COVID-19 widespread testing is crucial to fighting the pandemic, but is there enough testing? The answer is in the positivity rates.
A month after the controversial Sturgis Motorcycle Rally drew hundreds of thousands of bikers to South Dakota, COVID-19 infections are growing faster in North Dakota and South Dakota than anywhere in the nation.
The rally is not the only likely culprit: Many schools in the states recently began in-class learning, and mandates or requests to wear masks have sparked pushback from people who believe that infringes on their freedom.
Though Europe appeared to have the virus under control after a devastating spring, countries there are again struggling. France reported a one-day record of 10,561 new cases Saturday, rising by more than 1,000 from Friday. The U.K, which has suffered Europe’s deadliest coronavirus outbreak, recorded more than 3,000 new cases of COVID-19 for the third day running for the first time since May. Austria says it is seeing a “second wave” of infections.
Some significant developments:
? Today’s numbers: Montana, Kansas, Guam and Puerto Rico set records for deaths this week, according to a USA TODAY analysis of Johns Hopkins University data through late Saturday. New case records were set in Wisconsin. The U.S. has had about 6.5 million confirmed cases and nearly 194,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Globally, there have been more than 28 million cases and about 921,000 fatalities.
? What we’re reading: Some people may not want to rush to reopened restaurants and beaches during the pandemic, but they may be at odds with friends and family. Here’s how to say no to weddings, holiday dinners and more.
?? Mapping coronavirus: Track the U.S. outbreak, state by state
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Purdue University soldiers on with in-class learning
Since the semester started, 198 four-year colleges and universities have backed away from in-person plans, according to figures from the College Crisis Initiative, a Davidson University project. Officials at Purdue University, however, remain cautiously optimistic that their mostly in-class learning is working.
Despite 389 student cases since Aug. 1 – including 184 recorded in the last week – Purdue’s campus positive rate of 3.8% over the past week was in range of Tippecanoe County’s rate of 3.9% and below the state’s 5.1%.
“We do feel a little more confident that things are going as well, maybe better than we expected,” said Dr. Esteban Ramirez, chief medical officer at the Protect Purdue Health Center. “I think now we can start looking a little farther down the road and see if we can say what the next month might look like and then what the next month might look like after that.”
– Dave Bangert, Lafayette Journal & Courier
Summer parties, teacher shortages led schools to scrap in-class learning
As classes began across the nation, more than 60% of public-school districts were apparently starting the year online-only, up from 52% expected to do so a month ago, according to Burbio, a company that aggregates more than 80,000 school calendars nationwide. In some cases, school officials said they had to switch to remote-only because graduation and end-of-summer parties caused more cases of COVID-19. But everything from staff shortages to outbreaks in the community were often to blame.
Many schools starting online hope to open classrooms in the next month or two. Charlie Wilson, president of the national group representing school boards, said it has been challenging to balance students’ and teachers’ safety with the benefits of having them back in the classroom.
“Many factors are outside our control,” he said.
– Erin Richards and Elinor Aspegren
‘Front line hero’ dies after 4-month battle with virus in Kentucky
An infectious disease specialist at Bowling Green Med Center Health in Kentucky died four months after testing positive for COVID-19.
Dr. Rebecca Shadowen, who was a leader with the Bowling Green-Warren County Coronavirus Workgroup, died Friday night following a battle with COVID-19, the medical center announced. “There are really no words to describe the pain felt by her family, physician colleagues and Med Center Health teammates,” Connie Smith, president and CEO of Med Center Health, wrote in a statement.
On social media Saturday morning, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear encouraged people to “wear a mask in her honor.”
“I am heartbroken to hear of the passing of Dr. Rebecca Shadowen, a front line hero who worked tirelessly to protect the lives of others,” Beshear wrote. “Our thoughts and prayers are with her family, friends and colleagues.”
— Emma Austin, Louisville Courier-Journal
A college student party over the Labor Day weekend included people who had recently tested positive for the coronavirus, according to police body camera footage.
Police in Oxford, Ohio, cited six men who attended a house party near Miami University for violating the state’s mass gathering and quarantine ordinance. Body camera footage shows an officer arriving at a home near campus and finding men without masks on the porch.
In the footage, one of the residents tells the officer he tested positive a week before. The officer asks how many other people in the house have COVID-19, and the resident responds, “They all do.”
“Oh, God. This is what we’re trying to prevent,” the officer says. “We want to keep this town open.”
Dr. Robert Glatter, an emergency physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City reacted to the situation in an emailed statement: “If students could witness the death and devastation inside ERs and ICUs over the past few months, they might better understand the value of not only quarantines and isolation if they test positive, but the possibility of death if they attend or hold a party if they have COVID-19.”
AstraZeneca to resume vaccine trial in UK
Pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca is expected to resume clinical trials of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate after a brief global pause in testing, according to Oxford University, which is co-developing the vaccine.
AstraZeneca put a hold on its clinical trials worldwide last week while it investigated an adverse reaction in a trial participant in the United Kingdom. One person apparently developed a serious neurological problem after receiving the vaccine.
A standard review process triggered the study pause, Oxford said in a statement released Saturday, and an independent safety review committee and national regulators reviewed safety data. That review is over, and based on their recommendations “the trials will recommence in the UK,” Oxford said.
— Grace Hauck
Dentists see surge of problems, and the pandemic is likely to blame
Stress and isolation brought on by the pandemic are certainly bad for our mental health, but dentists say they’re seeing evidence our oral health is suffering too.
Reports of more cracked teeth have received national media attention in recent days, but multiple dentists told USA TODAY that’s just the start of the problem.
Dr. Michael Dickerson, an independent practice owner with Aspen Dental in Tarpon Springs, Florida, said the patients he’s seeing now need “a ton of work.”
What we’re reading
Study: Kids infected at day care spread coronavirus at home
Children who caught the coronavirus at day cares and a day camp spread it to their relatives, according to a new report that underscores how kids can bring the germ home and infect others.
Scientists already know children can spread the virus. But the study published Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “definitively indicates — in a way that previous studies have struggled to do — the potential for transmission to family members,” said William Hanage, a Harvard University infectious diseases researcher.
The findings don’t mean schools and child-care programs need to close, but they confirm the virus can spread within those places and be brought home by kids. Masks, disinfection and social distancing are needed to limit the spread. And people who work in child-care facilities have to be careful and get tested if they think they may be infected, experts said.
The study also shows that children with no symptoms, or very mild symptoms, can spread the infection, just like adults can.
— The Associated Press
Eating at restaurants is a high-risk activity, according to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The study found adults with COVID-19 were about twice as likely as other study participants to say they had dined out at a restaurant in the 14 days before getting sick.
COVID-19 patients were more likely to report having gone to a bar or coffee shop when the analysis was limited to those without close contact to people with known cases of coronavirus.
The study included 314 symptomatic adults who were tested for COVID-19 in July at 11 health care facilities across multiple states. Of that group, 154 patients tested positive for COVID-19.
COVID-19 resources from USA TODAY
Contributing: The Associated Press
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