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US Statue of Liberty with Mask

US Hits Another Record High For New Covid-19 Cases This Week 

The United States reported 87,164 new Covid-19 cases as of Thursday night, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, which has been recording data on the pandemic since it first began. This marks the most new cases recorded in a given day in the US, however, breaking this record is unfortunately nothing new for a country that has remained relatively relaxed in terms of Covid-19 health and safety restrictions. In fact, the previous record in America was set less than a week ago when 83,731 new cases were reported. 

The US is about to hit 9 million total coronavirus cases since the beginning of the pandemic. Across the country 41 states have reported a 10% increase in new Covid-19 cases, and all 50 states have been reporting a steady rise in cases in general. Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), spoke with the press recently and claimed he won’t be surprised when the US starts seeing 100,000 new cases appear everyday at the rate we’re going currently. 

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“We’ll cross 100,000 infections at some point in the next couple of weeks, probably. We might do it this week, if all the states report on time.”

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have also predicted that by Thanksgiving the US could see 243,000 Covid-19 related deaths. At least 229,000 individuals have already died in America and there have been 8,940,000 cases. 

Ohio, specifically, has set a new high for most new Covid-19 cases to appear in one day twice within the past week, and this trend is proving to be pretty common throughout the nation. North Dakota also broke its record for daily new case numbers with 1,222 new infections reported; currently only 13% of staffed hospital beds remain open in the state. 

According to Johns Hopkins, the average number of daily new coronavirus cases is up by 24% in America. However, testing has also increased by 9% during the same time period that those increases were measured, meaning these high rates of infections have always existed, the general public and healthcare professionals of the nation just didn’t have all the proper data, and still likely don’t.

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The Covid Tracking Project has been monitoring the nation’s hospital bed occupancy rates throughout the past nine months, and this week the group reported that 13 states are struggling to cope with high hospitalization rates. Dr. Wendy Long is the president and CEO of the Tennessee Hospital Association, and recently spoke on these struggles to the press. 

“Hospitals are doing all that they can do to increase capacity, but their ability to do that is not limitless. That is especially true as we see more and more health care providers who are becoming ill from the virus and having to quarantine at home.”

The nation’s leading healthcare experts have claimed that the data shows mask mandates are a key strategy in lowering new infection/hospitalization rates. In hospitals where more than 75% of the patients came from counties that required masks in public settings, hospitalization rates began declining between the months of July and October after the initial wave of the pandemic calmed down. On the opposite end, hospitals that were treating fewer than 25% of patients from those counties saw hospitalization increases that reached 200%!

Areas of the nation that require masks to be worn in public settings are also likely to have all the other standard health and safety procedures we’ve seen put into play as well, meaning there are areas of the nation that are able to get the virus under control, however, if America as a whole doesn’t begin to get on the same page in terms of a Covid-19 plan, cases will continue to grow and citizens will continue to die.

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.

Coronavirus Vaccine Bottle

Scientists Aren’t Convinced A “Warp Speed” Vaccine Will End The Pandemic

The American people, along with the rest of the world, are placing their hopes of defeating Covid-19 and ending this pandemic on a vaccine. There are multiple trials occurring around the world all at different stages, and while a safe and effective vaccine is top priority, time is also a factor considering this virus is continuing to infect and kill people.

Clinical vaccine trials are mainly meant to show whether a Covid-19 vaccine candidate will prevent any symptoms of the disease. The trials typically study between 30,000 to 60,000 volunteers, and some scientists are worried that the time spent on these trials will be too brief and too small to prove if the vaccine can actually prevent individuals from being hospitalized and dying, instead of just preventing a sore throat. 

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The United States specifically should wait for the most optimal vaccine to be on the international market, according to Dr. William Schaffner, a professor of preventive medicine and health policy at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. 

“There’s a tension between getting every piece of information and getting a vaccine out in time to save lives. Would we like to know if the vaccine reduces illness or mortality? Of course. But there is a real time pressure. This is a pandemic. It’s explosive.”

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) held a public meeting this Thursday to discuss how rigorously Covid-19 vaccine candidates would need to be tested before the US considered them safe enough for distribution. “Simply preventing mild cases is not enough and may not justify the risks associated with vaccination,” said Peter Doshi, an associate professor at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy.

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On the other hand researchers also know that vaccines that prevent mild versions of a disease typically prevent the more severe version of the disease as well, so there are still good reasons to focus on studies involving milder cases of Covid-19. For example, according to Doshi, the original trials for a measles vaccine showed that it only prevented the virus itself, but not hospitalizations or deaths. Later studies, however, showed that the vaccine drastically reduced mortality, and according to the World Health Organization worldwide deaths from the measles fell by 73% in between 2000 and 2018 due to vaccines. 

In general, proving a vaccine can prevent severe illness and death is much harder than showing it can protect against mild illness, because hospitalizations and deaths are more rare. Individuals who volunteer for vaccine trials are also typically on the healthier side. 

“We’re probably not going to have the perfect vaccine. But I do think we’re likely to have vaccines that, if we can show they’re safe, can put an inflection point on this pandemic. … I think it’s still important to have a vaccine that has some effect even on mild illness.”

As it currently stands the Covid-19 pandemic has infected 8.7 million people in the US alone, and the mortality rate is about .6%. Leading scientists believe that the ideal vaccine will provide a sterilizing immunity front he virus. This would mean that the injection would prevent all symptoms of Covid-19 as well as secondary infections that could typically occur from the virus. Trials are projected to grow almost 10 times the sizes they are now as the months progress, and like any vaccine, the world won’t truly know how well it works until it’s actually here. 

American Flag Coronavirus

Late-Night Hosts Reflect On Trump’s Mishandling Of The Pandemic And Urge Viewers To Vote

As the US is entering into its third major wave of the coronavirus pandemic, and all 50 states are seeing rises in case numbers, late night television hosts are joining the likes of other celebrities with a major platform and speaking up against the current president and his handling of the virus as a means of getting their viewers to vote come next week. 

Lawyers Plus helps clients find a remote lawyer

How Law Firms In America Are Coping With The Covid-19 Pandemic

As the pandemic continues to intensify throughout all 50 states, America’s law firms are finding new ways to communicate with the general public and let them know that they still have legal protections that groups of lawyers are ready to defend.

Two Positive Covid Tests

New Study Shows Covid-19 Immunity Wearing Off In Patients Who Were Positive

A study of hundreds of thousands of individuals in the United Kingdom suggests that immunity to the coronavirus is gradually wearing off in some individuals. Researchers sent out finger-prick tests to more than 365,000 randomly selected households in England and found that over the course of three months, Covid-19 antibody presence in the UK decreased by more than 26%. 

The research team behind the study recently spoke to the press about the findings that were taken after three-rounds of national surveillance. They sent out the tests 12, 18, and 24 weeks after the first peak of infections in England and observed a significant decline in detectable antibodies as time progressed. 

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“This is consistent with evidence that immunity to seasonal coronaviruses declines over 6 to 12 months after infection and emerging data that also detected a decrease over time in antibody levels in individuals followed in longitudinal studies.”

The study was published on Monday by Imperial College London and Ipsos Mori, a market research company. The initial data in the study was recorded in June, and found that 6% of individuals who took the tests had an antibody response to the coronavirus. By September that percentage had dropped down to 4.4%.

Antibodies are the proteins in your body that are created to fight infection. The type of test the group used to find these antibodies is called an IgG test, and they’re specially designed to only detect one kind of antibody; the coronavirus. This way if the test detects one of the other antibodies your body just naturally produces it won’t flag it for the study. 

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The results also confirm that asymptomatic individuals are likely to lose their detectable antibodies sooner when compared to symptomatic individuals who had more severe infections. Younger people who have recovered from the virus had a slower loss of antibodies compared to individuals aged 75 or older. 

It’s important to note also that even if an individual has Covid-19 antibodies in their system, it’s still unknown how immune an individual will be from potential reinfection and how long that immunity will last. The study also had its limits as well, as the samples weren’t taken from the same individuals every time, but instead just focused on the UK population in general. 

“This very large study has shown that the proportion of people with detectable antibodies is falling over time. It is essential that everyone continues to follow guidance to reduce the risk to themselves and others.”

Immune responses are being heavily studied as well throughout the world. This study is showing that the virus acts like a cold, in the sense that once an individual is infected they’re not immune from getting a cold again, however, they’re body will have a stronger immune response the next time they’re infected. Also like a cold, individuals with more robust immune systems will likely have a quicker response time and are more likely to carry antibodies after the fact. 

If anything, the researchers behind this study want the world to realize that if you get the virus and survive, you are not in the clear yet, and we all must remain diligent in the way we protect ourselves and our loved ones from potential infection.

US Fights Covid-19

US Hits Highest Weekly Average Of Covid-19 Cases Since Beginning Of Pandemic 

The new seven-day average of coronavirus cases in the US hit 68,767 on Sunday, topping the previous peak average of 67,293 reported back in July, and setting the record for highest number of new cases appearing within seven-days. This past Friday and Saturday marked the two highest single days of new cases, with more than 83,000 cases being added each day. 

Health experts claim that this is the resurgence of cases that they were warning about in the summer that would spike in the fall and winter. They also warn that this will likely be the worst wave of infection the US has seen so far. The US has already seen more than 8.6 million cases of Covid-19 and 225,230 deaths; putting us in one of the most dangerous and vulnerable positions in the world in terms of this virus.  US Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb spoke with the press this past weekend about the new surges in cases.

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“We’re entering what’s going to be the steep slope of the curve. If we don’t implement some forceful policy intervention that could curb the spread this is going to continue to accelerate, and it’s going to be more difficult to get under control.”

Gottlieb claims the best way to get these outbreaks under control is a national mask mandate. “A mandate can be expressly limited to the next two months, it’s easier to wear a mask in the winter than the summer. The inconvenience would allow the country to preserve health-care capacity and keep more schools and businesses open.” Deaths are already projected to increase based on these new weekly spikes anyway, and the best way to prevent that from continuing to happen would be a mask-mandate; especially since the reinstatement of a nation-wide lockdown has seemed out of the question for months now. 

According to data released by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, if 95% of Americans wore masks in public, more than 100,000 lives could be saved in the US through February. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, claims that since so many Americans are adamant about not wearing a mask in public, a mandate would be the only way to really curb the spread entirely. 

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More than two-thirds of states have reported an increase in new Covid-19 cases this past week. No state is reporting above a 10% in terms of  improvement and case numbers going down. In El Paso County, Texas, residents are seeing one of the biggest spikes in the country, and have reported that all intensive care units in their hospitals are at 100% capacity. Because of this the county has implemented a curfew for the next two weeks. 

While researchers around the world are racing to develop a vaccine, it’s naive to think one will be ready, safe, and effective enough to be distributed in time to combat this second wave that we’re currently enduring. Gottlieb claims the next two to three months will just have to be dealt with as we’ve been. Fauci, however, is still confident that a vaccine will be available sooner rather than later. 

“We will know whether a vaccine is safe and effective by the end of November, beginning of December. The amount of doses that will be available in December will not certainly be enough to vaccinate everybody — you’ll have to wait several months into 2021.”

For now, the most imperative thing citizens in the US can do is listen to their healthcare providers and take all the necessary safety precautions to protect you and your loved ones from these spikes in cases. Also, make sure in the next week you either get out to vote early, or mail in your absentee ballot so that you vote for the candidate you want assisting you and your community/state/country through the rest of this global health crisis.

Jobless Sign

Weekly Jobless Claims Drop To Lowest Level Since Beginning Of Pandemic 

New filings for jobless claims in America totaled 787,000 last week, marking nearly the lowest it’s been since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic in March. Once the global health crisis hit America, citizens were losing their jobs by the millions every week, now, as the pandemic continues on and election day gets closer and closer, individuals are gearing up for an unpredictable rest of the year; luckily the entire year has prepared us for that. 

Economists surveyed by Dow Jones were initially projecting the claims to hit 875,000 by the end of the week of October 11th, the nearly 100,000 difference is huge for the professionals who have been closely monitoring the economy since it began to dwindle in march. 

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Last week’s total marks the second-lowest new claim amount since March 14th; in seven months. March 14th also marked the first week that companies and businesses across the country began laying off their employees to cope with the initial economic impact of the first shutdown efforts. 

The previous week – October 3rd – saw 842,000 claims, meaning there was a 55,000 decrease in claims this week. One of the biggest reasons for this decline in claims is likely due to the fact that a lot of workers in America have now exhausted their regular benefits and are moving to the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance emergency compensation program. 

During the week of October 3rd 509,828 Americans filed to receive compensation from the Pandemic Assistance program, bringing the total number of citizens using the program up to 3.3 million. The recipients in this program get an extra 13 weeks of financial compensation once they’ve gone through their initial 26 weeks of eligibility. 

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Continuous claims are also declining in America, meaning the individuals who are filing jobless claims for two or more weeks consecutively are also going down. That level dropped by 1.02 million citizens to 8.37 million individuals receiving continuous payments. Ian Shepherdscon is a chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics who recently spoke with the media about the improvement that comes along with these declining rates. 

“Some people no longer claiming benefits may have dropped out of the labor force, while some might have taken non-payroll gig or freelance jobs. Moreover, continuing claims lag initial claims, so if initial claims start rising again, continuing claims will follow.”

Claims initially surged the week of March 21st amid the government imposed lockdowns that appeared all across the nation. In late March the weekly total of jobless claims peaked at 6.9 million. Since the beginning of the pandemic about 11.5 million people have become employed after being laid off for pandemic-related reasons, however, a little more than half of the total number of citizens who lost their jobs due to Covid-19 are still unemployed. 

Opposing factions in the nation’s government have delayed another round of stimulus payments from being distributed to Americans, however, a deal is likely to come into fruition before election day.

Elder Woman Wearing Mask

Who’s At The Greatest Risk Of Experiencing ‘Long Covid’?

A recent study linked age and number of Covid-19 symptoms in a positive individual to longer-lasting health problems brought on by the virus. What they found specifically is that women aged 50-60 are at the greatest risk of developing “long Covid,” which is when positive Covid patients experience ongoing symptoms for weeks, or months, after they’ve already beat the virus and are considered to be negative. 

Dr Claire Steves and Professor Tim Spector at King’s College London led the study which analyzed data from 4,182 Covid Symptom Study App users who had been consistently logging their health status after testing positive for the virus. 

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In general, based on the App data, women were twice as likely to suffer from Covid-19 symptoms that lasted longer than a month when compared to men in the same age bracket, however, after the age of 60 everyone’s risk level is relatively the same; under the assumption that they don’t have any other underlying health conditions. 

Increased age was a general association that came along with the heightened risk levels for long Covid. 22% of people aged over 70 in the study reported suffering from symptoms for four or more weeks after their initial diagnosis. For comparison only 10% of individuals aged between 18 and 30-years-old reported the same experience. 

Gender differences only appeared for individuals aged between 50 and 60-years-old, where the data suggested a women’s risk was nearly double that of a man in the same age range. Professor Spector claims these results aren’t entirely surprising, as the same trend exists for autoimmune diseases in general in relation to how they impact men versus women of that age. 

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“Things like rheumatoid arthritis and lupus are two to three times more common in women until just before menopause, and then it becomes more similar. My guess is that gender differences in the way the immune system responds to coronavirus may account for this difference in risk.”

The study has also not been peer reviewed yet but it is available for viewing in preprint. The results also showed that individuals who experience five or more Covid-19 symptoms within their first week of developing the virus are at a heightened risk for experiencing long Covid symptoms as well. 

 “There’s certainly a group of long Covid sufferers that have this multi-system immune–like disease, where they get gastrointestinal problems, skin rashes, nerve problems and brain fog – so the whole body is involved rather than just one bit,” claimed Spector, who went on to explain that the immune system is likely working differently in individuals who experience these multiple body system symptoms. Those individual’s immune systems have to work a lot harder and for a lot longer to get the entire body back on track when compared to patients who contract the virus but only experience minimal to no symptoms. 

The study also suggested that individuals who have preexisting health conditions such as being medically overweight or having asthma and other respiratory diseases could increase ones risk to long Covid.

Airport Security

How Covid-19 Has Changed The Way We Go Through Airport Security

The Covid-19 pandemic has truly changed the entire world and the multitude of industries that run it. One of the biggest industries that has been impacted internationally by the virus has been the travel/tourism industry. Obviously a virus that spreads through close contact in public spaces would disrupt the businesses that make their money from hundreds of strangers coming in close proximity with one another, however, now that the world has been enduring this pandemic for eight months, the industry has adjusted to better accommodate for the new normal we’re all living in. 

Specifically the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) in airports have taken on a whole list of health and safety procedure protocols to protect themselves and passengers from contracting the virus as they pass through airport security checkpoints. 

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Obviously travelling seems like it should be out of the question for anyone in the middle of a global health crisis involving a virus that spreads easily, however, as America has proven if there’s an opportunity to do things normally, people are going to jump on that opportunity, especially when flights are the cheapest they’ve been in years. 

When travelers first enter the airport they’ll notice a difference in experience almost immediately. Individuals are prompted to scan their own boarding passes when they first enter the TSA area of the airport. They’re prompted to do this at every checkpoint throughout the airport, this way TSA workers don’t have to be handed thousands of passes during a given day and can reduce the risk of cross-contamination. 

In a pre-pandemic context, one of the biggest discrepancies all airport travelers could agree on was the limited amount of liquids you’re able to take with you on a plane. However, now that we’re living in a time where hand sanitizer is everyone’s best friend, airlines are allowing travelers to pack sanitizer in containers up to 12 ounces. The hand sanitizer just needs to be removed from the luggage so that it can pass through a separate X-ray screening; this is to ensure the liquid is actually sanitizer. 

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Other liquids still must be less than 3.4 fluid ounces and passengers need to be adamant about checking to make sure all liquids and aerosols meet those requirements. If not, the passengers themselves will need to remove the item to prevent cross-contamination which will just take up even more time, so be extra careful when packing any liquids or aerosols that aren’t hand sanitizer. 

Since many individuals are opting not to buy any food or drinks at the airports, TSA is allowing for any meals or snacks that one wants to take through security to go through as long as it’s removed from the luggage and in a clear plastic bag placed in a separate tray. This small measure has already been thought to decrease the possibility of cross-contamination greatly. 

TSA agents have also been installing acrylic barriers in all major airports around the country. These barriers are specifically designed to prevent the spread of Covid-19 between travelers and TSA agents. They’re being placed at all TSA podiums, X-Ray areas, secondary search areas, and checked baggage drop-off locations. 

The TSA has also begun testing out self-service facial recognition technology that can immediately verify a passengers identity. The technology is currently being tested at the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport where passengers are prompted to scan their own ID’s so that the machine can verify their identity and boarding information. If the technology proves to be successful in the coming weeks it will likely be implemented in all major airports throughout the country.