Tuesday News: Keep flattening the curve


NC'S SOCIAL DISTANCING SEEMS TO BE WORKING. IT COULD BE MUCH WORSE: At least 2,947 people in 91 North Carolina counties have tested positive for the coronavirus. There are at least 132 confirmed cases statewide of people recovering from the virus, although many counties aren't reporting those numbers. At least 44 people have died in North Carolina, and about 270 people are hospitalized. Six North Carolina residents have died of coronavirus-related complications on Monday, including three in Mecklenburg County and one in Moore County. A statewide stay-at-home order is in effect through April 30. Any local orders with tighter restrictions take precedence over the state order. Coronavirus cases at the federal prison complex in Butner have skyrocketed, from 11 reported cases on Sunday to 59 on Monday, according to local health and federal prison officials.

AFRICAN-AMERICANS ARE SUCCUMBING TO COVID 19 AT A DISPROPORTIONATE RATE: “Slightly more than 70% of deaths in Louisiana are African Americans,” Edwards said in a press conference. “That deserves more attention and we’re going to have to dig into that and see what we can do to slow that down,” WWLTV reported. The Illinois Department of Public Health released some racial data on Friday, The Atlantic reported. It revealed that while African Americans make up only 14.6% of the state’s population, they make up 28% of confirmed coronavirus cases, according to The Atlantic. The population of Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, is 26% black, but almost half of the county’s 945 cases are African Americans, according to ProPublica. African Americans also account for 81% of the county’s 27 deaths, ProPublica reported. African Americans make up 14% of Michigan’s population, according to the Lawyers’ Committee’s letter to HHS. But 33% of the state’s confirmed cases and 41% of its coronavirus deaths are African Americans, according to data from Michigan.gov.

UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON DRASTICALLY LOWERS NC PROJECTED FATALITIES: The coronavirus outbreak in North Carolina will likely peak early next week with far fewer deaths than originally feared, according to researchers at the University of Washington. Researchers at the school’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation now think about 500 people will die from COVID-19 in North Carolina, down from the more than 2,400 they predicted just a week and a half ago. As of Monday morning, 33 people had died of COVID-19 in the state, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services. The researchers also now think North Carolina has enough hospital beds, including intensive care unit beds, to handle the surge of coronavirus patients. They initially thought the state would run short of both types of beds as the outbreak peaks this month. Mandy Cohen, the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, warned Monday that much is still unknown about the coronavirus outbreak and how it will play out. “We know that modeling is not a crystal ball,” Cohen said. With that caveat, Cohen and DHHS presented the results of an effort to predict the use of hospital beds in the state over the next couple of months. The state models predict the need for beds will peak in mid to late May, a full month after the Washington researchers’ outlook.

COVID 19 FATALITIES IN U.S. ARE LINKED TO AIR POLLUTION LEVELS: Coronavirus patients in areas that had high levels of air pollution before the pandemic are far more likely to die from the infection than patients in cleaner parts of the country, according to a new nationwide study that offers the first clear link between long-term exposure to pollution and Covid-19 death rates. In an analysis of 3,080 counties in the United States, researchers at the Harvard University T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that higher levels of the tiny, dangerous particles in air known as PM 2.5 were associated with higher death rates from the disease. For weeks, public health officials have surmised a link between dirty air and death or serious illness from Covid-19, which is caused by the coronavirus. The Harvard analysis is the first nationwide study to show a statistical link, revealing a “large overlap” between Covid-19 deaths and other diseases associated with long-term exposure to fine particulate matter. Over all, the research could have significant implications for how public health officials choose to allocate resources like ventilators and respirators as the coronavirus spreads. The paper has been fast-tracked for peer review and publication in the New England Journal of Medicine. It found that just a slight increase in long-term pollution exposure could have serious coronavirus-related consequences, even accounting for other factors like smoking rates and population density. For example, it found that a person living for decades in a county with high levels of fine particulate matter is 15 times more likely to die from the coronavirus than someone in a region with one unit less of the fine particulate pollution.

BRITAIN'S PRIME MINISTER MAY BE ON A VENTILATOR AFTER CONTRACTING VIRUS: Prime Minister Boris Johnson, struggling to breathe and taking supplemental oxygen, spent his first night in an intensive care unit, as Britain reeled Tuesday under a pandemic that has taken its popular, jocular leader from 10 Downing Street to a bed reserved for the very sickest. The cabinet office minister, Michael Gove, told radio audiences Tuesday morning that Johnson was not on a mechanical ventilator but had received "oxygen support." The prime minister's official spokesman said Johnson was "stable overnight," was receiving "standard oxygen treatment" and "breathing without any other assistance." He confirmed that as of midday Tuesday, Johnson did not suffer from pneumonia. Before Johnson was transferred to the ICU, the prime minister asked Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab to "deputize as necessary," giving Raab effective control of the British government during Johnson's absence. All day Monday, Johnson’s office declined to describe what tests or treatments he had received or say whether he had developed breathing problems or pneumonia, two of the common symptoms for coronavirus patients sick enough to be admitted to the hospital. Until he was moved to the ICU, Johnson was said by his staff to be working from his bed.



About that upbeat headline

No, I haven't all-of-a-sudden turned soft. No fluffy bunnies here. But it's important that people know their sacrifice is helping. Can't live on fear alone, it will crush you.