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Worst public health crisis ahead if COVID-19 rages on, CDC warns – Business Insider – Business Insider

August 13th, 2020
  • If the coronavirus continues to rage on, the US could experience the worst public health crisis in modern history, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Dr. Robert Redfield warned, saying that the mixture of coronavirus with the annual flu season could lead to a public health crisis. 
  • He advised people to not only “wear a mask, social distance, wash your hands, and be smart about crowds,” but to also get a flu shot. The flu killed 80,000 Americans in the 2017-2018 season. 
  • Getting a flu shot helps protect people and limit the strain on the healthcare system. 
  • Redfield said the measures used to curb the spread of the coronavirus could help curb the flu as well. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned that public health in the United States could reach a critical juncture during the fall season if the coronavirus rages on. 

The seasonal flu combined with growing coronavirus cases could amplify the effects of the deadly pandemic, CDC  Director Dr. Robert Redfield said during an interview with the medical blog, WebMD

“I’m asking you to do four simple things: wear a mask, social distance, wash your hands, and be smart about crowds. If you do those four things it will bring this outbreak down,” Redfield said.  “But, if we don’t do that … this could be the worst fall from a public health perspective we’ve ever had.”

“I keep telling people, I’m not asking some of America to do it — we all got to do it,” Redfield said, suggesting that where the US goes from here depends in part on whether Americans practice the recommended steps that scientists and public health officials have been advocating for months since COVID-19 began spreading in the US.

“It’s dependent on how the American people choose to respond,” Redfield said. “It’s really the worst of times or the best of times, depending on the American public. I’m optimistic.”

The US is among the countries that have the highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases and deaths, with over 5.2 million recorded infections and more than 167,000 deaths as of August 13. 

On Wednesday, the US reported 55,910 new cases. The country also recorded the highest number of single-day deaths since mid-May: 1,499.

Redfield also advised Americans to get their flu shot this year and emphasized that the measures being used to curb the spread of the coronavirus, like social distancing and wearing masks, would also help limit the spread of the flu. 

According to CBS News, the flu is a common cause of death in the US, but less than half of the population got a flu vaccine last year. 

The 2017-2018 flu season was the deadliest in modern history. More than 80,000 people died from the viral infection, CNN reported at the time. 

The CDC has urged the public to get a flu shot to help protect themselves and also limit the burden on the healthcare system. Redfield hopes to have 65% of the population vaccinated for the flu this year, CBS reported.

“We’re going to have COVID in the fall, and we’re going to have flu in the fall, and either one of those by themselves can stress certain hospital systems,” Redfield said. “I’ve seen hospital intensive care units stretched by a severe flu season, and clearly we’ve all seen it recently with COVID.”

“So, by getting that flu vaccine, you may be able to negate the necessity to have to take up a hospital bed, and then that hospital bed can be more available for those that get hospitalized with COVID,” he said.

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Samsung’s most affordable 5G phone, the Galaxy A51, is now available on Verizon – The Verge

August 13th, 2020

Epic is suing Google over Fortnite’s removal from the Google Play Store – The Verge

August 13th, 2020

U.S. Coronavirus Update: CDC Director Warns 2020 Could Be “The Worst Fall, From A Public Health Perspective, We’ve Ever Had” As U.S. Deaths Surge – Deadline

August 13th, 2020

“This is the greatest public health crisis in a century,” said Centers for Disease Control Director Robert Redfield bluntly on Thursday.

In fact, Redfield sees the coming flu season in Dickensian terms.

“It’s dependent on how the American people choose to respond. It’s really the worst of times or the best of times, depending on the American public,” he said, paraphrasing the opening of Charles Dickens’s classic A Tale of Two Cities.

The current pandemic, paired with the oncoming flu season, could create the “worst fall, from a public health perspective, we’ve ever had,” said the CDC director in an interview with WebMD.

On which side of the scale will the U.S. fall? Redfield said that depends on how consistently Americans wear face masks, stay 6 feet away from each other, wash their hands and avoid crowded gatherings.

“I’m not asking some of America to do it — we all have to do it,” said Redfield. Somewhere between 95 to 99 percent of Americans will have to follow the guidelines for the U.S. to escape disaster, he said.

The scenario that health experts warn of is the flu season piling on top of an already widespread and active pandemic, overwhelming hospitals and resulting in far more deaths as people were unable to get treatment.

One person who is not hopeful about the country’s ability to escape a disastrous fall is the country’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci.

“When you look at other parts of the country,” said Fauci of regions that have not yet experienced big spikes, “this is the thing that’s disturbing to me: We’re starting to see the inkling of the upticks in the percent of the tests that are positive.”

That, as the country reported 1,500 COVID deaths in one day for the first time since May.

“We know now, from sad past experience, that that’s a predictor that you’re going to have more surges,” Fauci said during a panel discussion held by National Geographic.

“Bottom line is,” he said, “I’m not pleased with how things are going.”

So how many Americans are wearing masks? Are we anywhere near 90 percent compliance?

A Gallup Poll released exactly one month ago found that 44 percent of U.S. adults say they “always” wear a mask when outside their homes, and 28 percent say they do so “very often.” At the same time, three in 10 report doing so less often, including 11 percent “sometimes,” 4 percent “rarely” and 14 percent “never.”

According to Johns Hopkins, the U.S. on Thursday saw 55,910 new cases and 1,499 new deaths from the virus. Given the lack of testing and contact tracing, it’s likely those numbers are an undercount.

A recent analysis by the New York Times that looked at deaths above the average across the country found very clear spikes of additional deaths that followed the spread of the virus. By the Times’ count, at least 200,000 more people than usual have died in the country since March. That’s with many Americans locked inside, not going to work and only making trips out for groceries.

So what does the “worst fall, from a public health perspective, we’ve ever had,” look like?

The 1918 “Spanish” flu pandemic was the deadliest pandemic in history. One-third of the world’s population was infected. The virus killed an estimated 50 million people worldwide, including an estimated 675,000 people in the United States. That was at a time when the U.S. population (in 1917, pre-outbreak) was 103 million.

The country’s population in 2019 was more than 3 times that, at 328 million. The current epidemic has already taken 165,000 American lives.

The lead author of a new study published Thursday in the medical journal JAMA Network Open, Dr. Jeremy Faust, says COVID-19 “has 1918 potential.” Faust is a physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and an instructor at Harvard Medical School.

“If insufficiently treated, SARS-CoV-2 [the virus that causes COVID-19] infection may have comparable or greater mortality than 1918 H1N1 influenza virus infection,” according to the study.

During the “Spanish” flu pandemic, the greatest loss of lives happened in just 6 weeks between mid-November and the end of December. One-third of the virus deaths in America occurred during that period.

It is very possible the worst of times may be yet to come.

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Miley Cyrus and Cody Simpson split – Page Six

August 13th, 2020

No more bikini-clad TikTok dances by the pool for Miley Cyrus and Cody Simpson.

A music insider revealed to Page Six that the pair have called it quits.

Cyrus seemingly teased the breakup on Instagram while promoting her self-directed video for her latest single, “Midnight Sky.” The pop star captioned a photo earlier this week: “Forever and ever no more. The #MidnightSky is the road I’m taking … head up high in the clouds.”

Cyrus and Simpson were first linked together in October after Cyrus’ brief romance with Kaitlynn Carter, whom she moved on with following her split from her husband of eight months, Liam Hemsworth. Their divorce was finalized in January.

A rep for Cyrus did not get back to us.

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Coronavirus update: BC modelling suggests what’s to come, and that young people are increasingly impacted – CTV News Vancouver

August 13th, 2020

VANCOUVER — Once a national role model in the fight against COVID-19, British Columbia now faces the very real possibility of an alarming and sustained surge in cases.

New modelling released by public health officials on Thursday suggests the province’s daily case increases could soon surpass the numbers seen at the height of the crisis back in March and April.

The current trajectory indicates that could happen by September, though provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry stressed there’s still time to turn the tide if people improve their behaviour.

“That is concerning but it’s not a predictive model – it doesn’t tell us what’s going to happen, it tells us what can happen,” she said of the modelling projections. “Right now, we have it within our capability to make the changes that we need to bend that curve back down.”

Modelling

The modelling also warns that B.C.’s COVID-19 reproductive number, which tracks how many additional infections are generated per new case, is also “above the threshold for epidemic control.”

The threshold for sustained growth in cases is one – a single additional infection for every case that’s identified – but Henry noted B.C. has been “bouncing around a little bit above one” since June.

Modelling

The daily case numbers have already taken a sharp increase this week, with B.C. adding 85 cases on Wednesday and 78 on Thursday. B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix urged people not to be discouraged, and even more importantly, to do their absolute best to diligently follow the advice officials have been hammering for weeks.

“Don’t give up. Do not lose faith, do not lose hope,” Dix said. “Your participation and your leadership have never been more important. We have responsibilities in public health but it is you who are making all the difference. We’re counting on you.”

Much of the recent growth in cases has been blamed on young people partying and socializing in large numbers, or failing to maintain a proper two-metre distance from one another.

The latest modelling puts that into clearer focus, revealing that demographics of young adults are now overrepresented in B.C.’s infection tally.

Modelling

While people in their 20s make up 13 per cent of the province’s population, they make up 17 per cent of all cases identified since the start of the pandemic. Likewise, people in their 30s make up 14 per cent of the population but account for 18 per cent of cases.

“What we’ve seen is a decrease in the median age of people affected,” Henry said.

Fortunately, officials said, the vast majority of cases still have a known origin – a credit to the crucial contact-tracing work done by public health teams. That work will soon be bolstered by the hiring of 500 new health professionals, Premier John Horgan announced this week.

Despite the concerning outlook, Henry once again reminded the public of her motto – to be calm, kind and safe – and defended the province’s approach as largely successful.

“What we have been doing has worked, and that’s why we are where we are,” she said. “It’s a very small proportion of the population that are doing things that are causing some of the spread that we’re seeing. The vast majority of us are weathering this together and that’s what we need to continue to do.”

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Ontario education minister ‘unlocks’ $500M to improve distancing, ventilation for back-to-school – CBC.ca

August 13th, 2020

Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce says he’s “unlocked” $500 million in funding to enhance physical distancing and improve air quality as multiple teachers’ unions claim the province’s current plan violates provincial health and safety law.

The minister also announced an additional $50 million for upgrades to ventilation systems and $18 million for online learning amid concerns over student safety during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The half a billion dollars in funding comes after the ministry allowed school boards to dip into reserve funds. Boards that do not have reserves will be provided with funding from an $11 million allocation.

Allowing boards to use the reserve funds is in addition to $309 million provided by the province, which includes $60 million for personal protective equipment in schools and $100 million for custodians and enhanced cleaning products for schools, which was announced in July.

On Thursday, Lecce also said the province is confident that children can return to schools safely in the fall, even amid the pandemic.

“Let me be perfectly clear. If the best medical minds in the province did not think it was safe for your child to go back to school, the choice would have been simple,” he said. “We’re in a position where we are able to safely and confidently reopen schools, but with strict health and safety protocols”

But Lecce’s opening up of new funding follows weeks of criticism of the province’s back-to-school plan from parents, teachers and medical professionals, particularly when it comes to class sizes.

The announcement also comes on the heels of Ontario’s four major education unions alleging that the current back-to-school strategy breaks provincial law by violating occupational health and safety legislation.

With schools opening in about a month, questions are starting to pile up. Pediatrician and the founder and director of Kidcrew Pediatrics, Dr. Dina Kulik, answers questions about testing, the role of grandparents, and whether kids should change their clothes at school before coming home. 12:44

The unions, which represent more than 190,000 teachers and education workers, issued a press release Thursday afternoon saying the plan “fails to meet legal health and safety requirements,” and that teachers and students are not protected against COVID-19. 

They raised red flags over the lack of mask requirements for children under 10, larger class sizes, poor ventilation in schools and lack of adequate screenings and safeguards for students. They’ve asked to meet with Minister of Labour Monte McNaughton and representatives from the Ministry of Education to discuss their concerns.

During the press conference, Lecce didn’t answer questions on whether he’d meet with union representatives, saying that there had been many meetings ahead of Thursday’s announcement.

No class size cap for elementary, air quality questioned in older schools

The issue of class sizes has been the crux of the opposition toward the province’s plan, as while high schools will have a cap of 15 students per class, elementary schools will not have a limit on class sizes for Grades 4 to 8.

Instead, the only stipulation is a maximum average of 24.5 students per class across each school board.

WATCH | Provinces adjust back-to-school plans:

As B.C. delays the start of classes and Ontario parents protest class sizes, the provinces could look to other countries for how to approach going back to school during the COVID-19 pandemic. 2:01

This would mean it’s likely a child could be in a class with 30 or more other students. 

While class caps will still not be placed at the elementary level, Lecce said Thursday that the reserve funding could be used to create alternative classrooms outside of schools if there are difficulties acquiring more space. It gives the opportunity for schools to use the money as they see fit, based on current concerns and needs, he said.

In a report examining back-to-school planning published in July by SickKids hospital, it’s recommended that smaller class sizes be a “priority strategy.”

However, the report said, there is “limited evidence” on what to base the maximum class size numbers on as it depends on other factors, such as the size of the classrooms and if non-traditional spaces, like outdoor classrooms, are being used.

Teachers and parent groups held a protest at Queen’s Park on Wednesday to address the class-size issue, as well as draw attention to the sometimes poor ventilation in older Toronto schools that could exacerbate the crowding concerns.

Parent groups and education workers are protesting outside of Queen’s Park yesterday with a mock classroom to demonstrate the need for smaller class sizes in order to make physical distancing possible. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

At that protest, teachers spoke about how the two-metre physical distancing rules would be impossible for many classrooms based on their size.They also raised concerns about building repairs that are needed to increase airflow in many schools.

Parents and teacher coalitions at Wednesday’s protest asked the province for $3 billion in funding to allow for smaller class sizes and updated ventilation systems.

Older schools can use individual HVAC mobile units with the funding to support current ventilation instead of entirely remodeling a school’s airflow system, Lecce noted at the press conference.

As schools are three weeks away from opening, Lecce was asked if there is enough time for boards to determine how to properly use the money that’s become available and implement changes before the first day.

In response, he said schools have already been preparing and these changes can be “layered” on top of what is already in the works in order to “de-risk the circumstance.”

Using reserve funds would create ‘future financial risks’: TDSB

The Toronto District School Board provided CBC News with a memo to school trustees from Interim Director Carlene Jackson that says pulling from reserve funds would be a liability and lead to “future financial risks” for the board.

“It would not be prudent or good financial management if we were to use a large amount of reserve funds to cover the entire cost of smaller class sizes,” Jackson states. 

School boards and parents are feeling stressed about how COVID-19 safety will be balanced with academic priorities for Ontario high school students who will split their time between the classroom and online learning. 2:03

Staff are instead looking at whether the reserves could be used to augment the TDSB’s share of $30 million for staffing coming from the province, so that they can create class sizes of 15 to 20, she said. The board will be applying for this funding as soon as it’s available.

Even if class sizes are smaller, the schools do not currently have enough space to accommodate these sizes and staff are working on finding more options for new classrooms, explained Jackson. Transportation would need to be arranged if new school locations are added.

The TDSB is also looking into how to use its portion of the $50 million in HVAC upgrades with the school year just weeks away.

“Given this significant change, staff would have to assess if the necessary arrangements could be made in time for the first day of school on Sept. 8,” she said. 

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Fortnite for Android has also been kicked off the Google Play Store – The Verge

August 13th, 2020

Illinois COVID 19: Face mask guidance for children released by American Academy of Pediatrics – WLS-TV

August 13th, 2020
CHICAGO (WLS) — All children who are 2 and older, including the vast majority of kids with underlying health conditions, can safely wear masks, according to new guidance just released by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
“Masks are safe for children to wear and we recommend them,” said Dr. Alison Tothy, spokesperson with the AAP. “They are going to keep your kids safe from infections, especially when they are around other kids.”

In fact, dozens of children have been safely attending classes at El Valor’s early childhood program. El Valor serves 2,000 children in the Chicago area at four different sites, including the Carlos Cantu Children & Family Center in Little Village.

The kids have been wearing face coverings for about eight weeks, said Nina Dueñas, El Valor’s Senior Vice President of Children Services.

“It’s our new way of living, and I think they have adjusted really well,” Dueñas said.

The American Academy of Pediatrics is emphasizing that not only do masks protect your child, they reduce the spread of COVID-19. Kids, they said, get used to them.

“I have not seen children pulling on it or trying to take them off. We probably saw that the first week, but a lot of constant reminding, and here we are eight weeks later and they’re wearing their masks,” Dueñas said.

At El Valor, kids can take off their masks off when they are outside and social distancing in the playground or eating lunch. Some of the children are at the program up to 10 hours and wearing their face coverings.

“Kids, like adults, can wear the mask as long as they need to,” Dr. Tothy said.

Along with providing guidance, the AAP is also busting mask myths. They have addressed several questions over the past few months.

“Will it make it harder for my child to breathe? Can it interfere with my child’s lung development? Will they not pay attention as much in school? All of those are not true,” Dr. Tothy said.

Instead, Dr. Tothy said, children will mirror what their parents do, including whether or not they wear masks.

“This is just like putting on a helmet when you’re bike riding, or putting on a seatbelt when you get your kid in a car seat. These are things that kids can absolutely get used to,” she said.

At El Valor, children have adapted, but so have their teachers, parents, and fellow classmates, including those who are just 2 years old.

“If the parents are doing it, the teachers are doing it,” Dueñas said, “the children will follow.”

Copyright © 2020 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.

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CDC Director Robert Redfield says ‘we don’t want to pressure anybody’ as schools weigh reopening – NBC News

August 13th, 2020

As President Donald Trump insists that schools across America reopen, even as new data shows a startling surge of the coronavirus among children and teenagers, the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday that returning students to the classroom shouldn’t be done hastily.

“We’re going to need to do it safely. We’re going to need to do it sensibly. And we’re going to have to do it based on the unique circumstances, the kinetics of the epidemic and in the areas that the schools are beginning to try to wrestle with this reopening,” CDC Director and virologist Robert Redfield told “NBC Nightly News” anchor Lester Holt.

Watch this interview tonight on “NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt” at 6:30 p.m. ET/5:30 p.m. CT and on the NBC News special series “Coronavirus and the Classroom” at 8 p.m. ET/7 p.m. CT

Redfield added that in communities where the virus continues to be transmitted at high rates, districts shouldn’t feel pressure from the CDC or the White House to welcome students back without measures in place.

“We don’t want to pressure anybody,” he said. “Our guidance is there to help them begin to open, as I said, safely and sensibly. The timing of that is going to have to be decided one school at a time.”

Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Robert Redfield, speaks during a White House Coronavirus Task Force briefing at the Department of Education, in Washington on July 8, 2020.Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP

Redfield’s remarks come after he warned Wednesday that this fall could be one of the worst in the United States from a public health perspective because of the return of the flu season. He said the extent of how severe the coronavirus outbreak will become all depends on how Americans abide by CDC guidelines that advise the use of masks, social distancing and hand washing as well as limiting large gatherings.

Trump on Wednesday said he would furnish 125 million reusable masks to school districts, while continuing to push for in-person classes after previously threatening to slash federal funding for those districts that fail to reopen.

He drew criticism last week for saying in an interview that children should return to school because they are “almost immune” or “virtually immune” to the disease. While children make up about 9.1 percent of COVID-19 cases nationwide, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, they can still transmit the disease to others, and some children have also died from it.

Full coverage of the coronavirus outbreak

“We got to open up,” Trump said during a White House briefing. “We got to open up our schools and open up our businesses. And a lot of it has been opened. But we can do better.”

Some states remain cautious about blanket reopenings.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, announced last month that all schools — both public and private — in counties that are on the list for rising coronavirus cases cannot resume face-to-face learning when school restarts, for some districts later this month, and they would have to meet strict criteria before reopening.

A group of parents have since sued Newsom and other officials, demanding that he allow schools to open because their children are “suffering by being deprived” of in-person learning and some are being harmed by a digital divide.

Newsom did not immediately respond to the suit, but has previously said that “students, staff and parents all prefer in-classroom instruction, but only if it can be done safely.”

During this crisis, more than 5.2 million people in the U.S. have been infected with the coronavirus, with 167,000 dying from COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus. Worldwide, cases have topped 20 million, with roughly a quarter of deaths occurring in America, NBC News figures show.

The White House on Wednesday released general recommendations for school districts to follow when reopening and to protect “high-risk” teachers, such as “frequent hand washing,” minimizing large indoor group gatherings and encouraging the use of masks when social distancing isn’t possible.

“We got to do this safely. We got to do this smartly. We got to be flexible,” Redfield said. “But I do think it’s important that our best interest of society is to work towards getting face to face, you know, learning safely and sensitively based on the unique circumstances of each community.”

Download the NBC News app for full coverage of the coronavirus outbreak

Redfield also said parents should “embrace the flu vaccine with confidence” against a looming flu season that will be exacerbated by the highly contagious coronavirus.

“If we choose not to get vaccinated, not to embrace these mitigation strategies, it could be a very difficult time,” he added.

Redfield, however, remains hopeful that potential vaccines that have shown promise in early trials will become available by the late fall or early winter.

Moderna Therapeutics, a biotech company in Cambridge, Massachusetts, said last month that it had begun the first phase 3 trial of a COVID-19 vaccine candidate in the United States. The company is partnering with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which is part of the National Institutes of Health, for its vaccine research.

“I would have never said this back in April or May,” Redfield said, “but now I’m cautiously optimistic that we will have a vaccine that will be available before the first of the year.”

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