Coronavirus News – May 20

Wharton model predicts 4.3M Americans infected if states fully reopen

A University of Pennsylvania Wharton model forecasts 4.3 million infected in the U.S. by the third week of July if states reopen while still practicing measures of social distancing. Partially reopening states with social distancing rules in place would result in nearly 3.2 million positive cases. This represents a large uptick in positive cases in the U.S., which currently stands at 1.5 million. All 50 states have partially reopened. Read more.


Study finds surgical masks reduce rate of airborne transmission by 75%

A Hong Kong study has found that wearing a surgical mask can significantly reduce the rate of airborne COVID-19 transmission. Researchers found the rate of non-contact transmission through respiratory droplets or airborne particles dropped by as much as 75% when masks were used. The study was released by the department of microbiology at the University of Hong Kong. “The findings implied to the world and the public is that the effectiveness of mask-wearing against the coronavirus pandemic is huge,” said Dr. Yuen Kwok-yung, a microbiologist at the university. Read more.


Florida scientist claims she was fired for refusing to manipulate data

Rebekah Jones, a scientist who helped create a dashboard for monitoring Florida’s number of COVID-19 cases, says she has been fired for refusing to manipulate the data. Jones was the manager of the Geographic Information System team at Florida’s Department of Health. She helped created the Florida COVID-19 dashboard, which provided easily accessible and detailed information on COVID-19 cases by ZIP code. Jones said her dismissal came after she refused to manually change data to help support the plan to reopen. The Florida governor’s office said Jones “exhibited a repeated course of insubordination during her time with the department, including her unilateral decisions to modify the Department’s COVID-19 dashboard without input or approval from the epidemiological team or her supervisors.” Read more.


NY hospitals report elderly COVID-19 patients on ventilators usually do not survive

Most elderly COVID-19 patients put on ventilators at two New York hospitals did not survive, according to a study published this week in the Lancet. This is consistent with clinical findings from China and Europe and confirmed that advanced age is the greatest risk factor for a severe outcome, particularly with chronic underlying disease. “We had no idea how horrific this would be,” said Max O’Donnell, the senior author of the study and a pulmonologist at Columbia University Irving Medical Center. “Definitely not just the flu.” Read more.


Minnesota nursing homes accepting infected patients as sites account for 81% of deaths

Minnesota nursing homes are still being allowed by state regulators to admit coronavirus patients who have been discharged from hospitals. The Minnesota Department of Health has turned to nursing homes and other long-term care facilities to relieve the burden on hospitals. The practice, now, is drawing opposition from some state lawmakers, residents’ families and health watchdogs. “It makes no sense to bring more COVID-19 patients into facilities that have already failed to protect them,” said Sen. Karin Housley, the Republican chairperson of the Senate Family Care and Aging Committee. “If it were my mom or dad in one of these facilities, I would be really worried.” Read more.