Fewer cases, more deaths
While coronavirus cases have been stabilizing or declining in many areas of the United States, deaths are on the rise. At least 1,470 deaths were reported on Wednesday, making it the deadliest day for the virus since May — aside from a few irregular days where large backlogs were reported.
The new wave of deaths is largely a result of the early summer surge in cases across the Sun Belt states; patients sometimes die a few weeks after they become infected.
The U.S. has now recorded more than 166,000 deaths from the virus, more than any other country. But even that stark statistic doesn’t tell the whole story.
According to a Times analysis, the total number of U.S. residents who have died since March is now more than 200,000 higher than it would be in a normal year. These excess deaths suggest that the official death count may be a substantial undercount, failing to count some people who die from Covid-19 as well as those who die from secondary causes that are also linked to the pandemic.
The data suggests that many of the recent coronavirus cases and deaths in the South and the West were driven largely by reopenings and relaxed social distancing restrictions.
As deadly as 1918? The 1918 influenza pandemic is the deadliest in modern history, claiming an estimated 50 million lives worldwide. But by some measures, the death rate at the height of the Covid-19 surge in New York City was nearly as bad. As one doctor put it: “What 1918 looked like is basically this.”
The mysterious cluster in New Zealand
How did an outbreak of 17 cases emerge in Auckland this week, after New Zealand went more than 100 days without a single local transmission?
As officials race to find out, they have locked down the city and rolled out a huge testing, contact tracing and quarantine blitz to quash Covid-19 for the second time.
Some of the infected New Zealanders work at a warehouse that stored imported food, so one theory is that the virus arrived via cargo shipments. But epidemiologists believe human-to-human transmission is more likely. Another focus is quarantine facilities for returning travelers, which seeded a raging outbreak in Melbourne, Australia.
The situation unfolding in New Zealand closely mirrors what happened last month in Vietnam, another nation heralded for its initial response to the virus. After 99 days of no locally transmitted cases, the virus arrived in the port city of Da Nang, which quickly sealed itself off and went into lockdown. Weeks later, epidemiologists still aren’t sure what happened.
Danger lurking in food? Reports that the virus was detected in frozen chicken wings shipped to China from Brazil have prompted concern, but experts say that catching the virus from food is highly unlikely. Though an infected person probably handled the chicken, an extraordinarily unusual series of events would need to occur for the virus to be transmitted, they said.
The Coronavirus Outbreak ›
Frequently Asked Questions
Updated August 12, 2020
Can I travel within the United States?
Many states have travel restrictions, and lots of them are taking active measures to enforce those restrictions, like issuing fines or asking visitors to quarantine for 14 days. Here’s an ever-updating list of statewide restrictions. In general, travel does increase your chance of getting and spreading the virus, as you are bound to encounter more people than if you remained at your house in your own “pod.” “Staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others from Covid-19,” the C.D.C. says. If you do travel, though, take precautions. If you can, drive. If you have to fly, be careful about picking your airline. But know that airlines are taking real steps to keep planes clean and limit your risk.
I have antibodies. Am I now immune?
As of right now, that seems likely, for at least several months. There have been frightening accounts of people suffering what seems to be a second bout of Covid-19. But experts say these patients may have a drawn-out course of infection, with the virus taking a slow toll weeks to months after initial exposure. People infected with the coronavirus typically produce immune molecules called antibodies, which are protective proteins made in response to an infection. These antibodies may last in the body only two to three months, which may seem worrisome, but that’s perfectly normal after an acute infection subsides, said Dr. Michael Mina, an immunologist at Harvard University. It may be possible to get the coronavirus again, but it’s highly unlikely that it would be possible in a short window of time from initial infection or make people sicker the second time.
I’m a small-business owner. Can I get relief?
The stimulus bills enacted in March offer help for the millions of American small businesses. Those eligible for aid are businesses and nonprofit organizations with fewer than 500 workers, including sole proprietorships, independent contractors and freelancers. Some larger companies in some industries are also eligible. The help being offered, which is being managed by the Small Business Administration, includes the Paycheck Protection Program and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program. But lots of folks have not yet seen payouts. Even those who have received help are confused: The rules are draconian, and some are stuck sitting on money they don’t know how to use. Many small-business owners are getting less than they expected or not hearing anything at all.
What are my rights if I am worried about going back to work?
What is school going to look like in September?
It is unlikely that many schools will return to a normal schedule this fall, requiring the grind of online learning, makeshift child care and stunted workdays to continue. California’s two largest public school districts — Los Angeles and San Diego — said on July 13, that instruction will be remote-only in the fall, citing concerns that surging coronavirus infections in their areas pose too dire a risk for students and teachers. Together, the two districts enroll some 825,000 students. They are the largest in the country so far to abandon plans for even a partial physical return to classrooms when they reopen in August. For other districts, the solution won’t be an all-or-nothing approach. Many systems, including the nation’s largest, New York City, are devising hybrid plans that involve spending some days in classrooms and other days online. There’s no national policy on this yet, so check with your municipal school system regularly to see what is happening in your community.
India has now reported 47,033 coronavirus-related deaths, surpassing Britain for the fourth-most in the world.
Germany reported 1,445 new cases today — a level not seen since the country tamped down the virus in May.
The first virus case has been reported in one of Greece’s migrant camps on the Aegean Islands, which are more overcrowded than those on the mainland.
What else we’re following
In their first appearance as running mates, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris vowed to lead the U.S. out of the coronavirus crisis, drawing attacks from President Trump.
The pandemic has made orphans of an unknown number of children, thrusting some young adults into the role of surrogate parents as they fight to keep their families together.
In Arizona, the White Mountain Apache reservation has had 10 times more infections than the state as a whole, but intensive contact tracing has helped save lives.
Mr. Trump’s bellicose demands for reopening classrooms seems to have backfired, hardening the view of many educators that reopening would be unsafe.
Young adults and Black and Latino people in particular describe rising levels of anxiety, depression and even suicidal thoughts, and increased substance abuse, according to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Drugmakers are churning out a record number of flu shots in hopes of easing the burden on hospitals swamped by Covid-19 patients, The Wall Street Journal reports.
If you have “quarantine envy” — craving what other people have during the pandemic — you’re not alone. Here are some ways to fight it.
What you’re doing
As a resident physician deep in the throes of the coronavirus pandemic, I’ve been kept emotionally afloat by a monthly Zoom book club with my close college friends and parents (a stellar combination). We’re all hundreds of miles apart, and it’s been a welcome reprieve to have my favorite people virtually sharing literary reflections and laughter in these strange times.
— Katy Markland, Miami
Let us know how you’re dealing with the outbreak. Send us a response here, and we may feature it in an upcoming newsletter.
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