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11 months ago · by · Comments Off on CDC Drops 14 Day Quarantine On Travel As Campus Cases Rise

CDC Drops 14 Day Quarantine On Travel As Campus Cases Rise

 

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The confirmed U.S. death toll from COVID-19 is approaching 180,000, with over 5.7 million recorded infections. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned the U.S. is on track to record its 200,000th death from COVID-19 by the fourth week of September. Public health officials say the true U.S. death toll likely passed that grim milestone weeks ago.
The White House defended a decision by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to recommend against coronavirus testing for people who lack symptoms of COVID-19 — even if they’ve been exposed to an infected person. The CDC also quietly dropped its recommendation that people quarantine for 14 days after traveling from an area with a high rate of infection. Public health experts say the moves will undermine efforts to control the spread of the disease. The New York Times cited two federal health officials who said the changes were ordered by higher-ups at the Department of Health and Human Services and the White House.
The decision was reportedly made at an August 20 meeting of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, while top public health expert Dr. Anthony Fauci was not present because he was undergoing surgery. The changes were backed by the task force’s newest member, Dr. Scott Atlas — a Fox News contributor and radiologist with no expertise in infectious diseases. This comes amid rising concern over outbreaks in schools around the country as at least three dozen states so far have reported cases on college campuses.
A return to campus for the new academic year has colleges and universities struggling to both contain outbreaks of Covid-19 and enforce policies meant to prevent its spread. Across the United States, at least 36 states have reported positive cases at colleges and universities, adding more than 8,700 cases to the country’s tally. Outbreaks have been identified at four different sororities at Kansas State University, according to news releases from the college and the Riley County Health Department. Temple University in Philadelphia announced it is suspending in-person classes for two weeks following the identification of 103 cases on campus. East Carolina reported 370 total positive cases from students as of Aug. 24.
The University of Alabama is receiving backlash after it ordered faculty members to remain silent about students who test positive for the virus, arguing that alerting their classmates would violate federal privacy laws. In an email the professors were admonished, “Do not tell the rest of the class,” with the word “not” underlined. UA currently has confirmed over 1,200 Covid 19 cases since classes resumed August 19th. They continue to urge students to wear masks and socially distance on and off campus. Many schools have limited parties and other gatherings to reduce Covid-19 risks but those rules being violated are why Notre Dame’s outbreak started.
A consensus is building among public health experts that it’s better to keep university students on campus after a Covid-19 outbreak rather than send them home as many are doing. It’s easier to isolate sick or exposed students and trace their contacts if they stay put. While sending students home risks exposing other people there as well as along the way, and makes contact tracing all but impossible. Contact tracing can help manage outbreaks when done correctly. The U.S. has struggled with it for many reasons, including getting people to answer the phone and respond truthfully. That’s even harder at college, when students worry about being disciplined for violating rules on social gathering.

 

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12 months ago · by · Comments Off on Research On Long-Term Effects On Covid 19 Begin As Cases Surge

Research On Long-Term Effects On Covid 19 Begin As Cases Surge

 

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The U.S. death toll from the coronavirus pandemic has topped 156,000 as the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 soared in July by nearly 50%. There are now over 5 million confirmed cases in the US with California, Florida and Texas each reaching over 500,000 confirmed cases, nearly double the cases reported in New York City, the former leading epicenter of the pandemic in the US. Nearly half of the US confirmed cases have recovered.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that a significant number of COVID-19 patients do not recover quickly, and instead experience ongoing symptoms, such as fatigue and cough. Eight months into the global pandemic, we’re still measuring its effects only in deaths. Non-hospitalized cases are termed ‘mild’ and are largely not followed up. Recovery is implied by discharge from hospital or testing negative for the virus so ongoing ill health in those classed as ‘recovered’ is going largely unmeasured as the focused has mainly been on slowing the infection rate.
Research that follows COVID patients after discharge from hospital is starting but there is still a gap in quantifying and characterizing COVID-related illness in those not hospitalized. The few studies on those who have recovered indicate that previously healthy people with persistent symptoms such as chest heaviness, breathlessness, muscle pains, palpitations and fatigue, which prevent them from resuming work or physical or caring activities, are still classed under the umbrella of ‘mild COVID’. As many as a third of patients who were never sick enough to be hospitalized are not back to their usual health up to three weeks after their diagnosis. Many with long-term symptoms are otherwise young and healthy. Among those surveyed between ages 18 and 34, about 20 percent experienced lasting symptoms.
Among the patients who experienced lasting symptoms in a CDC report, 71 percent reported fatigue, 61 percent had lasting cough, and 61 percent reported ongoing headaches. Although clinicians and researchers have an idea of who is at increased risk of dying from COVID, we don’t know who is more likely to experience prolonged ill health following symptomatic, or even asymptomatic, infection. The CDC still states that preventative measures, such as physical distancing, face masks and frequent hand-washing, continue to be important to slow the spread of COVID-19. They warn that worldwide, millions of those still alive who got ill without being tested or hospitalized are simply not being counted.
The World Health Organization reports cases are now doubling every six weeks. The United States, Brazil, and the United Kingdom have been among the countries hardest hit by the pandemic. The global death toll from the coronavirus has surpassed 700,000, with nearly 19 million confirmed cases, as the pandemic continues to accelerate. During the month of July, more than 8 million people tested positive — almost as many as in the first six months of the pandemic combined. Nearly 12 million of those confirmed cases have recovered.
The top White House coronavirus adviser Deborah Birx has warned the country has entered a new phase in its fight against the pandemic. A new model by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation suggests the U.S. coronavirus death toll is on pace to reach nearly 300,000 by December. The institute projects 66,000 lives could be saved if 95% of people in the United States wear face coverings. The U.S. death toll currently stands at the highest total in the world.

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1 year ago · by · Comments Off on Covid 19 Cases Continue to Rise in the US

Covid 19 Cases Continue to Rise in the US

 

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There have been over 15 million confirmed coronavirus cases around the world with 618,000 deaths. Of those cases 8,500,000 have recovered. In the US there are over 4 million confirmed cases and over 145,000 have died in the 6 months since the first case was confirmed in the US. Almost 8,500,000 of the US cases have recovered. The United States has set another grim record for coronavirus infections, with more than 75,600 new cases confirmed. At least 11 states are reporting record hospitalizations, with nearly 1,000 new deaths in just 24 hours. Officials in Texas and Arizona have put out calls for refrigerated trucks, as morgues overflow with the bodies of COVID-19 patients. Texas and Florida both reported their highest death tolls of the pandemic.
As the number of new global coronavirus cases reaches record highs, the World Health Organization is warning the coronavirus outbreak will continue to worsen if governments don’t take basic public health measures. Reports the number of coronavirus deaths in Latin America has now exceeded the death toll in the United States and Canada. Researchers estimate the US will have 219,864 total Covid-19 deaths by November 1, according to the Institute for Health Metrics at the University of Washington.
In Florida, confirmed coronavirus cases topped 300,000 even as Disney World completed a phased reopening of its Orlando theme parks. Nearly 50 Florida hospitals said they were out of ICU beds. In Miami, hospitals have run out of regular intensive care beds, with new patients moved into converted ICUs. Governor Ron DeSantis said he was mobilizing 1,000 medical workers to fill critical staffing shortages.
California, the most populous state and the first to shut down months ago, appeared to have Covid-19 under control — only to suffer a massive resurgence and surpass New York with the most coronavirus cases in the nation. California, which now has 417,000 confirmed cases due to the recent spikes, is largely shutting down again. California Governor Gavin Newsom has a plan to halt the recent surge by ordering all indoor restaurants, wineries, movie theaters and museums to be closed again. Bars have been ordered to cease all operations. Indoor businesses have been shuttered in many areas. Newsom said the new shutdowns are needed to address the public health crisis. The Los Angeles and San Diego school districts have announced that all classes will be conducted online at the start of the school year due to the pandemic.
Covid-19 is set to become one of the leading causes of death in Los Angeles County, according to Barbara Ferrer, the county’s health director. “It’s killing more people than Alzheimer’s disease, other kinds of heart disease, stroke and COPD,” Ferrer said. Comparing Covid-19 to the flu, Ferrer said data shows Covid-19 killed twice as many people in six months as the flu did in eight months.
The city of Atlanta announced a similar plan. In New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo said schools will be allowed to reopen, but only in regions with low daily infection rates. At least 41 states have some kind of mask requirement in place or planned. In Colorado, Governor Jared Polis issued a statewide mask mandate, a week after refusing public health officials’ pleas to require facial coverings in public. Arkansas Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson issued a similar mask mandate. The CDC reports that 10 states have reported 10,000 new cases while three states each reported over 60,000 new cases in the last week.
Several vaccine trials are progressing well, and researchers say a vaccine might be publicly available by early 2021. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said any Covid-19 vaccine that’s sponsored by the US government will be free or affordable for the American public.

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1 year ago · by · Comments Off on Covid 19 Surges in 36 States

Covid 19 Surges in 36 States

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The World Health Organization is warning “the worst is yet to come” as countries across the globe are experiencing new spikes, with some putting the brakes on reopening.   The pandemic is the worst in the Americas, where the number of COVID-19 deaths are projected to nearly triple to 627,000 by October 1.  Coronavirus cases have now surpassed 11 million worldwide, with over a half-million deaths. Cases continue to surge across much of the United States, where confirmed cases have now topped 2.8 million, with over 128,000 reported deaths — that’s one-quarter of the world’s cases and deaths, though the U.S. has just over 4% of the global population.

Spikes are being reported in 36 states. Only two states — Connecticut and Rhode Island — saw a decline in new cases compared to the previous week.  The United States has set another grim coronavirus record, confirming nearly 52,000 cases of COVID-19 in just 24 hours.  Alaska, Arizona, California, Georgia, Idaho, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas all reported single-day record levels of the disease with hospitals in some regions already overwhelmed with patients.

At least a dozen states have “paused” their reopening. In California, Governor Gavin Newsom ordered bars in seven counties, including Los Angeles, to close. The governors of Florida and Texas have ordered bars to close, among other restrictions, in an attempt to curb the surge in cases.  A major hospital system in Houston reportedly stopped disclosing COVID-19 data after its ICU capacity hit 100%, and following conversations with Governor Greg Abbott in which he expressed concern over negative headlines.  Both governors are refusing to impose statewide stay-at-home orders and mandate the wearing of face masks.

More states around the country are imposing new measures and rolling back their reopening as coronavirus cases continue to surge. The governors of Oregon and Kansas are mandating face masks for residents. Jacksonville, Florida, also said it will make face coverings mandatory.  Seven cities in Texas say they will impose orders mandating face masks.  Meanwhile, hospitals in Texas report a dire situation as cases surge.

Meanwhile, beaches in Los Angeles, as well as several Florida counties, were closed for Fourth of July weekend.  Despite skyrocketing cases, crowds still packed many of the open beaches in coastal cities for the Fourth of July holiday weekend, sparking further fears of new spikes.

Officials in Texas, Florida and Arizona say the states’ early reopenings helped fuel the explosion in cases. In California, Governor Gavin Newsom reimposed coronavirus restrictions, shutting down bars and indoor dining in 19 counties that are home to more than 70% of California’s population.  In Arizona, Governor Doug Ducey ordered bars, gyms, movie theaters and water parks closed for at least 30 days amid an exponential rise in new infections.  New York City has also halted plans to reopen indoor dining at restaurants. New York, New Jersey and Connecticut have ordered travelers from 16 states with high infection rates to self-quarantine upon their arrival.

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1 year ago · by · Comments Off on Covid 19 Cases Continue Rising Since Memorial Day

Covid 19 Cases Continue Rising Since Memorial Day

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There are almost 8,000,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus worldwide, with over 420,000 deaths. As many countries open up again, the World Health Organization warned the situation is getting worse globally. Nearly 75% of recent cases came from 10 countries, mostly in the Americas and South Asia, said the WHO. The WHO also said that the spread of COVID-19 by asymptomatic people appears to be rare.
Latin America remains the epicenter of the pandemic now with the highest tolls reported in Brazil, Mexico, Chile and Peru — which together account for over 1 million confirmed cases. The WHO said Central and South America have likely not reached peak transmission yet. Cuba remains announced they are closing in on the tail end of the pandemic, where infections have been on the decline for two months.
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases continues to rise in U.S. states that were among the first and most aggressive to reopen, leading some local officials to reconsider reopening plans. In Oregon, Gov. Kate Brown announced a 7-day statewide pause on further reopening as health officials study the data and try to contain budding outbreaks. In Arizona, Gov. Doug Ducey tried to reassure people that the rise in confirmed cases was expected and that the state’s hospitals have the capacity to handle a further surge.
Recent data shows 21 states have seen an increase in their average daily new Covid 19 cases this week than in the previous week. Alabama, Oregon and South Carolina are among the states with the biggest increases. Alabama saw a 92 percent change in its seven-day average, while Oregon’s seven-day average was up 83.8 percent and South Carolina’s was up 60.3 percent. Hospitalizations have risen as well. For example, Arkansas has seen a 120.7 percent increase in hospitalizations, from 92 cases to 203, since Memorial Day.
Health officials warn that mass gatherings of any type could worsen the spread of the virus, as the 2020 election heats up and nationwide protests against racism and police brutality stretch into their third week across the globe. CDC continues to study the spread and effects of the novel coronavirus across the United States. We now know from recent studies that a significant portion of individuals with coronavirus lack symptoms (“asymptomatic”) and that even those who eventually develop symptoms (“pre-symptomatic”) can transmit the virus to others before showing symptoms. This means that the virus can spread between people interacting in close proximity—for example, speaking, coughing, or sneezing—even if those people are not exhibiting symptoms.
In light of this new evidence, CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies) especially in areas of significant community-based transmission. It is critical to emphasize that maintaining 6-feet social distancing remains important to slowing the spread of the virus. CDC is additionally advising the use of simple cloth face coverings to slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others. Cloth face coverings fashioned from household items or made at home from common materials at low cost can be used as an additional, voluntary public health measure.

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1 year ago · by · Comments Off on Covid 19 Cases Rising Since Memorial Day

Covid 19 Cases Rising Since Memorial Day

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The U.S. has the highest number of confirmed Covid 19 cases by far and over 108,000 deaths while as many as 1,000 Americans are still dying per day.  With a majority of states lifting restrictions that were implemented to slow the spread of the coronavirus, close to half of the nation’s states are diagnosing new Covid-19 cases in increasing quantities.  States across the US have increased testing so an increase is expected but U.S. data shows hospitalizations in at least nine states have been on the rise since Memorial Day.  In Texas, North and South Carolina, California, Oregon, Arkansas, Mississippi, Utah and Arizona, increasing numbers of COVID-19 patients are showing up at hospitals.

Texas, one of the first states to reopen, reported two consecutive days of record-breaking coronavirus hospitalizations. The state has seen a 36% increase in new cases since the end of May, with a record 2,056 hospitalizations recorded last week.  Since the start of June, 14 states and Puerto Rico have recorded their highest seven-day average of new coronavirus cases since the pandemic began.  Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Kentucky, New Mexico, North Carolina, Mississippi, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Utah are all seeing spikes in cases.

The overall numbers nationwide look relatively promising, as America’s overall daily count of new coronavirus cases has declined and the number of new deaths has continued to curve downward since the pandemic hit the US.  That’s primarily due to progress in previous hot spots such as Illinois, New Jersey and New York.  New York City finally reopened its economy after being the epicenter of the U.S. coronavirus pandemic for months.  If you remove the impact of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and other hot spot states, we have a much more worrisome picture of what’s happening in the U.S.

A new study showed that stay-at-home orders may have been worth it, preventing nearly 60 million U.S. infections.  Robert Redfield, head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told a House committee that many Americans are failing to heed CDC warnings that they should practice social distancing and wear masks in public since states have reopened.  Redfield said “We’re very concerned that our public health message isn’t resonating. We continue to try to figure out how to penetrate the message with different groups.”  Public health officials have been stressing sheltering in home for three months, with people asked to reduce contacts outside their household unit as much as possible.  With the arrival of summer weather and the gradual reopening of businesses and services, people are forgetting Covid 19 is still a risk.  We don’t have community immunity to COVID-19, it’s still highly contagious and we don’t have a vaccine and this has many worried the spikes will continue.

Public health officials have raised concern about future coronavirus spread following days of protests against police brutality across the country. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it was closely monitoring the demonstrations and warned such gatherings could spur coronavirus transmission on a wide spread level.

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1 year ago · by · Comments Off on Missouri Resident At Lake of Ozarks Positive for Covid 19

Missouri Resident At Lake of Ozarks Positive for Covid 19

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A Missouri resident has tested positive for COVID-19 after going to the Lake of the Ozarks over the Memorial day weekend, health officials said. The Camden County Health Department said one person tested positive for the virus from Boone County. Health officials said the person did visit Backwater Jack’s, which is the outdoor pool and bar, where a viral video of people not social distancing was taken on Memorial Day weekend. Authorities say the person developed the illness on Sunday and was likely incubating illness and possibly infectious at the time of the visit.
Health officials provided the following timeline for contact tracing:
Saturday, May 23- Backwater Jacks – 1pm to 5pm, Shady Gators and Lazy Gators Pool — 5:40pm to 9pm,
Backwater Jacks — 9:40pm to 10pm, Sunday, May 24 – Buffalo Wild Wings – 1pm to 2pm, Shady Gators — 2:30pm until about 6:30pm or 7pm, Taxi from Shady Gators to private residence about 7pm. They encourage anyone who was at these locations during these times to get tested for Covid 19.
Photos and videos of partygoers crowded into the swim up bar-Backwater Jacks circulated social media over the holiday weekend. Backwater Jack’s Bar and Grill in Lake of the Ozarks is a popular vacation spot in the Midwest that regularly draws summer crowds. It was no different last weekend, even given the pandemic, and people are blasting the restaurant and attendees for ignoring social distancing advice. It’s clear from posts on social media that even if the venue was operating at reduced capacity, it was too crowded to maintain 6 feet between attendees.
Visitors and lake area residents told news outlets they were concerned with the lack of social distancing and safety that lead to a positive coronavirus case because they know the area attracts people from out of state also. “Everyone saw it coming so it’s kind of irony. Everyone’s like oh it’s fine we won’t do anything. But, there’s 200 people in a little pool. So I saw it coming. That’s why I tried to protect myself and make sure I keep others safe as well.” One Lake area resident said.
A visitor to the Lake Area said “They were taking a chance and I’m concerned about what the outcome will be in another week or two. With the one case showing up. Everyone that was exposed to that person is exposing a lot of other people. So it’s a bit concerning.”
The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services said Monday 773 deaths have been attributed to COVID-19 in the state and there are over 13,000 confirmed cases since the outbreak started. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment said Monday the state has almost 10,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and there have been 217 deaths since the outbreak started. The US death toll over 100,000.

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1 year ago · by · Comments Off on Covid 19 Vaccine Trials Underway

Covid 19 Vaccine Trials Underway

 

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Physicians caution that amid a desire to put an end to the Covid-19 pandemic, developers of drugs and vaccines have become overly enthusiastic about the chances their products will work.  Several vaccine developers have issued statements looking into the future — setting possible timetables for study completion and vaccine manufacturing.

Biotech company Moderna said early trials of their coronavirus vaccine show promising results as volunteers developed antibodies against the virus. Eight people took part in the study. The company, which is developing the vaccine with the National Institutes of Health, says it will move on to larger-scale trials and that a vaccine could be made available as soon as January.   Moderna is collaborating on its vaccine development with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of NIAID, said while Moderna’s numbers were limited, “it was good news” and he was “cautiously optimistic” about the vaccine.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are currently over 100 vaccine efforts underway around the world.  There are 10 vaccines in human clinical trials worldwide. There are four teams in the United States: Moderna, Pfizer, Inovio and Novavax.  Five Chinese companies have vaccines in human trials. University of Oxford is the only team in Europe currently running trials.  Inovio and Moderna have said they expect their large-scale clinical trials, known as Phase 3 trials, to last around six months. Pfizer hasn’t given a timetable for its Phase 3 trial.  Worldwide, there are 114 more candidates in pre-clinical trial stages.

One big stumbling block for any vaccine trial is that Covid-19 infection rates in many areas of the world are flattening out or declining. The point of Phase 3 is to vaccinate people and then see if they naturally become infected, and with lower rates of circulating virus, the study subjects are less likely to be exposed to the virus in the first place.  For a vaccine clinical trial to be successful, there needs to be sufficiently high levels of the virus circulating in the community. If there isn’t enough virus around, it will be impossible to tell if the vaccine protected the study subjects, or if they were just never exposed to the virus.

The global effort to develop a vaccine is just the beginning of this race. It also takes time to ramp up vaccine production and deciding how it will be distributed will be difficult in a world of more than 7 billion people.  New drugs and vaccines traditionally go first to the wealthiest countries and that’s the expectation in this case as well. But the exact order could depend on where the vaccine is first developed and what that countries priorities are in distribution.  Wealthier countries have been hit hardest by the virus so far. But in many of these nations, COVID-19 cases are leveling off or declining, while they are rising rapidly in the developing world, including countries such as India, Brazil and Peru.  Nations and drug companies are likely to face a range of conflicting pressures with the need to provide the vaccine at home and intense scrutiny to share it widely, fairly and cheaply abroad.

 

 

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1 year ago · by · Comments Off on Experts Warn of Spikes In Covid 19 Cases 2 to 3 Weeks From Reopening

Experts Warn of Spikes In Covid 19 Cases 2 to 3 Weeks From Reopening

 

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In just a few months, Covid 19 has spread across the globe and left in its wake a trail of social paralysis, economic ruin and even death.  While states across the US issued stay at home orders to slow their healthcare systems from being overrun, other states like New York, weren’t so lucky.  As some U.S. states start to lift pandemic-related restrictions on businesses and public spaces, there is a fear that infections will resurge in those places — and that if that happens, the virus won’t stay put.

Crystal Watson of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security said “I do believe we are going to see additional surges of cases from this epidemic that will not be contained within a state.  Neighboring states and perhaps states across the country and countries across the world are going to have cases imported from those outbreaks.”  Experts say the problem is that diagnostic testing remains so limited that a second surge of cases could silently build. The nationwide goal of conducting 2 million tests a week is below what most experts say is needed to adequately track the virus and that plan won’t be in place until at least the end of May.

No one knows how quickly and how expansively the spread of the virus will pick up as states roll back restrictions, and governors are generally outlining gradual changes.  The incubation period of 2 to 14 days coupled with the turn-around time of test results in some areas taking a few days, means we just have to wait and see if reopened states will experience a surge in cases.  More than half the states have relaxed restrictions but experts say it will be at least two to three weeks before we see an increase in the number of infections because it takes time for individuals to infect others and for them to display symptoms.

Public health experts warned of the possibility of spikes before states made the decision to reopen. Even as their predictions prove true in some states, others are still moving forward with plans to reopen. Proponents of relaxing social distancing restrictions also point out that spikes in positive cases are to be expected with expanded testing.

In Georgia, gyms, salons, and restaurants are operating with limits. In Colorado, retail stores can have curbside pickup and elective surgeries are back on. And starting tomorrow, malls, theaters, and restaurants in Texas can open with 25% occupancy. These and other states have plans for further easing of distancing policies as long as case counts don’t spike.  If these states do see spikes they may have to roll back the restrictions as needed.

 

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1 year ago · by · Comments Off on Meat Processing Plants Close Due to Covid 19

Meat Processing Plants Close Due to Covid 19

 

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The coronavirus outbreak has hit workers in the food processing industry hard, with meatpacking plants reporting explosions in coronavirus cases. In Sioux Falls, South Dakota, a Smithfield Foods pork processing plant that employs 3, 700 people closed down indefinitely after the mayor put pressure on the CEOs to shut down for two weeks as the virus continued to spread through the plant.

The mayor spent two weeks asking them to shut down to no avail with daily reports of more workers becoming infected.  He finally forced their hand by releasing a letter, signed by the governor, requesting that the plant shut down and released it to the press.  At the time of the closure, the plant had 238 workers that tested positive.  Now, just 3 weeks after their first worker tested positive, there are more than 700 workers who are confirmed to have Covid 19 and another 143 infections that were traced to them.  The number of confirmed cases from the Smithfield plant represent 55% of the states’ cases.

Cargill Meat Solutions, a 900-worker plant in Hazleton, Pa., that packages meat in plastic for supermarket shelves in Pennsylvania and surrounding states, shut down temporarily as 130 hourly workers have tested positive for COVID-19 and a rash of employees called out sick.  Three other Pennsylvania plants closed due to the virus.  According to a union rep, JBS Beef in Souderton, CTI Foods hamburger-grinding plant in King of Prussia and Empire Kosher Poultry Inc. in Mifflintown are all closed amid outbreaks among employees.  A 70-year-old union steward at the JBS Beef slaughterhouse in Souderton died on April 3 from respiratory failure brought on by the pandemic virus.

Meat-processing plants across several other states including Colorado, Iowa, and Nebraska are reporting COVID-19 outbreaks. A federal food inspector in New York died from the disease last month.   Some companies are temporarily closing to sanitize facilities while also boosting hourly pay and offering bonuses to workers in an “essential” industry. Cargill said it would reopen its Hazleton plant as soon as it is safe. In late March, Cargill and the United Food and Commercial Workers negotiated a $2 per hour raise for shifts worked between March 23 and May 3. JBS Beef employees will be eligible for a one-time $500 bonus on May 15.

The World Health Organization, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say COVID-19 cannot be spread through food.  It’s an “unstable virus” that is mostly spread through sneezing and person-to-person contact. Stomach acids also mostly neutralize the virus if it’s eaten as well.

 

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