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The US is Botching COVID-19 Testing as Outbreak Spreads to 22 States

Nearly 2,000 Americans have been tested for the virus so far and roughly 10% tested positive.



COVID-19 Testing
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(TMU) — News of the novel coronavirus and the resulting potentially deadly disease spreading throughout the United States and across the world continues to develop rapidly. According to the map managed by Johns Hopkins, there are now over 101,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and nearly 3,500 deaths worldwide.

Because it can be difficult and overwhelming to keep up, we’ve sifted through hundreds of articles and pulled out what we feel are the most important developments of the last 24 hours so you don’t have to.

Here are five huge developments that you need to know about the global outbreak of COVID-19.

The U.S. is Botching COVID-19 Testing

The CDC is reportedly refusing to test a nurse with symptoms that volunteered to assist with COVID-19 patients at a California hospital.

According to the letter posted on Twitter by Dr. Eric Feigl-Ding, the CDC claims that she cannot be tested because she was properly protected during her time volunteering.

Meanwhile, Dr. Feigl-Ding said that 22 million Californians are now eligible for free medically necessary COVID-19 testing. However, the example above indicates there still may be a discrepancy when it comes to deciding which situations warrant testing and which ones don’t.

A thread posted to Twitter on Thursday by a man claiming his uncle has tested positive for COVID-19 in California, says that his case is being mismanaged.

Scott Bell tweeted that his aunt, who is caring for his uncle, had been moving throughout the community before she was eventually quarantined.

On Thursday, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence acknowledged that there are not enough COVID-19 tests currently available to meet the demand for them as the outbreak spreads. Pence, who is in charge of national coronavirus response, previously said that “every American can be tested.”

Pence said: “We don’t have enough tests today to meet what we anticipate will be the demand going forward.”

According to the Atlantic, only 1,895 Americans have been tested for the virus and so far roughly 10% tested positive.

Amid the shortage of tests, six U.S. states are not currently testing for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

These states include Alabama, Maine, Ohio, Oklahoma, West Virginia, and Wyoming, according to the CDC. The CDC recently relaxed the requirements needed for people to qualify for testing. 

Best Case Scenario? 15 Million Deaths

Researchers from the Australian National University (ANU) have looked at seven outbreak scenarios and how those various scenarios may affect the world’s wealth.

The researcher’s best case scenario predicts a global GDP loss of $2.4 trillion and a death toll of 15 million, according to Business Insider 

In the worst case scenario, the global death toll could reach a staggering 68 million people.

World’s Busiest Places Empty Amid Outbreak

The Guardian has published before and after photos of typically busy locations throughout the world emptied of people due to the viruses’ spread. 

Bethlehem’s streets appeared empty on Friday with the exception of masked Palestinian police patrolling the area. On Thursday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas declared a 30-day state of emergency after cases were reported in Bethlehem.

While some cities and countries have put a moratorium on large public gatherings with or without a declared state of emergency, others are operating as normal. Unfortunately in those areas, some people are providing perfect examples as to why some feel moratoriums are the safest route.

It was revealed on Friday that a New Zealand man who has been confirmed to be infected with the virus attended a crowded Tool concert in Auckland on February 28. The man, who is in his 30s, attended the concert only days after returning from northern Italy with his partner who also has COVID-19.

At a news conference, Dr. Ashley Bloomfield, ministry of health director-general of health, said:

He was in the general admission standing area in the front left-hand quadrant. We encourage people who were in the general admission standing area to be aware of symptoms of COVID-19.”

On Thursday, in what had been the country’s high single-day increase, Italy reported 41 new deaths bringing the country’s total to 148. The total dead has since increased to 197. Italy has the second highest death rate behind that of China.

The first COVID-19 death has been reported in the UK as the number of cases doubled over a 48-hour period as Europe experiences a shortage in medicines and face masks due to disruptions in the supply caused by the novel coronavirus outbreak. Yahoo reports that many countries throughout the world rely on China for both drugs and drug ingredients.

World health officials are warning countries to take the risk of COVID-19 more seriously. In addition to the health risk, CNA reports, “The epidemic has wreaked havoc on international business, tourism, sports events, and schools, with almost 300 million students sent home worldwide.”

Singapore minister and co-head of the country’s virus taskforce, Lawrence Wong, says that the coronavirus is “starting to look like a global pandemic.”

What’s Really Happening in China?

According to the Guardian, a Chinese official visiting Wuhan was heckled by local residents who yelled “fake, fake, everything is fake” as she inspected work related to quarantined residents.

Chinese state media surprisingly reported, rather than censored, videos of this nature. According to a government-affiliated WeChat account, the fakes surrounding the incident were “basically true.

Also in China, the Chinese outlet that had previously reported the story of a recovered COVID-19 patient who later died after testing negative for the virus and being discharged, removed the report. 

COVID-19 Cases Explode Across the US

The U.S. state of Indiana has declared a public heath emergency as the Indiana State Department of Health announced a patient who tested positive for COVID-19 in Marion County. According to reports, the person had recently traveled to Boston. 

Indian Governor Holcomb said:

With the help of our federal, state and local partners, Indiana is responding to this case as we have planned and prepared for weeks. The Hoosier who has been diagnosed has taken responsible steps to stay isolated.”

Additional U.S. states including Colorado, Maryland, and Nevada have reported their first cases of the novel coronavirus. 

U.S. President Donald Trump cancelled his scheduled visit to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Atlanta headquarters, according to a senior White House official.

Houston has announced the city’s sixth case. May Sylvester Turner said, “There remains no evidence of community spread, no need to alter our normal activity in Houston and certainly no reason to let fear grip our lives.”

The number of people quarantined in New York City continues to increase. According to the New York Times, the city’s Department of Health is monitoring 2,773 people who are currently self-quarantining at home. Most of those being monitored had recently returned from China, Italy, Iran, South Korea, and Japan, according to New York City health commissioner, Dr. Oxiris Barbot.

The Daily Beast reports that New York City has 22 confirmed cases as of Thursday afternoon, as the city prepares for “mayhem.”

Mayor Bill De Blasio said:

We are going to see more cases like this as community transmission becomes more common. We want New Yorkers to be prepared and vigilant, not alarmed. We are taking the same decisive steps in every case to shut transmission down: isolate and test each suspected case, trace close contacts, and isolate and test them as well.

Local Seattle outlet KOMO has confirmed that the area’s first quarantine village will utilize an EconoLodge hotel in Kent, WA. KOMO reports that Seattle and King country will establish three quarantine villages total and that no public announcement has been made thus far.

KOMO’s Matt Markovich said on Twitter:

“I find this very interesting. Media gathering for a tour arrange by King Co at the Econolodge in Kent the new location for a quarantine village for COVID-19 patients but motel employees they have no clue motel’s new purpose. Receptionist didn’t know anything.” 

Also in Washington, families of residents at the nursing home at the center of the Seattle-area COVID-19 outbreak are speaking out. During a live press conference, families detailed their varied experiences in receiving contradictory information.

Some families have been told that, despite being quarantined with patients diagnosed with COVID-19, their loved ones would not be tested. Still another was told that their deceased relative died of “natural causes” and would not be tested for COVID-19, despite the outbreak.

Pat Herrick, daughter of a decease resident, said that she was told Thursday morning that her mother had died and was later told that her mother was alive and doing well, before ultimately being told that her mother did in fact die of “natural causes” and was showing no signs of the virus before her death.

Over 20,000 people have signed an online petition demanding that Lake Washington School District (LWSD) cancel classes amid the outbreak in Washington state. LWSD said in a statement, “School closures can be disruptive and costly for families.”

Jeffrey Duchin, health officer for both Seattle and King County, allegedly asked, “Do we really want to close schools or do we want to keep schools open so faculty can continue to come in and serve children?”

The Northshore School District cancelled classes on Thursday.

Please check out yesterday’s update and video if you missed them, and look for our next article summarizing recent developments.

Be sure to follow @COVID19report on Telegram for updates.

By Emma Fiala | Creative Commons |

Typos, corrections and/or news tips? Email us at [email protected]


Biden to Ban Menthol Cigarettes, Citing Health Impact on Youth and Black People



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The Biden administration is reportedly planning to propose an immediate ban on menthol cigarettes, a product that has long been targeted by anti-smoking advocates and critics who claim that the tobacco industry has aggressively marketed to Black people in the U.S.

On Wednesday, the Washington Post reported that the administration could announce a ban on menthol and other flavored cigarettes as soon as this week.

Roughly 85 percent of Black smokers use such menthol brands as Newport and Kool, according to the Food and Drug Administration. Research has also found that menthol cigarettes are easier to become addicted to and harder to quit than unflavored tobacco products, along with other small cigars popular with young people and African Americans.

Civil rights advocates claim that the decision should be greeted by Black communities and people of color who have been marketed to by what they describe as the predatory tobacco industry.

Black smokers generally smoke far less than white smokers, but suffer a disproportionate amount of deaths due to tobacco-linked diseases like heart attack, stroke, and other causes.

Anti-smoking advocates like Matthew L. Myers, president of Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, also greeted the move to cut out products that appeal to children and young adults.

“Menthol cigarettes are the No. 1 cause of youth smoking in the United States,” he said. “Eliminating menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars used by so many kids will do more in the long run to reduce tobacco-related disease than any action the federal government has ever taken.”

However, groups including the American Civil Liberties Group (ACLU) has opposed the move, citing the likelihood that such an action could lead to criminal penalties arising from the enforcement of a ban hitting communities of color hardest.

In a letter to administration officials, the ACLU and other groups including the Drug Policy Alliance said that while the ban is “no doubt well-intentioned” it would also have “serious racial justice implications.”

“Such a ban will trigger criminal penalties, which will disproportionately impact people of color, as well as prioritize criminalization over public health and harm reduction,” the letter explained. “A ban will also lead to unconstitutional policing and other negative interactions with local law enforcement.”

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Pollution Is Making Human Penises Shrink and Causing a Collapse of Fertility, Scientists Say



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With many still scoffing at the idea of rampant pollution posing a threat to humanity, a new study could drastically change the conversation: the chemicals across our environment could be the cause of shrinking human penises.

According to a new book by Dr. Shanna H. Swan, conditions in the modern world are quickly altering the reproductive development of humans and posing a threat to our future as a species.

The argument is laid out in her new book Count Down: How Our Modern World Is Threatening Sperm Counts, Altering Male and Female Reproductive Development, and Imperiling the Future of the Human Race.

The book discusses how pollution is not only leading to skyrocketing erectile dysfunction rates and fertility decline, but also an expansion in the number of babies born with small penises.

While it may seem like good fodder for jokes, the research could portend a grim future for humanity’s ability to survive.

Swan co-authored a study in 2017 that found sperm counts had precipitously fallen in Western countries by 59 percent between 1973 and 2011. In her latest book, Swan blames chemicals for this crisis in the making.

“Chemicals in our environment and unhealthy lifestyle practices in our modern world are disrupting our hormonal balance, causing various degrees of reproductive havoc,” she wrote in the new book.

“In some parts of the world, the average twentysomething woman today is less fertile than her grandmother was at 35,” she also wrote, noting that men could have only half the sperm count of their grandfathers.

Swan blames the disruption on phthalates, the chemicals used in plastic manufacturing that also have an impact on how the crucial hormone endocrine is produced

However, experts note that the proper implementation of pollution reduction measures could help humanity prevent the collapse of human fertility.

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Visualizing The World’s Deadliest Pandemics By Population Impact



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Humanity has been battling against disease for centuries.

And while most contagious outbreaks have never reached full-blown pandemic status, Visual Capitalist’s Carmen Ang notes that there have been several times throughout history when a disease has caused mass devastation.

Here’s a look at the world’s deadliest pandemics to date, viewed from the lens of the impact they had on the global population at the time.

Editor’s note: The above graphic was created in response to a popular request from users after viewing our popular history of pandemics infographic initially released a year ago.

Death Toll, by Percent of Population

In the mid-1300s, a plague known as the Black Death claimed the lives of roughly 200 million people – more than 50% of the global population at that time.

Here’s how the death toll by population stacks up for other significant pandemics, including COVID-19 so far.

The specific cause of the Black Death is still up for debate. Many experts claim the 14th-century pandemic was caused by a bubonic plague, meaning there was no human-to-human transmission, while others argue it was possibly pneumonic.

Interestingly, the plague still exists today – however, it’s significantly less deadly, thanks to modern antibiotics.

History Repeats, But at Least We Keep Learning

While we clearly haven’t eradicated infection diseases from our lives entirely, we’ve at least come a long way in our understanding of what causes illness in the first place.

In ancient times, people believed gods and spirits caused diseases and widespread destruction. But by the 19th century, a scientist named Louis Pasteur (based on findings by Robert Koch) discovered germ theory – the idea that small organisms caused disease.

What will we discover next, and how will it impact our response to disease in the future?

Like this? Check out the full-length article The History of Pandemics

Republished from ZH with permission.

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