COVID-19 widespread testing is crucial to fighting the pandemic, but is there enough testing? The answer is in the positivity rates. USA TODAY
The timeline for a coronavirus vaccine gets murkier by the day as political leaders and pharmaceutical companies can’t seem to agree on when a COVID-19 vaccine will be ready for public use.
President Donald Trump said on Fox & Friends Tuesday morning that a coronavirus vaccine could be ready “in a matter of weeks.” Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla told CBS News the company will know if its candidate vaccine works by the end of October. And the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention said a vaccine could be ready for public use in November or December, according to state TV.
Billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates said Tuesday he sees a slim chance drugmakers might get enough data by the end of October to apply for emergency approval for their COVID-19 vaccines, the Associated Press reported. But he expressed confidence that several vaccines would get approval by the beginning of 2021.
Meanwhile, Northeastern University researchers found if a COVID-19 vaccine was hoarded by rich countries instead of distributed equally based on population proportions, it could cause twice as many coronavirus deaths.
Some significant developments:
- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Tuesday the House will stay in session until a breakthrough is made on a coronavirus stimulus bill.
- The University of Missouri in Columbia said Tuesday two students have been expelled and three suspended for violating coronavirus-related regulations.
- U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers seized 500,000 counterfeit N-95 respirator masks bound for New Jersey from China.
- Researchers at UCLA say the coronavirus may have been in the country as early as December, weeks before U.S. health officials announced the nation’s first case.
- Travelers from California and five other states will no longer have to quarantine upon arriving in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.
- Holiday sales are expected to increase between 1% and 1.5% from Nov. to Jan. as compared to last year because of the pandemic.
Today’s numbers: New case records were set in North Dakota, Wisconsin and Wyoming, according to a USA TODAY analysis of Johns Hopkins data through late Monday. Record numbers of deaths were reported in Kansas, Montana, North Dakota, Tennessee and Guam. The U.S. has reported more than 6.5 million cases and more than 195,000 deaths. Globally, there have been more than 29 million cases and more than 930,000 fatalities.
What we’re reading: Even as thousands of their employees fell ill with COVID-19, meatpacking executives pressured federal regulators to help keep their plants open, according to a trove of emails obtained by USA TODAY. .
️ Mapping coronavirus: Track the U.S. outbreak, state by state
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Pelosi: House will stay in session until coronavirus stimulus deal is reached
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Tuesday the House will stay in session until a breakthrough is made on a coronavirus stimulus bill, while moderate lawmakers pressed leaders to come up with a relief deal before the November elections.
“We are committed to staying here until we have an agreement, an agreement that meets the needs of the American people,” Pelosi said on CNBC Tuesday.
Her words signaled relief talks between congressional Democrats and President Donald Trump’s White House may be salvaged even though the two sides don’t appear any closer to an agreement. Pelosi hasn’t budged on her desire for a sweeping multi-trillion-dollar plan for aid to schools, the unemployed and cash-strapped local governments. And Republican leadership didn’t appear any more open to recent Democratic proposals on Tuesday.
– Christal Hayes, Nicholas Wu and Ledyard King
University of Missouri expels 2 students, suspends 3 for violating COVID rules
The University of Missouri in Columbia said Tuesday two students have been expelled and three suspended for “willful and knowing actions that threatened the safety of the campus and the broader Columbia community,” according to a statement.
The students violated the university’s coronavirus-related regulations, including requirements that COVID positive individuals isolate and comply with social distancing requirements, the school said.
“When we see those who willfully violate those expectations, we will take disciplinary action — up to expulsion,” University of Missouri Chancellor Mun Choi said in a statement. “It is unfortunate that we had to take these actions, but we felt it was necessary. These students willfully put others at risk, and that is never acceptable.”
The university also is investigating 11 student organizations for possible violations. Approximately 470 student cases have been reported for possible violations from Aug. 16 to Sept. 11, the university said. The school had 332 active COVID-19 cases Monday.
Customs seizes 500,000 counterfeit N-95 masks headed to New Jersey
U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers in Chicago seized a shipment containing 500,000 counterfeit N-95 respirator masks arriving from Schenzhen, China, the agency announced Monday.
Officers removed 30 of the masks and sent them to a CDC testing office in West Virginia, which found that 10% of the respirators tested had a filter efficiency rating below 95%. The package, valued at $3 million, was destined for a company in Manalapan, New Jersey, the agency said.
“Our CBP officers working with partners in (Homeland Security Investigation) were able to stop these faulty mask from being sold under the guise of fully protecting Americans,” Shane Campbell, Area Port Director-Chicago, said in a statement. “These masks did not meet the safety standards outlined by the CDC, which puts the public at risk, jeopardizing the health and well being of everyone.”
The agency said it is targeting imports and exports that may contain counterfeit or illicit goods because some organizations are attempting to exploit the limited supply of some medical goods amid the pandemic.
Virus death toll linked to Maine wedding grows to 7
At least seven people have died in connection to a coronavirus outbreak that continues to sicken people in Maine following a wedding reception held over the summer that violated state virus guidelines, public health authorities said.
The August wedding reception at the Big Moose Inn in Millinocket is linked to more than 175 confirmed cases of the virus, the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday.
Maine authorities have identified overlaps between the wedding reception and outbreaks elsewhere in the state. An employee of the York County Jail attended the wedding, Maine CDC officials have said. Maine health officials have also said a staff member from a Madison rehabilitation center, which is the site of six of the seven deaths, attended the event.
– The Associated Press
COVID-19 may have been in US as early as December, study says
Researchers at UCLA say the coronavirus may have been in the country as early as December, weeks before U.S. health officials announced the nation’s first case, according to a study in the Journal of Medical Internet Research this week.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed the first case of COVID-19 in the U.S. in January. But researchers analyzing electronic health records found there was a significant increase in patients with coughs and acute respiratory failure at UCLA Health hospitals and clinics beginning in late December.
This rise in patients with these symptoms continued through February and represents an unexpected 50% increase in such cases when compared with the same time period in each of the previous five years, according to the study.
Six states removed from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut quarantine order
Travelers from California and five other states will no longer have to quarantine upon arriving in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, according to the latest list released Tuesday.
New Jersey and Connecticut confirmed the nation’s most-populous state is no longer included in the tri-state travel order, which requires anyone traveling from states with moderate-to-high rates of positive COVID-19 cases to isolate for 14 days, unless they’re passing through or arriving for essential work.
The quarantine list now stands at 30 states and territories after Maryland, Ohio, Nevada, Hawaii and Minnesota were also removed. Puerto Rico was re-added after it was removed last week.
– Jon Campbell, New York State Team
Disneyland, Universal Studios call on governor to reopen theme parks
The California Attractions and Parks Association, which represents popular theme parks like Knott’s Berry Farm, Legoland, Disneyland and Universal Studios, called on the governor Monday to implement COVID-19 regulations to allow the parks to get back to business.
“California’s amusement parks urge the Governor to issue amusement park guidelines expeditiously so these vital community attractions can reopen their doors in a responsible manner and get residents back to work,” Erin Guerrero, CAPA’s executive director, said in a statement emailed to USA TODAY.
– Rasha Ali
NYC lockdown led to 70% drop in COVID-19 spread, study finds
Mandated stay-at-home measures contributed to a roughly 70% reduction in the transmission of COVID-19 in New York City during the spring pandemic wave from March to June, according to scientists at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health and the city’s public health department.
Widespread use of face coverings contributed to an additional 7% reduction in transmission and a 20% reduction among those aged 65 and older during the first month face covering was mandated in public places.
“Overall, our study supports the need for multiple interventions,” said lead author Dr. Wan Yang, assistant professor of epidemiology at Columbia Mailman School. “We need to implement all of those simultaneously in order to effectively mitigate the spread of COVID-19.”
The study appears ahead of peer review in the preprint server medRxiv, however, researchers said it falls in line with previous modeling studies estimating lockdowns reduced transmission in Wuhan, China, Italy and France.
Experts predict more death if rich countries hoard COVID-19 vaccines
Researchers found if rich countries monopolize COVID-19 vaccines instead of distributing them equally, it could cause twice as many coronavirus deaths, according to models by Northeastern University’s MOBS Lab.
The models found 61% of deaths could be averted if the vaccine was distributed to all countries proportional to population, while only 33% of deaths would be averted if high-income countries got the vaccines first.
There are many confounding factors in this model, including how many people will be immune to the virus in the upcoming months, how efficient the vaccine actually will be and what will countries’ distribution resources look like.
But researchers still say the results are clear: “When countries cooperate, the number of deaths is cut in half,” said Matteo Chinazzi, senior research scientist.
Coronavirus vaccines developed in China may be ready by November
An official with the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention said four COVID-19 vaccines in the final stage of clinical trials could be ready for the general public in November or December, according to Reuters.
CDC chief biosafety expert Guizhen Wu said in an interview with a state TV program Monday she had taken one of the experimental vaccines in April and didn’t experience any adverse effects, but she didn’t specify which vaccine she took.
At least three Chinese candidate vaccines already have been offered to essential workers under an emergency-use program in July.
Trump admin. still owes USPS $28M for COVID-19 postcards
The Trump administration has not yet repaid the United States Postal Service more than six months after the agency sent out COVID-19 guidelines on postcards prominently featuring the president’s name.
USA TODAY reported earlier this year the total cost of printing and mailing the postcards was $28 million, with a total printing cost of $4.6 million, and the Trump administration was negotiating the reimbursement with the Postal Service for the cost.
The postcards were sent to more than 138 million residential addresses.
“President Trump’s coronavirus guidelines for America” was emblazoned on one side of the postcard in uppercase letters. The other side of the card included social distancing recommendations, encouraging Americans to avoid restaurants and bars, forgo discretionary travel and cancel social gatherings with more than 10 people.
– Nicholas Wu
COVID-19 resources from USA TODAY
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- In your inbox: Stay up to date with the latest news on the coronavirus pandemic from the USA TODAY Network. Sign up for the daily Coronavirus Watch newsletter.
- Tips for coping: Every Saturday and Tuesday we’ll be in your inbox, offering you a virtual hug and a little bit of solace in these difficult times. Sign up for Staying Apart, Together.
Contributing: The Associated Press
Artists Jack Schwab, and Debbie Wilger, wear their masks July 14, 2020, inside the Missouri Artists on Main store in downtown St. Charles, Mo. Schwab, 60, who makes silver jewelry, and Wilger, 63, a painter, are concerned about the uptick in coronavirus cases in St. Charles County, and say most customers in the store abide by their facial covering policy, but a few have left in anger because of it. Jim Salter, AP
Alice Mayes, 92, is visited by her family at Signature HealthCARE on May 6, 2020 in NewBurgh, Ind. The family, from left, Onya Rhoades, Lexi Rhoads, 3, Dylan Rhoades, 5, Kaitlyn Helmbrecht, 2, James Helmbrecht and Del Mayes were separated by a window glass on May 6, 2020 in Newburgh, Ind. The 92-year-old is a COVID-19 survivor. Denny Simmons, Evansville Courier & Press
Austin High School seniors and best friends, clockwise from top left, Brooke Peterman, 17, Maddy McCutchin, 18, Lucia Saenz, 17, Reese Simek, 18, and Lily Tickle, 18, visit with each other in the parking lot at the school in Austin, Texas, on Sunday April 5, 2020. In the midst of a shelter in place order due to the coronavirus pandemic, the girls sat in the back of their cars to chat at a safe distance. Jay Janner, Austin American-Statesman / USA TODAY Network
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