By Robert A. Vella
In the news today, there are new warnings from the CDC about a deadly second wave of coronavirus infections in America, from China concerning the persistence of COVID-19 in previously recovered patients, and from the U.N. regarding pandemic-caused food shortages across the globe. There’s also another disturbing report on the Trump administration’s seizure of medical supply shipments raising many questions about the President’s political motives. The latest financial aid package is advancing through Congress as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell signals GOP opposition to future bipartisan bills. Dentists are demanding action from the White House to provide them with sufficient COVID-19 testing kits and Personal Protection Equipment (PPEs) as a precondition to resuming normal business activities. Trump has amended his announcement of an executive order to halt immigration into the U.S. with a huge exception carved-out for the Farming industry.
My thought for the day urges readers to contemplate the profound effects of this pandemic on modern civilization. The virus has done something truly astonishing. It has forced our species to its knees. People are in seclusion, and economic activity has been brought to a standstill. Just four months ago, the human population was burgeoning. People, goods, and services were moving freely and prodigiously around the world. We were pumping huge quantities of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere to feed our insatiable hunger for growth despite the existential dangers posed by climate change. But, we cared not. Nothing was going to stop us, or so we believed. Now look at us. We’re cowering in the shadows hoping and praying that our microscopic tormentor leaves us alone. Will we learn some humility this time? Will we finally appreciate what a poet once told us many decades ago? – that all glory is fleeting.
“There’s a possibility that the assault of the virus on our nation next winter will actually be even more difficult than the one we just went through,” CDC Director Robert Redfield said in an interview with The Washington Post. “And when I’ve said this to others, they kind of put their head back, they don’t understand what I mean.”
“We’re going to have the flu epidemic and the coronavirus epidemic at the same time,” he said.
Having two simultaneous respiratory outbreaks would put unimaginable strain on the health-care system, he said. The first wave of covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, has already killed more than 42,000 people across the country. It has overwhelmed hospitals and revealed gaping shortages in test kits, ventilators and protective equipment for health-care workers.
In a wide-ranging interview, Redfield said federal and state officials need to use the coming months to prepare for what lies ahead. As stay-at-home orders are lifted, officials need to stress the continued importance of social distancing, he said. They also need to massively scale up their ability to identify the infected through testing and find everyone they interact with through contact tracing. Doing so prevents new cases from becoming larger outbreaks.
Chinese doctors in Wuhan, where the virus first emerged in December, say a growing number of cases in which people recover from the virus, but continue to test positive without showing symptoms, is one of their biggest challenges as the country moves into a new phase of its containment battle.
Those patients all tested negative for the virus at some point after recovering, but then tested positive again, some up to 70 days later, the doctors said. Many have done so over 50-60 days.
The prospect of people remaining positive for the virus, and therefore potentially infectious, is of international concern, as many countries seek to end lockdowns and resume economic activity as the spread of the virus slows. Currently, the globally recommended isolation period after exposure is 14 days.
The world is facing multiple famines of “biblical proportions” in just a matter of months, the UN has said, warning that the coronavirus pandemic will push an additional 130 million people to the brink of starvation.
Famines could take hold in “about three dozen countries” in a worst-case scenario, the executive director of the World Food Programme (WFP) said in a stark address on Tuesday. Ten of those countries already have more than 1 million people on the verge of starvation, he said.
He cited conflict, an economic recession, a decline in aid and a collapse in oil prices as factors likely to lead to vast food shortages, and urged swift action to avert disaster.
Spoiled for choice before the pandemic, North American shoppers are finding they can’t get everything they want as grocery stores ration in-demand items to safeguard supplies.
While the panic that swept through supermarkets in the first weeks of the coronavirus lockdowns has eased, people are still filling fridges and pantries with stay-at-home staples from flour and yeast to pasta sauce and meat.
The strong demand comes at a time of supply disruptions as food makers adapt to dramatic shifts in buying patterns and some processing plants close as workers fall ill. As a result, stores are restricting purchases to prevent items from vanishing from shelves. For shoppers, that can be unnerving.
WILMINGTON, Del. – As pleas for protective masks continue amid the coronavirus pandemic, a Delaware supplier of medical equipment is disputing the legality of what he said were federal seizures of hundreds of thousands of N95 respirators.
George Gianforcaro, owner of the small, Newark, Delaware-based Indutex USA, said the Federal Emergency Management Agency did not pay him when it took possession of two imported shipments of masks bound for customers across the United States.
Those customers included Delaware nursing facilities, the state of Michigan and boat captains who steer foreign ships through U.S. bays.
He said he does not know where the seized N95 masks are today, or whether they have been distributed to medical facilities or others.
In an emailed statement, FEMA appeared to deny Gianforcaro’s charge without addressing the specific claims.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is drawing a line: There will be no more attempts at long-distance legislating on the coronavirus.
In a telephone interview Tuesday after passage of a $484 billion coronavirus relief bill, the Senate majority leader made clear that the full Senate must be in session before Congress begins its fifth installment of responding to the pandemic. And he signaled he was growing weary of quickly shoveling billions of dollars out the door even as the economy continues to crater.
After two weeks of bickering over McConnell’s initial proposal to send a quarter billion dollars to revive the depleted Paycheck Protection Program, the Senate clinched a deal Tuesday providing more aid to small businesses, hospitals and for disease testing. But it was neither easy nor pretty and the episode exposed the pitfalls of trying to legislate while the Senate is in recess.
Dentists are calling on the Trump administration to provide them with coronavirus tests before reopening, arguing that conditions in dental offices make patients and staff more susceptible to exposure.
The American Dental Association (ADA), which has more than 163,000 members, wants the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to supply testing kits to dentists so that they can swab patients once the economy reopens.
The high-speed instruments used by dental practices create aerosol clouds that can hold germs for up to three hours, increasing the odds of exposure for staff if a patient has the coronavirus.
WASHINGTON — President Trump said on Tuesday that he would order a temporary halt in issuing green cards to prevent people from immigrating to the United States, but he backed away from plans to suspend guest worker programs after business groups exploded in anger at the threat of losing access to foreign labor.
Mr. Trump, whose administration has faced intense criticism in recent months for his handling of the coronavirus crisis, abruptly sought to change the subject Tuesday night by resuming his assault on immigration, which animated his 2016 campaign and became one of the defining issues of his presidency.