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  1. #3451

    Re: covid-19 Virus Updates and Discussion

    I've been thinking about this all while commuting home from the office... Masks help, but they won't save us in the long run. Eventually you'll get exposed anyway. The most certain final solution is definitely a vaccine, but other than that an easy and nearly foolproof saliva test giving an answer in an hour or less would also do wonders.

    Also trying to desperately keep a national infection rate at zero or nearly so is probably a fool's game. Just look what's happening in Vietnam, Australia, Japan and now also New Zealand. Nothing, nothing and then it comes roaring back again. It should be kept low enough not to overwhelm the health system. That much ought to be possible with social distancing, masks and moderate restrictions on certain activities.
    Roger forever

  2. #3452

    Re: covid-19 Virus Updates and Discussion

    Brett McMurphy @Brett_McMurphy

    Florida High School Athletic Association votes to allow playing fall sports, including football. Florida also is one of 15 states in which all of its FBS programs plan to play football in the fall
    “No matter how cynical I get, I just can't keep up.” – Lily Tomlin.

  3. #3453

    Re: covid-19 Virus Updates and Discussion

    I loved Ponchi's post #3448 because it clarified where we stand in the eyes of the world. We had already well established our arrogance and self-centered-ness. I felt that his post clarified the fact that the world's acknowledgment of our abject stupidity is new. It is nice to know we have accomplished something in the last 3 1/2 years.

    Thanks for that wonderful clarification. GH

    P.S. Re: schools in Florida, football in Florida, and sheriffs making wearing of masks illegal in certain places in certain Florida counties....
    It is clear that Florida is determined to stay in first place in the virus sweepstakes for a while. GH
    Last edited by GlennHarman; Yesterday at 12:02 PM. Reason: added P.S.

  4. #3454

    Re: covid-19 Virus Updates and Discussion

    Quote Originally Posted by GlennHarman View Post

    P.S. Re: schools in Florida, football in Florida, and sheriffs making wearing of masks illegal in certain places in certain Florida counties....
    It is clear that Florida is determined to stay in first place in the virus sweepstakes for a while. GH
    It's a tough race. Behind Georgia at the moment...
    Roger forever

  5. #3455

    Re: covid-19 Virus Updates and Discussion

    Before I come across as an anti-American.
    The self-centered and arrogant trait is not something that the USA displays and nobody else does. I travel enough to witness how it is almost universal. For example, to this day and with frequency, I do find my fellow Venezuelans saying that our country is a wonderful country, "full of beautiful beaches and scenery and great people". The statement usually leaves me baffled. I try to explain that the GEOGRAPHY of a country does NOT make the country; out beaches and mountains were there long before we were, not even a country, a species. So, so much for that. And about the people: I usually ask: if we are such beautiful people, why our world-leading crime rates? Are our dictators and oppressors foreigners, were we invaded by another country? No. We have done this to ourselves. So, so much for us being a great country.
    Arrogance and nationalism are doing fine everywhere. I will not mention other countries but every European bunch that I know of is full of it.
    So, indeed, the current lot in the USA will never be nominated for any kind of collective brilliance, and even that is not a monopoly. It was that in the past you could point out to some serious accomplishments. Now, the lack of intellectual powers is so blunt that, well, I already said it. Don't want to offend anymore.
    Face it. It's the apocalypse.

  6. #3456
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    Re: covid-19 Virus Updates and Discussion

    The situation in Europe is becoming serious enough again that the UK just announced, with only 36 hours notice, a mandatory 14-day quarantine for citizens returning from France. Predictably, chaos ensued.

    Thousands scramble to get home from France as Britain reimposes quarantine restrictions

    Thousands of British travellers in France spent much of Friday scrambling to find a way home after their government reimposed a 14-day quarantine on anyone arriving from France.

    The announcement, made late Thursday and effective at 4 a.m. Saturday, was the latest in a series of moves by Britain and other European countries to tighten quarantine rules as fears of a second wave of COVID-19 escalate. But the disparate government measures have left many travellers confused and angry, as quarantine rules change almost daily and vary from country to country.

    “I am disgusted,” Géraldine Allot, a British schoolteacher visiting relatives in France, told the BBC after learning about the quarantine. “We have had to change all our plans. We are trying to get our money back for hotel bookings and change appointments … It will be very, very tense.”

    Everything seemed so much clearer in early July, when the British government reopened international borders and encouraged people to travel abroad. On July 3, the government released a list of 73 countries where people could go and not face a quarantine when they returned home (Canada and the United States were not on the list). The response was euphoric, and people rushed to book vacations.

    Bookings at travel service TUI Group soared 50 per cent the week after the announcement, while said it saw an 80-per-cent jump in sales. An estimated 1.8 million people booked trips to Spain alone, which is by far the most popular destination for Britons. While the number of overseas travellers has fallen roughly 50 per cent since the pandemic struck in March, there were still 160,000 Britons on holiday in France as of Friday, according to government figures.

    As the number of infections began rising in recent weeks, Britain and other countries started pulling back. On July 27, the British government suddenly announced that Spain would be removed from the no-quarantine list and that travellers had just hours to return home before the self-isolation rule took effect. Belgium was taken off the list a few days later, and on Thursday France, the Netherlands and Malta were among several countries dropped. Anyone violating the quarantine requirement faces a fine of as much as £1,000 ($1,735).

    “I appreciate there is no perfect way to do this,” Transport Secretary Grant Schnapps said Friday in defending the constant changes to the list. He added that while he had sympathy for those caught up in the chaos, everyone should have expected that changes to quarantine rules were possible. “People this year will have gone away knowing that there was a significant risk, and because of that people will have gone with their eyes open,” he said.

    Other countries have taken a different approach to quarantines, leaving Europe with a patchwork of rules. Germany has targeted regions instead of entire countries; for example, travellers arriving from Antwerp in Belgium face a quarantine but not people coming from Brussels. Sweden has no quarantine rules at all. Italy has put restrictions on arrivals from just two countries, Bulgaria and Romania, although people coming from Spain, Greece, Malta and Croatia must provide a certificate indicating they have tested negative for COVID-19. The length of quarantine also varies – from 14 days in the U.K. and other countries to 10 in Norway and Switzerland.

    And there is always plenty of politics involved in drawing up the list. In response to Britain’s action, officials in France and the Netherlands have said they are considering imposing quarantines on all arrivals from Britain.

    Mr. Schapps said his government’s trigger for imposing a quarantine occurs when a country has surpassed 20 infections per 100,000 people on a seven-day rolling average. By that measure, France hit 32.1 this week, while the Netherlands reached 40.2 and Spain has been above 30. The U.K. is hovering at about 18 cases per 100,000.

    Based on that guide, there is now concern that Denmark, the Czech Republic, Croatia and Turkey could soon be added to the U.K.‘s quarantine list, as infection rates in those countries close in on 20 per 100,000.

    The haphazard approach has left airlines and travel companies seething. “It’s another devastating blow to the travel industry already reeling from the worst crisis in its history,” said Tim Alderslade, chief executive of the industry association Airlines UK, in response to the new quarantine order. He and others say that, instead of quarantines, the government should focus on testing arriving passengers. That would avoid the “broad-brush, weekly stop-and-go changes to travel corridors at a national level, which have proven so disruptive to airlines and passengers alike,” he said.

    Health experts largely backed the government’s decision to reimpose quarantines. “The pandemic is accelerating globally, and the many U.K. COVID-19 deaths were ultimately the result of initial importing of new cases with significant local transmission,” said Michael Head, a senior research fellow in global health at the University of Southampton. “We have to ensure the U.K. does not get anywhere near this situation again.”

  7. #3457

    Re: covid-19 Virus Updates and Discussion

    ‘We’re Clearly Not Doing Enough’: Drop in Testing Hampers Coronavirus Response
    For the first time during the pandemic, the United States saw a downward trend in the number of coronavirus tests conducted each day.

    A testing site in Los Angeles on Thursday. The number of tests being conducted daily in the area is down from earlier peaks this summer.Credit...Philip Cheung for The New York Times

    By Sarah Mervosh, Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs and Sheryl Gay Stolberg
    Aug. 15, 2020
    Updated 1:50 p.m. ET

    For months, public health experts and federal officials have said that significantly expanding the number of coronavirus tests administered in the United States is essential to reining in the pandemic. By some estimates, several million people might need to be tested each day, including many people who don’t feel sick.

    But the country remains far short of that benchmark and, for the first time, the number of known tests conducted each day has fallen.

    Reported daily tests trended downward for much of the last two weeks, essentially stalling the nation’s testing response. Some 733,000 people have been tested each day this month on average, down from nearly 750,000 in July, according to the COVID Tracking Project. The seven-day test average dropped to 709,000 on Monday, the lowest in nearly a month, before ticking upward again at week’s end.

    The troubling trend comes after months of steady increases in testing, and may in part reflect that fewer people are seeking out tests as known cases have leveled off at more than 50,000 per day, after surging even higher this summer. But the plateau in testing may also reflect people’s frustration at the prospect of long lines and delays in getting results — as well as another fundamental problem: The nation has yet to build a robust system to test vast portions of the population, not just those seeking tests.

    Six months into the pandemic, testing remains a major obstacle in America’s efforts to stop the coronavirus. Some of the supply shortages that caused problems earlier have eased, but even after improvements, test results in some cases are still not being returned within a day or two, hindering efforts to quickly isolate patients and trace their contacts. Now, the number of tests being given has slowed just as the nation braces for the possibility of another surge as schools reopen and cooler weather drives people indoors.

    “We’re clearly not doing enough,” said Dr. Mark McClellan, the director of the Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy and the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration under former President George W. Bush.

    The downward trend may turn out to be only a short-term setback: The nation reported more than 800,000 tests on Thursday and Friday. There are also limitations to the data, which is largely drawn from state health departments, some of which have recently struggled with backlogs and other issues. It may not include tests done in labs not certified by the federal government.

    But according to the figures available, tests were declining in 20 states this week, and data collected by the Department of Health and Human Services showed a similar overall trend nationally.

    Without a vaccine or a highly successful treatment, widespread testing is seen as a cornerstone for fighting a pandemic in which as many as 40 percent of infected people do not show symptoms and may unknowingly spread the virus. Testing a lot of people is crucial to seeing where the virus is going and identifying hot spots before they get out of hand. Experts see extensive testing as a key part of safely reopening schools, businesses and sports.

    The nation’s testing capacity has expanded from where it was only a few months ago, but public health experts believe it must grow far more to bring the virus under control.

    The Harvard Global Health Institute has suggested the country needs at least 1 million tests per day to slow the spread of the virus, and as many as 4 million per day to get ahead of the virus and stop new cases. Some experts view that goal as too ambitious, and others say the benchmark should focus not on a particular number of tests but on the percent of people testing positive.

    Yet there is broad consensus that the current level of testing is inadequate and that any decrease in testing is a worrisome move in the wrong direction.

    “There is a reasonable disagreement about what that number ought to be, but all of them are way ahead of where we are right now,” said Dr. Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute. “There is no expert that I know of that thinks that our testing infrastructure right now meets the needs of the American people.”

    Adm. Brett P. Giroir, the assistant secretary for health and the Trump administration’s virus testing czar, said that conducting millions of tests per day was not realistic. The administration has asked states to test at least 2 percent of their populations each month, or the equivalent of about 220,000 people per day nationally, which Admiral Giroir said would be enough to identify rising hot spots.

    “We are doing the appropriate amount of testing now to reduce the spread, flatten the curve, save lives,” he told reporters on Thursday.

    He said the government was already testing large numbers of asymptomatic people, and he described an effort to strategically deploy tests, including to those who are hospitalized and in nursing homes. “You do not beat the virus by shotgun testing everyone all the time,” Admiral Giroir said, adding: “Don’t get hung up on a number.”

    Admiral Giroir also cited a decline in known cases in states like Florida as an indication that testing is sufficient. But experts say the rate of people testing positive in places like Florida remains high, suggesting too little testing.

    For much of the spring and summer, the number of daily tests steadily increased. The United States averaged about 172,000 tests per day in April, before ramping up to an average of 510,000 in June and nearly 750,000 in July.

    The recent dip in testing is likely a result of several factors, epidemiologists said.

    It may, in part, reflect an improved outlook from earlier this summer, when parts of the Sunbelt were seeing alarming outbreaks. The number of people hospitalized with the virus each day across the country has decreased to around 45,000, down from earlier peaks of around 59,000 in April and July. And the percent of people testing positive over all is hovering at about 7 percent, down from 8.5 percent in July.

    “It’s an indication to me there are not as many people getting sick,” said Nelson Wolff, the county judge in Bexar County, Texas, where a site that provides free tests for people reporting symptoms had seen a decline in demand.

    But experts fear the slowing of tests may also reveal a sense of “pandemic fatigue” — people who want or need to be tested but may choose not to, discouraged by stories of others waiting hours in line and waiting as long as two weeks for a result.

    Even if fewer people are volunteering to be tested, most experts believe testing should still be going up over all, particularly in regions where the portion of people testing positive is high. A community may be considered to have controlled virus spread if it is testing widely and the percent of people testing positive over a two-week period is less than 5 percent, according to the World Health Organization.

    Yet testing has been dropping in a number of states with positivity rates in double digits, including Mississippi, Nevada and South Carolina.

    The situation has been particularly acute in Texas, where the number of reported daily tests fell to as low as 35,000, down from a high of 67,000 in late July. The drop came as the state’s percent of positive tests rose to as high as 24 percent earlier this week.

    Gov. Greg Abbott said the state deployed a team to investigate why the positivity rate had risen so sharply. He said on Thursday that the state had more testing capacity than was being used and that he was sending thousands more tests to Houston.

    In Travis County, which includes Austin, the health authority, Dr. Mark Escott, told local officials of a drop in demand. “This is not because tests are not available,” he said. “It is because less individuals are signing up.”

    That dilemma reveals perhaps the biggest challenge going forward.

    The country has so far relied heavily on laboratory tests, which are accurate but can take hours or days for results and are best suited for people who believe they may have been exposed to the virus.

    To expand testing to a level that could keep the virus in check, experts say, the United States will need to scale up other types of testing, like antigen tests, which are less accurate but can provide results in as little as 15 minutes, and other new technologies, like tests that could be done at home.

    Such an approach would reduce the strain on laboratories, reserving those tests for people who need them most, while allowing the country to simultaneously screen large numbers of asymptomatic people at schools, nursing homes, offices and neighborhoods.

    By some estimates, as much as $75 billion in additional federal funding may be needed. The Trump administration agreed to allocate an additional $16 billion for states to conduct testing and contact tracing, as part of a proposal Republicans unveiled late last month. But negotiations over a new coronavirus relief bill have resulted in a standoff between the White House and Democratic leaders in Congress, and only Congress can approve new aid. Lawmakers have left Washington until early September, all but guaranteeing they will not approve more funds for testing until next month.

    The country is also still waiting on a larger market of tests.

    The Food and Drug Administration has approved just two companies to sell antigen tests. One of the companies, the Quidel Corporation, says it is making 1 million tests per week. The other, Becton, Dickinson & Company, said it is ramping up testing, with the aim of manufacturing 10 million tests by the end of September.

    Other tests are still entering the market. For example, a saliva test developed by Yale, which has been tested on N.B.A. players and staff, won emergency approval on Saturday from the F.D.A.

    “We are at an inflection point,” said Dr. Jonathan Quick, who is managing the pandemic response at the Rockefeller Foundation, which has said the nation needs to carry out about 4 million tests a day by the fall. “That is a paradigm shift.”

    The Trump administration has at times provided inconsistent messages on testing. President Trump said in June that testing leads to more cases, which “makes us look bad” but is “good to have.” He repeated the idea in an interview with Axios in late July, saying, “There are those that say you can test too much.”

    Members of his administration have repeatedly stressed the importance of testing. The nation’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, has said more testing of asymptomatic people is needed. “We’re going to be doing more testing, not less,” he told Congress in June.

    Other top officials have also talked about expanding testing. Dr. Deborah L. Birx, the Trump administration’s coronavirus coordinator, has said that pooling tests together to assess multiple samples at once could expand capacity to as many as 5 million tests per day.

    The Department of Health and Human Services said in a report to Congress that its aim was for the country to have the capacity to perform 40 million to 50 million tests each month by September, an average of about 1.3 million to 1.6 million tests a day.

    Admiral Giroir, the testing chief, said the country was on pace to surpass that number by the fall, with the majority being new tests to screen people. But he said the figure was only a goal for capacity, and that fewer tests might ultimately be carried out.

    Mitch Smith and Emily Cochrane contributed reporting.
    “No matter how cynical I get, I just can't keep up.” – Lily Tomlin.

  8. #3458

    Re: covid-19 Virus Updates and Discussion

    I love how the above article doesn't mention Tiny saying less testing should be done.

    It doesn't mention that Fauci has been exiled by Tiny.

    It doesn't mention Birx walking the fence between what she knows is true and what Tiny wants.

    It also mentions states with GOP governors who are toeing the line of less testing Tiny wants.

    It's why the NYT is facing so much criticism lately. This reads like it was dictated by the WH.
    “No matter how cynical I get, I just can't keep up.” – Lily Tomlin.

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