"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 21st Aug 2020

Isolation Tips
How to look after your mental health during COVID-19
COVID-19 is having a huge affect on our collective mental health. Common symptoms of the virus include fatigue, short attention span and mood disorders. Through exercise and mindfulness training, we can train our brains to be more resilient and protect our mental health.
Hygiene Helpers
Europe can fight coronavirus without lockdowns - WHO
Europe can combat Covid-19 without full lockdowns now that authorities are better prepared and have gained knowledge about how to fight it in recent months, the World Health Organization (WHO) has said. "With the basic nationwide and additional targeted measures, we are in a much better position to stamp out these localised virus flare-ups," the head of the WHO's European branch, Hans Kluge, told reporters. "We can manage the virus and keep the economy running and an education system in operation," he added. Europe has seen a steady rise in the number of cases for the past two months, he said. In the first week of August, 40,000 more cases were reported than in the first week of June when cases were at their lowest.
Virtual Classes Can't Stop Explosion of Off-Campus Virus Cases
Even with more universities replacing in-person classes with virtual ones, the threat of Covid-19 lingers in college towns with their shared apartments, Greek houses and spirit of untrammeled off-campus freedom.At University of Notre Dame in Indiana, a surge of more than 150 positive cases in two days among its 12,000 students prompted the school to move to virtual instruction for at least two weeks. Contact tracing efforts, however, found that most of those cases stemmed from seniors living off campus.Five of Sean Ebben’s six roommates tested positive this week. Still, Ebben said he plans to stay in the six-bedroom split-level home they share. The school moved one infected roommate to a quarantine apartment, but the four others are planning to stay in the house, based on guidance from the university, Ebben said. He tested negative Tuesday morning through a rapid test at the football stadium.
Fauci explains why temperature checks to fight COVID-19 are unreliable
“We have found at the NIH, that it is much much better to just question people when they come in and save the time, because the temperatures are notoriously inaccurate, many times,” Fauci said last week. The nation’s top infectious disease expert went on to say the White House done away with temperature checks altogether. Not everyone who has the coronavirus will experience fever as a symptom, and a significant portion of people who become infected with the virus have mild or no symptoms at all.
Coronavirus antibodies tests 'put public at risk'
Poor regulation of antibodies tests - that could indicate if someone has had coronavirus - could be putting the public at risk, doctors have warned. The Royal College of Pathologists has written to the health secretary, calling for rules to be tightened on kits sold direct to consumers. The letter warns they can "mislead the public and put individuals at risk". No antibodies test has been officially approved for at-home use in the UK - but many different types are available. It is still not known whether having antibodies will protect people from a second infection.
COVID-19 in babies and children
Children of all ages can become ill with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). But most kids who are infected typically don't become as sick as adults and some might not show any symptoms at all. Know the symptoms of COVID-19 in babies and children, why children might be affected differently by COVID-19 and what you can do to prevent the spread of the virus.
These variables affect whether you live, die or get help during the pandemic
As the US continues to grapple with the dual crises of coronavirus and racism, two things have become clear: People of color are being hit hardest by the virus, and systemic inequities are largely to blame. Eight months into the pandemic, race and ethnicity data on Covid-19 now paint a more complete picture than before. The numbers are stark, confirming what experts and minority communities have long suspected. Black, Latino and Native American people are nearly three times as likely to be infected with Covid-19 than their White counterparts. Those three groups are about five times as likely to be hospitalized. And people of color across the board are more likely to die of the virus.
Covid-19 face masks call as Ireland's main churches 'recommend' use
The four main churches in Ireland have issued a joint statement in which they are “formally recommending and encouraging the use of face coverings at all services of worship”. The move comes amid growing concerns about rising Covid-19 infection rates across the island. The Catholic Church, Church of Ireland, Presbyterian Church and Methodist Church have issued the statement. They say: "At this time, both in Northern Ireland and in the Republic of Ireland, the governments have not formally made mandatory the wearing of face coverings at services of worship. "This is, in part, due to the fact that as churches we are committed to maintaining 2 metre physical distancing between household groups and strict adherence to all government guidance on hand hygiene, cleaning, ventilation etc.
Are New Yorkers Wearing Face Masks? Here’s What We Found
The mask rule Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo handed down on April 15 leaves some room for interpretation. It requires that those over age 2 who can medically tolerate covering their mouths and noses do so “when in a public place and unable to maintain, or when not maintaining, social distance,” which is understood as six feet from other people. But if you walk by someone and happen to pass within four feet for a split second, does that count as being “unable to maintain” social distance? Who knows. At the corners where we did our counts, sometimes people were closer than six feet apart. Sometimes they weren’t.
Community Activities
Coronavirus: South African community starts own COVID-19 healthcare system as government response falters
Lenasia, a township near Johannesburg, has created its own response to the pandemic after thousands of local people fell ill.
Brazil bars Doctors Without Borders COVID-19 help to indigenous villages
The Brazilian government has not allowed Médecins Sans Frontières to provide assistance to prevent and detect suspected cases of COVID-19 in seven villages of the Terena indigenous tribe in southern Brazil, the medical NGO said on Thursday. MSF, or Doctors Without Borders, presented a plan to assist the seven communities with about 5,000 inhabitants, adding in a statement that it had been invited to help by tribal leaders. Instead, the government’s indigenous health agency Sesai authorized its own doctors to assist another village with 1,000 inhabitants, where it said COVID-19 cases were more prevalent. A Sesai statement said that MSF presented an expanded plan for assisting Terena communities that was not authorized because it failed to name the communities and resources to be used.
Barts clinicians develop programme for long-lasting Covid-19 symptoms
A digital programme to treat the lasting symptoms of Covid-19 has been developed by clinicians from Barts Health in collaboration with UCL researchers and UCL Partners. A team led by Barts Health clinicians and UCL health researchers have developed a rehabilitation tool with app developers Living With that can be delivered completely remotely. The tool combines evidence-based methods from physiotherapists, psychologists, dieticians and respiratory physicians to create bespoke treatment plans for each patient. It targets three primary on-going symptoms being reported – fatigue, anxiety and breathing problems. The tool is an additional aid that complements the existing rehab pathway and patients who do not have access to a smart device will continue to receive traditional printed rehab plans and follow-up. Dr Paul Pfeffer, respiratory physician at St Bartholomew’s Hospital and Queen Mary University of London, said: “The proportion of people needing further help is really high. We’re finding that half of the patients we discharge from hospital, are still experiencing significant symptoms after three months.
These women have cleaned a N.J. beach, and fought COVID isolation, for 110 straight mornings
In the face of a coronavirus pandemic that had upended their lives and threatened to sink them into despair, a group of women on the Jersey Shore have banded together in what began as a modest rebellion against isolation and uncertainty, that has grown into a sustained effort to keep a beach clean and helped them forge new friendships and empowerment.
Coronavirus has infected TWICE as many poor New Yorkers compared to the richest residents
Of the nearly 1.5 million coronavirus antibody tests in New York City, more than 27% came back positive. Among the five boroughs, the Bronx, which has many poor neighborhoods, had the highest rate at 33.1% and Manhattan had the lowest rate at 19%. The highest rate was in Corona, Queens, a majority-Hispanic neighborhood at 51.6% while the lowest rate was in Long Island City, Queens, at 12.4%. In ZIP codes classified as 'very high poverty,' 35% of residents tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies in comparison with to18.5% of those in 'low poverty' areas. Residents of more affluent neighborhoods with fewer cases were more likely to be tested than those in poorer areas with more cases. Many wealthier New Yorkers either had jobs that enabled them to telecommute or fled to destinations such as Pennsylvania, the Jersey Shore and Florida
Working Remotely
Selina capitalizing on its early focus on live-work accommodations
"If I'm in New York and I work remotely for some financial institution right now, and I now have the ability to work and live in Costa Rica for the next six months with access to internet, great food, a beach, sun, surfing and yoga, why not do that?" asked Museri. Selina's new subscription-based products, designed to tap into anticipated demand for live-work accommodations, roll out this month. They include the Selina Nomad Passport, which enables members to purchase 30-, 60- or 90-night credits at discounted rates and use the credits whenever they want at the Selina location of their choice. Also on offer is the Selina CoLive plan, which enables remote workers to stay at any Selina property for a one-, three- or six-month stay. Lastly, the B2B Remote Work Pass allows companies to purchase one- to 12-month stays for their remote-working employees.
The Awkwardness of Starting a New Job Remotely During Coronavirus
José Goicoechea had just left his apartment for a quick trip to the grocery store in April when he got a calendar invitation. “I think I walked out at 11:55 and the meeting was at 12:00,” Mr. Goicoechea, 29, said. The other invitees on the Google Hangout included an H.R. person and Mr. Goicoechea’s manager, “so I was like, ‘Uh oh, this is not good,’” he said. It wasn’t good. Mr. Goicoechea, who had been working from his apartment in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn apartment for a little over a month, was being furloughed from his job as a product designer at a luggage company. The pandemic hit and people weren’t traveling as much. Sales had dropped more than 90 percent, he later learned. “I think I was furloughed on a Tuesday, and my last day of work was on a Friday,” he said. “So I had three days to wrap up and leave.”
UK tech sector balances the pros and cons of remote working
According to a report from UK-based tech-for-good developer, Culture Shift, the events of recent months have positively impacted the culture of the UK’s industry — more than one-third (39%) of respondents said it has actively improved since they transitioned to remote working. However, while many have welcomed the remote setup, half (50%) of employees in tech have been feeling isolated while working from home.
Virtual Classrooms
UNC begins testing as coronavirus cases spike, while N.C. State switches to virtual classes
North Carolina State University will switch all of its undergraduate classes online after clusters of coronavirus cases were found on campus this week, adding to the chaos of students scrambling to find new housing as more colleges shut down. It was another sign of the challenge facing universities that have tried to hold some classes in person, with residential life — and student behavior — apparently making it more difficult to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. At the nearby University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, which had already announced an abrupt shift to virtual learning earlier this week, the chancellor said undergraduate classes would be canceled Monday and Tuesday to allow students time to move off campus as the number of cases continued to rise.
Public Policies
World Bank chief warns extreme poverty could surge by 100 million - The Jakarta Post
David Malpass, the president of the World Bank, warned that the coronavirus pandemic may drive as many as 100 million people back into extreme poverty. The Washington-based development lender previously estimated that 60 million people would fall into extreme poverty due to COVID-19, but the new estimate puts the deterioration at 70 to 100 million, and Malpass told the AFP news agency "that number could go higher" if the pandemic worsens or drags on. The situation makes it "imperative" that creditors reduce the amount of debt held by poor countries at risk, going beyond the commitment to suspend debt payments, he added.
Morocco may reimpose full lockdown as COVID-19 cases surge: King
Morocco could return to a complete coronavirus lockdown as cases continue to spike, Moroccan King Mohammed VI said on Thursday, warning of severe economic repercussions. The warning came as a jump in infections in the once bustling tourist hub of Marrakech strained health services and led to protests by medical staff in recent days. New cases nationally have surged to more than 1,000 a day since Morocco lifted a strict three-month long lockdown in late June and hit a record high of 1,766 on Aug. 15. “If figures continue to increase, the COVID-19 Scientific Committee may recommend another lockdown, perhaps with even tighter restrictions,” the King said in a speech. The deterioration of the health situation “does not leave much room for optimism,” he said.
Coronavirus: PSNI to focus enforcement 'in hotspot areas'
The PSNI will focus enforcement action in so-called "hotspot areas" to curb the spread of coronavirus, Robin Swann has said. Stormont's health minister made the announcement as he outlined new restrictions in response to a rise in cases. From next week, indoor gatherings will drop from 10 to six people and outdoor meetings from 30 to 15. Fifty-one new cases were reported on Thursday, with NI's total now at 6,556. No further deaths have been recorded by the department, meaning its death toll remains at 559. Meanwhile, two medics who work in the Respiratory Emergency Department (ED) at Craigavon Area Hospital have tested positive for Covid-19.
Feds OK COVID-19 tests without FDA approval
Yesterday, the US Department Health and Human Services rescinded guidance that mandated that COVID-19 tests gain approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) before use, under an executive order from President Donald Trump. "As part of HHS's ongoing department-wide review of regulatory flexibilities enacted since the start of COVID-19, the department has determined that the Food and Drug Administration ("FDA") will not require premarket review of laboratory developed tests ("LDT") absent notice-and-comment rule making," HHS said in a document posted to its website yesterday. The decision will allow private and commercial laboratories to manufacture and administer tests, including labs controlled by Quest Diagnostics and LabCorp. According to Politico, most COVID-19 tests currently used in the United States are made by device manufacturers and thus subject to FDA review.
Turkey in talks with Germany, China, Russia on vaccine trials
Turkey is in talks with Russia, Germany and China about conducting Phase 3 trials for coronavirus vaccines developed in those countries, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said on Wednesday. Germany and China have applied to conduct the Phase 3 trials in Turkey and have presented pre-clinical trial results, while Ankara wants to see pre-clinical results from Russia before the trials, Koca said. Speaking at a news conference in Ankara, he said there were 13 vaccines being developed in Turkey, three of which have gone beyond the animal testing phase.
Merkel, Macron Convene With Europe’s Virus Battle Unraveling
French President Emmanuel Macron will discuss the escalating coronavirus crisis with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at a medieval island fortress Thursday as Europe struggles with a resurgence of the disease that threatens its recovery. With Spain’s government appearing rudderless during the latest uptick in infections, Merkel and Macron will face pressure to craft a convincing response to the public-health crisis, while not delivering another blow to economies decimated by lockdown measures. France on Wednesday reported 3,776 new infections, the largest daily increase in three months, while Spain -- which has re-emerged as an epicenter of the pandemic on the continent -- recorded 3,715 new cases, the most since April 23. German infections increased by more than 1,000 for a third straight day on Thursday
Coronavirus deaths reported by Spain’s Health Ministry beginning to rise
The number of Covid-19 victims in the last week stands at 131, a figure 11 times higher than that reported just a month ago and twice the number reported on Tuesday
Covid-19 Data Will Once Again Be Collected by CDC, in Policy Reversal
Hospitals will return to reporting new cases to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Trump administration says, after shift to Health and Human Services led to delays and data problems
New guidance: Teachers could stay in classroom if exposed to COVID-19
New guidance from President Donald Trump’s administration that declares teachers to be “critical infrastructure workers” could give the green light to exempting teachers from quarantine requirements after being exposed to COVID-19 and instead send them back into the classroom. Keeping teachers without symptoms in the classroom, as a handful of school districts in Tennessee and Georgia have already said they may do, raises the risk that they will spread the respiratory illness to students and fellow employees. Multiple teachers can be required by public health agencies to quarantine for 14 days during an outbreak, which can stretch a district's ability to keep providing in-person instruction. South Carolina health officials also describe teachers as critical infrastructure workers, although it’s unclear if any district there is asking teachers to return before 14 days. Among the first districts to name teachers as critical infrastructure workers was eastern Tennessee's Greene County, where the school board gave the designation to teachers July 13.
Maintaining Services
Scarce coronavirus vaccine should go to frontline health workers first, report suggests
Frontline healthcare workers, emergency services personnel and the most vulnerable to the virus should be the first to get any eventual coronavirus vaccine, experts recommend in a new report released Wednesday. People working to make and distribute the vaccine should also be first in line to get one, the team at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security recommends. "The primary reason for including these candidate groups within Tier 1 is that their prioritization would likely avert the greatest overall harm," the Center's report reads.
Cases Rise in Europe Where Restrictions Eased
Ministry said Wednesday that 3,715 new COVID-19 infections were reported over a 24-hour period, the highest number since the country emerged from its lockdown in late June, according to Reuters. Fourteen people died during that period, and 21 died in the 24-hour period before. Authorities are imposing restrictions on nightclubs and public transportation. The health ministry said the country is not seeing a second wave of cases and that the increase may be attributed to increased testing. In France, health officials reported 3,776 cases in the past 24 hours, France 24 reported.
Concerns grow over Croatia's safe status as WHO warns Balkans is coronavirus 'hotspot'
There are growing concerns that Croatia is about to be added to the UK's quarantine list, with a government source suggesting to ITV News that the number of coronavirus cases there are rising. Government sources would not confirm or deny whether Croatia would be the next country added to the quarantine list, but when asked, one source said: "The numbers are all in public." Earlier the WHO warned the Balkan region is a "hotspot" for coronavirus. Political Correspondent Paul Brand said anyone planning to book a trip to Croatia should "standby".
Two weeks on, blast-hit Beirut’s hospitals are still reeling as coronavirus cases surge
The 64-year-old ran to his neighbourhood’s hospital moments later, only to find it completely destroyed, with health staff busy evacuating hundreds of patients while dozens of injured - many lying on the floor bleeding - tried to seek medical care in a situation that he described as carnage. Hoilu’s eye has since been treated and patched up temporarily, but he is awaiting an eye surgery that he isn’t sure will happen anytime soon. He stands in his house, a beautiful historical building that has been largely cleaned up but is still without windows. Looking at photos of his family, he says he is lucky that all of them are alive and largely unharmed. “Besides killing and injuring thousands, the blast has destroyed an already poor healthcare system,” he told The Telegraph. “At the same time, coronavirus cases are rising; at this point I am not even sure anymore want still to set foot into a clinic.”
Coronavirus: Nearly 600 suspected Scotland workplace cases
Nearly 600 people in Scotland are thought to have caught coronavirus at their place of work, new figures show. The data includes eight people who died from the virus since April. Care home workers account for nearly two thirds of the suspected occupational exposures, according to Health and Safety Executive (HSE) data. But hairdressers, funeral directors, beauty therapists and NHS workers are among those who are also thought to have been exposed to the virus at work. Gary Smith, secretary of the GMB Scotland union, said there is likely to be significant under-reporting of the suspected workplace coronavirus cases.
What is long Covid? Three quarters of people hospitalised suffer symptoms for three months or more
On Wednesday, Dr Hillary said on Good Morning Britain: “We’ve known for some time that this isn’t just a respiratory disease at all. It’s an inflammatory disease which particularly affects the blood vessels, the blood vessels in the heart, the kidneys, the liver, and elsewhere.” A study released on 20 August found nearly three quarters of coronavirus patients admitted to hospital suffer ongoing symptoms three months later - many were struggling so much with the long-term impact they were unable to carry out daily tasks such as washing, dressing or going back to work, the study found. So what is long-Covid and why does it happen to some patients and not others?
NHS England's top GP defends practices' response to COVID-19
NHS England medical director for primary care Dr Nikki Kanani has defended the efforts of GPs during the COVID-19 pandemic - hitting back at claims that practices had shut their doors to patients.
New York City sticks with September school reopening despite teacher pushback
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security on Tuesday classified teachers as essential workers during the coronavirus pandemic as the Trump administration presses schools nationwide to bring students back to class. The move comes as a Reuters tally showed that new COVID-19 infections have fallen for four weeks in a row in Texas and Florida. The Homeland Security department’s guidance on teachers marks the latest salvo in a political dispute over the best way to educate America’s schoolchildren until a vaccine can be found for COVID-19. The teachers’ unions have threatened to strike or sue if members are told to go back to class. In Texas, where many schools across the vast state began in-person classes this week, a Dallas school district official said Thursday that all 155,000 students would be taught online for at least the first month of the new term.
Schools Have No Good Options for Reopening during COVID-19
Even as schools have already begun reopening across the United States, debate is still intensifying over whether students should be physically present in classrooms. Children are widely thought to be at relatively low risk of developing severe COVID-19, but a new report from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) indicates that cumulative cases doubled in roughly the past month: between July 9 and August 13, the number increased from about 200,000 to over 406,000. Physically reopening schools might accelerate the increase—potentially raising the number of children with severe symptoms and spurring spread among the community at large.
Students partied, the school wasn't ready: How Notre Dame's back-to-campus plan unraveled
In May, the president of the University of Notre Dame, the Rev. John Jenkins, insisted that despite a growing number of coronavirus cases, it was worth the risk to bring students back to campus for the fall. “We have availed ourselves of the best medical advice and scientific information available and are assiduously planning a reopening that will make the campus community as safe as possible,” Jenkins wrote in an op-ed piece for The New York Times. “We believe the good of educating students and continuing vital research is very much worth the remaining risk.”
Healthcare Innovations
Russia's 'Sputnik V' COVID-19 vaccine to be tested on 40,000 people - TASS cites developer
Mass testing of Russia’s first potential COVID-19 vaccine to get domestic regulatory approval will involve more than 40,000 people, the TASS news agency cited the vaccine’s developer as saying on Thursday. The vaccine, called “Sputnik V” in homage to the world’s first satellite launched by the Soviet Union, has been hailed as safe and effective by Russian authorities and scientists following two months of small-scale human trials, the results of which have not been made public yet.
UAE's G42 Healthcare and Israel's NanoScent partner for Covid-19 test
Abu Dhabi-based G42 Healthcare has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Israel’s NanoScent to develop, validate, manufacture and distribute a scent-reading solution to detect Covid-19. Called Scent Check, the solution is designed to identify suspected coronavirus cases, using a sample of exhaled nasal air. The Scent Check device can detect a combination of volatile organic compounds (VOC Signature) in exhaled nasal air obtained from the host response to Covid-19. A small bag equipped with a straw, called air trap, is used to capture the air sample, where an individual is required to blow nasal air.
Evidence grows that children may play a larger role in transmission than previously believed
Latest study is small but shows that kids’ rates of infection and viral loads may make them silent spreaders.
Why Some People Get Terribly Sick from COVID-19
You might have a sniffle and be done. You might run a fever with a cough and unshakable fatigue for five days—or 10. Or you might end up in a hospital, gasping air into congested lungs, an immunological storm raging in your body. And you might not make it through COVID-19 alive. What determines if someone gets desperately ill from the disease that is ripping its way across the planet? You are likely familiar with the broad categories of people who face greater risk: older individuals, men, those who have certain chronic conditions, and—notably in the U.S. and England—people of color. But researchers are looking deeper into these groups to determine the underlying roots, both biological and social, for their vulnerability. Investigators are relating age-related risk to the ways that the immune system changes over the years, for example, and examining male-female differences in immune responses. Some scientists are probing for genetic variations that might raise susceptibility. Others are highlighting the social, environmental and economic factors that elevate risk, including racism.