Current Events

Sorry, no posts matched your criteria.

Current Events

STAYING HOME?

You shared your favorite stay-at-home books, movies, recipes and games!

Current Events
Read
Current Events

White House COVID-19 Task Force

WHAT WE LEARNED TODAY

Current Events

“You don’t need results of testing to tell you what you should do.”

Vice Pres. Mike Pence emphasized what every American can do to change the course of COVID-19. The message from the White House today: Everyone, including the young and healthy, needs to follow the guidelines of practicing social distancing, as well as avoiding crowds, discretionary travel, and dining out.
Current Events

“…we can change the way respiratory viruses — not only for this, but the future — affect Americans.”

Dr. Deborah Birx on the current stakes of public health measures. She applauded grocery stores that have implemented specific shopping times for senior citizens, adding that she hopes the practice expands and continues during flu seasons.
Current Events

“We will win.”

Pres. Trump, who says our economy will come "roaring back" despite the impact of COVID-19 and that he wants to "go big" on economic stimulus. The IRS will defer tax payments for affected individuals and businesses. One stimulus idea includes directly sending money - reportedly up to $1,000 - to Americans within a certain income bracket, though the exact figure is unknown.
Current Events

“This is worse than 9/11.”

Treasury Sec. Steve Mnuchin on the current state of the airline industry. Sec. Mnuchin said programs for airlines and businesses of 500 or less are in the works. After 9/11, the stock market temporarily closed. When asked about that, Sec. Mnuchin said the markets will remain open despite the current volatility, though shortening trading hours may be an option if needed. He added, "Americans need to know they have access to their money."
Current Events

"Everything else is going to come back. A life is never going to come back." President Trump on why saving American lives is the number one priority right now, and why all Americans must join together in order to do so. What do you think of the new guidelines?

view sources

Read
Current Events

PATIENT ZERO

What exactly happened to the first case of COVID-19 in America?

Current Events

What We Know

  • January 19, 2020: A 35-year-old man arrived at a clinic in Snohomish County, north of Seattle, Washington.
  • He recently returned from Wuhan, China where he visited family; he did not knowingly make contact with anyone ill OR visit the open-market in question as the source of a mysterious outbreak.
  • By the time he arrived at the doctor’s, he hadn’t felt well for several days.
Current Events

Timeline of Illness

  • Jan 15: Patient travels home from China.
  • Jan. 16 or Day 1 of illness: Cough starts.
  • Days 4-5: Nausea/vomiting; goes to clinic, admitted to hospital.
  • Days 6-11: Fever of 102-103F.
  • Day 9: Evidence of pneumonia, depleted oxygen levels.
  • Day 10: Given oxygen, antivirals.
  • Day 12: Taken off oxygen, cough continues; remains hospitalized at least through Jan. 30th + home isolation.
Current Events

“Our report of the first confirmed case of 2019-nCoV in the United States illustrates several aspects of this emerging outbreak that are not yet fully understood, including transmission dynamics and the full spectrum of clinical illness.”

Analysis by Washington State 2019-nCoV Case Investigation Team who says one of the challenges of COVID-19 is that it presents like other respiratory illnesses during flu season. They noted the similar, rapid evolution from no signs of pneumonia to a diagnosis in 5 days.
Current Events

“Everyone should know these red-flag symptoms. COVID can turn serious in any age adult. If you’re a healthy adult under 60, the signs and symptoms to seek care are much the same that I would say for the flu – prolonged high fever (104 or higher), chest pain, shortness of breath, lethargy, or inability to drink fluids or urinate.”

Dr. Darria Long Gillespie, ER room physician and author of “Mom Hacks.”
Current Events

“We’re at a critical junction right now, but we can still mitigate this substantially.”

Trevor Bedford, Bedford Labs, wrote this on March 2. The prominent researcher believes Patient Zero may have led to upwards of 1,500 cases in the Seattle area that he expects will mimic Wuhan, China with a spike in illnesses. The CDC calls his work tracing the illness an "interesting hypothesis" but says others may have contributed to the spread.
Current Events

It reportedly took Patient Zero nearly a month to be deemed "fully recovered" and no one in close contact with him is known to have tested positive for the illness. The Seattle area remains one of the hardest hit in the nation.

view sources

Read
Current Events

White House COVID-19 Task Force

WHAT WE LEARNED TODAY

 

Current Events

“We have not reached our peak… We will see more cases and we will see more suffering and death.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, reiterating that the U.S. has YET to see the height of COVID-19, noting that the most vulnerable are the elderly and those with underlying conditions. Nonetheless, as pointed out by U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams, "almost all people will recover - 98, 99% of people will recover."
Current Events

“If you don’t have to travel, I wouldn’t do it.”

Pres. Trump's advice to the American people. The ban against entry into the U.S. from 26 European countries went into effect on Friday. On Monday, the United Kingdom and Ireland will be added to the list. U.S. citizens and green card holders are exempt from the ban. Pres. Trump said the U.S. is *ALSO* considering domestic travel restrictions.
Current Events

“We don’t want to say the risk is low when we don’t know how low the numbers are for people who are asymptotic.”

Dr. Deborah Birx, White House COVID-19 coordinator, explaining that although we know a lot about the high risk of serious illness to older Americans, we don't know enough yet about transmission, specifically, how many are carrying COVID-19 that show no symptoms, but are spreading it. BIG unknown: Are people under 20 asymptomatic and spreading the virus?
Current Events

“If you are sick, stay home. You’re not going to miss a paycheck.”

Vice President Pence on the stimulus deal that passed the House and is on its way to the Senate on Monday, which has several provisions, including free coronavirus testing, two weeks of emergency paid sick leave for displaced workers, increased Medicaid funding, as well as boosts to nutrition programs for students and low-income persons.
Current Events

“We need your help. Social distancing and mitigation – they’re not to protect the 30-year-old or the 20-year-old from getting coronavirus. They’re to protect your nana.”

U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams on why people of ALL ages need to contribute to the efforts to overcome COVID-19. Dr. Adams' prescription: "know your risk, understand your circumstances, and get the facts to protect yourself at coronavirus.gov."
Current Events

What's Next? Treasury secretary Steve Munchkin suggested that other stimulus ideas are on the table, such as a payroll tax cut, refundable tax credits, suspending interest on student loans, and using the strategic oil reserves. WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE U.S. RESPONSE TO COVID-19?

view sources

Read
Current Events

LESSONS FROM THE PAST

Why were certain American cities hit brutally hard by the 1918 flu pandemic while others were spared?

Current Events

“Schools, theaters, churches and dance halls in cities across the country were closed. Kansas City banned weddings and funerals if more than 20 people were to be in attendance. New York mandated staggered shifts at factories to reduce rush hour commuter traffic. Seattle’s mayor ordered his constituents to wear face masks.”

National Institute of Health describing the scene in America during the flu outbreak of 1918.
Current Events

WHAT TO KNOW:

What They Researched: In 2007, the National Institute of Health funded two studies examining the government response to the flu pandemic of 1918.

What They Found: Government intervention (containment/restrictions) worked to help slow the spread of the flu, but the real life-saving factor: how quickly the measures were put in place.

Current Events

One Example

Both St. Louis and Philadelphia put similar measures in place, such as banning large gatherings.

St. Louis put the ban in place 48 hours after first cases emerged.

Philadelphia put the ban in place two weeks after first cases emerged.

“Peak mortality” rates in St. Louis were 1/8 that of Philadelphia.

Current Events

WORTH NOTING

“… had San Francisco left its controls in place continuously from September 1918 through May 1919, the analysis suggests, the city might have reduced deaths by more than 90 percent.

Researchers concluded this about public measures: the earlier the better, and the longer imposed, the more effective. Many cities removed measures too early allowing re-transmission to occur.
Current Events

ONE LESSON?

“… in the event of a severe pandemic, cities will likely need to maintain (non-pharmaceutical interventions) for longer than the 2–8 weeks that was the norm in 1918.”

Both studies note the challenges of comparing the past and present. However, both came to the conclusion that during a pandemic with no vaccine, public measures may need to be in place longer than previously believed.
Current Events

Something To Consider

Researchers said finding precise public measures, their timing and how effective (how many people REALLY followed the guidance) is challenging.

Some cities, like Philadelphia, handled a large influx of soldiers from WWI where others did not. This is one reason for the disease spread – but also a factor for concentrated mortality rates.

Current Events

"...nonpharmaceutical interventions may buy valuable time at the beginning of a pandemic while a targeted vaccine is being produced.” Dr. Anthony Fauci in 2007 reacting to this study. Dr. Fauci remains the director of NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, helping to lead the national response to COVID-19.

view sources

Read
Current Events

While Americans hunker down at home, four soldiers died abroad in service to the nation.

The swift retaliation and why it matters.

Current Events

Backstory

Sunday: Two Marines killed in action during a raid of an ISIS complex in Northern Iraq.

Wednesday: Two U.S. servicemembers + 1 U.K. soldier died during a rocket attack outside of Baghdad. 14 others injured. The U.S. blamed Iranian-backed militias.

Current Events

“The United States will not tolerate attacks against our people, our interests, or our allies.”

Sec. of Defense Mark Esper on an airstrike targeting five weapons storage facilities the U.S. says belong to the militia that attacked U.S. and coalition forces Wednesday. Sec. Esper says the same Iranian-backed group is responsible for a series of other attacks.
Current Events

Important Context

  • Despite the U.S. targeting and killing an Iranian military leader after the death of an American contractor in December by an Iranian-backed militia, a similar attack targeted Americans Wednesday.
  • Despite the U.S. declaring the “defeat” of ISIS in Iraq and Syria, the group reportedly is attempting to regroup in Northern Iraq.
  • Bottom Line: The threats from both ISIS and Iran continue; tensions simmer.
Current Events

A message from the Defense Dept after the airstrikes Friday morning in Iraq: "These terror groups must cease their attacks on U.S. and coalition forces or face consequences at a time and place of our choosing." Meanwhile, Iran confronts one of the deadliest outbreaks of COVID-19 on the planet.

view sources

Read
Current Events

A closer look at the “emergency powers” invoked by state and local governments in response to COVID-19 as New York enacts a first-of-its-kind “containment zone.”

Current Events

Why Declare A State Of Emergency?

“The main purpose of declaring a state of emergency is increased flexibility to respond and prevent, as well as to allocate funds where needed.”

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper on the benefits of declaring an emergency. At least 18 other states have declared emergencies to combat the coronavirus.
Current Events

PREPAREDNESS

Emergency orders allow states & localities to up their preparation efforts

  • Deploying the National Guard troops to provide assistance to local authorities.
  • Gaining access to federal & state funds to assist affected communities (ex: emergency & medical supplies).
  • Fast-tracking coordination btwn local, state, & federal agencies to speed up delivery of goods and services.
Current Events

PREVENTION

Emergency orders allow state and localities to take preventative measures

  • Setting up satellite healthcare facilities and waiving copays and deductibles for coronavirus testing.
  • Enacting laws to prohibit price gouging of key items (ex: hand sanitizer).
  • Prevent community spread by closing schools or houses of worship and canceling large events (ex: SXSW).
Current Events

NY Gov Cuomo said this about his use of new emergency measures, calling in the National Guard to help with cleaning, food delivery and containment in a suburb of New York City: "It is a dramatic action, but it is the largest cluster in the country."

view sources

Read
Current Events

Girl…Watch Your Face!

You’ve heard the warnings…keep your hands off your face to stay healthy.

But how often do you touch your face REALLY?

Current Events

“I haven’t touched my face in weeks…in weeks! I miss it!”

President Trump, during a briefing on COVID-19, underscoring the advice from medical professionals about how to stop the spread of the new coronavirus and other illnesses.
Current Events

SCHOOL

Study: University of New South Wales observed 26 medical students.

Findings: On average, students touched their faces an average of 23 times per hour or 184 times over an 8-hour period.

Nearly half the face-touches involved contact with a mucous membrane (nose, mouth, eyes).

Current Events

WORK

Study: University of California, Berkeley observed 10 participants (5 men and 5 women) in an office setting for 3 hours doing “office-type work” such as reading or working on a laptop.

Findings: Participants touched their face on average 15.7 times per hour or 125.6 times during an 8-hour period.

Current Events

OUT AND ABOUT

Study: National Institutes of Health (NIH) observed 249 people in the Washington D.C. subway and in a city in Brazil to measure how often we touch a “common item” (like a railing or subway pole) and then touch our mouth or nose.

Findings: People touched their faces on average 3.3 – 3.6 times per hour in public where the possibility of hand-washing wasn’t readily available.

Current Events

“We therefore suggest a shift in the focus of the recommendations issued during outbreaks toward ensuring that individuals understand how self-inoculation occurs and thus avoid touching their faces… Although built on the influenza pandemic experience, this suggestion should be equally relevant for other respiratory pathogens that can be the source of severe outbreaks.”

Dr. Wladimir Alonso, NIH
Current Events

Researchers suggest reminding people to wash their hands to prevent illness is good, but telling them to stop touching their faces may actually be BETTER during times of respiratory epidemics.

view sources

Read
Current Events

For weeks, you’ve heard a comparison between the new coronavirus and the flu.

The World Health Organization now says that comparison doesn’t work.

Current Events

“This virus is not SARS. It is not MERS. And it’s not influenza. It is a unique virus with unique characteristics.”

Director-General of the World Health Organization Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus, who listed four ways COVID-19 is different than the seasonal flu.
Current Events

TRANSMISSION

  • COVID-19 does not spread as easily as the flu, according to data collected *so far.*
  • The World Health Organization says asymptomatic people often spread the flu. For COVID-19, that does not yet *appear* to be the case.
  • Context: Widespread studies looking for COVID-19 among otherwise-healthy people will either prove or disprove this theory.
Current Events

HIGHER FATALITY

The World Health Organization raised its fatality rate for COVID-19 to 3.4%.

  • Seasonal flu: fatality rate below 1%.
  • However, COVID data *right now* is based *mostly* on those who are the most sick, and does not include many who may have the illness but have no major symptoms.
Current Events

VACCINES & TREATMENT

  • No vaccines or therapeutic drugs exist for the new coronavirus.
  • The CDC: Flu vaccines “reduce the risk” of influenza by about 50%; vaccinations & exposure help build immunity to the flu that you don’t have to COVID-19.
  • Anti-virals (like Tamiflu) can help lessen flu symptoms but none are available so far for COVID-19.
  • WHO: 20 COVID-19 vaccines in development.
Current Events

CONTAINMENT

“We don’t even talk about containment for seasonal flu. It’s just not possible. But it’s possible for COVID-19.”

Dr. Tedros, Director-General of the World Health Organization.
Current Events

This Year’s Flu in America

  • Est. 32 million Americans got the flu.
  • Est. 300,000 hospitalizations.
  • Est. 18,000 deaths.
  • 125 pediatric deaths (children 0-4 years-old): highest rate in the same time period since 2009 swine flu pandemic; highest hospitalization rates for children in the same period since the CDC began reporting 2004-2005.
Current Events

While the WHO says comparisons between flu and COVID-19 don't work well, systems set up to track the flu may be helpful to collect necessary research on the spread of COVID-19. One caveat? Data for the flu, even for different strains, has been collected for decades; We only have about 90 days of COVID-19 data.

view sources

Read
Current Events

Working On A Cure?

America’s latest efforts to prevent & treat the spread of the new coronavirus.

Current Events

“The ultimate target of the coronavirus is the respiratory tract: your lung. The whole goal of the vaccine is that when this coronavirus comes through your nose, your mouth, into your lung – to prevent it from hitting the target that will infect you. You just want to block it.”

U.S. Coronavirus Task Force member Dr. Anthony Fauci who leads the Nat'l Institute of Allergy & Infectious Diseases. Best case, accelerated scenario: it will take at least a year to develop a vaccine.
Current Events

Vaccines: What To Know

  • January: China published the “genetic sequence” of COVID-19
  • February: MA drug manufacturer sent samples of a vaccine to Nat’l Institute of Allergy & Infectious Diseases (NIAID)
  • April: First U.S. trial expected to begin. Preliminary results due this summer.
  • Big Picture: Average vaccine takes 10+ yrs to develop; other large pharma companies also working on coronavirus vaccines.
Current Events

Treatment: What To Know

  • First U.S. clinical trial of an experimental treatment happening now at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.
  • The gov’t-sponsored trial will test an antiviral treatment (Remdesivir) by administering the drug to some patients and a placebo to others.
  • Remdesivir: used to treat Ebola, tested on other coronaviruses like SARS, showing some optimistic results.
Current Events

“We urgently need a safe and effective treatment for COVID-19. Although remdesivir has been administered to some patients with COVID-19, we do not have solid data to indicate it can improve clinical outcomes. A randomized, placebo-controlled trial is the gold standard for determining if an experimental treatment can benefit patients.”

NIAID Director and U.S. Coronavirus Task Force member Dr. Anthony Fauci.
Current Events

Something To Consider:

“Should hasty decisions lead to products that are not completely safe, people’s faith in vaccines could be damaged. If so, the harm done to the world’s health could rival the worst feared of the Wuhan virus.”

The Economist magazine
Current Events

Major drug companies are meeting at the White House today to strategize and speed up the development of vaccine or antiviral treatment for the new coronavirus.

view sources

Read
Current Events

“PANDEMIC POTENTIAL”

The new coronavirus has
“pandemic potential.”

Here’s what a pandemic is…what’s it’s not…and whether the U.S. is ready for one.

Current Events

Why It Matters:

  • The new coronavirus (named COVID-19) was first detected in Wuhan, China in December 2019.
  • By January, the World Health Org. (WHO) declared it an int’l emergency.
  • COVID-19 has infected 82,000+ and killed 2,800+ in 40+ countries to date.
  • There are now more *new* cases being reported from outside of China than from China, leading the WHO to discuss its “pandemic potential.”
Current Events

What’s A Pandemic?

  • WHO defines it as “the worldwide spread of a new disease.”
  • The definition is based on the global spread of a disease – NOT its severity.
  • WHO’s Director General determines whether or not to declare a pandemic based on “an ongoing assessment of the geographical spread of the virus, the severity of disease it causes and the impact it has on the whole society.”
  • Recent example: 2009 H1N1 (swine flu).
Current Events

“We should not be too eager to declare a pandemic without a careful and clear-minded analysis of the facts.”

WHO's Director General says that despite the rising number of cases, we shouldn't refer to COVID-19 as a pandemic. He says calling it a "pandemic carelessly has no tangible benefit, but it does have significant risk in terms of amplifying unnecessary and unjustified fear and stigma, and paralyzing systems. It may also signal that we can no longer contain the virus, which is not true."
Current Events

Are We Prepared?

The 2019 Global Health Security Index looked at how prepared 195 countries are to prevent, detect, and respond to major infectious disease outbreaks. The results:

  • No country (not even the U.S) is *fully* prepared for a pandemic.
  • U.S. scored far higher than the avg. overall score, *but* our ability to prevent the spread of an outbreak also depends on other countries’ abilities.
Current Events

“All countries—at all income levels—have major gaps in their capabilities, and they aren’t sufficiently investing in biological preparedness…. The bottom line is that global biological risks are growing—in many cases faster than health systems, security, science, and governments can keep up.”

Nuclear Threat Initiative Co-Chair and CEO Ernest J. Moniz on the results of the 2019 Global Health Security Index.
Current Events

BIG PICTURE: While approximately 60 Americans are confirmed to have COVID-19, none have died. More than 16,000 have died from the flu since October.

view sources

Read
Current Events

FROM THE BORDER

As the President requests more money for a wall on the southwestern U.S. border, Customs & Border Protection unveils the largest tunnel ever burrowed under it.

Current Events

Jan. 2020: What To Know

29,200 people apprehended attempting to illegally cross the border in January.

That’s 3,600+ fewer than December.

And nearly 19,000 less than last January.

The decrease is due, in part, to fewer family units apprehended.

Current Events

IMPORTANT CONTEXT

Last year, at the peak, nearly 133,000 people were apprehended at the southwest border in one month; more than 70% were family units (84,000+) & unaccompanied minors (11,000+).

Last month, 29,200 people were apprehended; 26% were family units (5,000+) or unaccompanied minors (2600+).

Current Events

Something To Consider

While the decrease of border apprehensions Jan 2020 is a dramatic drop from Jan 2019, the difference seems less drastic when comparing it with numbers from prior recent years.

In fact, on average, roughly 30,000 people were apprehended or deemed inadmissable on the southwest border each month between 2015-2018. In 2019, the monthly average more than doubled.

Current Events

“We’ve seen eight straight months of decline, but as we see from the seizure of the longest-ever tunnel between the U.S. and Mexico and significant drug seizures, much work remains.”

CBP Acting Commissioner Mark Morgan on January's numbers. The 70ft-deep tunnel ran over three-quarters of a mile from Mexico into Southern California, had a cart/rail system, electricity, ventilation, and even an elevator. No arrests or seizures came from the discovery.
Current Events

“As efforts to strengthen security on our Southern Border increase, Mexican drug cartels are forced underground to smuggle their deadly drugs into the United States. The sophistication of this tunnel demonstrates the determination and monetary resources of the cartels.”

DEA Special Agent in Charge John Callery. 
Current Events

Pres. Trump wants to reallocate billions of dollars for border wall construction. Today, about 1/3 (654 miles) of the southern border is equipped with barriers. About 1,300 miles has no barrier (not all the terrain allows for a wall).

view sources

Read