Tuesday, July 21, 2020

COVID-19 update

The Washington Post<br. Coronavirus Updates
Important developments in the pandemic.
By Avi Selk with Angela Fritz

The Post’s coronavirus coverage linked in this newsletter is free to access from this email.

For links to sources see notes. Scriber lightly edited.

In an hour-long interview on Fox News on Sunday, Trump was visibly rattled and occasionally hostile as he struggled to answer questions about the U.S. outbreak. He falsely claimed the spiking infection rate was an illusion, said that most new covid–19 patients would “heal in a day,” and blamed China for letting the virus “escape.” “I will be right eventually,” Trump said at one point. “It’s going to disappear, and I’ll be right . . . You know why? Because I’ve been right probably more than anybody else.”

This is nothing more than another episode of Trumpey Tunes. Read on for refutation.

The U.S. outbreak continued to worsen over the weekend, as average death rates hit new highs in Alabama, Arizona, Florida, South Carolina and Texas, and at least 18 states set records for average weekly infections, according to statistics tracked by The Washington Post.

America now stands almost alone among wealthy nations for its failure to contain the disease. Infection rates have tapered off or flatlined in Europe, Canada and Japan — where many people have watched in shock as the United States gets sicker and sicker. “The fumbling of the virus was not a fluke,” our health desk wrote in an analysis of the political polarization, weak leadership, fragmented government, decrepit public health infrastructure and persistent social inequalities that led to this fiasco. “If there was a mistake to be made in this pandemic, America has made it.”

To name just one apparent mistake: President Trump still refuses to consider a national mask mandate, which many other countries have begun to adopt as research suggests face covering are key in slowing the spread of covid–19.

Many scientists have come to believe that “superspreaders” — extraordinarily infectious people who may not even know they are sick — are driving the pandemic, spreading “bursts” of the coronavirus to dozens of people in a matter of hours. A single person may have infected nearly 200 others at a college bar in Michigan in the past month, among other incidents around the world that could have huge implications for how we combat the virus. “If you could stop these events, you could stop the pandemic,” one professor of environmental health told our health desk.

The Trump administration is also trying to block Congress from passing billions of dollars in funding for testing and contact-tracing programs, which were key to driving down infections rates in other countries. “Some White House officials believe they have already approved billions of dollars in assistance for testing and that some of that money remains unspent,” our political desk reported.

On the bright side

A British group announced promising results for an early trial of its experimental coronavirus vaccine. It’s the latest of several potential vaccines proved to trigger immune responses that attack the virus, after similar announcements by two U.S. companies. But experts caution that these early trials involved a relatively small number of people and short amount of time. The vaccines still have to be proved safe and effective in broader and lengthier studies before they can be mass-produced.

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