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President-Elect Joe Biden Reveals Health Team That Will Lead Future Pandemic Response

Joe Biden and his administration made the announcement this Monday that they had decided on the team that would be guiding the nation in their response to the Covid-19 pandemic once Biden takes office in January.

USA Covid-19 Virus

Health Experts Claim Covid-19 In The US Is A ‘Humanitarian Disaster’ 

“This is a humanitarian disaster — probably one of the worst stories I’ve covered in my career,” said CNN’s Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta said Thursday. Gupta’s comments are intense, yet unsurprising and universally accepted among health experts and scientists all throughout the country who have watched as over 10 million Americans suffered from this virus; over 280,000 Americans have now died from the coronavirus. 

Workers from Doctors Without Borders have been called upon to help the US get the pandemic under control. “I mean, this is an organization that typically covers true disasters and medical crises all over the world, and when they sort of look at a map right now and say, ‘Where do we need to be?’ they pointed to the United States. They were in nursing homes in Detroit. They went to Missouri. They’re in these different places trying to offer their services. And still, the numbers are what they are,” Gupta explained

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On Wednesday the US reported 1,893 Covid-19-related deaths according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Within the next two months it’s projected that 110,000 more Americans will die from the virus based on the current rate in which it’s spreading/impacting certain communities throughout the nation. 

The US has also topped 100,000 new daily infections for at least nine days in a row now. The current White House coronavirus task force warned of “accelerating community spread across the top half of the country,” in state reports distributed this week. The task force went on to state that the lack of response to these constant increases has led to the “most diffuse spread experienced to date,” comments which obviously caused them to receive a lot of backlash, considering they’re the ones who should be working on minimizing this spread, not just pointing out when it’s getting to a “humanitarian disaster” level. 

Third-party researchers are projecting conditions to really worsen in the West Coast, Northeast, and mid-Atlantic states over the next couple of months, as these have been the areas that have seen some of the biggest outbreaks within the past nine months. According to data from Hopkins in every single Midwestern state currently, Covid-19 patients are occupying more than 25% of all ICU beds, and some healthcare workers are worried for what’s going to happen when that percentage nears max capacity. Experts are especially worried that with the impending holiday season many individuals will ignore the global health crisis and continue their holiday part plans as usual. 

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“This pandemic has taken such an emotional toll, on children and seniors alike, that we suspect many families will likely take the risk of gathering.”

The holiday’s also mean college students will be returning home indefinitely until they receive updated news on what their spring semesters will look like under the new Biden administration and whatever shifts in policies he implements to further protect Americans. The thought of young students who could have been carelessly gathering in small dorm rooms coming home to their more vulnerable, older family members has many worried. 

College campuses in all 50 states have reported Covid-19 outbreaks since the fall semester began. If you have a young adult planning to make the trip home in the coming weeks, make sure you’re all taking the proper precautions and getting tested and quarantining if needed. We’re likely all about to be spending even more time with one another as the weeks progress, the pandemic worsens, and we get a new administration in the White House that’s already planning a multitude of new health and safety measures to keep us safe.

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CDC Sets New General Guidelines For Covid-19 Protection 

The US Centers For Disease Control and Prevention released new guidance for navigating the Covid-19 pandemic as a means of updating and further emphasizing the importance of wearing a mask. The CDC made it clear in their guidelines that wearing a face mask doesn’t just protect you from the coronavirus, but everyone around you as well. 

“Adopting universal masking policies can help avert future lockdowns, especially if combined with other non-pharmaceutical interventions such as social distancing, hand hygiene, and adequate ventilation.”

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Out of all of the policies that America has enacted right now as a means of curbing the spread of the Covid-19 virus, facial coverings and mask wearing is the number one way to prevent the spread of this disease when in a public setting. There have been multiple case studies that suggest the US can get their coronavirus numbers way down in a matter of weeks if every person wore a mask at all times when in public and only left their house for essential errands. 

“The prevention benefit of masking is derived from the combination of source control and personal protection for the mask wearer,” the CDC continued in their statement, explaining that “the relationship between source control and personal protection is likely complementary and possibly synergistic, so that individual benefit increases with increasing community mask use.”

Basically, the combination of you personally choosing to wear a mask every day when out in public and the general understanding that everyone else will do the same, will lead to a major decrease in new infections, hospitalizations, and deaths. It isn’t even an argument, as we’ve seen from a slew of other countries who had strict mask mandates that it truly does work in getting the numbers down. 

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“Studies demonstrate that cloth mask materials can also reduce wearers’ exposure to infectious droplets through filtration, including filtration of fine droplets and particles less than 10 microns,” the CDC continued; for reference 150 microns is roughly the width of a single strand of human hair. 

The agency continued to discuss how masks have various degrees of effectiveness based on the type of mask it is. “Multiple layers of cloth with higher thread counts have demonstrated superior performance compared to single layers of cloth with lower thread counts, in some cases filtering nearly 50% of fine particles less than 1 micron,” they said. 

The CDC went on to discuss how if you’re looking to order masks online, see if you can find ones made up of materials like polypropylene, which works as a binding tool for cloth particles that will further improve the effectiveness of how well your mask filters out air. Silk masks are a prime example of this, as the material works to “repel moist droplets and reduce fabric wetting to maintain breathability and comfort.”

Cloth masks in general are extremely protective in terms of blocking large droplets and the exhalation of finer droplets. Most cloth masks can block up  to 70% of all fine droplets, and according to the CDC in some studies they’ve performed on par with surgical masks.

US Hits Over 100,000 New Covid-19 Cases Two Days In A Row

The US reported more than 121,000 new Covid-19 cases this Thursday, breaking the nation’s previous record which was set just 24 hours prior on Wednesday with 100,000 new infections. This week marked the first time the US hit a six-figure number of infections, marking a two day total of more than 220,000 positive tests, and a weekly total of 660,000. 

There are currently more than 53,000 Americans in the hospital battling the coronavirus, according to the Covid Tracking Project. Doctors warn that as the hospitalizations and cases in general increase throughout America, the number of deaths will do the same. This Thursday the US reported 1,210 deaths, marking the third day in a row the country has lost more than 1,000 individuals to this virus. 

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The US is currently averaging 895 deaths a day, a number that is rapidly increasing according to Johns Hopkins University. New Mexico, North Dakota, and Tennessee all reported record-high deaths this past Thursday. The Midwest has been hit particularly hard throughout the entire pandemic, and according to the Covid Tracking Project, hospitalizations are up “following the region’s sharply accelerating case surges.”

“More than 234,900 Americans have died since the pandemic’s start and the CDC projects another 31,000 people could lose their lives over the next two and a half weeks.”

In New Mexico specifically, for example, hospitalizations relating to Covid-19 have increased by 260% within the last month, according to Governor Michelle Gisham, adding that health officials are expecting to run out of general hospital beds within a matter of days.”The state is not trending anywhere in the right direction, residents need to follow public health guidance aimed at curbing the spread of the virus. If we don’t do them, more drastic decision-making will occur, and we will have a horrible November and a dramatically bad December,” the governor said.

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20 states in total have reported record-high days of new cases, according to Johns Hopkins. These states include: Colorado, Connecticut, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah and West Virginia.

Several state leaders are looking at these dramatic increases and are pushing for new measures to help curb the spread. For example in Connecticut new limits are being placed on restaurants, religious ceremonies and event spaces which will be going into effect this Friday. The state is also putting legal restrictions on private gatherings. 

In Rhode Island, Governor Gina Raimondo recently announced restrictions which include a stay-at-home advisory that will last from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. on weeknights. All restaurants, gyms, and recreational facilities must also close at 10 p.m. on weeknights and 10:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday nights. Restaurants will only be able to stay open later for take out purposes. 

The governor also mentioned that a main source of the virus spreading has been indoor gatherings such as house parties that have been brought on by the colder weather. The nation as a whole will need to work together in order to truly curb the spread of this virus. For now, continue to listen to your healthcare professionals and follow all the necessary protocols to keep you and your loved ones safe.

CDC Suggests 50% Of People Living With Someone Who Has Covid-19 Get It 

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a report last week that suggests if you’re living in a house with someone who has the coronavirus there’s a 50% chance you will also get infection, regardless of age or health status. 

The study is currently still ongoing in over 100 households in Nashville, Tennessee and Marshfield, Wisconsin and has been occurring since April. The results showed that roughly 53% of participants who were living with an individual who tested positive for Covid-19 also tested positive within a week. 

75% of the positive participants who contracted the virus from an individual they live with tested positive for the virus within five days or less of their living partners positive results. To help get these percentages down, the CDC also released guidelines with the study results on what to do if someone you’re living with tests positive for Covid-19. 

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“Persons who suspect that they might have COVID-19 should isolate, stay at home, and use a separate bedroom and bathroom if feasible. Ideally isolation should start as soon as the person suspects that they might be sick, even before any testing is done.”

Most of the sick patients in the study claimed to have spent four or more hours in the same room as the people they live with a day before they began feeling symptoms. That initial unwell feeling is known as the “pre-symptomatic period” and is when health experts suspect an individual is most infectious if they have Covid-19. 

“It’s because the disease can spread at that moment that the disease is so contagious. That’s why it’s spread around the world in such an uncontained way,”  said Mike Ryan, the World Health Organization’s Executive Director of Health Emergencies. The airflow within a home is the biggest factor when it comes to infecting the other individuals living in that home. 

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The coronavirus is able to spread the most easily in indoor spaces when people are close together in poorly-ventilated areas. So it makes perfect sense that a house would be the perfect breeding ground for the virus depending on how many individuals are living in that space. 

The study’s results also showed that 40% of sick patients were sleeping in the same room as another person they live with before they knew they were positive. Participants in the study were aged anywhere from 12 to 60-years-old. 

The study’s authors went on to suggest that both the sick individual and all others within a household should start wearing masks as soon as they think they might be sick. This is especially true if you know you shared closed spaces with people when appropriate distancing was not possible. Even though the weather’s getting cooler, it’s also a good idea to crack some windows open and turn on some fans to keep the air circulating. 

Every individual in a household with a Covid-19 positive patient should run under the assumption that they also have the virus. Meaning they should also isolate themselves as much as possible for two weeks. Continue to maintain proper health and safety guidelines and be diligent, as this pandemic is nowhere near done yet.

Europe Struggling To Cope With Massive Second Waves Of Covid-19 Cases

Europe is in the midst of a second wave of Covid-19 infections that’s worrying many experts who believe this could be much worse than the first round. The continent now accounts for 46% of global coronavirus cases, and nearly a third of total deaths related to the virus. 

Both France and Spain have issued states of emergency within the past month as a means of easing the pressure on their intensive care units. In France, according to the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, more than half of all ICU beds are currently being occupied by Covid-19 patients. 

Dr. Jean-Francois Delfraissy is a senior French physician and the president of the scientific council that has been reporting to the government every week in regards to the pandemic. Delfraissy recently spoke with the press and warned of how intense this pandemic is actually getting for the country, and continent as a whole. 

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“France has lost control of the epidemic, there’s been more than 52,000 new cases reported this week but the council estimates that the true figure could well be closer to 100,000 daily cases, accounting for asymptomatic cases and those who haven’t been tested.”

Currently European countries are testing their citizens for the virus at rates much faster than the first wave back in the spring. New data from the UK also suggests that the antibodies present in individuals who have had Covid-19, that work to protect them from a potential second infection, begin to disappear after a couple of months, leaving all previous patients just as vulnerable as they were to start. 

European countries are also extremely popular tourist destinations, and during the summer Europe relies heavily on their tourism industry for keeping their economy afloat. This dependency caused some countries in Europe to relax their travel restrictions and reopen some of their borders domestically, and to nearby countries, after several months in lockdown. 

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This reopening, however, has unsurprisingly led to a lot of spikes in Covid-19 cases due to an overall sense of relaxation in terms of the virus.  The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control reported that “the median age of people infected declined from 54 during the period of January to May, down to 39 in June and July.” 

When September came around many experts worried about reopening schools and universities and they soon realized their worries were valid as almost a third of new coronavirus cases in Europe within the past two months were related to school re-openings. The number of individuals aged 65 and older who are currently suffering from Covid in France is six times as high as the number of infections in that demographic in September; there are also  five times as many hospitalizations. 

Italy is currently reporting 20,000 cases a day, and a rate of deaths that they haven’t seen since May. Across the continent all bars and restaurants are too close by 6 p.m. and all gyms, swimming pools, and movie theaters have been closed indefinitely. The biggest concern at the moment is the growing pressure Europe’s hospitals will face as cases continue to rise. 

The rate of Covid-related deaths in Europe has luckily declined greatly from where it was in the first wave of the pandemic, which shows that the country has a better grasp on treating the virus, however, the growing number of cases is still a major concern. Covid-19 cases are projected to hit record peaks across the whole globe this winter, so new procedures will likely be put into play in the coming weeks.

China’s Economy Shows Steady Recovery As Pandemic Is Brought Under Control

China reported a 4.9% economic growth in its third quarter, making it the only major global economy in the world to show an economic increase during a worldwide pandemic.

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How To Protect Yourself From Covid-19 

The coronavirus pandemic has been truly unpredictable to say the least. The way it travels, spreads, and reacts inside of our bodies has proven to be unexpected, however, if one thing has remained common throughout the past six months it’s been the universal desire to find a vaccine, and curve the overall spread of the virus. So what are some of the most effective proven ways to help prevent the spread of the Covid-19 virus?

First we need to best understand how this virus moves, which is difficult considering even the world’s smartest scientists are still trying to work that out. The World Health Organization was recently confronted by over 200 scientists from over 30 countries who were urging the organization to acknowledge the possible role of airborne transmission, to which they complied. 

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“Under certain conditions short-range aerosol transmission, particularly in specific indoor locations, such as crowded and inadequately ventilated spaces over a long period of time with infected persons cannot be ruled out.” 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also recently acknowledged the possibility of airborne transmission on their website, claiming that Covid-19 can spread “through respiratory droplets or small particles, such as those in aerosols, produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, sings, talks or breathes. These particles can be inhaled into the nose, mouth, airways and lungs and cause infection. This is thought to be the main way the virus spreads.”

Both the CDC and WHO have acknowledged, however, that these repertory droplets are more likely to cause infection from landing on certain shared surfaces that are then touched by other individuals. The haziness surrounding the airborne quality of this virus has also been focused on less due to the fact that mask-wearing is the most effective way to combat that. If you go out in public, wear a facial covering and then get clean immediately upon returning home, you’re likely to be safe. 

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When in an indoor setting, it’s best if you remain as distanced as possible from others who aren’t a part of your quarantine bubbles. Go even further than 6 feet apart when possible, and wear a face mask if you’re hanging around individuals who you haven’t seen. Improve ventilation by keeping all windows open and use devices like air purifiers, dehumidifiers, and fans to keep the air circulating between the indoor and outdoor spaces. 

Group activities in general should always be outside, and every individual should be wearing a mask unless a proper physical distance between everyone is possible. Facial coverings are the biggest and most effective solution to curbing the spread of this virus as we’ve seen evidence of all around the world. 

It’s also important to ensure you’re wearing the right type of facial covering and wearing it correctly. Fabric masks should be thick enough that when you hold it up to the sun you can’t see the light shine through it. Most disposable masks available at your local drug store or gas station are effective as long as you’re getting rid of them after each use. Finally, make sure your mask is completely covering your nose, and if you’re going out with your kids, make sure they also have a mask. Many individuals have become more relaxed when it comes to their children wearing masks because it’s less likely that a young child/toddler will contract the virus, however, that doesn’t mean they can’t still bring it into your home and infect others, so keep everyone in your house safe and mask up.

Regardless of the proven science, we all know that the Covid-19 virus spreads easily and quickly when given the opportunity. Wearing a mask at all times when in a public space, maintaining a distance of at LEAST six feet from individuals not in your quarantine bubble, and remaining outdoors for any and all group activities will help keep this virus at bay, and your loved ones healthy.

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European Countries Learning From Sweden As Covid-19 Outbreaks Increase 

European countries are currently seeing massive surges of new Covid-19 cases, and some are opting to take a page from Sweden’s book of coronavirus response efforts to better protect their own countries. Sweden’s been relying more on voluntary compliance than coercion when it comes to getting their citizens to abide by the health and safety procedures put into play, and while that may work for them, we’ve also seen how relying on citizens can go the opposite way.

France is currently averaging 12,000 new cases a day while Spain just passed the 700,000 case mark. The UK is also seeing a massive increase in cases and citizens are beginning to speak out against their governments lack of change in policy to help combat this. Dorit Nitzan, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) regional emergency director for Europe recently spoke with the media about shifting policies and moving more towards Sweden’s approach. 

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“Sweden’s focus on sustainability over time, citizen engagement, and voluntary compliance was interesting because this is the time we all have to learn to live with the virus.” 

Nitzan went on to explain how her and her team know there is no “one size fits all” solution when it comes to combating the coronavirus, however, we all could afford to start learning from one another’s success’. Unlike many countries throughout the world Sweden closed all of its colleges and universities for individuals over the age of 16, but kept schools for younger students open. The country banned gatherings of more than 50, and urged individuals over the age of 70 to remain isolated for as long as possible. 

Otherwise, the country’s 10 million residents were simply asked to respect these procedures and remain diligent about social distancing and wearing a mask, most of which have obliged. However, other parts of the world that have relied on voluntary compliance more than actual enforcement has also seen a massive increase in cases as a result. 

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Even in Sweden itself, back in May the country recorded the most Covid-19 deaths per capita in Europe. The country has experienced around 5,900 deaths, half of which reportedly occurred in care homes and other assisted-living facilities. While Sweden has been able to remain relatively stagnant in terms of new cases, recently they’ve been experiencing little surges of new cases that are causing international experts to be skeptical of their voluntary programs. 

In the last two weeks Sweden has seen around 37 new cases per 100,000 residents. Experts say it’s still too early for countries to adopt other procedures for their own residents because of how vastly different every country actually is. Antoine Flahault is a professor of public health and director of the Institute for Global Health and the University of Geneva, who recently spoke with the media about the widely criticized approach Sweden took to fight the virus. 

“Many people think that because Sweden did not lock down, the government did nothing. But it managed to make citizens understand and participate in the fight against the virus, without coercion, mandatory laws or regulations. The effect was not very different.”

While Sweden’s approach may not be as effective in other parts of the country, there are aspects to it that other European countries are willing to adopt in order to protect their own citizens. The main goal for everyone, however, is universal; to curve the spread and eliminate the virus as much as possible.

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200,000 People Have Died From Covid-19 In The US

Six months ago Dr. Anthony Fauci predicted that the Covid-19 virus could kill up to 200,000 Americans if the US didn’t take the proper health and safety precautions to curve the spread. However, at that point the virus had barely impacted any major region in the county, so Fauci was accused of fear mongering by all his skeptics. Now, that prediction has become a dark reality. 

What’s even more staggering is that the US hit the 200,000 death mark even earlier than Fauci initially predicted. Since the first Covid-19 death in the US occurred back in early February, an average of more than 860 people have died from the virus every day. That’s equivalent to having the 9/11 attacks occur everyday for 66 days straight, according to the US Department of Defense and New York City medical examiner’s office. Dr. Fauci recently spoke with the media about this “staggering” new data. 

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“The idea of 200,000 deaths is very sobering and in some respects, stunning. We do have the capability to prevent the transmission with the health and safety procedures that we’ve had in place, they just aren’t being universally implemented throughout our very large country.”

The deaths have caused families and friends to experience the heartbreak of knowing their loved ones died alone in a hospital room while others weren’t even able to receive a proper burial due to health and safety guidelines. Some families have opted for a virtual funeral to honor their loved ones memories, but for many that idea is just too dystopian and sad to even fathom. 

Now, Covid-19 is officially the second-leading cause of death in the US right after heart disease; which is the number one cause of death in the world, according to the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME). 

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Unfortunately, the US government as it stands is making no major shifts in the health and safety procedures currently in place, and is remaining as open as it possibly can to keep the economy afloat. The death toll is continuing to skyrocket, and the president of the US is holding political rallies in packed stadiums with crowds surpassing 6,000.

Healthcare workers and industry professionals like Dr. Fauci are claiming that it really is up to the individual at this point. Americans need to be willing to fight this battle together since many local, state, and federal branches of government are doing the opposite. The Covid-19 virus has already killed more people in the US than Americans killed in battle during the five most recent wars combined. That’s accounting for the Korean, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Persian Gulf Wars.

Stats also show that the US death toll from Covid-19 is currently 109 times higher than the effects from Hurricane Katrina. At the current rate, if Americans keep going about their lives as they have been for the past few months, researchers predict the US will witness an additional 180,000 coronavirus deaths by the New Year. However, the IHME claims it doesn’t have to get that severe, and claims that “increasing mask use to 95% can save nearly 115,000 lives.”

Further recommendations include social distancing at all possible moments and wearing a mask in situations where that’s impossible. Make sure you’re avoiding crowds/crowded spaces in general and are practicing good hygiene; washing your hands consistently, sanitizing, disinfecting surfaces, etc. Remember, we’re all in this together unless we aren’t, so take the precautions and stay safe!