Bits ‘n’ Pieces

By Lorraine H. Marie
Reader Columnist

East, west or beyond, sooner or later events elsewhere may have a local impact, which COVID-19 has illustrated so well. A recent sampling:

To avoid a surge in COVID-19 cases, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention decided that non-essential travel should not be considered until 42 days after a decline in confirmed cases. The Associated Press reviewed the guidelines in the CDC report, which the White House had not planned to release.

Too-rapid reopening can cause unnecessary deaths and suffering and a retrograde impact on economic recovery, according to a warning delivered to the U.S. Senate by Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top infectious disease expert for President Donald Trump’s administration. A new study shared by NBC News shows social distancing can cut COVID-19 spread up to 9% per day, and without shelter-in-place there could have been 10 times as many cases as of late April.

COVID-19 is moving from more densely populated areas to rural ones, The Washington Post reports. That pattern of spread may have political implications, according to research at the Brookings Institution: In recent weeks, 1,014 counties that carried Trump in the 2016 presidential election are now “high-COVID” areas, since they report having 100 or more cases per 100,000 residents. 

Testifying before Congress, immunologist and vaccine expert Dr. Rick Bright said that without a solid plan to produce and fairly distribute COVID-19 supplies and vaccinations, the U.S. could face “the darkest winter in modern history” with “unprecedented illness.” His comments came when U.S. deaths hit 84,000, two weeks after they had hit 60,000. U.S. deaths exceeded 92,000 on May 19 (worldwide deaths were at 319,000). 

To dodge a winter of high COVID-19 cases, Bright recommends comprehensive national testing, more education about basic COVID-19 safety, ramping up production of equipment and supplies, and having ready a fair system for distribution.

A COVID-19 vaccine developed by Moderna, tested on eight people, showed all subjects producing antibodies and replication of the virus had been stopped, The New York Times reported. It’s being fast-tracked by the Food and Drug Administration and will next be tested on 600 people.

Firsthand account of COVID-19 at age 33: The day prior to manifesting COVID-19, New York Times editorial board member Mara Gay ran three miles and walked 10. The next day it felt like “hot tar buried deep in my chest. I could not get a deep breath unless I was on all fours.” A month later she has lingering pneumonia, uses two inhalers and can’t walk a block without stopping. She asks: “Why are more people dying of this disease in the U.S. than anywhere else in the world?” Gay’s op-ed, with more details, is on The Times website.

The results of Trump’s proposed payroll tax cut to address COVID-19 financial concerns, according to Social Security Works: members of Congress, CEOs of Wall Street banks and Fortune 500 companies would see an annual tax cut of $2,754. There would be no tax cuts for the unemployed. 

A poll by Public Religion Research Institute shows voters over age 75 are now less supportive of the president: 56% supported him in March, but that slid to 34% in April.

Review of the COVID-19 process, from The WEEK: A human carrier has trillions of the parasitic microbes — coughing, sneezing, talking or heavy breathing can emit 40,000 droplets that can lead to COVID-19 transmission elsewhere through the eyes, nose or mouth where the virus’ knobby spikes latch onto human cells. COVID-19’s vigor on surfaces, like plastic or metal, declines with time. In humans, COVID-19 first travels to the throat and sinuses. One is then a carrier but may never show or manifest symptoms. Onset of noticeable effects averages between two days to two weeks, when fever, dry cough and fatigue manifest. If the immune system can’t clear the virus, lung cell linings are attacked. Breathing is shorter and difficult; cells die and lungs can clog with fluid, causing pneumonia. In up to 3% of cases the immune system fails to respond appropriately, attacking both damaged and healthy cells. Fluids and dying cells then fill lung sacs, causing drowning and the potential for multiple organ failure. Why some get sicker than others is not yet known.

Blast from the past: “It is a great advantage to a president, and a major source of safety to the country, for him to know that he is not a great man.” Calvin Coolidge, 30th president, from 1923 to 1929.

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