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State and city leaders blame social gatherings, not businesses or schools, for coronavirus uptick in New London

Connecticut and local officials said Monday that the recent uptick in coronavirus cases in New London can be traced back to a series of social gatherings and other small social interactions — not to local school or business reopenings, or to the nearby casinos.

“We’re being told by the contact tracers that it’s not coming from any institutional or business setting, it’s coming predominantly from social spread … where people are letting their guard down,” said New London Mayor Michael Passero.

He pointed to situations — such as small family gatherings that are well within the state limits on gathering size — where people may feel relaxed enough that they remove their masks or sit nearby one another. But COVID-19 can still spread, even among a small group of people and even from people who aren’t displaying any symptoms.

“The institutional environments — nursing homes, schools, even the casino — they have these strict protocols in place, people are less likely to let their guard down,” Passero said. “So where it’s spreading now is where people are more likely to be relaxed and let their guard down.”

The state issued a COVID-19 alert for New London on Thursday, after a steep increase in cases in the city. New London and the surrounding areas saw relatively few cases in the spring, and by Sept. 25 New London had recorded a total of 229 confirmed or probable COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began in March. But from Sept. 25 to Oct. 9, New London’s cases jumped up to 368 — an increase of 139 in just two weeks.

The reported cause of the New London uptick align with comments made by Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, during a visit to UConn’s Hartford campus last week.

“This is really a message to everyone in Connecticut: the kind of spread that we’re seeing now is very different from the spread we experienced in March and April,” Birx said.

At the Monday afternoon press briefing in New London, Gov. Ned Lamont pointed back to Birx’s comments.

It’s “informal social events, that’s where we’ve got to the track and trace, that’s where we need families to be particularly careful,” Lamont said.

Dr. Deidre Gifford, the interim commissioner of the state Department of Public Health, listed off a couple specific spreading events that have been identified by contact tracers — including carpooling, lunch breaks and family gatherings that brought together multiple households. (It’s unclear if she was referencing spreading events across the entire state or specifically in New London.)

The state’s response to the spread is “nothing new,” Gifford said. “But it’s just … the vigilance. We keep reminding ourselves: mask on, over the nose and mouth, if you’re with anybody that’s not part of your household.”

Also at Monday’s briefing, Lamont said that he expects to release an executive order “within the next couple of days” that will allow municipalities with rising cases of COVID-19, including New London, to remain

Alabama closes out week with uptick in coronavirus deaths: Week in review

Things have been relatively calm in Alabama’s fight with the coronavirus over the past few weeks, but an uptick in reported virus deaths over the last four days is a discouraging sign as the state gets ready for colder weather.

The Alabama Department of Public Health reported just over 6,750 new virus cases in Alabama this week. It also reported 103 total deaths – the first time in more than a month the state has reported at least 100 total virus deaths in a week.

[Can’t see the chart? Click here.]

And 90 of those deaths were reported in the last four days alone, as the state has reported double digit death totals in each of the last four days.

The 7-day average for total coronavirus deaths rose to 14.1 on Friday, the highest it’s been since Sept. 17. Prior to Thursday, that number hadn’t risen past 10 in two weeks.

A large number of the confirmed deaths reported this week came near Alabama’s coast. Mobile and Baldwin counties saw a combined 24 virus deaths between Saturday, Oct 3. and Friday, Oct. 9.

The state has now suffered 2,653 virus deaths since March. Because of the way deaths are reported, there is a lag between when someone dies of the virus and when they are listed in the state’s data. It’s unclear when the deaths reported this week actually occurred. The state reports deaths by date of death on its coronavirus dashboard, but it sometimes takes weeks for deaths to show up in that chart, and hundreds of deaths currently included in ADPH’s cumulative total don’t have a date assigned yet.

ADPH reported 6,767 new total virus cases this week, including around 4,900 confirmed cases and 1,900 probable cases. That case total represents a slight increase over the previous week, but is still down from two weeks prior.

[Can’t see the chart? Click here.]

The state’s caseload has been relatively flat since Labor Day. There was a slight uptick in cases in late September, which was at least partially caused by a backlog of cases from a private lab entering the system, according to ADPH.

But the 7-day average for new daily cases has increased by only around 100 cases since Labor Day itself. The average then was 855 cases per day. As of Friday, it stood at 966.

On Friday the state reported nearly 1,500 new cases, after showing significantly lower numbers for most of the week.

The state also reported nearly 12,000 new tests on Friday, which was also a significant increase, and could indicate another backlog of data entering the system.

[Can’t see the chart? Click here.]

The state’s positivity rate was 13.3 percent on Friday, and has hovered between 12 and 14 percent over the last few weeks.

Hospitalizations have remained mostly flat in the state over the past several weeks – though hospitals in Tuscaloosa and Auburn reported increases this week. The 7-day average for current virus hospitalizations statewide hasn’t risen past 800 since Sept.

LA’s Coronavirus Uptick Could Imperil Reopenings

LOS ANGELES, CA — It’s too soon to tell if the three-day increase in new coronavirus cases is a surge, but it has county leaders watching closely. If the trend continues, it could imperil business reopenings in the near future.

On Friday, the Los Angeles County Public Health Department reported 1,226 new cases of coronavirus. The region saw its highest single day of new cases in nearly two months – 1,645 new cases reported on Wednesday. County health officials are working to pinpoint the cause of the uptick. The uptick is likely too late to be a result of Labor Day gatherings and too early to be tied to newly reopened businesses such as cardrooms, wineries and breweries.

The county also reported another 13 coronavirus-related deaths, bringing the countywide total to 6,741. Health officials also reported another child with multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, or MIS-C, bringing the overall number of cases of the rare malady to 41 in the county. The condition, which has been linked to COVID-19 exposure, results in inflammation of bodily organs.

Nearly half of the children who contracted the syndrome in Los Angeles County had to be treated in an intensive-care unit, but there have been no reported deaths in the county from the illness.

Los Angeles County is still in the strictest level of the state’s four- tier economic-reopening roadmap. The county’s recent testing positivity rate is low enough to qualify the county to move up to a less-restrictive tier, but the average daily number of new cases needs to drop to about 700 per day before any movement will occur. As of Wednesday, the county’s rate of new cases per 100,000 residents was averaging 7.4, above the limit of 7 needed to move out of the state’s restrictive “purple” tier.

Health officials said this week they would be closely monitoring the case numbers, but said the elevated numbers should be a reminder that COVID-19 is still spreading in the community.

With more businesses reopening in the past week, health officials urged customers and business owners to adhere to all safety protocols when patronizing restaurants or other merchants. According to the county, 118 virus outbreaks in businesses or workplaces were opened in the past two weeks alone. Since Sunday, the county has issued 125 citations to businesses for failing to comply with health protocols, and an undisclosed number were actually closed due to “significant health and safety concerns or violations” of health orders.

No details were released on business closures.

After months of closure, indoor shopping malls were permitted to reopen Wednesday, though limited at 25% of capacity and with food courts and common areas remaining closed. That follows nail salons, which were permitted to reopen indoors last week; card rooms, which were allowed to open outdoors on Monday; and outdoor playgrounds, which were cleared to reopen at the discretion of individual cities.

The county this week also began accepting waiver applications from schools that want to offer in-person instruction for pre-kindergarten

CDC Survey Shows Slight Uptick in Uninsured Adults

The number of uninsured adults in the U.S. crept up to 14.5% in 2019, from 13.3% in 2018, according to data from the CDC’s National Health Interview Survey (NHIS).

Put into context, the share of adults 18-64 who were uninsured last year was still much lower than the 20.4% of adults who reported being uninsured in 2013 — 3 years after passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

While she’s not “especially surprised” by the slight uptick in the percentage of uninsured adults, given the “incremental increases” seen in the last few years, Rachel Garfield, PhD, co-director of the Program on Medicaid and the Uninsured for the Kaiser Family Foundation, said it is “troubling” given the turmoil of the last 6 months, between the COVID-19 pandemic and economic downturn.

The survey also found that slightly more men than women, more young adults than older adults, and far more Hispanic adults than non-Hispanic adults lacked insurance. Additionally, more adults in “fair or poor” health were uninsured compared with those who said their health was “excellent, very good, or good.”

When asked their reasons for not having insurance, 73.7% said plans were not affordable. The percentage of adults who found coverage unaffordable increased with age: 66.8% of adults 18-29 compared with 80.9% of those 50-64 stated that cost was a reason they did not have a health plan.

“We have seen pretty consistently, for a very, very long time that most people who are uninsured say that they’re uninsured because of costs,” Garfield said.

While some people expected the ACA to make coverage affordable for everyone, she noted, “there are people who are falling through the cracks in that coverage and [who] still can’t afford health insurance.”

The percentage of older adults who said they could not afford coverage also troubled Garfield, given the ACA’s restriction on underwriting health coverage based on age.

But it’s unclear whether the individual reporting affordability issues actually shopped for a health plan, she said.

The report highlighted other key findings, including:

  • 16% of men were uninsured versus 13.1% of women
  • 17.5% of adults 18-29 were uninsured versus 10.5% of adults 50-64
  • 30.2% of Hispanic adults were uninsured versus 14.3% of non-Hispanic Black and 10.2% of non-Hispanic white adults
  • 17.6% of adults who described their health as “fair or poor” lacked insurance, while 14.1% of adults in “excellent, very good, or good” health reported being uninsured

Beyond cost, respondents gave other reasons for not having a health plan: 25.3% said they were not eligible for insurance; 21.3% did “not need or want” coverage; 18.4% said enrollment was “too difficult or confusing”; 18% said they “could not find a plan” that met their needs; and 8.5% said that they had enrolled but their coverage had not started. (Respondents were allowed to provide more than one reason for not having insurance.)

In drilling down into these responses, the survey found that the percentage of adults currently ineligible for insurance was higher, at 30.4%, among Hispanic adults compared with 22.3%

Overnight Health Care: NYC reports uptick in COVID-19 cases as schools try to reopen | Global coronavirus death toll passes 1 million

Welcome to Tuesday’s Overnight Health Care, where we are awaiting the health care questions at the first presidential debate tonight.



Andrew Cuomo, Bill de Blasio standing next to a man in a suit and tie: Overnight Health Care: NYC reports uptick in COVID-19 cases as schools try to reopen | Global coronavirus death toll passes 1 million | Pelosi cites 'positive' talk with White House on coronavirus aid


© Getty
Overnight Health Care: NYC reports uptick in COVID-19 cases as schools try to reopen | Global coronavirus death toll passes 1 million | Pelosi cites ‘positive’ talk with White House on coronavirus aid

Moderator Chris Wallace will ask about COVID-19 and the Supreme Court, so we expect questions about President Trump’s response to the pandemic and the looming oral arguments for a Trump-backed lawsuit that seeks to overturn the Affordable Care Act. Also, New York City is reporting an uptick in cases, and the global COVID-19 death toll has passed 1 million.

Let’s start with NYC…

New York City reports uptick in COVID-19 cases as schools try to reopen

New York City reported that its daily positivity rate of coronavirus tests surpassed 3 percent on Tuesday for the first time since June, with the bulk of the increase coming from certain Queens and southern Brooklyn neighborhoods.

Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) called the 3.25 percent positivity rate “cause for real concern” in a Tuesday press briefing. The nine at-risk ZIP codes are predominantly Orthodox communities. De Blasio said the statewide rate is about 1 percent.

The city, an early U.S. epicenter for the pandemic, saw its numbers steadily fall over the summer but has seen an increase in recent weeks.

The uptick is disrupting the city’s attempts to reopen schools, which de Blasio has already delayed. The mayor said that if the city’s seven-day rolling average reaches 3 percent, public schools will have to close again.

Read more here.

Global coronavirus death toll passes 1 million, with no end in sight

More than a million people worldwide have died after contracting the novel coronavirus less than a year after it first spilled over to humankind, a devastating toll that includes deaths in both the wealthiest and some of the poorest countries.

At least 33 million people have tested positive for the virus, SARS-CoV-2, and the true number of infected is likely multiple times higher. Surveys in the United States and other nations have suggested that only about 1 in 10 people who contract the virus ever test positive.

According to a Johns Hopkins University count, the global COVID-19 death toll stood at 1,000,555 by Monday evening.

And the true number of deaths is likely substantially higher as well. Excess mortality rates across the world show more people have died this year than is typical – signs either that the virus is killing more people than currently known, or that people with other health issues are unable or unwilling to access the treatment they need.

Read more here.

Student gatherings, congregate living contribute to rapid coronavirus spread at universities: CDC

Student gatherings and congregate living settings likely contribute to the rapid spread of COVID-19 at universities, according to an analysis published Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Universities that resume in-person