Another week has gone by, and the biggest news remains that COVID numbers aren’t looking much better as the disease spreads quickly through Florida, Arizona, Texas and California.
Three million cases and 133,000 deaths in the United States. Testing still takes too long, KHN reported — the Atlanta mayor had to wait eight days for results! — and, no, more testing isn’t skewing the numbers.
With nearly 60,000 new cases in one day, the United States set another COVID record. The United States leads the world, but not in a good way, as a headline in a KHN morning newsletter put it this week. Indeed, it is quite possible that President Donald Trump’s recent rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, contributed to the spike, Reuters reported.
COVID News, Lots of It
The focus of the arguing this week was on back-to-school plans. School districts are trying to make that hard decision in order to protect children, staff members and parents. (Well, and the economy, for that matter.) The Atlantic published some suggestions. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is under pressure from Trump to water down its reopening safety recommendations so, as Trump put it in a tweet Monday, “SCHOOLS MUST OPEN IN THE FALL!!!” Colleges are coming up with various plans to allow some students back on campus but offer few in-person classes.
Meanwhile, even more Americans have lost faith in Trump’s handling of the epidemic, according to a new poll released by ABC News/Ipsos: 33% approve, down from 41% three weeks ago.
The beleaguered World Health Organization, to which Trump says he will cut U.S. funding, got embroiled in a controversy over whether airborne particles transmit the coronavirus. Scientific American attempted to sort out a confusing story, while WHO acknowledges the evidence.
KHN published, with the Los Angeles Times, a very good story about how COVID-19 is starting to kill inmates on California’s death row at San Quentin. A prosecutor of one of the murderers who died wasn’t sympathetic. The Texas Tribune reports how the disease is ravaging Texas prisons and killing people who had very short sentences.
A few other stories from the week that shouldn’t be missed because they give you a good look at how government officials still struggle to get a handle on this crisis: Stat reports that the Food and Drug Administration “again risks being pulled into an ugly political fracas” over hydroxychloroquine. Jim Fallows at the Atlantic did a masterful job of telling the story of the inept coronavirus response, in the style of an aviation accident report. It’s well worth reading. This article in BMJ, the medical journal, is a little harder to read, but worth the effort for the provocative and contrary point it makes: The U.S. purchase of much of the world’s supply of the drug remdesivir, a possible COVID treatment, may be a boon to the rest of the world.
Put these two on your list for weekend reading, perhaps: The Washington Post’s horrific look inside a nursing home wracked with COVID infections and a New York Times story on the racial inequity of the coronavirus in a series of maps and graphics.
Every week there are new online graphics and other visual displays of COVID data that make it easier to understand what is going on in the epidemic. A few that I and the KHN staff found:
A COVID vaccine progress tracker from The New York Times.
Another smart vaccine tracker, this one from the Milken Institute.
County-level data on COVID infections and risk calculations from the Harvard Global Health Institute. (Their server can be a bit slow. Be patient.)
Follow who is getting federal bailout money with this tool from ProPublica.
But wait: If you are assembling a toolkit, the great health reporter Charlie Ornstein of ProPublica has already done much of the work for you. Open up this Google Doc to find his very good collection.
Oddly Important News, More Odd Than Important
Well, for all the attention it was getting, some people seemed to think Kanye West running for president was big news. Forbes interviewed him, and here is one thing he said that was health care-related:
“It’s so many of our children that are being vaccinated and paralyzed. … So when they say the way we’re going to fix Covid is with a vaccine, I’m extremely cautious. That’s the mark of the beast. They want to put chips inside of us, they want to do all kinds of things, to make it where we can’t cross the gates of heaven.”
The Italian Mafia has innovated in the health care industry. The Financial Times reports: “By corrupting local officials, organised criminals have been able to make vast profits from contracts given to their own front companies, establishing monopolies on services ranging from delivering patients in faulty ambulances to transporting blood to taking away the dead.”
Here’s a well-told story of a socialite spreading COVID at a party of fellow swells.
To end on an uplifting note, because that’s important in these times, a video of a light display over Seoul with 300 drones telling Koreans to wear masks and wash their hands. (And they do. Korea has one of the lowest infection rates in the world.)