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Your Coronavirus Update – Today, Nov. 13, 2020

NATIONAL & INTERNATIONAL

Dr. Fauci: Coronavirus won’t be a pandemic much longer. With a vaccine on the horizon, Fauci pleads with Americans to “hold on” – the cavalry is coming – but it’s not quite here yet. Next challenge will be distribution of vaccine(s) worldwide, which is a project never been done before.

Moderna is on the cusp of a vaccine announcement

Fitchburg, MA schools delay in-person classes with expected opening January 4th.

Chicago Mayor issues stay-at-home order

El Paso, TX has extended its stay-at-home order until early Dec. Hospitals are doing 2 to a room, others being flown hundreds of miles to other hospitals. Tents are also going up outside some hospitals to extend bed space. Meanwhile, local restaurant group goes to court to lift the order.

Starting Jan. 8th, the middle seats on Jet Blue will be sold.

Detroit takes its schools to virtual.

Massachusetts will make an announcement today about opening field hospitals.

India has approved a $35Billion stimulus package.

The US stimulus package possibility is still stuck in politics.

At least five passengers aboard the first cruise ship to set sail in the Caribbean since the coronavirus pandemic began have tested positive, according to two passengers on the ship.

Amazon has rolled out Care Hub, a feature for users of its voice assistant Alexa to help check in on older friends and family. People with an Alexa-activated device can link their account to a loved one’s Alexa account, and if permission is granted, can get regular updates on basic activities. Caregivers can be alerted if their family member hasn’t used their Alexa-activated device by a certain time or if lights are on in the home to indicate movement or activity. The new feature also has an emergency function, where someone can say “Alexa, call for help,” and the caregiver is dialed. The rollout comes as the pandemic has kept many from being able to see how their older loved ones are doing in person. 

As the pandemic gained pace, WHO often shied away from calling out some of its biggest donors, including Japan, France and Britain.

The Minnesota Vikings have given up on trying to host larger crowds and said Wednesday that the team will no longer seek permission to sell tickets to fans for their remaining home games, as the state blew past its daily record for new deaths.

Governor of Texas is trying to lure the stock exchanges to move from NYC

$2Million aimed at tourism promotion in MA should be redirected to virus relief, according to local city councilors.

Popular Cape Cod Sea Camp in Brewster, MA will close permanently.

The University of Connecticut is placing five dormitories under quarantine after 11 students tested positive for the coronavirus. Another 23 students who live off campus testing positive.

Maine retailers are being told that they are not responsible for enforcing a mask policy, but they should call the police or “health code enforcement” number if customers will not comply.

Pennsylvania’s largest teachers union has demanded that school districts in nearly two dozen counties with the worst outbreaks tell students to temporarily learn from home.

Syracuse University and the University at Albany, is switching to fully remote learning.

Residents in parts of Newark, NJ are under a 9 p.m. curfew on weekdays and 10 p.m. on weekends for the rest of the month.

Now, AAA is forecasting at least a 10% drop in Thanksgiving travel this year, including a nearly 50% decrease in travel by air because of the COVID-19 pandemic. People are adopting a more wait-and-see mindset to scheduling travel.

Many providers and suppliers will be able to bill Medicare to deliver antibody therapies to treat COVID-19, as the FDA approved emergency use of one treatment.

NBC’s Chicago Fire has paused production for two weeks after several members of the production team tested positive for COVID-19.

Thursday night, the Ivy League canceled all winter sports

RHODE ISLAND &  VICINITY

The RI Convention Center testing site is overwhelmed and cars are in line for blocks – people are being asked to avoid downtown off-ramps.

Pawtucket Mayor Don Grebien has announced he is positive for the coronavirus and says he is largely asymptomatic.

Over 90 prisoners in maximum security at the ACI test positive for COVID-19.

Providence College shifts to online learning a week earlier than planned. Most students/staff have been tested to allow them safe travel home if they are negative. The college also announced that dorms and other facilities will remain open through Nov. 20th.

Cranston Schools have at last count 30 staff positive and 84 staff in quarantine.

Cranston Supt. Jeannine Nota-Masse said (Providence Journal) the responsibility for contact tracing is being shifted to the school departments, adding, “We are doing our best to keep up with that task. However, as cases of staff who are positive, quarantined or in the process of being tested have increased greatly, staffing has become difficult to maintain and predict.”

The Governors of 6 New England states have agree to suspend interstate hockey youth tournaments.

Governor says she has not dismantled the overflow hospital at the RI Convention Center – so there are two waiting to serve.

Fort Citizens, the hospital overflow facility at the old-Citizens building on Sockanosset Crossroad has 353 beds.

Yesterday Fall River saw its highest-yet one-day increase in COVID cases

More than 60 cases of coronavirus were identified in a Bristol nursing home, according to the latest data from the RIDOH.

Bryant University will move its final exams online.

Governor’s Presentation

Data: shows how quickly our fate can change.

7 new deaths

Hospitalizations highest since May – doubled in past 2 weeks

We will need Cranston field hospital in 2 weeks

Not unique to RI. World is facing same reality.

We are headed to total lockdown if we don’t follow the rules.

What about schools? 2nd or 3rd wave is happening regardless if kids are in schools or not. In Europe, they are keeping schools open, even in lockdowns. Children suffer more if we close schools.

If it’s not schools, and we are doing testing – what is it?  Small gatherings with friends and family, indoors, with masks off. It’s that simple. “Docs saying part of the reason they are crashed now is people had to have their Halloween parties.”

Going towards another lockdown. All the efforts taken at jobs, shopping, etc. Not optimistic from what we are seeing in the data.

Pleading with people of RI to make changes in your life – wear your mask always – stop having social gatherings of any kind, period – really reign it in. That choice is yours.

Problem is not restaurants – it’s informal gatherings – hugs – 6 or 7 people coming over to watch football – violating quarantine – “sneaking out” before you are supposed to.

84% of COVID beds are filled. At this rate, those beds will all be filled in a week. Each hospital has a plan to turn on surge capacity to increase beds to about 600.

Rescues are already diverting.

Believe hospitals will be completely filled in 6 weeks.

Then use the Cranston field hospital. We are running drills so we are ready when we need to be. It is not a full hospital though there is oxygen connected to every bed.

There will be a Healthcare Coordination Center to transport patients to where there are hospitals – and COVID patients to NURSING HOMES where they can be accepted. HCC will operate as a holistic, statewide system.

Nursing homes need to be comfortable accepting COVID patients for recovery.

Surge is coming at rough time – staff are tired – hospitals are filled with patients for non-COVID purposes.

Calling on all healthcare workers to go here and renew their licenses – we need your help: skills4RI.com

Testing results have been difficult to receive. Today: there will be a portal for you to get your results portal.ri.gov/results – regardless of how you got your test.

Take it Outside campaign – 111 grants – results fantastic – so much safer outside. If warm weather does not last, we’re going to grab our coats and hats and blankets and stay outside.

Vaccine – Huge boost with Pfizer’s vaccine – hope is around the corner. Moderna’s data is being submitted as well – could be 2 vaccines. We could have a vaccine in RI before end of 2020. For highest risk and front line workers. For general population, beginning of 2021.

RI Vaccine SubCommittee is charged with reviewing vaccine data and developing distribution system for vaccines when developed. Initial plan – priority populations.

            Phase 1 – include high risk – healthcare workers, people with 2+ underlying health conditions, those in nursing homes.

            Phase 2 – teachers, school staff, child care providers, workers in other high risk settings – all older adults, others.

            Phase 3 – young adults, children, lower risk individuals

Next few months toughest for virus. We’re in better shape, but this will be much, much worse. People are tired, about to go indoors, flu season, etc. Try to do whatever you need to do to get through next few months safely.

Thanksgiving – more plans for rules next week. Likely to be very strict. For now: stay home, do not travel. Celebrate only with those you live with.

Dr. Foreman: Cases in RI are sharply increasing. Worked in emergency medicine for 20 years – this is the worst she has ever seen – this is like a battleground. We need to do everything we can to help control the spread of the virus. Told emotional stories of real people dying with strangers holding their hands. Those who recover can have long-term COVID syndrome, and many may not return to a normal life.

Q&A

Q: What convinces you that a lockdown would be significant in fighting this?

A:  We need buy-in and we’re measuring it. There will be nowhere to go if we close restaurants, bars, retail, churches. Still struggling to get a handle on small informal groups. We know people aren’t quarantining. We’re trying to find those people and get them into quarantine. Maybe we need to do more testing. Rapid testing. Right now we are overrun. Might need a blunt way to shut it down. Can’t see how we cannot have a Thanksgiving stay-at-home order.

Q: Kids in school. Is it safe? Teachers are worried.

A: Not a shred of evidence that school is a vector of spread. Risk of kids getting severely ill is very much lower. Looking at all data, staying in school as long as possible is the way to go. Keeping enormous precautions. We see as much virus in kids at home as we do in kids at school. Dr. speaks: we’re seeing older teens, elderly patients in Emergency Dept.

Q: Seeing our schools go to distance learning – contact tracing delayed, etc.

A: No, sheer numbers are not overwhelming. There’s a lot for schools to do – a lot of work – if someone tests positive – paperwork – send seating charts, bus charts, etc. They shut down to clean, get settled, then open up as soon as possible.

Q: Schools are saying they are having problems hearing back from Health Dept.

A: Volume is not that large, we are adjusting to help them.

Q: Healthcare workers and vaccines – would they be required to take them?

A: Very hard to require this. We’re not going to take that approach. Better approach is to make it easy to get. Also make it free. Dr. Scott: we have proven techniques that show RI is a leader in immunizations – we hope to leverage that system.

Q: Significant body of Rhode Islanders believe that with such a small mortality rate this is all an over-reaction?

A:  Dr. Foreman says she wishes people of Rhode Island could see what is going on in the hospital – this is a short term sacrifice for massive amounts of good for our population. What risk are we putting everyone around us – we need to think beyond our own selves. Once the stories become personal, it becomes easier to comply. This is not like having the flu and getting better.

Q: Testing availability: Lines around the block – days and days to get results.

A: Dr. Scott: we are working on – opened another site. Trying to come up with more rapid testing.

Q: Nursing homes uptick.

A: Dr. Scott – cases arising in community, staff are getting it and bringing it into the homes. But the result is not as severe because of testing and PPE. We want to be able to move people who are recovering from COVID into nursing facilities to recover (after 2 negative tests).

Q: How old are those who have to be admitted?

A: In spring we saw older. Now we are seeing adolescents and up? Older you are and more co-morbidities means more likely to be admitted.

Q: The aid program for restaurants. Max is $7-10,000 – it says the grant is taxable. Could be $1700 on $7000.

A: Gov. will look into it – might be federal regulated.

Q: After overflow hospital is opened, what’s next if cases extend beyond capacity? Crisis standards of care put into effect? Rationing of services? How likely do you think that is?

A: Dr. Foreman: hard to estimate. Other countries have had to do it. If we continue on this trajectory, concerned that we would have to.

Q: What percentage are people following this advice?

A: Yes, human behavior is hard to regulate. Difference here is your behavior not just impacts you, but all those around you.  A lot of people were following the rules, and now they have relaxed – they need to go back to following the rules.

Convention Center is still set up as overflow.

Q: How do you feel about a nationwide lockdown for 4-6 weeks – and borrow money to compensate everyone?

A: Nobody wants to go there. Can’t just borrow enough money. Consequences of not doing a lockdown could be worse, but we should try to avoid it. If we do that, federal govt better step up with stimulus.

Interview yesterday on ABC News with Dr. Fauci

https://www.facebook.com/ABCNewsLive/videos/797558494423875/

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