Florida Adds 4,115 Coronavirus Cases; Halloween Safety Tips

ST. PETERSBURG, FL — Florida experienced a statewide uptick of 4,115 coronavirus cases since Tuesday, the Florida Department of Health reported in Wednesday’s numbers.

The Florida Department of Health reported a total of 790,426 positive coronavirus cases; 48,722 hospitalizations; and 16,571 coronavirus Florida resident deaths. Florida saw an increase of 66 deaths since Tuesday’s update.

Hospitalization numbers included by the state are all coronavirus treatments ever done at medical facilities.

The current number of hospitalizations with primary diagnosis of coronavirus is 2,340.

The number of people hospitalized has been increasing in recent days, reported the Tampa Bay Times. Hospitalizations hit their peak in mid-July with just under 10,000 people seeking treatment.

The Florida Department of Health’s current coronavirus report for Pinellas is 25,534 cases; Hillsborough has 47,596 cases; Polk has 22,852 cases; Pasco has 10,781 cases; Sarasota has 9,567 cases; Manatee has 13,175 cases; and Dade has 183,996 cases.

The statewide weekly positivity rate is about 5 percent, according to Johns Hopkins.

Even though Florida is experiencing a high level of positive increases, many communities across Florida will be celebrating Halloween on Saturday traditionally, and the Center for Diseases Control offers recommendations for a safe celebration.

There are several factors that contribute to the risk of getting infected or infecting others with the virus that causes COVID-19 at a holiday celebration, the CDC reported on its website.

According to the CDC, in combination, these factors will create various amounts of risk, so it is important to consider them individually and together:

  • Community levels of COVID-19 – Higher levels of COVID-19 cases and community spread in the gathering location, as well as where attendees are coming from, increase the risk of infection and spread among attendees. Family and friends should consider the number and rate of COVID-19 cases in their community and in the community where they plan to celebrate when considering whether to host or attend a holiday celebration. Information on the number of cases in an area can be found on the area’s health department website.

  • The location of the gathering – Indoor gatherings generally pose more risk than outdoor gatherings. Indoor gatherings with poor ventilation pose more risk than those with good ventilation, such as those with open windows or doors.

  • The duration of the gathering – Gatherings that last longer pose more risk than shorter gatherings.

  • The number of people at the gathering – Gatherings with more people pose more risk than gatherings with fewer people. CDC does not have a limit or recommend a specific number of attendees for gatherings. The size of a holiday gathering should be determined based on the ability to reduce or limit contact between attendees, the risk of spread between attendees, and state, local, territorial, or tribal health and safety laws, rules, and regulations.

  • The locations attendees are traveling from – Gatherings with attendees who are traveling from different places pose a higher risk than gatherings with attendees who live in the same area. Higher levels of COVID-19 cases and community

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State and local leaders order new restrictions amid autumn’s coronavirus surge

In Massachusetts, a spike in cases prompted Boston Public Schools to suspend in-person learning last week, and it has forced more than a dozen smaller cities and towns labeled “high-risk” to close businesses, including theaters and roller rinks, and reduce capacity at gyms, libraries and museums.

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) said at a weekly briefing Wednesday that she would announce new restrictions Friday.

“We’re in a bad place,” Raimondo said. “It’s more than a wake-up call, really, for every single one of us to ask ourselves, ‘What am I going to do differently?’ ”

One forecast published Wednesday, by modelers at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, warned that the virus is spreading at exponential rates across at least half of the states and that only Hawaii will not see a rise in hospitalizations during the next four weeks.

“Exponential growth is like what we saw in March and April, and we are now seeing that in half the states in the country,” said David Rubin, director of the hospital’s PolicyLab. “This is like a tidal wave.”

Resistance persists to anything resembling the shutdowns imposed during the frightening viral assault in March and April. But the Children’s Hospital researchers say the trends in infections could soon force many schools, particularly those serving older students, to revert to remote learning until the fall wave passes.

A federal government briefing document circulated to top officials and obtained by The Washington Post rates the 3,141 counties in the country by levels of “concern” and suggests it would be theoretically possible to travel from the Canada border all the way to northern Mississippi without exiting a “sustained hotspot” county.

Another forecast, updated Oct. 22 by the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, projected that by Nov. 11, the country would once again surpass 1,000 deaths a day from covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. That same projection said the country would exceed 2,000 daily deaths Dec. 28. Those numbers are slightly less grim than the models projected in September, but they still envision close to 400,000 cumulative deaths from the virus by Feb. 1.

Such models are not predictions so much as ways of framing the likely trajectory of the pandemic, assisting the planning of the medical community and government leaders. Infectious-disease experts say the future of the pandemic is not fixed, and human behavior is the key variable.

But the models also show the current rates of infection, already at record levels — averaging above 70,000 newly confirmed cases a day and sometimes rising higher — are likely to increase. Infections are a leading indicator of a likely rise in hospitalizations and deaths.

“It will get progressively worse,” said Christopher Murray, director of the University of Washington institute. “Look at Europe. Europe is about four weeks ahead of us.”

That continent has seen such a dramatic new wave of infections and hospitalizations that many countries are imposing restrictions and mandates to wear facial coverings.

The pandemic is showing clear

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Coronavirus testing site opens at Boston’s Logan Airport

BOSTON (AP) — The first coronavirus testing site at Boston’s Logan International Airport opened on Wednesday.

The site, located in Terminal E and operated by health and wellness company XpresSpa Group, will be for airport and airline employees at first but will start testing travelers, as well, in mid-November, the company said.

“It helps create a safer environment and reduces risk,” company CEO Doug Satzman told WBUR News on Tuesday. “Testing is not the only answer. It’s just one of the important pieces of the puzzle.”

The facility at the airport — the largest in New England and among the busiest in the United States — will offer three tests: a quick test that returns results within 15 minutes; a nasal swab test; and a blood antibody test. The facility will be able to process about 400 tests a day, the company said.

“We’re pleased to offer this service as a convenient option for passengers to comply with the Commonwealth’s travel order,” airport spokesperson Jennifer Mehigan said in a statement.

Travelers to Massachusetts, or residents returning from a high-risk state, are required to quarantine for 14 days or produce a negative COVID-19 test result that has been administered up to 72 hours prior to arrival in Massachusetts.

The airport has seen a steep drop in passenger traffic during the pandemic.

The company already operates coronavirus testing facilities at Kennedy International Airport in New York and Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey.

Also in coronavirus news in Massachusetts:


150,000 CASES

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Massachusetts surged past 150,000 on Wednesday, as the state Department of Public Health reported more than 1,000 new confirmed cases for the fifth consecutive day.

The 1,137 new cases were out of 18,600 tests, a daily positivity rate of about 6.1%.

The seven-day rolling average of the positivity rate in Massachusetts has now risen over the past two weeks from about 1% on Oct. 13 to almost 1.6% on Tuesday, according to the Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering.

The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Massachusetts has now jumped over the past two weeks from more than 636 on Oct. 13 to nearly 1,082 on Tuesday, according to Johns Hopkins.

The state also confirmed 36 new virus-related fatalities on Wednesday for a total of 9,700.

The number of patients in the hospital with the disease rose to 582, up 15 from the previous day. The number of patients in intensive care fell slightly to 106.



Workers at a Massachusetts home for sick veterans where 76 residents who contracted the coronavirus died told lawmakers that the facility wasn’t adequately staffed, that they weren’t given enough protective equipment, and that they were bullied by management during the outbreak.

Current and former staffers at the Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke told the Joint Special Legislative Oversight Committee on Tuesday that the ordeal left them depressed and contemplating retirement.

“They have broken many of us,” nurse Francine

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CT Coronavirus: 17 More Hospitalizations

CONNECTICUT —The state Department of Public Health reported 490 new confirmed COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, bringing the total to 69,127 since the pandemic began. There were another nine coronavirus-associated deaths, increasing the state’s fatality toll to4,604. Seventeen additional hospitalizations were reported.

The regional spike in coronavirus cases has added a new wrinkle to the state’s ongoing mitigation-through-travel-restrictions strategy. Both neighboring Rhode Island and Massachusetts exceed the minimum metric needed to stay off the list.

“We’re going to work something out with Massachusetts,” Gov. Ned Lamont said during a news conference Wednesday. He acknowledged that it’s impossible to enforce travel restrictions between Connecticut and its immediate cartographic neighbors as “people ride across the border to get milk.”

States are put on the advisory list if they have a daily positive coronavirus test rate higher than 10 cases per 100,000 residents, or a 10 percent or higher positive rate over a seven-day rolling average.

Last week, Lamont and the governors of New York and New Jersey came to an arrangement in which each state’s travel quarantine restrictions would not be applied to each other’s residents. Lamont said that all the regional governors continued to confer on the matter, and teased a “7-state consortium.”

Using the experiences of schools in Europe as his north star, Lamont predicted that grades K through 8th in Connecticut would likely remain open. “They have been experiencing a very low infection rate in those classrooms,” the governor said. “High schools are more likely to stay hybrid.”

Lamont said that although the positivity rates in some local university towns were climbing, it was the sports and social activity, not the learning, that was turning them into “red zones.”.

“In a classroom, with a mask on, following the social protocols, is one of the safest places you can be right now,” Lamont said.

Testing for the coronavirus continues at a rapid pace, with 14,305 performed in the past 24-hour reporting period. A total of 2,232,603 tests have been performed.

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This article originally appeared on the Across Connecticut Patch

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Fact check: No, the media didn’t suddenly change its reporting on coronavirus immunity after Trump got infected

The story goes like this: The media had always said that people who survived a Covid-19 infection would be immune from the virus for life. But once he, Trump, got infected and survived, the media started claiming immunity only lasted for months.

“And until I came along — you know, you used to hear you have immunity for life, right? As soon as I had it and got better, they were not too happy about that…It was supposed to be for life; when it was me, they said it’s only good for four months, okay? Okay. Anybody else it’s for life, with Trump they said it’s four months. So they brought it down now, immunity, from life to four months,” Trump said at his Tuesday rally in Lansing, Michigan.
Trump told a similar story at his Tuesday rally in Omaha, Nebraska: “But because it was me, the press said, ‘No, it’s not for a lifetime. It’s only for four months. The immunity is only now for four months.’ They brought it down, right? It was always gonna be for a lifetime, now it’s four months.”

Trump said much the same thing at a Wednesday rally in Bullhead City, Arizona, this time adding that “they’ve changed the whole medical standard” because of his own infection.

Facts First: Trump’s story is false. In the months before Trump tested positive for Covid-19 in early October, numerous major media outlets had reported that scientists were not yet sure how long survivors might have immunity. While we can’t definitively say there was no media report whatsoever from before Trump’s infection that had claimed survivors would get lifetime immunity, it was certainly not widely reported that survivors were immune for life.

A CNN fact check in July concluded: “It remains unclear if those already infected with the virus are immune to any reinfection. Additionally, it’s unknown how long any sort of immunity would last.” A CNN story in mid-August was headlined, “Are you immune to Covid-19 for three months after recovering? It’s not clear.” And CNN wrote in August about a Nevada man who was infected with the virus twice — quoting Mark Pandori, the director of the Nevada State Public Health Laboratory, as saying: “After one recovers from COVID-19, we still do not know how much immunity is built up, how long it may last, or how well antibodies play a role in protection against a reinfection.”

Even upbeat media stories about optimistic findings about immunity noted that the facts had not been conclusively settled.

For example, an August article in the New York Times said that “scientists who have been monitoring immune responses to the coronavirus for months are now starting to see encouraging signs of strong, lasting immunity, even in people who developed only mild symptoms of Covid-19, a flurry of new studies has found.” But that piece continued by saying that “researchers cannot forecast how long these immune responses will last.”
The Washington Post also made clear in August that “researchers
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Top medical advisers arguing hard for tighter coronavirus restrictions

Sir Patrick Vallance and Chris Whitty, the government’s top scientific and medical advisers, are understood to be arguing hard with ministers for tighter restrictions across England ahead of Christmas.

a man wearing glasses and a suit and tie: Photograph: WPA/Getty Images

© Provided by The Guardian
Photograph: WPA/Getty Images

The pair are calling for tougher measures armed with what has been described as new modelling from experts on Sage, the government’s epidemics advisory group, showing that deaths this winter could exceed those in the spring.

Just last month, on 21 September, the pair were accused of doom-mongering when they appeared on national television as a double act, warning of the possibility of 50,000 cases and 200 Covid deaths a day by mid-October.

The measures Boris Johnson announced later that day – closing pubs at 10pm, encouraging working from home and penalties for people who break the rule of six – were supposed to prevent those numbers being reached. But they have not. Deaths have exceeded 200 and even 300 in recent days.

There is now clear evidence that the trajectory of infections, hospital admissions and deaths is rising steadily , in spite of the tier system of controls on people’s social activities.

According to some newspapers, the death toll is likely to be higher than it was in the spring. New modelling was said to predict that deaths would plateau, but at a relatively high level even though lower than earlier in the year. That plateau would continue for months. Vallance was said to be pushing for tier 3 restrictions across the whole of England before Christmas.

The existence of new modelling surprised some members of Sage – although not the conclusions that Vallance and Whitty had reached. The evidence was there in a report that Vallance himself commissioned from the Academy of Medical Sciences in July.

That report, “Preparing for a Challenging Winter 2020/21” modelled a “reasonable worst-case scenario”, in which the R – the number of people infected by each person with the virus – rose to 1.7. It estimated that almost 120,000 Covid hospital deaths between September this year and June next year, “over double the number that occurred during the first wave in spring 2020”.

In addition, it warned of further disruption of the NHS and social care, a backlog of non-Covid cases and a possible influenza epidemic. “There is a need for urgent preparation to mitigate the risks of a particularly challenging winter 2020/21,” said the report.

That preparation should have happened over the summer, said Prof Dame Anne Johnson, president elect of the Academy of Medical Sciences, who was one of the authors.

“What we suggested in the report was that the time to be really working on suppressing the virus is exactly when it is really low. Keep it down there. And of course we didn’t do that and there were a lot of reasons,” she said.

“When we came out of lockdown we went very nervously to restaurants. We continued to queue outside shops. Somehow all that effort which wasn’t necessarily about not meeting

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D.C. region hits 11-week high in coronavirus infections, but avoids spikes seen elsewhere

New coronavirus infections across the greater Washington region hit an 11-week high Wednesday, mirroring a rise seen across large swaths of the country as the pandemic’s spread worsens ahead of the cold winter months.


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The rolling seven-day average of new infections across D.C., Virginia and Maryland stands at 1,949 cases, the most since the average reached 2,001 new cases on Aug. 9. Health experts said adherence to health precautions will limit further spread, but warned that residents might want to reconsider travel during the busy holiday season.

Despite the rise, caseloads in the capital region are far below those in many other states. Virginia is recording 14 new daily cases per 100,000 residents, a number that drops to 12 in Maryland and 10 in D.C. — about half the national average of 22.

By comparison, the state with the lowest rate is Vermont, at three new cases per 100,000 residents, while new daily infections have surged to 104 per 100,000 in North Dakota and South Dakota — more than 10 times the rate as the nation’s capital.

[Places in the U.S. with highest daily reported cases per capita]

Health experts said Wednesday that while the Washington region’s number of infections might rise further, they don’t expect large spikes like those in other parts of the country — assuming residents continue to follow standard guidelines of wearing a mask, maintaining social distancing and not traveling for nonessential reasons.

Costi Sifri, director of hospital epidemiology at UVA Health in Charlottesville, said “virus fatigue” has started to set in, with some people opting out of precautions they took earlier in the pandemic. Cold weather is another factor, prompting residents to spend more time indoors and in closer proximity, creating an ideal environmental for the virus to spread.

“We are starting to see an uptick in the DMV of cases,” Sifri said. “But we’re fortunate that we’re one of a handful of states — Maryland, D.C. and Virginia — that are not seeing surges.”

[Coronavirus cases and metrics in D.C., Maryland and Virginia]

He credited the region’s success with the widespread following of health guidelines, which he said were accompanied by less political tension than in other parts of the country.

Sifri said that as Halloween and Thanksgiving approach, actions taken now will help to determine how the virus is spreading as the December holidays and New Year’s get closer. Combating any virus is generally more difficult during the fall and winter months, he said, and the coronavirus is no exception.

“If we don’t do things well now, it could lead to a very bad holiday season,” he said.

In Virginia, Sifri said rural parts of the state continue to see a rise in infections, a shift from more densely populated areas hit early in the pandemic.

Virginia Department of Health data shows Northern Virginia saw its average number of new daily cases rise Wednesday to 271 — the highest in that region since mid-June. But much of the state’s rise is

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Congressman Calls For Federal Crackdown On Unproven Coronavirus Treatment : Coronavirus Updates : NPR

Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi, an Illinois Democrat, is calling on the Food and Drug Administration and the Federal Trade Commission to investigate sales of a non-FDA approved drug marketed as a treatment for COVID-19.

Tom Williams/AFP via Getty Images

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Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi, an Illinois Democrat, is calling on the Food and Drug Administration and the Federal Trade Commission to investigate sales of a non-FDA approved drug marketed as a treatment for COVID-19.

Tom Williams/AFP via Getty Images

A member of Congress, who has led efforts to investigate alleged coronavirus scams, is calling for the federal government to crack down on an unproven treatment for COVID-19. Widespread sales of that purported treatment – a drug known as thymosin alpha-1 – were first identified by an NPR investigation earlier this month. More than 30 doctors in more than a dozen states around the country have marketed the drug as a treatment for the coronavirus, despite the fact that it has never been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for any condition and such claims are, in the words of the FDA, “not supported by competent and reliable scientific evidence.”

The congressman, Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.), leads the House Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy. He is now calling for the FDA and the Federal Trade Commission to take action against one prominent doctor who has marketed the drug: Dr. Dominique Fradin-Read of Los Angeles.

Fradin-Read is known for her work with the actor Gwyneth Paltrow’s wellness brand Goop. Fradin-Read helped formulate a dietary supplement called “Madame Ovary” for the brand. She also runs the practice VitaLifeMD, and had falsely marketed thymosin alpha-1 as an “FDA approved” drug, which she claimed was “one of the best ways to prevent and fight COVID-19.”

“Such false claims appear to be illegal and ought to be subject to strict enforcement by FDA and FTC,” Krishnamoorthi wrote in his letter to the leaders of those agencies. “I ask you to open an investigation into VitaLifeMD, and to take all appropriate action against VitaLifeMD and its principals.”

Fradin-Read did not respond to messages from NPR for this story. But she has previously defended prescriptions of the drug, saying she had prescribed it to members of her staff, her mother, and had even taken it herself without any negative effects.

The FTC and FDA are responsible for enforcing laws against false and misleading advertising. A spokesperson for the FTC declined to comment, and the FDA did not respond to a message NPR.

Earlier on in the pandemic, Krishnamoorthi called on the Trump Administration to take action against conspiracy theorist Alex Jones of InfoWars for marketing colloidal silver-infused toothpastes as a supposed COVID-19 prevention measure. (The National Institutes of Health say colloidal silver is not safe or effective for treating any condition, and can even permanently turn a person’s skin blue at high doses.) The FDA then warned Jones that such claims were misleading and could violate federal law.

Krishnamoorthi’s current

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Trump administration agrees to purchase $375 million of Lilly coronavirus antibody drug

The Trump administration will pay Eli Lilly $375 million to supply 300,000 doses of its experimental antibody drug to treat COVID-19, the Department of Health and Human Services said Wednesday.

If the Food and Drug Administration authorizes use of the drug, the federal government will allocate the doses to state and territorial health departments which, in turn, will determine which health care facilities receive the drug for use in outpatient care.

Lilly said it anticipates only high-risk patients will be indicated to receive the drug until more studies are completed and more supply is available.

The initial agreement is for delivery over the course of two months following authorization, with the option to purchase up to 650,000 additional doses through the end of June 2021 for up to an additional $812.5 million. 

The government-purchased doses would become available to Americans at no cost, although health care professionals could charge for administering the medicine.

Eli Lilly’s CEO, David Ricks, said the company is allocating the drugs to the countries that need them most, and will commit only to a few months of supply at a time to any given country in order to match demand with the limited supply.

“Unfortunately, the U.S. now leads the world in both COVID-19 cases and deaths. As a result, a top priority is helping reduce disease burden in the U.S.,” Ricks said. 

The rolling, seven-day average of daily cases in the U.S. topped 70,000, according to the COVID Tracking project data. With that many cases a day, the projected supply of the monoclonal antibodies would not be nearly sufficient to meet demand.

Lilly said it anticipates manufacturing up to 1 million doses of its drug by the end of 2020, with 100,000 doses ready to ship within days of authorization.

The agreement with Lilly is part of the administration’s Operation Warp Speed, the initiative created by the administration to fund the quick development and distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Ricks said Lilly is pricing the drug at $1,250 per vial in wealthy countries, with a tiered system based on the country’s ability to pay. One vial represents the full course of treatment.

Ricks said the company expects to make a profit, and is pricing the drug “above our marginal cost to produce the medicine in developed markets,” meaning it expects “to produce a modest financial return for our investors by the end of 2021.”

The announcement of the agreement comes a day after Lilly said the drug had no clinical benefit for helping hospitalized patients. The company said it is confident the drug is helpful to those earlier in the course of a COVID-19 infection.

Antibody drugs are experimental, and while doctors think they promise as a potential treatment of COVID-19 and could be a bridge to a vaccine, clinical studies are still ongoing.

But President TrumpDonald John TrumpGiuliani goes off on Fox Business host after she compares him to Christopher Steele Trump looks to shore up support in Nebraska NYT: Trump had

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Lab experiment suggests flu shots could help fight off coronavirus infections

Flu shots are already considered an important factor in combating the coronavirus pandemic, since widespread inoculations will hopefully help prevent medical facilities from becoming overwhelmed by dual diseases. But new research suggests flu shots may also play some role in preventing COVID-19 infections in the first place, The Scientific American reports.

A study, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, found that workers at Radboud University Medical Center in the Netherlands who received a flu shot during the 2019-20 season were 39 percent less likely than their colleagues to test positive for the coronavirus as of June 1, 2020. Non-vaccinated employees contracted the virus at a 2.23 percent rate, compared to only 1.33 percent of those who were vaccinated.

The preliminary research would certainly require further clinical trials — though the author of the study noted it would be unethical to compel a control group of subjects to be denied a flu shot — and there could be several reasons why the vaccinated group staved off infection more easily, including the possibility that they are generally more health conscious and took more COVID-19 precautions.

Still, there have been other studies that hint at a possible link between flu shots (and other vaccines, for that matter) and lower COVID-19 risk. Additionally, the Radboud research team conducted a laboratory experiment in which they took blood cells from healthy individuals, purified them, and exposed some of them to a flu vaccine. After allowing the cells to grow for a few days, the researchers exposed them to the coronavirus. A day later they found that the vaccinated cells produced more of several kinds of immune molecules that fight off pathogens than those that were initially left alone. Read more at The Scientific American.

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