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Archive for July 8th, 2020

Microsoft Teams unleashes a flood of new features for video meetings – SlashGear

July 8th, 2020

Hands-on with 50+ new iOS 14 beta 2 changes and features [Video] – 9to5Mac

July 8th, 2020

WHO finally acknowledges the coronavirus airborne transmission risk – BGR

July 8th, 2020
  • Coronavirus airborne transmission is evident, 239 researchers said recently, urging the World Health Organization to acknowledge the risk.
  • The organization said in response that there’s “emerging evidence” that the virus can spread via the air, not just the droplets that result from coughing, sneezing, and talking.
  • But the WHO’s wording seems to suggest that it isn’t going to change its COVID-19 transmission guidelines to take into account measures that can reduce airborne spread.

The World Health Organization (WHO) just acknowledged the increasing evidence that shows the coronavirus is spreading via air. The move came in response to an open letter from 239 scientists who urged the organization to acknowledge the risk of COVID-19 spread in indoor settings that are poorly ventilated. There’s growing evidence to support the idea that the droplets people eject when sneezing, coughing, or talking can linger in the air and reach other people in the same room. A report earlier this week from The New York Times explained the WHO is reluctant to change its point of view on coronavirus transmission, as officials still say droplets are the primary way COVID-19 spreads, and advocate for frequent handwashing as a way to reduce the risk.

The WHO responded to increased pressure from scientists and the media that covered their coronavirus airborne transmission claims without actually doing anything to alter its guidelines for fighting the pandemic. The New York Times report did say that airborne transmission would have several implications for the way health officials are fighting the pandemic, as authorities could mandate changes that could mitigate the risk. Face masks could be required in all indoor spaces. Changes to ventilation could also be enforced as a result.

“We acknowledge that there is emerging evidence in this field, as in all other fields regarding the Covid-19 virus and pandemic and therefore we believe that we have to be open to this evidence and understand its implications regarding the modes of transmission and also regarding the precautions that need to be taken,” said WHO Technical Lead for Infection Prevention and Control Dr. Benedetta Alleganzi during a press briefing on Tuesday.

Maria Van Kerkove explained that many of the signatories of the letter are engineers, “which adds to growing knowledge about the importance of ventilation, which we feel is very important.” Van Kerkove is an infectious disease epidemiologist with the WHO’s Health Emergencies Program.

“We have been talking about the possibility of airborne transmission and aerosol transmission as one of the modes of transmission of Covid-19, as well as droplet,” she said. “We’ve looked at fomites. We’ve looked at fecal-oral. We’ve looked at mother to child. We’ve looked at animal to human, of course as well.”

“These are fields of research that are really growing and for which there is some evidence emerging but is not definitive,” Alleganzi said. “And therefore, the possibility of airborne transmission in public settings, especially in very specific conditions crowded, closed, poorly ventilated settings that have been described cannot be ruled out. However, the evidence needs to be gathered and interpreted.”

The WHO has no new COVID-19 guidelines to announce at this time, but the agency is working on a scientific brief summarizing the knowledge about coronavirus transmission. The paper should be released in the coming weeks, per CNN. But the WHO seems to be resistant to implementing any meaningful change in the near future, considering the way it worded its remarks about airborne transmission. The WHO last updated its coronavirus advice for the public on June 4th, and the materials do not detail the possibility of contracting COVID-19 from the air.

Chris Smith started writing about gadgets as a hobby, and before he knew it he was sharing his views on tech stuff with readers around the world. Whenever he’s not writing about gadgets he miserably fails to stay away from them, although he desperately tries. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

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National research shows half of COVID-19 cases may be spread by people without symptoms, Lexington numbers at only 30 percent – WKYT

July 8th, 2020

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) – New national research shows that asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic COVID-19 cases are a primary driver of the virus spreading.

“The best thing to do is just assume everybody’s got COVID-19,” ER Physician Dr. Ryan Stanton said.

It’s a disease that affects people in so many different ways, from no symptoms at all to the need for a ventilator, and we are still finding out new things about the virus.

“Even in medicine, what we’ve learned is that our ability to screen for this at the front door is very limited and very challenging,” Stanton said.

That could be a contributing factor in a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that suggests half of COVID-19 cases may be caused by asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic cases.

Based on preliminary data from the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department, that number is at about 30 percent here in Lexington.

But, the study states it would still take more than one-third of those infections to be identified and isolated to suppress a future outbreak.

According to the World Health Organization, people who have COVID-19 and remain asymptomatic seem to be the least likely to pass on the virus. It’s those who are pre-symptomatic, meaning they are in the early stages of the virus before they develop symptoms, who have the highest chance of spreading the illness.

“The problem is you don’t know until everything is said and done whether you are asymptomatic or just pre-symptomatic,” Stanton said. “We don’t know exactly who is going to develop symptoms, or who is very early, or who actually has very mild symptoms that they’re brushing off as allergies.”

That’s one of the big reasons health experts are pushing the need to wear face masks and get tested whether you feel sick or not.

“The problem is it kind of limps along for so long before development that you can spread it to a bunch of people before you realize what’s going on,” Stanton said.

Copyright 2020 WKYT. All rights reserved.

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Coronavirus cases top 20,000; Orange County’s rate of new cases has doubled since last week – OCRegister

July 8th, 2020

Orange County broke the 20,000 mark of confirmed coronavirus cases on Wednesday, July 8, one symptom of swift growth in a county where official COVID-19 tallies had been low relative to other parts of the state.

After the first infection was reported in late January, it took until June 12 for Orange County to reach 10,000 cumulative cases, according to Orange County Health Care Agency data. Less than a month later, the county reached 20,225.

But during a pandemic – with no herd immunity, incomplete knowledge and a vaccine likely months away – an ever-growing sum of cases is a given.

RELATED: Graphic charting Wednesday’s update from the Orange County Health Care Agency.

More important indicators log the virus’s speed, impact on hospitals and availability of lifesaving equipment.

The county’s rate of new COVID-19 cases by population, a vital measurement tracked daily by state and local health officials, has doubled over the past week.

By Wednesday, 238 people per 100,000 Orange County residents tested positive over a two-week period. On June 29, the day Orange County landed on the state’s higher-scrutiny monitoring list, the rate was 109 per 100,000.

Counties that surpass certain thresholds, such as the rate of cases, are flagged and given special attention to slow local transmission. By Wednesday, 26 of California’s 58 counties were on the list.

Compared to neighboring counties, Los Angeles still had the highest case rate reported on Wednesday at 281 per 100,000, but Orange’s rate had grown the most since last week.

Conditions in hard-hit Imperial County have improved somewhat. It’s case rate of Wednesday was 552 per 100,000, down from near 700 last week, but still the highest in California. Hospitals across the state have taken in patients from Imperial County to relieve its two overwhelmed hospitals.

Medical centers in Orange County have received 31 transfers from Imperial County since April 1 – by Monday, local hospitals were caring for six patients from the rural border county.

Gov. Gavin Newsom last week tightened up again on coronavirus restrictions for watch list counties amid a wave of infections, ordering the closure of certain indoor businesses for three weeks.

Since it made the watch list, Orange County broke a third state benchmark: a 10% increase in hospitalizations over three days. But by Wednesday, the average increase dipped back below the line to 9.4%.

County hospitals reported 679 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 on Wednesday. Levels of all patients in the county’s 26 hospitals reached a recent high of 71% capacity on Thursday, July 2, before easing back down, settling closer to half full by Monday, according to a Orange County Emergency Medical Services report.

Orange County remains in the green on the last two metrics that track the pandemic’s impact on local hospitals. On Wednesday, available intensive care beds and ventilators in Orange County were still well above state requirements.

County health officials estimate that 9,174 people have recovered to date – they figure most people take about a month to recover. Subtracting those who have died and others assumed to have recovered, the county estimates that 10,675 people are currently sick.

While infections that originate in nursing homes and elderly care facilities account for 6% of all coronavirus cases so far, they’re front and center for state and local health officials.

In its assessment last week, officials with the state’s Department of Public Health blamed spread at communal homes in Orange County as key drivers behind the uptick in positive tests and hospitalizations.

There have been outbreaks – defined as at least two confirmed COVID-19 cases at a group home within two weeks – at 61 skilled nursing and assisted living homes in Orange County, according to the emergency services report.

And residents at these facilities account for a disproportionate number of deaths – over half of the 376 COVID-19 deaths in the county.

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Here’s how to volunteer for a COVID-19 vaccine trial – wreg.com

July 8th, 2020

(CNN) — If you want to be one of the first to receive an experimental vaccine for Covid-19, now’s your chance.

Wednesday, a new website — coronaviruspreventionnetwork.org — went live allowing people in the United States to register to take part in clinical trials for vaccines.

The website will handle registration for the four large vaccine studies that are expected to start this summer and fall, and any others that follow.

The US Department of Health and Human Services announced the website Wednesday, along with the appointment of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle as the coordinating center for vaccine clinical trials run by the Covid-19 Prevention Network, which is funded by the National Institutes of Health.

Challenges in doing a very large, very complicated trial very fast

A vaccine developed by Moderna, a Massachusetts biotech company, is expected to be the first to be tested in a large trial. That trial was expected to begin this week, but the start date was moved to late July or early August, according to Dr. Carlos del Rio, principal investigator at the Moderna site at Emory University in Atlanta.

“That’s the target, but those target dates move up and down. They won’t let a site start until they’re absolutely ready. Some could start on July 27, and others on August 8,” del Rio said.

Despite the delay, the Covid-19 vaccine trials are moving at an unprecedented speed, as researchers try to accomplish in months what usually takes years.

Del Rio said he enrolls six or seven study subjects a week in a typical clinical trial, but for the Covid vaccine trial he’ll try to enroll that number in a day. Eventually, he aims to have a total of 750 study subjects at three Atlanta-area sites.

He noted that he still has not yet received approval from Emory’s Institutional Review Board to begin the trial, a requirement before moving forward.

“This is the most complicated research study I’ve ever done, and we need to do it in record time,” del Rio said, noting that he is still hiring staff and securing facilities for the trial.

Dr. Richard Novak, another clinical trial veteran agrees.

“I’ve been doing vaccine trials for 25 years, but this is the largest I’ve ever committed to and I just don’t have enough staff and I don’t have enough space,” said Novak, who will be leading the Moderna trial at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

What researchers are looking for

On the new website, anyone interested in joining a vaccine study can fill out a quick questionnaire.

There will be more than 100 sites in the United States and abroad, and after registering on the website, your information will be sent to the study site closest to you.

Several of the questions are designed to assess how likely you are to become infected and sick with Covid-19, including your race, what kind of work you do and how many people you come into contact with on a daily basis.

Based on those answers, you might be rejected. People who don’t get out much, and who wear a mask when they do leave home, would not make the best study subjects.

That’s because the point of the study is to see if the vaccine protects people from getting sick with Covid-19. If people who mostly stay home get vaccinated, and they don’t get sick with Covid-19, it’s hard to know if the vaccine protected them or if their lifestyle kept them away from the virus in the first place.

That’s why researchers are looking for people in communities that have been hardest hit by coronavirus.

“We need people who are black and brown and representative of harder hit communities by the pandemic,” said Dr. Carl Fichtenbaum, medical director of the Moderna trial at University of Cincinnati Health.

The doctors say they’ll recruit at churches and other organizations in those communities, as well as in workplaces such as factories and meatpacking plants where workers are at high risk of getting sick with Covid-19.

The researchers are also aiming to have 40% of the study subjects over age 65 or with underlying conditions, such as hypertension, lung disease, diabetes and morbid obesity, since they’re more likely to become ill with Covid-19, Novak said.

Tens of thousands of volunteers needed

Moderna has finished a safety trial with more than 100 study subjects, but it has not yet published the results. These later phase trials monitor safety and focus on whether the vaccine protects against becoming ill from the coronavirus.

Novak said volunteers for the Moderna trial will receive two injections spaced a month apart. About half the study volunteers will receive two doses of the vaccine, and the other half will receive placebos — a shot that has no therapeutic value. Neither the doctors nor the volunteers will know who’s getting which shot.

The volunteers will have appointments seven times throughout the two-year course of the study, where they will have blood drawn and their noses swabbed to check for Covid-19 infection.

Volunteers will keep a weekly diary of their symptoms and will speak on the phone with study staff to discuss how they’re feeling.

“It has to be done really meticulously, because that’s a key part of clinical research,” Novak said. “The data has to be impeccable.”

It’s unclear exactly how many volunteers will be needed for the trials. In a June interview, NIH director Dr. Francis Collins told CNN each trial would have around 30,000 volunteers, but a press release Wednesday from Fred Hutchinson, the coordinating center, says there will be 10,000 to 30,000 volunteers per trial.

Either way, tens of thousands of volunteers will need to step up for the studies.

“I want to emphasize to people that you will be part of something special, even if the answer is that this does not work,” Fichtenbaum said. “That’s a very important scientific answer because we need to know what works [and] what won’t work.”

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Researchers look for people in OKC to participate in study of possible COVID-19 vaccine – KOCO Oklahoma City

July 8th, 2020

The historic effort to get a vaccine for COVID-19 is coming to Oklahoma City.The Lynn Health Science Institute in Oklahoma City is looking for hundreds of people in the area to participate in a study of a possible vaccine. The company Moderna chose the institute to be the only place in Oklahoma to do this.“I would say it’s a big deal,” said Dr. Carl Griffin, with the Lynn Health Science Institute.Griffin told KOCO 5 that they’re now part of the massive study looking for 30,000 people across the country. It’s a two-year trial to make sure the vaccine works and is safe.But if early results are good, the idea is the vaccine could be ready for the public on an emergency basis by January.“I think a vaccine will be very important. We’ve heard some people talk about herd immunity,” Griffin said.Herd immunity is the idea that if roughly 60% to 70% of people get this virus, and have some level of immunity, that it’ll eventually stop spreading on its own.“If we think about 60% of 4 million people, that’s going to take a long time,” Griffin said. “So, this can last 20, 25 years if we do nothing at all. But with a vaccine, we’re able to shorten that time without exposing patients to the danger of the COVID-19 virus itself.”That’s because the vaccine contains no virus. The Lynn Health Science Institute is looking for healthy volunteers who are at least 18 years old.“We want people to think about being able to help others,” Griffin said. “Sometimes, clinical research allows us to help others by our participation. Even though some of these individuals may get the placebo, they end up still giving us a better view of how the actual vaccine works.”People who want to be involved should know half the participants will get the placebo and half will get the vaccine. People who currently have COVID-19 or have ever had it are not allowed to participate.Anyone who is interested is urged to call the Lynn Health Science Institute at 405-447-8839.

The historic effort to get a vaccine for COVID-19 is coming to Oklahoma City.

The Lynn Health Science Institute in Oklahoma City is looking for hundreds of people in the area to participate in a study of a possible vaccine. The company Moderna chose the institute to be the only place in Oklahoma to do this.

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“I would say it’s a big deal,” said Dr. Carl Griffin, with the Lynn Health Science Institute.

Griffin told KOCO 5 that they’re now part of the massive study looking for 30,000 people across the country. It’s a two-year trial to make sure the vaccine works and is safe.

But if early results are good, the idea is the vaccine could be ready for the public on an emergency basis by January.

“I think a vaccine will be very important. We’ve heard some people talk about herd immunity,” Griffin said.

Herd immunity is the idea that if roughly 60% to 70% of people get this virus, and have some level of immunity, that it’ll eventually stop spreading on its own.

“If we think about 60% of 4 million people, that’s going to take a long time,” Griffin said. “So, this can last 20, 25 years if we do nothing at all. But with a vaccine, we’re able to shorten that time without exposing patients to the danger of the COVID-19 virus itself.”

That’s because the vaccine contains no virus. The Lynn Health Science Institute is looking for healthy volunteers who are at least 18 years old.

“We want people to think about being able to help others,” Griffin said. “Sometimes, clinical research allows us to help others by our participation. Even though some of these individuals may get the placebo, they end up still giving us a better view of how the actual vaccine works.”

People who want to be involved should know half the participants will get the placebo and half will get the vaccine. People who currently have COVID-19 or have ever had it are not allowed to participate.

Anyone who is interested is urged to call the Lynn Health Science Institute at 405-447-8839.

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Apple’s Arm-Based Macs With Apple Silicon Chips Will Support Thunderbolt – MacRumors

July 8th, 2020

Coronavirus: Health officials suggest LA County schools have ‘Plan B’ for reopening if community transmission spikes – KABC-TV

July 8th, 2020
LOS ANGELES (KABC) — Health officials suggested that all school districts in Los Angeles County should have a “Plan B” for around reopening this fall if there is a spike in community transmission amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Los Angeles County Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer said that a back-up plan would mean the likelihood of an extended period of virtual learning rather than learning on campus.

Dr. Ferrer compared reopening Los Angeles County schools to how officials approached reopening other sectors.
“You absolutely would not want to open a sector when you thought that the result of a reopening could be an explosion of outbreaks within that sector. We’re going to continue to be mindful of what our data is telling us. At the same time, we’re moving ahead with issuing the protocols for reopening school campuses and we do that in a lot of collaboration with the Board of Supervisors, also with the superintendents and the districts who have done an amazing amount of work to prepare for reopening their campuses with as much safety as possible,” Dr. Ferrer said.

The development comes as President Trump on Wednesday threatened to withhold federal funding if U.S. schools don’t reopen in the fall despite the coronavirus. The president also lashed out at federal health officials over reopening guidelines that he complained are impractical and expensive.

Dr. Ferrer said health officials have been working with Los Angeles County schools for weeks about developing safety protocols, mirroring guidance from the state and the CDC.

She said she hopes the protocols are released “by the end of this week, early next week.”

COVID-19: California did not reopen too quickly, Newsom insists as number of counties on watch list rises

Copyright © 2020 KABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.

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Galaxy Note 20 Ultra hands-on video leaks – CNET

July 8th, 2020