must shelter in place, all roads in the Navajo Nation are closed to visitors and most government offices will be closed. Essential businesses such as gas stations and grocery stores are allowed to open, but only from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Britain’s prime minister is quarantining, and other news around the world.
Five employees at the World Health Organization headquarters in Geneva have recently tested positive for the virus, the organization said in a statement on Monday. It is unclear if they were infected on the W.H.O. campus. Since the beginning of the pandemic, 65 staff members stationed in Geneva have tested positive for the coronavirus — 49 of them in the last eight weeks, amid Europe’s second wave of virus cases, the agency said.

Sweden will reduce the limit on public gatherings to eight people from 300, as part of a new approach that runs counter to the country’s previously lax virus restrictions. Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said during a news conference on Monday that the tighter restrictions would last for at least four weeks and were the “new norm” for the country. “Don’t go to the gym. Don’t go to the library. Don’t have dinners. Don’t have parties. Cancel,” he said.

India will fly doctors into the region around New Delhi, double the number of tests it carries out and ensure that people wear masks, in an effort to contain the spread of coronavirus in the capital, officials said on Sunday, according to Reuters. “Delhi has witnessed a huge surge in daily active cases which is likely to worsen over next few weeks,” the health minister, Harsh Vardhan, said in a tweet.

Doctors Are Calling It Quits Under Stress of the Pandemic
Thousands of medical practices are closing, as doctors and nurses decide to retire early or shift to less intense jobs.

Thousands of medical practices have closed during the pandemic, according to a July survey of 3,500 doctors by the Physicians Foundation, a nonprofit group. About 8 percent of the doctors reported closing their offices in recent months, which the foundation estimated could equal some 16,000 practices. Another 4 percent said they planned to shutter within the next year.

Other doctors and nurses are retiring early or leaving their jobs. Some worry about their own health because of age or a medical condition that puts them at high risk. Others stopped practicing during the worst of the outbreaks and don’t have the energy to start again. Some simply need a break from the toll that the pandemic has taken among their ranks and their patients.

Don Young, the oldest member of the House, tweets that he ‘is alive’ after being hospitalized for the virus.
Representative Don Young of Alaska, the longest-serving member of the House and its oldest member, said on Monday that he had been hospitalized over the weekend with the coronavirus but had since been discharged, as two other lawmakers also announced they had contracted the virus.

The trio of announcements underscored how, as the virus resurges across the country, it has also continued to affect members of Congress. Several more lawmakers were in quarantine on Monday after interacting with individuals who later tested positive.

... “Very frankly, I had not felt this sick in a very long time,” he said.

Minutes later, Representative Cheri Bustos of Illinois, the leader of House Democrats’ campaign arm, announced that she too had tested positive for the virus and was “experiencing mild symptoms” but still felt “well.”

And shortly after that, Representative Tim Walberg, Republican of Michigan, announced that he had the virus.

The three are the latest of two dozen or so members of Congress to test positive for the virus since the spring.

Only one other lawmaker, Representative Ben McAdams, Democrat of Utah, 45, has publicly disclosed being hospitalized as a result of contracting the virus.

Germany hails couch potatoes as heroes of coronavirus pandemic

The German federal government on Saturday released an online video praising an unexpected hero in the country's fight against the coronavirus: the couch potato.

The ad, entitled "#specialheroes — Together against corona," is a 1.35-minute video and calls on people in Germany to follow the honorable example of the modest couch potato citizen.