September 9 coronavirus news

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University of Wisconsin-Madison pauses in-person classes for two weeks due to Covid-19

Bascom Hall on the campus of the University of Wisconsin–Madison on July 12, 2017.

The University of Wisconsin-Madison announced in a message on its website Wednesday that it is pausing in-person classes for two weeks to reduce the spread of Covid-19.

From September 10 to September 25, all in-person graduate, undergraduate, and professional group instruction will be paused, according to the university. 

Classes will be canceled Wednesday to Saturday and will resume remotely beginning September 14 for at least two weeks.

“Unfortunately, our positive test rate among students continues to rise far too rapidly. It has been 20 percent or greater for the past two days,” read the message.
“As we saw at the end of last week, these numbers reflect a rapid rise in infection among students living off campus, but the latest numbers also show a sharp increase in certain residence halls.” 

The university said that given the high number of positive test results, those living in Sellery and Witte Residence Halls have been directed to quarantine in place for the next two weeks.

The university also said that students are being asked not to leave town. 

“CDC guidance suggests that students should not travel home during this two-week period. This is to protect you, your family, and the community. If you can stay where you are, that is the safest course,” read the message. 

US to end limit on international arrivals from certain countries to 15 airports 

The US federal government said Wednesday it plans to stop limiting international arrivals from certain countries to 15 airports and funneling them through enhanced screening.

Instead, passengers will be advised about risks.

“Beginning September 14, 2020, the US government will remove requirements for directing all flights carrying airline passengers arriving from, or recently had a presence in, certain countries to land at one of 15 designated airports and halt enhanced entry health screening for these passengers,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in an updated post on its website.
“Currently, enhanced entry health screening is conducted for those arriving from, or with recent presence in, China (excluding the Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and Macau), Iran, the Schengen region of Europe, the United Kingdom (excluding overseas territories outside of Europe), Ireland, and Brazil.”

Screening for symptoms doesn’t really help much because so many people do not have symptoms, the CDC said.

“Transmission of the virus may occur from passengers who have no symptoms or who have not yet developed symptoms of infection. Therefore, CDC is shifting its strategy and prioritizing other public health measures to reduce the risk of travel-related disease transmission,” the agency said.

It said resources will instead be dedicated to “more effective mitigation efforts” focused on individuals.

These will include “pre-departure, in-flight, and post-arrival health education for passengers; robust illness response at airports; voluntary collection of contact information from passengers using electronic means,” the CDC said. That should help reduce crowding and lines, it said.

Testing may also be an option, as well as reminding travelers to watch for symptoms and quarantine themselves as possible for 14 days.

"I'm furious," frontline doctor says about Trump’s "misinformation" on pandemic 

Frontline worker Dr. Craig Spencer said he’s “furious” about revelations President Donald Trump downplayed the deadly threat from the coronavirus early in the pandemic.

Trump told investigative reporter Bob Woodward in a series of interviews that he downplayed the danger because he wanted didn’t want people to panic.

Spencer, who is the director of Global Health in ER Medicine at NY-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center said, “I think about that multiplied by 190,000 times around this country.”

An Ebola survivor, Spencer was working in New York City when as many as 800 people a day were dying from Covid-19 in the city last spring.

“As a frontline provider, I’m furious because many of those steps didn’t need to happen. If we took the steps earlier on and got prepared like we needed to and the President clearly knew we needed to,” Spencer said.
“As a public health official, I’m furious because this is just another instance from the outset from a President who has undermined public health professionals, has contradicted our messaging.”

As a result, people did not know who to believe or how to get truthful information on the pandemic, on how to protect themselves or their families, Spencer said.

“It created a situation where people were just misled, given misinformation and, quite honestly, as a public health person, a public health professional, the lies and the mysteries that are coming from the President’s mouth and the President’s Twitter feed on a near daily basis are almost impossible for public health professionals to keep up with and correct,” he said.

Watch the interview:

Mexico reports more than 4,600 new Covid-19 cases

Medical workers work with a patient in a hospital in Mexico City, on September 1.

Mexico’s Health Ministry recorded 4,647 new Covid-19 cases and 611 new virus-related deaths on Wednesday.

That brings the total number of cases confirmed in the country to 647,507, including at least 69,095 fatalities.

Mexico has the world’s fourth highest coronavirus death toll after the United States, Brazil, and India, according to Johns Hopkins University’s global tally. 

New report finds US greatly undercounted coronavirus cases

The US greatly undercounted coronavirus cases at the beginning of the pandemic, missing 90% of them – mostly because of a lack of testing, a new study finds.

The research, published in the journal Nature Communications, supports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s own estimates that 90% of cases have been missed.

The United States may have experienced over 6.4 million cases of COVID-19 by 18 April 2020, according to a probability analysis published in Nature Communications. In the same period, there were 721,245 confirmed cases. 

By mid-April, the US probably already had more than 6 million cases of coronavirus, the team at the University of California Berkeley estimated. That’s just about what the current official count is now, four months later. 

Researchers Jade Benjamin-Chung and colleagues used a statistical method known as Bayesian probabilistic bias analysis to account for incomplete testing and less than perfect test accuracy. They went through actual case counts in each state and accounted for likely undercounts to calculate what the true number of cases should have been.

“We estimate 6,454,951 cumulative infections compared to 721,245 confirmed cases in the United States as of April 18, 2020,” they wrote.
“Accounting for uncertainty, the number of infections during this period was three to 20 times higher than the number of confirmed cases.”

In June, CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield said his agency had likely undercounted cases by a factor of 10.

They said 86% of the difference was due to incomplete testing, and 14% due to imperfect test accuracy. Incomplete testing was a result of policy.

“For the first few months of the pandemic, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended that physicians prioritize testing hospitalized patients, who tend to have moderate to severe symptoms,” the team wrote.

“Yet, evidence from studies that conducted broader testing suggest that 30–70% of individuals who test positive have mild or no symptoms and that asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic individuals can transmit SARS-CoV-2,” they added.

“Thus, a substantial number of mild or asymptomatic infections in the U.S. may be undetected.”

Even so, most people in the US have yet to have been infected. “Even in a best-case scenario in which SARS-CoV-2 infection produces immunity for 1–2 years, as is common for other betacoronaviruses, our results contribute to growing consensus that a very small proportion of the population has developed immunity and that the U.S. is not close to achieving herd immunity,” they concluded.

Daughter whose father died of Covid-19 to Trump: "Resign" 

Kristin Urquiza.

A woman who captured the nation’s attention in a blistering speech at the Democratic National Convention late last month, once again held President Trump responsible for her father’s death, and calling on him to resign. 

“In late May … I was telling my dad, ‘look, dad, it’s still not safe,’” said Kristin Urquiza, speaking of her late father, Mark Urquiza, who she said was a Trump supporter before he died of the virus in June.

“I couldn’t compete with the lies from the White House and because of that, my father passed away,” she told CNN’s Erin Burnett this evening. “It is inexcusable … He trusted him and the President betrayed him and tens of thousand of other people.”

Urquiza said there was nothing the President or administration could do to right the wrongs of its handling of the pandemic short of vacating the White House.

“The President needs to resign,” she said, when asked by Burnett what the administration could do to make it right. “He has shown that he is unfit to lead this country and that he does not care about the public health of Americans. That is only the sensible solution at this point in time.”

Watch the interview:

Michigan governor clarifies face covering requirements for organized sports

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer listens as Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks at a campaign event on manufacturing and buying American-made products at UAW Region 1 headquarters in Warren, Michigan, on Wednesday, Sept. 9.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order today clarifying face covering requirements for organized sports, according to a news release from her office today.

The order specifies that athletes must wear a face covering at all times during training, practices and competitions if a distance of six feet cannot be maintained.

The order provided examples of soccer, volleyball and football as sports where athletes are not able to stay six feet apart so a face covering would be required.

More than 900,000 people have died from Covid-19 worldwide

The global death toll from the novel coronavirus surpassed 900,000 this evening, according to Johns Hopkins University’s tally.

There have been 900,079 deaths worldwide. The United States has accounted for 190,649 coronavirus-related deaths, the most around the world. 

The total number of confirmed Covid-19 cases around the world stands at 27,695,130, according to the university.

Kentucky surpasses more than 1,000 coronavirus-related deaths

Kentucky hit a “tough and unfortunate milestone today” with more than 1,000 total deaths recorded from Covid-19, Gov. Andy Beshear announced in a news conference.

As way to honor those Kentuckians lost to Covid-19, Beshear said there would be a wreath-laying ceremony tomorrow in the Rotunda by the Kentucky State Police Honor Guard.