Coronavirus COVID-19 (2019-nCoV) Thread - 2020 Breaking News

We’re barely doing any contact tracing, especially when we get a spike. There’s just not enough resources I moved to SA from the Miami area. One of my friends was moonlighting as a contact tracer in Broward Co. They put her up in a hotel to contact trace for about a month. While cases were still high but starting to decrease, they said “thanks” and let her go. I think Florida just gave up. Officially, 1 in 16 people have been infected in the Miami-Dade area. I bet at least 30% has been infected in some areas of the county. I know a lot people who have been infected. I know people who’s relatives have been hospitalized. I know of one death. Most of these happened in the less deadly ‘second wave’.

The controversial CDC recommendation last month that people without symptoms didn’t need to be tested wasn’t written by CDC scientist, but by HHS officials.

A heavily criticized recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last month about who should be tested for the coronavirus was not written by C.D.C. scientists and was posted to the agency’s website despite their serious objections, according to several people familiar with the matter as well as internal documents obtained by The New York Times.

The guidance said it was not necessary to test people without symptoms of Covid-19 even if they had been exposed to the virus. It came at a time when public health experts were pushing for more testing rather than less, and administration officials told The Times that the document was a C.D.C. product and had been revised with input from the agency’s director, Dr. Robert Redfield.

But officials told The Times this week that the health department did the rewriting itself and then “dropped” it into the C.D.C.’s public website, flouting the agency’s strict scientific review process.

“That was a doc that came from the top down, from the H.H.S. and the task force,” said a federal official with knowledge of the matter, referring to the White House task force on the coronavirus. “That policy does not reflect what many people at the C.D.C. feel should be the policy.”

<snip>

A new version of the testing guidance, expected to be posted Friday, has also not been cleared by the C.D.C.’s usual internal review for scientific documents and is being revised by officials at Health and Human Services, according to a federal official who was not authorized to speak to reporters about the matter.

More info at the link.

30,351,589 total cases
950,555 dead
22,041,314 recovered

In the US:

6,874,596 total cases
202,213 dead
4,155,039 recovered

Yesterday’s numbers for comparison:

Interesting, my mother died of dementia (in a nursing home) a little over a month ago. It was long expected, though.

I’m pretty sure she didn’t have COVID, they tested regularly and were very transparent with the results - I got a weekly robocall with the tallies. They never had a patient test positive (while mom was alive, I don’t know about after) but they had staff test positive.

The lack of contact was tough on the patients and I wonder if that’s a factor. Thanks for posting the link.

No, I think I’m following you fine. I certainly get that when the positivity rate is higher, that is very, very compelling reason to believe that the prevalence within the community is higher. But what seems less clear to me is how, exactly, that positivity rate – particularly at any one snapshot in time, say a day or week or even month – helps to answer the (million-dollar, in my mind) question of how many people in the community have been infected.

Any attempt at answering that question based on a positivity rate would of course need to include several variables. There could be a nice rule of thumb, like the one you mentioned of assuming 5-10 more cases for every one you find, except that you of course couldn’t use that rule of thumb if you were testing 20% of the population every day and getting a high rate of positives. And then of course there is the factor of whether the people coming forward to be tested are more likely to be infected, as you also pointed out.

And then, of course, there is the question of how you extrapolate all this. If, for example, 20% of college kids test positive on the week they come back to school, what does that imply about the rate that have been infected at any time, since the beginning? It’s got to be well higher than 20%, doesn’t it?

I guess I don’t understand why there isn’t more random sampling of the population happening, if indeed the true population-wide prevalence at any snapshot in time is a critical factor for driving policy. We seem to be relying on measures that are noisy at best. Unless there is more random sampling going on than I am aware of.

At any rate, to get back to the San Antonio example, I’m assuming that if there was a significant raw number of tests performed in the week where you got 24%, then you’d think that the prevalence within the community was a considerable number itself, even if the sample being tested was nowhere near random. (Outbreaks themselves are surely not truly random, but they probably aren’t fully clustered either.) What I don’t know, or really have an even a clue about, is whether it would be reasonable to guess that a 24% positive test rate on a given week in San Antonio would imply that 10% of the population was infected during that week. If that’s a reasonable range, then you don’t have to stack many of those weeks on top of each other before you start to run out of new people to infect, which is what I meant when I asked why new testing would really even matter if the spread had already been so high.

Thanks very much for all the insight. It’s enlightening to learn about that one case, at least, where further testing found the person was actually negative. What I’m not so clear about, after reading all that, is whether they get a number of additional initial positive results in their widespread testing but then test them a second time and rule them out as true positives, before it ever gets to the stage that it did with the positive-then-negative case you mentioned.

In other words, either there would be a two-stage process, with additional testing early on in isolation as a second stage to help verify the first one, with the first stage having more methodology to ferret out some rate of false positive results on initial runs…or there is just the initial stage, and it is very, very, very accurate.

I have to imagine the labs are turning up more ‘questionable’ results than eventually become positive cases, and they are dealing with those in whatever way they do – to, in this case, determine that the tests were not truly positive. That is the process I’d love to read about in the press, as I think it would help to shed light on what is going on everywhere else. I don’t think there are too many other countries who could count on such fidelity in their data along these lines, which is why I would like to see us learn all we can from New Zealand.

Private San Antonio philanthropists take on the task of widespread testing-- particularly of asymptomatic people-- picking up the ball that public health can’t carry.

After Graham Weston caught the coronavirus from his son, who hadn’t shown any symptoms, the San Antonio tech entrepreneur realized that the role of “silent spreaders” demanded more attention.

He and other prominent philanthropic leaders in the city formed a new nonprofit with the express purpose of screening hundreds and eventually thousands of people to identify who is infected and asymptomatic and keep them from unknowingly spreading the virus.

The larger goal is even more ambitious: deliver an effective way of supporting society’s recovery from the pandemic.

“We can never really suppress the virus and give people the confidence to go back (to school or work) when we have silent spreaders walking through our population,” said Weston, founder of the 80 | 20 Foundation and former CEO and chairman of Rackspace Technology.

The nonprofit, called Community Labs, has adopted a new approach to testing that focuses on micro populations in shared places, such as area schools and businesses.

Experts estimate that up to half of people who contract the coronavirus may display no symptoms, said bank executive J. Bruce Bugg Jr., chairman and trustee of the Tobin Endowment and co-founder of Community Labs. While hospitals have widely screened patients for the coronavirus when they are scheduled for surgery, federal > and local health officials have largely prioritized testing people with symptoms.

It’s an approach that has persisted since early in the pandemic, when testing for the coronavirus was severely limited by regulatory, processing and supply chain bottlenecks. Health departments, including the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District, initially focused their efforts on people who were severely ill, those with classic symptoms and front-line workers.

Metro Health briefly tested asymptomatic people in the community earlier this year but halted the effort when a surge of cases over the summer caused demand for testing to skyrocket.

While testing those with symptoms may help diagnose people with COVID-19, it does little to halt chains of transmission that stem from asymptomatic carriers. To fill that testing gap, Community Labs is taking the “exact opposite” approach, Bugg said.

He said the goal is to create a strong testing model that screens for asymptomatic carriers and that can be replicated and applied in cities across the state.

Community Labs’ approach hinges on quick turnaround times, which are not typical with the traditional testing. Waiting a week for results would render the value of testing asymptomatic people moot, Weston said, as they won’t know to isolate themselves and already could have spread the virus to others by the time they learn they are infected.

Community Labs was co-founded by Weston, Bugg and J. Tullos Wells, managing director of the Kronkosky Charitable Foundation. Weston is serving as chairman, while Bugg and Wells are vice chairmen.

The Kronkosky and 80 | 20 foundations and the Tobin Endowment have contributed a combined $2.5 million to start the nonprofit.

New Zealand’s Q2 number came in at -12.2%.

For comparison:
Australia:-7.0%
US: -9.1%
European Union: -11.4%
United Kingdom: -20.4%

  • 55% of identified cases are in the US, India and Brazil.

  • Our local university is further restricting access to libraries, gyms and in-person meetings of clubs after 30 new people tested positive for Covid. Only one lived on campus.

  • Ontario has a recent high of 400 cases. The bigger problem may be a testing backlog of 30,000 swabs. Thus, Doc Tam suggests Canada “could lose control of keeping cases down to a manageable level”. Ontario hopes to build capacity from 30k to 50k tests per day since waits at testing centres may be 3h.

FWIW, I’ve updated my chart of Q2 GDP vs COVID death rates, which includes more countries. You can mouse over circles for details, and also download the data or the image directly.

So on the one hand GDP not as down as some had been predicting, pretty middle of the pack. OTOH pretty middle of the pack, not “better than” most.

I wonder what it and other newer numbers do to R and p?

For which country?

R will never look good on this, the data’s all over the place. & p, as I pointed out in a past post, doesn’t mean so much here…

On April 13, Robert Redfield, the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, appeared on the Today show and assured viewers that the worst was nearly behind us.

By July, the number of daily cases had doubled. The death total had shot past 100,000. As Redfield looked ahead, his tone became more ominous. The fall and the winter, he said in an interview with the Journal of the American Medical Association , “are going to be probably one of the most difficult times that we’ve experienced in American public health.”

It is now widely accepted among experts that the United States is primed for a surge in cases at a uniquely perilous moment in our national history. “As we approach the fall and winter months, it is important that we get the baseline level of daily infections much lower than they are right now,” Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told me by email. For the past few weeks, the country has been averaging about 40,000 new infections a day. Fauci said that “we must, over the next few weeks, get that baseline of infections down to 10,000 per day, or even much less if we want to maintain control of this outbreak.”

This may be the most salient warning he has issued at any point in the pandemic. Cutting an infection rate as high as ours by 75 percent in a matter of weeks would almost certainly require widespread lockdowns in which nearly everyone shelters in place, as happened in China in January.

That will not happen in the United States.

Donald Trump has been campaigning for reelection on just the opposite message. He has promised that normalcy and American greatness are just around the corner. He has touted dubious treatments and said at least 34 times that the virus will disappear. This disinformation is nearing a crescendo now that the election looms: Trump has been teasing a vaccine that could be available within weeks.

The cold reality is that we should plan for a winter in which vaccination is not part of our lives.

Even if you’ve had the virus, plan to spend the winter living as though you are constantly contagious. This primarily means paying attention to where you are and what’s coming out of your mouth. The liquid particles we spew can be generated simply by breathing, but far more by speaking, shouting, singing, coughing, and sneezing. While we cannot stop doing all of these things, every effort at minimizing unnecessary contributions of virus to the air around others helps.

IOW, we are probably fucked.

Really long article. Paywalled, but The Atlantic allows four free articles per month to non-subscribers.

Sweet! Now all we need is the vaccine.

"Wisconsin broke its own single-day record for novel coronavirus cases on Friday, reporting 2,533 new infections and surpassing the single-day record of 2,034 cases it logged a day prior, according to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.
In addition to rising case counts, the state’s seven-day average for positive COVID-19 tests reached 15.3% on Friday.

“I think it’s pretty clear that it’s the college campuses that are driving this, more than anything,” Barrett said. “There really has to be a redoubling of efforts to make sure that college students are taking this seriously, because it clearly is having an impact right now.”

What’s the clear impact? They can’t exactly kill their grannies when they’re infectious for ten days if they’re away at college at the time.

More people being infected is the opposite of the desired goal. The goal is that students can go to school without becoming infected. I’m sure their grannies appreciate your sentiment.

College students come in contact with many people besides other students: professors, food service employees, janitorial staff, and the public at large in the school’s town. Many of those people are older or have other risk conditions. It’s not just students returning home that has the potential to kill people.

To Troutman’s point, by now you’ve heard about the infamous Maine wedding that has infected 175 and counting people and killed 7 of them, I imagine. None of the people who died were wedding guests. And the latest articles are saying that some of the people who died didn’t even have contact with the guest who brought it to the nursing home either, but got it from a person who did have contact with the guest.

All it took was for 65 people to attend a wedding to lead to another 110 people who didn’t getting it - actually, more than 110 because not all the guests got sick. How many college kids do you think are in say, the college of health and human services and might be interning somewhere with vulnerable people or working in a nursing home as their part time job? They wouldn’t even need to break any rules themselves, just share a dorm or classroom with someone who did without them even knowing it, and because of asymptomatic/presymptomatic spread off it goes.