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10 California counties see restrictions eased, risks remain

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Ten California counties were cleared to ease coronavirus restrictions Tuesday, including some in the Central Valley that saw major case spikes over the summer, but the state’s top health official warned that upcoming Halloween celebrations pose a risk for renewed spread.

Dr. Mark Ghaly, the state health secretary, said no counties moved backwards in California’s color-coded, four-tiered system for reopening, but Riverside was on the verge of reverting to the most restrictive purple tier. The county of about 2.5 million residents has asked for a review of its data and will stay in the red tier until the state makes a decision on its status later this week.

“Moving back a tier is important,” Ghaly said. “We don’t want to do it without a significant degree of conversation and understanding.”

Riverside County Public Health Officer Dr. Cameron Kaiser said the county hopes to persuade the state that it can maintain its current status while still slowing the spread of the virus. A slip back to the purple tier would adversely affect small businesses like restaurants and gyms, which could be forced to shut down indoor operations again, the county said in a statement.

Two San Francisco Bay Area counties, Alameda and Santa Clara, will advance to the less-restrictive orange tier, which allows for increased capacity at restaurants, movie theaters and houses of worship — all with modifications to require face coverings.


The lifting of some restrictions in counties that have shown improvement comes as California sees a continued drop in COVID-19 cases. The seven-day positivity rate was down to 2.7%, Ghaly said. The number of hospitalizations is about 2,225 — a significant drop from a peak of around 7,000 over the summer, he said.

Ghaly said overall trends are moving in the right direction, thanks in part to Californians’ increased willingness to wear masks and avoid large gatherings.

“The more that that becomes widespread around the community, we’re going to see these numbers stabilize and come down,” Ghaly said.

But he added “we’re not out of the woods, and we’re seeing a number of increases across the country, and across the world in terms of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths.”

Officials are urging families to skip trick-or-treating this Halloween and instead have costume contests and pumpkin carvings online.

“The whole act of going door-to-door in groups ringing doorbells, digging into buckets of delicious candy, create a risk of spreading spreading COVID-19,” Ghaly said. But he stressed that it was a recommendation, not a rule, and trick-or-treaters will not see any enforcement.

California on Friday night also eased restrictions to allow up to three households to socialize outdoors, an expansion of rules aimed at people tempted to have even larger gatherings around Halloween, Thanksgiving and end-of-year holidays.

Meanwhile Tuesday, Fresno County stayed in the red tier and four other counties in the central part of the state — Kern, Colusa, Sutter and Stanislaus — advanced from purple to red. Those improvements were particularly gratifying after those counties experienced

As Globe Gallops Into Vaccine Trials, Insurers Remain Unfazed | Top News

By Noor Zainab Hussain, Carolyn Cohn and Ludwig Burger

LONDON/FRANKFURT (Reuters) – The world is racing towards a vaccine in record time, stirring public concerns about safety to the extent that nine leading developers have felt compelled to issue a pledge to uphold scientific standards and testing rigour.

Yet, while more than 40 experimental COVID-19 vaccines are being tested on humans, the insurance companies with decades of experience in assessing the risks of clinical trials don’t see anything to be unduly concerned about.

Executives at insurer Allianz and brokers Gallagher and Marsh, among the leading players in clinical trials insurance, told Reuters that premiums had only marginally increased so far in the current pandemic.

They argued there was little structural difference to trials carried out in the past, despite drugmakers around the world competing to shatter the fastest time in history for developing a vaccine, which stands at around four years.

“Rates have been relatively stable. Even this year we have so far seen only moderate price increases on average, with higher price jumps for particularly exposed COVID-19 trials,” said Mark Piazzi, senior underwriter liability at Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty (AGCS).

This was echoed by David Briggs, managing director, life sciences practice at Gallagher, who said every trial was rated on its methods and the kinds of patients involved.

Gallagher said premiums in Britain, for example, started at about 5,000 pounds ($6,500) per trial.

Total claims limits in policies were typically set at roughly $6-12 million, depending on the country’s rules, according to several insurance companies interviewed by Reuters.

In Britain, for instance, claim limits were usually set at no lower than 5 million pounds, while in Germany the figure was around 10 million euros ($11.8 million).

‘LOSS EXPERIENCE NOT DRAMATIC’

However part of the reason why premiums have not risen as sharply as some people might have expected is that claims from trial are generally uncommon, according to executives. This is because patients have often signed so-called informed consent agreements, they said.

Jim Walters, managing director of Life Sciences & Chemical Group at broker Aon, said such agreements outlined the risks that patients were taking by participating in the trial.

“So, you know, everything from you could have a sore spot on your arm. To you could potentially die. And you know, they would literally go that far in some of these protocols,” he added.

“Those generally tend to hold up in courts and in legal systems around the world. That means that the loss experience coming out of clinical trials is not very dramatic.”

Claims are often limited to circumstances linked to the improper conduct of trials or any wrongdoing, rather than side-effects of the treatment, executives said.

Such have been the worries about the vaccine race among some members of the public, who fear safety standards could slip, that nine developers issued a joint pledge last month to “uphold the integrity of the scientific process”.

ASTRAZENECA TRIAL SUSPENSION

AstraZeneca and Oxford University’s suspension of global Phase

U.S. daily COVID-19 cases remain above 50,000, Montana adds 5,000 cases in October

Oct. 11 (UPI) — New COVID-19 cases in the United States continued to rise at their highest rates since August amid surges in states like Montana.

The Johns Hopkins University global tracker reported 54,639 new cases and 618 deaths on Saturday, the fourth consecutive day with more than 50,000 deaths, a level of daily increase not seen since August.

Since the first reported case in the country on Jan. 21, the United States has reported world-leading totals of 7,745,951 cases and 214,641 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins data.

Johns Hopkins data showed that Montana has reported 5,046 COVID-19 cases from Sept. 30 through Oct. 10 after recording just 5,017 cases in the 150 days between its first reported case on March 13 and Aug. 10.

With 585 new cases Sunday, Montana has reported 18,702 total cases, up from 14,645 as of last Sunday, and a death toll of 210.

California, which leads the nation in COVID-19 cases, reported 3,803 new cases for a total of 846,579 while adding 64 deaths for a death toll of 16,564, which is second in the nation.

Texas reported the nation’s second-highest case total at 792,478, with an addition of 2,262, as well ass 16,557 deaths, including 31 new ones, in third ahead of New Jersey with 16,274.

Third place Florida tallied 5,570 new cases and 178 deaths over two days on Sunday after the state did not report data on Saturday while officials worked to strike hundreds of thousands of duplicate test results resent on Friday by Helix Laboratory, a private testing lab.

Sunday’s numbers brought Florida’s case total to 734,491 and its death toll to 15,364, which is fifth in the ntation.

In New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced 1,143 new cases for the country’s fourth-highest total at 474,286, while adding five deaths to bring the nation’s leading death toll to 25,574 of confirmed deaths and 33,942 including probable deaths.

The state’s overall positivity reached 0.96% the first time it fell below 1% since Sept. 24. However, in “Red Zone” areas — which account for 2.8% of the state’s population but 14.9% of all positive tests — the positivity rate was 5.74%, while the rate for the rest of the state was 0.84%.

“We are taking strong action to respond to these outbreaks and to stop the spread. Mask up,” Cuomo wrote on Twitter.

No. 5 Georgia reported 1,162 new cases for a total of 331,409 and 23 new deaths, bringing its death toll to 7,416.

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Coronavirus could worsen in winter, remain major threat through 2021, Fauci says

FILE - In this April 7, 2020, file photo, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks about the coronavirus in Washington. With New York City at the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. and its native-born among those offering crucial information to the nation in televised briefings, the New York accent has stepped up to the mic. Fauci's science-based way of explaining the crisis at White House briefings has attracted untold numbers of fans, and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's news conferences have become must-see TV. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the U.S. government’s top infectious diseases expert, speaks about the coronavirus on April 7. (Alex Brandon / Associated Press)

The COVID-19 pandemic could worsen in the winter and continue to be a looming threat through much of 2021.

That is the forecast of Dr. Anthony Fauci, the federal government’s top infectious diseases expert, in a wide-ranging discussion about the pandemic that he delivered this week to the Berkeley Forum.

Fauci warned that a sense of normality post-coronavirus may not come to the U.S. until late 2021, adding that the arrival of a vaccine will not suddenly bring the U.S. lurching back. Rather, it’ll be a gradual transition over a long period of time.

Fauci offered analysis at the Thursday forum about where we stand on the pandemic — from the importance of masks to the mistakes made by colleges, the dangers of internet disinformation and the grim toll COVID-19 is taking on nonwhite communities.

Masks may be part of a return to normal for some time

The U.S. faces two problems: The vaccine won’t be 99% effective, and a substantial proportion of Americans have indicated they will not take the inoculation.

“So let’s say you have a 75% effective vaccine, and 65% to 80% of the people want to get vaccinated: You still have a lot of people in society … that are vulnerable to be infected,” Fauci said. That means “we’re going to softly go into a graded degree of normality.”

In this new normal, more types of businesses will be able to reopen. But some pandemic protections may still be needed for a longer period than others.

“Will people have to wear masks? Yes, likely,” Fauci said. “I would imagine that if we get a good vaccine now, that we could have some degree of normality in the third quarter to the fourth quarter of 2021.

“I think ultimately, we will get back to normality as we knew it before this. But … it’s going to be a gradual process, in which the restrictions on things — restaurant numbers, theater attendance, spectators at sports [events] — all of that will come back gradually. But it will come back.”

We could be in for a tough winter

At the moment, the U.S. is still diagnosing about 40,000 new infections of the coronavirus daily — “which is unacceptably high,” Fauci said, as the nation moves into the cooler seasons.

“We’ve got to get that down or otherwise, we’re going to have a very tough winter in the next few months,” Fauci said.

According to the Los Angeles Times’ coronavirus tracker, California has averaged about 3,300 new coronavirus cases a day for the last week — a number that’s still higher than during the initial springtime wave of cases that prompted the state’s first stay-at-home order.

Los Angeles County on Wednesday reported its highest daily count of coronavirus infections since Aug. 22, highlighting the continued dangers of the virus even as more businesses are opening up.

Numbers Remain Stable With 1,297 New Cases

ATLANTA, GA — The Georgia Department of Public Health in Atlanta reported a total of 327,407 confirmed cases of COVID-19 at 2:50 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 8. According to the health department’s website, that includes 1,297 newly confirmed cases over the last 24 hours.

Georgia also reported 7,294 deaths so far from COVID-19, with 36 more deaths recorded in the last 24 hours. In addition, the state reported 29,386 hospitalizations — 154 more than the day before — and 5,453 admissions so far to intensive-care units.

No information is available from Georgia about how many patients have recovered.

Counties in or near metro Atlanta and other metropolitan areas continue to have the highest number of positives, with Fulton County still in the lead.

  1. Fulton County: 28,581 cases — 189 new

  2. Gwinnett County: 28,461 cases — 133 new

  3. Cobb County: 20,294 cases — 70 new

  4. DeKalb County: 19,473 cases — 84 new

  5. Hall County: 9,773 cases — 40 new

  6. Chatham County: 8,755 — 16 new

  7. Richmond County: 7,370 — 43 new

  8. Clayton County: 7,289 — 44 removed

  9. Cherokee County: 6,359 — 24 new

  10. Bibb County: 6,215 — 20 new

Counties in or near metro Atlanta also continue to have the most deaths from COVID-19.

  1. Fulton County: 583 deaths — 2 new

  2. Cobb County: 437 deaths — 1 new

  3. Gwinnett County: 421 deaths — 2 new

  4. DeKalb County: 375 deaths — 1 new

  5. Dougherty County: 188 deaths

  6. Bibb County: 183 deaths — 1 new

  7. Muscogee County: 172 deaths

  8. Chatham County: 172 deaths — 2 new

  9. Richmond County: 171 deaths — 3 new

  10. Clayton County: 165 deaths — 1 new

All Georgia statistics are available on the state’s COVID-19 website.

Globally, more than 36.3 million people have tested positive for COVID-19, and more than 1 million people have died from it, Johns Hopkins University reported Thursday.

In the United States, nearly 7.6 million people have been infected and more than 212,000 people have died from COVID-19 as of Thursday. The U.S. has only about 4 percent of the world’s population but more confirmed cases and deaths than any other country.

RELATED: Teacher, Advocacy Group Sue GA School Leaders Over Coronavirus

This article originally appeared on the East Cobb Patch

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The Daily 202: Trump seems to remain in denial about coronavirus dangers, as the coverup continues

The Trump presidency has presented scores of painful lessons on the limitations of the power of positive thinking. Climate change continues to make fires, floods and hurricanes worse, even if Trump denies it and his political appointees seek to erase mentions of it from government reports. Russia interfered in the 2016 election and the intelligence community agrees the Kremlin is trying once again to influence the 2020 campaign, but Trump struggles to accept that reality because, current and former aides say, he believes that acknowledging the Kremlin’s support for his campaign would undermine his legitimacy. And so on.

But nothing captures the hubris of trying to spin the primal forces of nature into submission more than the president’s response to the novel coronavirus.

Trump said in January that the coronavirus was “totally under control” and that there would be only a few U.S. cases before the number would “go down to zero.” On Feb. 28, Trump said: “It’s going to disappear. One day it’s like a miracle, it will disappear.” In March, Trump said people would be able to celebrate vanquishing the coronavirus by going to church on Easter. 

That was more than six months ago. Trump downplayed the dangers of the contagion not just at the country’s peril – but his own. Watching these clips with the benefit of hindsight makes the president sound like Baghdad Bob as U.S. forces closed in on the Iraqi capital in March 2003.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany became the latest member of Trump’s inner circle to test positive. She announced in a statement on Monday that she has no symptoms and will continue to work – but from home.

Apparently, denialism can be infectious, as well. The White House’s lead physician, Sean Conley, acknowledged at a news conference on Sunday that he intentionally withheld information about Trump’s blood-oxygen levels plummeting in order to put a positive spin on the president’s condition. “I was trying to reflect the upbeat attitude that the team, the president, that his course of illness, has had,” Conley said. “I didn’t want to give any information that might steer the course of illness in another direction. And in doing so, you know, it came off that we were trying to hide something, which wasn’t necessarily true.”

A virus does not care what a doctor says at a news conference. White House communications director Alyssa Farah told reporters that Conley was trying to project positive for Trump’s sake during his public remarks on Saturday. “When you’re treating a patient, you want to project confidence, you want to lift their spirits, and that was the intent,” she said.

Positive thinking has certainly gotten Trump far in life, and it can be very helpful for a patient fighting a disease. Everyone wishes the president well and hopes he recovers as speedily as possible and with no long-term damage. But Conley was not speaking to Trump during his Saturday news conference. He was addressing the American people.

Since being hospitalized on

Covid-19 can afflict the powerful. Yet food workers remain the most vulnerable.

Amid this reality, Tyson Foods recently announced a plan to open medical clinics at several of its U.S. plants. Coupled with the addition of 200 nurses and administrative positions in the company’s health services team, executives claim these plans will help “promote a culture of health” among workers. With the new initiative, Tyson joins a growing list of companies with on-the-job medical providers.

But our nation’s history suggests that worksite clinics may do more harm than good, further harming worker health. The U.S. meat and poultry industry has a long history of obstructing worker access to medical care and workers’ compensation benefits and has failed to provide adequate worksite medical treatment.

At the dawn of the 20th century, as the U.S. economy industrialized, workplace injuries in manufacturing were commonplace. Injured workers did not have a right to the free medical treatment, wage replacement for lost work time or permanent disability benefits that would later be protected by the workers’ compensation system. Instead, courts decided whether employers bore any responsibility for work-related injuries and deaths. Employers easily and swiftly contested their liability, leaving tremendous burdens on workers’ families and communities.

During this period, to avoid costly liability lawsuits, several companies hired doctors to treat manufacturing worker injuries in-house. These “industrial physicians,” as they became known, also redesigned plant layouts and operations. Their efforts prevented workplace injuries, but they also enabled more stringent personnel management and surveillance and prioritized production efficiency. By allowing direct control over diagnoses and duration of treatment, corporations’ provision of medical care became a mechanism for surveilling and controlling workers and reducing labor costs.

In 1906, Upton Sinclair’s famed “The Jungle” shocked readers with its description of dangerous working conditions and industrial accidents in Chicago’s meatpacking industry. Incidents like the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, in which 150 workers perished after being locked inside, further raised consciousness about the plights faced by workers and the need to address occupational health and safety hazards. Captivated and alarmed, a moral discourse on workplace injury and illness began to take shape among the American public. “As the work is done for the employer, and therefore ultimately for the public,” remarked President Theodore Roosevelt in 1907 “it is a bitter injustice that it should be the wageworker himself and his wife and children who bear the whole penalty. ”

A compromise among business and labor interests led to the passage of state-based workers’ compensation legislation beginning in 1911. The “grand bargain,” as it became known, protected employers from liability lawsuits and, in exchange, promised workers access to independent medical care and limited compensation for their temporary and permanent disabilities. Within a decade nearly every state had a system of workers’ compensation, though they were vastly uneven and inadequate and would remain so for decades to come.

A commission convened by President Nixon discovered as much a half-century later, finding that in 1970, 34 states did not meet even half of the workers’ compensation standards prescribed by the newly created Occupational Safety and

Montgomery County COVID-19 cases top 11K; deaths remain at 140

Online registration is still available for COVID-19 testing in Montgomery County. To get a voucher, go to mchd-tx.org or mcphd-tx.org and click on the

Online registration is still available for COVID-19 testing in Montgomery County. To get a voucher, go to mchd-tx.org or mcphd-tx.org and click on the “need to be tested” link. Fill out the information. A voucher will be emailed. Once you have the voucher, make an appointment at your choice of testing centers and get tested.

Gustavo Huerta, Houston Chronicle / Staff photographer

Montgomery County continued a trend Wednesday with no new COVID-related deaths but added 50 new active cases for a total of 1,508.

Total number of cases in the county jumped to 11,092. The number of deaths related to the virus remained at 140, according to the Montgomery County Public Health District.

Total hospitalizations, both county and noncounty residents, decreased by three to 41 with 11 of those patients in ICU.

The Montgomery County Public Health District is continuing to process cases that were reported to The Department of State Health Services directly by healthcare providers and entered into the National Electronic Disease Surveillance System.


Online registration is still available for COVID-19 testing in Montgomery County. To get a voucher, go to mchd-tx.org or mcphd-tx.org and click on the “need to be tested” link. Fill out the information. A voucher will be emailed. Once you have the voucher, make an appointment at your choice of testing centers and get tested.

The MCHD/MCPHD COVID-19 Call Center is open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Call 936-523-3916.

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