12:55 p.m.: Fauci: ‘Do not abandon’ distancing, masks in anticipation of vaccine Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, is urging the public to “not abandon” public health measures “in anticipation of a vaccine.”“When you’re talking about public health measures, there are many, many things that we can do,” Fauci said at a briefing Thursday hosted by the Alliance of Public Health. “But you can distill them down to five or six that everyone should be doing: masks, physical distancing, avoiding crowds, outdoor better than indoor, washing your hands with soap and water or with an alcohol-based type of sanitizer.”Fauci said we could see different scenarios as we get into flu season this fall, including a situation where the seasonal flu is crowded out by COVID-19 infections. But he said he hopes to see more people getting the flu shot this year. Approximately 170 million people did last year.That combined with COVID-19 public health measures could result in a “blunted” season for both, he said.“That’s a goal that we should aspire to that I think is possible,” Fauci said.12:32 p.m.: Ohio governor tests positiveOhio Gov. Mike DeWine tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday as part of the protocol to greet President Donald Trump at a Cleveland airport, his office said.DeWine has no symptoms and plans to quarantine at his home for the next two weeks, his office said.11:25 a.m.: Florida has 3 counties with no ICU bedsIn Florida, 17.4% of the state’s ICU beds were open as of Thursday morning, according to the state’s Agency for Healthcare Administration.Forty-two hospitals had no available beds while 35 hospitals had just one available bed, the agency said.Three counties — Monroe, Nassau and Okeechobee — had no available ICU beds.These numbers are expected to fluctuate throughout the day as hospitals and medical centers provide updates.10:50 a.m.: Birx warns about increases in percent-positivity in 9 cities, CA Central Valley Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus task force coordinator, is warning states about an increase in test-positivity rates in nine cities across the country, as well as in California’s Central Valley.According to Birx’s Wednesday call with state and local officials obtained by the Center for Public Integrity, Baltimore, Atlanta, Kansas City, Portland, Omaha and California’s Central Valley all remain at a “very high level.” Three other cities, Chicago, Boston and Detroit — which Birx described as in the “green zone” — have seen a “slow uptick” in their rate of positivity. Washington, D.C., is not considered in the “green zone,” but has also seen an increase in its rate of positivity.Birx stressed that local officials must look at the increases “very carefully” to ensure they are kept under control.She specifically referenced several states, including California, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Nebraska, Ohio, Tennessee and Virginia, noting that their COVID-19 trends are “concerning.” The new concerns come as the country sees “encouraging” news across the South, according to Birx, as cases and test-positivity decline.10 a.m.: School district moves to virtual learning when over 90 staff members forced to quarantineOver 90 staff members in Georgia’s Barrow County School System are in quarantine due to a confirmed COVID-19 case, a suspect case or direct contact with a confirmed case, prompting the district to make a last-minute switch to virtual learning, district officials announced Wednesday.The district had planned to begin the year with in-person and virtual learning.“If today was the first day of school, we would have been hard-pressed to have sufficient staff available to open,” superintendent Chris McMichael said.Distance learning for all students will begin Aug. 17.On Friday, district officials will “present a phased approach to bring students back into the classrooms as quickly as possible,” the school system said.8:22 a.m.: France reports highest single-day rise in cases in over two monthsFrance on Wednesday reported its highest single-day rise in coronavirus infections in more than two months amid concerns about a resurgence in Europe. According to data published by France’s national public health agency, the country recorded 1,695 new cases in 24 hours, the largest daily increase since May 30 when 1,828 new cases were identified in a 24-hour reporting period.Meanwhile, the number of COVID-19 patients in hospitals and intensive care units across France has decreased over the past 24 hours, according to the agency’s data. Overall, more than 194,000 people in France have been diagnosed with COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic. At least 30,305 of them have died — the third-highest death toll in Europe, according to the agency’s data.8:07 a.m.: ‘We cannot at all exercise fatigue,’ Africa CDC warnsJohn Nkengasong, director of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, warned Thursday that “we cannot at all exercise fatigue” in the response to the coronavirus pandemic, as the number of confirmed cases on the African continent nears one million. More than 992,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been reported across the continent of 1.3 billion people since the start of the pandemic, with more than half in South Africa, according to the latest data from the Africa CDC. A tally kept by Johns Hopkins University shows South Africa with the fifth-highest number of diagnosed COVID-19 cases in the world.Africa has seen an 11% jump in cases over the last week, which is lower than in recent weeks, but Nkengasong cautioned that the data must be observed over several weeks to determine the real trend. Nkengasong also noted concerns over the low rate of testing across the continent and the rising number of cases in several African nations including Ethiopia, Kenya and Sudan. He said if countries do the right things to prevent further spread of the virus, “we have a good chance of beating back this pandemic.”7:34 a.m.: Weekly testing rate falls for first time in US, data showsThe number of COVID-19 tests being conducted across the United States has apparently taken a plunge. A total of 664,272 tests were conducted around the country on Wednesday — the lowest figure since July 8, according to data collected and analyzed by the COVID Tracking Project, a volunteer organization launched from The Atlantic.The group attributed some of the drop in testing to technical issues with reporting systems as well as storm-related closures in some states. “Still, the problem is broader. Weekly testing declined for the first time ever in our dataset,” the COVID Tracking Project wrote in a series of posts on Twitter. “There are widespread problems right now in the top-level data. In different ways, California and Florida have had trouble reporting complete data because of storms and IT problems. Because they are populous states with large outbreaks, that influences the national numbers.”6:03 a.m.: Number of babies testing positive has nearly doubled in this Texas countyThe number of babies testing positive for COVID-19 in Nueces County in southwest Texas has nearly doubled since mid-July, according to a report by Corpus Christi ABC affiliate KIII-TV.Since the start of the pandemic, a total of 85 children under the age of 2 had tested positive for the virus in Nueces County by mid-July. Now, that number is “close to 167,” according to Annette Rodriguez, health director of the Corpus Christi Nueces County Public Health District.“That number has almost doubled and that hasn’t been a very long time period,” Rodriguez told KIII.5:28 a.m.: FEMA memo shows disproportionate number of non-white children dying from virusA disproportionate number of non-white children are dying from the novel coronavirus in the United States, according to data released in an internal memo from the Federal Emergency Management Agency obtained by ABC News on Wednesday night.Nationwide, the number of COVID-19 cases among people under the age of 18 from March 1 to Aug. 3 were 40% Hispanic, 34% white and 19% Black. The ethnicity breakdown of those patients who died from the disease is 38% Hispanic, 34% Black and 25% white, according to the memo.The gender breakdown of those cases is 50% male and 50% female. However, just as in adults, COVID-19 is more fatal among males under 18, making up 64% of the deaths compared to females under 18 accounting for 36%, according to the memo. 3:39 a.m.: US records over 52,000 new cases in a single dayMore than 52,000 new cases of COVID-19 were identified in the United States on Tuesday, according to a count kept by Johns Hopkins University.It’s the second straight day that the United States has recorded over 50,000 new cases. However, the latest daily caseload is still under the country’s record set on July 16, when more than 77,000 new cases were identified in a 24-hour reporting period.A total of 4,823,892 people in the United States have been diagnosed with COVID-19 since the pandemic began, and at least 158,256 of them have died, according to Johns Hopkins. The cases include people from all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and other U.S. territories as well as repatriated citizens.By May 20, all U.S. states had begun lifting stay-at-home orders and other restrictions put in place to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. The day-to-day increase in the country’s cases then hovered around 20,000 for a couple of weeks before shooting back up and crossing 70,000 for the first time in mid-July.Many states have seen a rise in infections in recent weeks, with some — including Arizona, California and Florida — reporting daily records.However, new data suggests that the national surge in cases could be leveling off, according to an internal memo from the Federal Emergency Management Agency obtained by ABC News on Tuesday night. Nationwide, the last week saw a 9.2% decrease in cases from the previous seven-day period. There was also a 7% increase in new deaths compared to the previous week, but the figure is lower than the 20-30% week-over-week increase the country has seen of late, according to the memo. Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved. Ovidiu Dugulan/iStockBy MORGAN WINSOR and EMILY SHAPIRO, ABC News(NEW YORK) — A pandemic of the novel coronavirus has now killed more than 708,000 people worldwide.Over 18.8 million people across the globe have been diagnosed with COVID-19, the disease caused by the new respiratory virus, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. The actual numbers are believed to be much higher due to testing shortages, many unreported cases and suspicions that some national governments are hiding or downplaying the scope of their outbreaks.Since the first cases were detected in China in December, the United States has become the worst-affected country, with more than 4.8 million diagnosed cases and at least 158,445 deaths.Here’s how the news is developing today. All times Eastern.4:42 p.m.: Ohio governor tests positiveOhio Gov. Mike DeWine tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday as part of the protocol to greet President Donald Trump at a Cleveland airport, his office said.DeWine has no symptoms and plans to quarantine at his home for the next two weeks, his office said.DeWine has “no idea” where he may have contracted coronavirus, he said at a news conference.4:06 p.m.: State Department lifts global level 4 travel advisoryThe State Department on Thursday lifted the level 4 health advisory which was put in place on March 19 to advise Americans to avoid all international travel.“With health and safety conditions improving in some countries and potentially deteriorating in others, the Department is returning to our previous system of country-specific levels of travel advice (with Levels from 1-4 depending on country-specific conditions),” the State Department said.3:24 p.m.: 1st large-scale testing of front-line health care providers finds 13% had antibodiesThe first large-scale testing of front-line health care providers found that 13% of them tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies, New York’s Northwell Health said.Northwell Health said it offered free antibody testing to its 72,000 employees. More than half of them were tested for coronavirus antibodies and 13% of them tested positive.The positive sample pool was 28.4% nurses and 9.3% physicians, Northwell Health said.In the general New York state population, 12.3% of people had antibodies, according to a recent state antibody screenings study.Among New York City firefighters and EMT members, 17.1% tested positive for antibodies, according to a report from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office.
This is part of our Coronavirus Update series in which Harvard specialists in epidemiology, infectious disease, economics, politics, and other disciplines offer insights into what the latest developments in the COVID-19 outbreak may bring.Primary care practices are projected to lose more than $65,000 in revenue per full-time physician in 2020, following drastic declines in office visits and fees for services from March to May during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a study led by researchers in the Blavatnik Institute at Harvard Medical School (HMS).The lost revenue adds up to a shortfall of $15 billion to primary care practices across the United States, according to the analysis to be published June 25 in Health Affairs. (DOI: 10.1377/hlthaff.2020.00794). The researchers also caution that losses would balloon substantially if there is a second viral peak later in the year or if the reimbursement rates for telehealth visits revert to pre-COVID levels.The study was led by Sanjay Basu, a faculty affiliate in the HMS Center for Primary Care, Russell Phillips, director of the center and professor of global health and social medicine at HMS, and Bruce Landon, HMS professor of health care policy.“For many primary care practices, particularly those serving the most vulnerable populations, these losses could be catastrophic, with many practices being forced to close,” Basu said. “This could weaken the U.S. health system dramatically at a time when we need it to be at its strongest.”“Our prior work shows that primary care saves lives, and loss of primary care practices will translate to lives lost across the United States,” Phillips said.To calculate the projected financial losses on operating expenses and revenues, the researchers simulated the impact of the pandemic on a variety of practices analyzing both visit volume and visit type, among other variables. They then compared the anticipated revenues, expenses and losses under several scenarios, including a second shelter-in-place order in November and December as well as reverting back to the significantly lower pre-pandemic levels of provider reimbursement for telemedicine visits.Once the most acute threat of COVID-19 subsides and the pandemic winds down, primary care in the United States will have to absorb the brunt of long-term COVID-19 care and management, testing and vaccination, the team said. The primary care system must also be equipped to meet the piled-up needs of the population and return its attention to the major chronic medical conditions that collectively will determine the health of Americans for many years to come, they said.“The coronavirus pandemic highlights the fragility of the primary care system,” said Landon, noting that “over half of primary care practices remain small and physician-owned and these independent practices have limited access to capital and other support that could help them weather the pandemic.”The researchers said their findings and the looming growth in primary care use underscores the need for a financial boost to the primary care system.“The coronavirus pandemic is a pointed reminder of the importance of primary care to our society. Primary care is critical to limiting the spread of the virus, in treating the comorbidities that can make COVID-19 so deadly and in helping people navigate the social and psychological challenges of social distancing and of living with the pandemic,” Phillips said.While legislation proposing financial aid to hospitals has already been introduced in Congress, independent primary care practices have yet to receive significant financial help, the researchers said.Additional collaborators on the study include colleagues from the American Board of Family Medicine.The authors report no external funding for this study.
Story and photos by Joseph SapiaMIDDLETOWN – Jay Ahl, 57, of Leonardo thinks the township needs a streetlight near his house, to make it safer for pedestrians because of fast-moving traffic heading down Highland Avenue.On Thursday, Feb. 25 he got to present his idea directly to a township deputy police chief, at the first Neighborhood “Spotlight on Leonardo” session, held at the Middletown Senior Center.He was one of 25 residents of Leonardo who came to talk about local concerns with township government representatives, for a two-hour session.“We have so many different sections, we were trying to shed light on neighborhoods,” said Township Committeewoman Stephanie Murray. “We’re really one big Middletown. It’s always been a challenge.”Neighborhood Spotlight is part of the township’s Community Identity Campaign, a series of events to solidify the 42-square-mile township and its 67,000 people, as well as celebrate its diversity. “People don’t always realize they live in Middletown,” she said.Last year, Neighborhood Spotlights were held in North Middletown, Belford, Navesink, New Monmouth and Middletown village sections. Mayor Gerard Scharfenberger described attendance as having been “hit and miss.” In Leonardo, citizens turned out to the center at Croydon Hall to chat with representatives in Administration, Public Works, Planning, Animal Control, Health, Recreation and Code Enforcement departments.“This is a success,” said the mayor, who acknowledged not everyone can get to a township meeting, or feels comfortable speaking in that public setting. The casual setting of a Neighborhood Spotlight is conducive to good conversation. “A lot of times, you hear about an issue for the first time,” Scharfenberger said.Various Middletown Township officials attended the Neighborhood Spotlight in Leonardo.Cynthia Bianchi, secretary of the Leonardo Citizens Committee, came to the event. She said she had nothing specific to discuss. Rather, she said, she was there more to listen.“We come to everything,” said Bianchi, who is 70 years old. “That’s why we are the Leonardo Citizens Committee. We let the people of Leonardo know what’s going on. And we let the township know what our concerns are.”Bianchi questioned the time of the session, 4 to 6 p.m.“It’s a funny hour,” said Bianchi, with many people working at that time. “Four o’clock makes it difficult for most people.”The township has juggled the times between late afternoon and night for the Neighborhood Spotlights, which began last year. Scharfenberger figured 4 p.m. would be good for seniors.Also, Scharfenberger said he has office hours from 10 a.m. to noon at Town Hall on the first and third Saturdays of the month to meet with residents.One woman talked to Deputy Police Chief Robert W. Stefanski about suspected drug activity at a residence. The police officer advised her to call police the next time she saw something suspicious. “That’s how we get a lot of things started – a citizen tip,” Stefanski said.Another resident had a question about electricity service. That would be a utility – not a township issue – said Cindy Herrschaft, township public information officer. Part of the Neighborhood Spotlight effort is connecting people “to the right services or programs, whether it be our own departments or an outside agency,” she said.As for the resident who suggested a streetlight to make it safer for drivers, Deputy Police Chief Stephen F. Dollinger said he would follow up on the matter with the police Traffic Bureau to see if a streetlight should be recommended to the utility company.Ahl said he was grateful to speak about his concerns. “I don’t think Leonardo gets a lot of attention,” he said.