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  1. #1606

    Re: covid-19 Virus Updates and Discussion

    Scientist cited by White House told Florida: Shut state down
    His model predicts that even if Florida does issue stay-at-home order, the state’s coronavirus outbreak is on pace to peak in early May in numbers that will overwhelm intensive care units.

    By David Smiley and Mary Ellen Klas
    Published Mar. 31
    Updated Mar. 31

    TALLAHASSEE — One of the epidemiologists behind a coronavirus model cited by the White House over the weekend as a reason for extending national social distancing recommendations through the end of April has advised Florida’s state government to issue a statewide stay-at-home order — the kind of blanket decree that Gov. Ron DeSantis has so far insisted is unnecessary.

    Ali Mokdad, a professor at the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, said he told Florida’s top health official Monday night that the governor should issue a blanket stay-at-home order mandating the closure of non-essential businesses and social isolation in order to control the spread of the virus. The institute’s model — which is updated daily as data changes — predicts that even if such an order is given, the state’s coronavirus outbreak is on pace to peak in early May in numbers that will overwhelm intensive care units and potentially lead to thousands of deaths by the summer.

    “These estimations are based on [the expectation that] Florida will implement stay-at-home measures within a week from now. We’re assuming next Monday this will be in place,” Mokdad, a former epidemiologist for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told the Miami Herald. “If they don’t, these numbers will go up.”

    Mokdad, who spoke to the Miami Herald Monday afternoon before speaking to Florida Surgeon General Scott Rivkees, said he would “strongly recommend shutting down everything.”

    He confirmed in an email Tuesday morning that the conversation with Rivkees took place. He said the state provided updated details about its hospital and ventilator capacity, which will be used to update the model’s projections.

    The governor’s press office did not respond to questions about the call.

    The model predicting the spread of the novel coronavirus that was published by the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation has received national attention. Deborah Birx, the coordinator of the White House’s coronavirus task force, cited the analysis Sunday while detailing projections that found as many as 200,000 Americans could die from COVID-19 even if the country does an exemplary job in employing preventive measures.

    Birx told reporters during a briefing in the Rose Garden that the White House had reviewed a dozen models to come up with its projections. And then, she said, they learned of the independent University of Washington model, which came to roughly the same conclusion.

    “Go on his website, “ Birx said of Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation Director Christopher Murray. ”You can see the concern we have with the growing number of potential fatalities.”

    The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation model currently predicts between 36,000 and 152,000 deaths in the United States by mid-August, with cases generally peaking across the nation in mid-April. The model assumes that every state in the nation will be subject to a stay-at-home order by Monday due to the increasing number of cases and hospitalizations across the country.

    In Florida, the model predicts between 1,600 deaths and about 11,000 in the same window, but with cases peaking in early May — and assuming that the state shuts down by next week.

    “We’re expecting everybody to do so because it’s a sound decision,” said Mokdad.

    The White House is expected to release details of its projections Tuesday, according to The New York Times.

    DeSantis’ administration has so far refused to identify or release any information about how it is using projections to guide forward-thinking decisions that epidemiologists say should be aimed at addressing infections that will likely lead to consequences weeks after they first occur. The IHME model, for instance, predicts a spike in Florida in about one month due to the fact that more extreme lock-downs are only now taking place in the southeastern portion of the state, where the bulk of Florida’s cases are located.

    “There are several models that project COVID-19 cases and when they will peak,” Jason Mahon, a spokesman for Florida’s State Emergency Response Team, told the Miami Herald. “In order to plan for all contingencies, the state does not rely on one single model.”

    DeSantis, who says he is in daily contact with President Donald Trump, has spoken about coronavirus infections with an emphasis on current data, as opposed to future projections. In choosing not to issue a statewide stay-at-home order, as more than 20 other governors have done, he has said it would be counterproductive to shut down parts of the state with only a few confirmed coronavirus cases.

    On Monday, DeSantis continued to hold that line, issuing an executive order that reinforces stay-at-home decrees issued by local government authorities only in Monroe, Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties. Despite projections that Florida may experience a peak in hospitalizations and deaths in early May, DeSantis said the order would last two weeks, because he believes the country will be rebounding before Trump’s current end-of-April social distancing recommendations expire.

    As of Tuesday morning, data from the Florida Department of Health showed the state had 6,338 confirmed cases and 77 deaths. The state’s testing for coronavirus, however, has been limited, so it’s difficult to know how many cases truly exist.

    “We’re going to be evaluating every day and seeing what some of the trends look like,” DeSantis told reporters. “I think the president, by doing the 30th [of April], I think he thinks we may be in a good spot before the 30th.”

    As recently as nine days ago, on March 22, Rivkees suggested on a conference call with lawmakers that the state had no ability to know how many cases Florida will experience in the coming weeks. Rivkees was asked about whether the state has projections in the context of how the state was preparing to restock its hospitals — an effort that has included successful orders for 1.2 million surgical masks, 714,000 gloves, 500,000 N95 masks, 250,000 face shields, 200,000 gowns, 3,000 ventilators, 3,000 hospital beds and 150 ICU beds, according to Jared Moskowitz, the director of emergency management.

    “We can’t predict that,” Rivkees said, when asked how many cases Florida might see. “We are planning for the worst.”

    Mokdad, the University of Washington researcher, said the institute’s model, which was initially built at the request of the CEO of a university-affiliated hospital system in Seattle and then expanded to cover every state, was created to predict how the spread of coronavirus will strain hospital systems, intensive care units in particular.

    The model takes into account local prevention measures he said.

    Miami Herald staff writer Samantha Gross contributed to this report.

    https://www.tampabay.com/news/health...-florida-down/
    There is more stupidity than hydrogen in the universe, and it has a longer shelf life.”

    ― Frank Zappa





  2. #1607

    Re: covid-19 Virus Updates and Discussion

    Why U.S. hospitals see promise in plasma from new coronavirus patients
    Deena Beasley
    (Reuters) - U.S. hospitals desperate to help very sick patients with COVID-19, the highly contagious respiratory disease caused by the new coronavirus, are trying a treatment first used in the 1890s that relies on blood plasma donated by recovered patients.

    People who survive an infectious disease like COVID-19 are generally left with blood containing antibodies, or proteins made by the body’s immune system to fight off a virus. The blood component that carries the antibodies can be collected and given to newly infected patients - it is known as “convalescent plasma.”

    More than 275,000 Americans have tested positive for COVID-19, and epidemiologists say hundreds of thousands more likely have the disease.

    To help match donors to hospitals, the AABB, formerly the American Association of Blood Banks, this week issued guidelines on plasma collection. The American Red Cross also launched an online registry for potential donors.

    The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Friday announced an “expanded access” program for convalescent plasma, coordinated by the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, aimed at making it easier for hospitals across the country to collect and use plasma.

    IS THERE EVIDENCE THIS WILL WORK?
    “Historically, this has worked,” said Dr. Jeffrey Henderson, associate professor of medicine and molecular microbiology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. “Before we had vaccines, this was used for infectious diseases like measles and diphtheria.”

    Convalescent plasma was also successfully used during the 1918 flu pandemic, he said.

    Doctors say protocols, such as dosage, are still uncertain for COVID-19 patients, but they believe the method is worth trying, at least until an effective COVID-19 vaccine or treatment is developed.

    The Mayo Clinic and other U.S. sites are conducting a clinical study. Similar trials are under way in other countries where the virus has hit and some data has begun to emerge.

    In one trial in China, levels of the virus in five seriously ill COVID-19 patients were undetectable after plasma transfusions, according to study results published last week in The Journal of the American Medical Association.

    HOW IS PLASMA BEING TRIED?
    The process involves drawing blood from a donor - in this case someone who has recovered from COVID-19 but is in generally good health and meets other criteria for blood donation - and running it through a machine to extract the plasma. The remaining blood goes back into the donor.

    The process takes up to 90 minutes, and plasma from a single donor can be used to treat three or four patients.

    Donors must have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and need to wait a defined period of time after they test negative for the disease before donating plasma. Tests are also being developed to measure antibody volume.

    Centers including Houston Methodist Hospital and several hospitals in hard-hit New York City have used the experimental treatment on an emergency basis for patients who are seriously ill with COVID-19.

    Dr. Timothy Byun, a hematologist/oncologist at St. Joseph Hospital in Orange, California, dosed his first COVID-19 patient on Wednesday. He said the patient was doing better, but it was too early to tell if the therapy was effective.

    St. Joseph, a 450-bed hospital, does not have a blood donation center and instead had to modify a dialysis machine to collect plasma from the donor.

    Before the plasma infusion, Byun’s patient had received multiple treatments, including the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine and the intravenous anti-inflammatory drug Actemra, but his condition still worsened.

    Risks of the plasma therapy could include infusion site reactions or other rare, allergic reactions.

    “Of the current therapeutic options, I believe convalescent plasma offers the best chance of efficacy in treatment,” said Dr. Daniel McQuillen, an infectious disease specialist at Lahey Hospital & Medical Center in Burlington, Massachusetts.

    (The story corrects number of infected Americans to more than 275,000)
    Reporting by Deena Beasley; Editing by Leslie Adler
    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-h...-idUSKBN21M0E3
    "And for my next fearless prediction..."

  3. #1608

    Re: covid-19 Virus Updates and Discussion

    U.S. dairy farmers dump milk as pandemic upends food markets
    P.J. Huffstutter
    CHICAGO (Reuters) - Dairy farmer Jason Leedle felt his stomach churn when he got the call on Tuesday evening.

    “We need you to start dumping your milk,” said his contact from Dairy Farmers of America (DFA), the largest U.S. dairy cooperative.

    Despite strong demand for basic foods like dairy products amid the coronavirus pandemic, the milk supply chain has seen a host of disruptions that are preventing dairy farmers from getting their products to market.

    Mass closures of restaurants and schools have forced a sudden shift from those wholesale food-service markets to retail grocery stores, creating logistical and packaging nightmares for plants processing milk, butter and cheese. Trucking companies that haul dairy products are scrambling to get enough drivers as some who fear the virus have stopped working. And sales to major dairy export markets have dried up as the food-service sector largely shuts down globally.

    The dairy industry’s woes signal broader problems in the global food supply chain, according to farmers, agricultural economists and food distributors. The dairy business got hit harder and earlier than other agricultural commodities because the products are highly perishable - milk can’t be frozen, like meat, or stuck in a silo, like grain.

    Other food sectors, however, are also seeing disruptions worldwide as travel restrictions are limiting the workforce needed to plant, harvest and distribute fruits and vegetables, and a shortage of refrigerated containers and truck drivers have slowed the shipment of staples such as meat and grains in some places.

    Leedle could likely sell his milk if he could get it to market. Dairy products in grocery stores have been in high demand as consumers stay home during the pandemic, though panic buying may be slowing. Earlier this week, a local market told Leedle’s wife she could buy only two dairy products total per shopping trip as retailers nationwide ration many high-demand products.

    “It’s just gut-wrenching,” said Leedle, 36, as he stood inside his barn, with cows lowing softly as the animals were giving milk that would be funneled directly into a manure pit. “All I can see is that line going down the drain.”

    Leedle has dumped 4,700 gallons of milk from his 480 cows each day since Tuesday. The 7,500-member DFA told Reuters it has asked some other farmers in the cooperative to do the same but did not say how many.

    Dairy cooperatives oversee milk marketing for all of their members and handle shipping logistics. Leedle said he will be paid for the milk he and other farmers are dumping, but the payments for all cooperative members will take a hit from the lost revenues.

    Land O’Lakes Inc., another cooperative, has also warned its members they may have to dump milk. Another cooperative, Wisconsin-based Foremost Farms USA, was even more grim.

    “Now is the time to consider a little extra culling of your herds,” the cooperative said in a March 17 letter to members. “We believe the ability to pick up and process your milk could be compromised.”

    The cooperative, which also owns butter and cheese processing plants, said milk-dumping might also be on the horizon.

    The dumping comes even as consumer demand for dairy has soared. Panic buying has left grocery store shelves nearly empty in recent weeks amid business shutdowns and quarantines nationwide. Retail purchases of milk rose nearly 53% for the week ended March 21, while butter sales surged more than 127% and cheese rose more than 84%, compared to the same period a year earlier, according to Nielsen data.

    Grocers have been charging consumers more, too. The average retail price of cow’s milk was up 11.2% for the week ended March 21, compared to a year earlier, the Nielsen data shows.

    RESTAURANT CLOSURES DISRUPT SUPPLY CHAINS
    Finding enough truck drivers is part of the challenge. Agriculture groups have lobbied states to increase truck weight limits on highways to enable more food to be delivered.

    Dean Foods Co, which has been starting some plant shifts earlier and running later, is offering $1,000 sign-on bonuses for drivers with dairy experience as it struggles to fill 74 open positions, a company spokeswoman said.

    Another major problem: The sudden shift in demand from restaurants - now closing en masse - to grocery stores creates severe logistical challenges. Suppliers struggle to make the shift from wholesale packaging for restaurants to preparing retail products for stores.

    “About half of U.S. consumers’ food budget was spent on restaurants, and we’ve shut that spigot off,” said Matt Gould, editor at trade publication Dairy & Food Market Analyst.

    It would take millions of dollars, for instance, to install new equipment to switch a plant from making one type of cheese - such as barrel cheese used to make processed slices for fast-food restaurants - to producing cheddar wedges for grocers, said dairy analysts. Even switching from bagging 10 lb bulk bags of shredded cheddar for food service to 8 oz bags for retail stores would require costly new packaging robots and labeling machinery.

    Schreiber Foods Inc, one of the country’s top dairy product manufacturers and food distributors, is cutting hours for workers at its dairy processing plants that normally supply the restaurant industry and adding staff to plants that stock the U.S. retail market, said spokesman Andrew Tobisch.

    As of last week, the plants serving retail were bottlenecked.

    “We’ve almost had too many trucks showing up at some of our plants,” Tobisch said. “The deliveries get backlogged and the drivers are having to wait longer and longer.”

    Trucks heading to restaurants, meanwhile, are getting sent back. Sartori Cheese in Plymouth, Wisconsin, has had restaurant customers refuse shipments of food they had ordered, said president Jeff Schwager. Some restaurant customers have called, asking if they can return orders delivered weeks ago. But processors can’t take the cheese back and resell it - or even donate it - because they can’t ensure it has been safely handled, Schwager said.

    Some of Sartori’s grocery retailers are telling Schwager they are closing their gourmet cheese counters with their displays of huge cheese wheels, in favor of pre-packed, grab-and-go wedges. The stores want to redeploy those cheese counter crews to stock shelves and handle other tasks, Schwager said.

    That means Sartori Cheese will need far more film wrap of a different size that is now in short supply as demand skyrockets.

    Meat producers and fruit-and-vegetable farmers are also struggling with the shift from wholesale to retail, causing plentiful products to run short on grocery store shelves.

    Paul Sproule, a potato farmer in North Dakota, said processors who churn out french fries and other restaurant products have stopped buying. Most can’t pivot to retail because they don’t have customer-facing packaging or relationships with stores for shelf space.

    FILLING THE GAPS
    In rural communities, smaller food retailers such as bakeries are starting to stock products that have been running short at grocery stories. In the farm town of Rossville, Indiana, local baker Sandra Hufford’s picked up grocery products from a food distributor, including butter, cartons of cottage cheese and gallons of milk.

    “They told me that they had a lot of customers not wanting to pay right now, and they needed cash-paying customers,” said Hufford, who owns the Flour Mill Bakery.

    Hufford stocked up her bakery’s refrigerated case and posted what was available for pickup and delivery on the shop’s Facebook page. Word spread. Now, customers from as far as Indianapolis – 60 miles away – are placing orders and driving out to pick up groceries.

    Reporting By P.J. Huffstutter in Chicago. Additional reporting by Karl Plume and Christopher Walljasper in Chicago; Editing by Caroline Stauffer and Brian Thevenot
    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-h...-idUSKBN21L1DW

    Yet another depressing and unforeseen circumstance
    "And for my next fearless prediction..."

  4. #1609

    Re: covid-19 Virus Updates and Discussion

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump on Saturday doubled down on his support for a drug that is still being tested to treat the coronavirus, saying he might take the medicine himself and encouraging others with doctor approval to do the same.

    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-h...-idUSKBN21N011

    Why would you take a drug for a disease you don't have? It isn't a vaccine, and will just worsen shortages of the drug for people that really need it.
    "And for my next fearless prediction..."

  5. #1610

    Re: covid-19 Virus Updates and Discussion

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff in TX View Post
    Before the plasma infusion, Byun’s patient had received multiple treatments, including the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine and the intravenous anti-inflammatory drug Actemra, but his condition still worsened.
    I've read this more than a few times now. And I forgot to mention that my cousin's colleague was put on the much talked about Hydroxychloroquine and Zithromax combo. Seems to have done marginally better at best for a few days on it,, but he still had to be put on the ventilator after taking it because the improvement was nowhere near enough to stop him from going into the danger zone where he wouldn't be able to breathe on his own using just oxygen much longer. He was on Zithromax first when they were treating him for pneumonia before the positive test came back, then the Hydroxychloroquine was added once the test came in. Maybe not being given together immediately affected it. Maybe the time it is administered matters greatly in its effectiveness like a Tamiflu. But this method is being trialed widely, officially and unofficially, with those tens of millions of donated pills from the Ohar and there's still tens of thousands in hospitals and not for a short amount of time, so that combo is not seeming like a miracle cure that will magically get us back to our old way of life.

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