Things That Matter

California, Texas, And More States See Significant Increase In COVID-19 Cases As They Rush To Reopen Economies

The novel coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, has infected more than 6,589,000 people around the world and has killed more than 388,000 people. The virus has spread to most countries and territories on all continents, except for Antarctica. Different governments are doing their best to limit the spread of COVID-19 with Italy telling all people in the country to quarantine. In the U.S. more than 1,867,000 people have tested positive for COVID-19. More than 107,000 people have died of COVID-19 in the U.S., the highest death toll in the world.

Update June 4, 2020, 3:11 p.m. PST: California, Texas, several more states are experiencing sustained and sudden increases in COVID-19 numbers.

All 50 states are in various stages of their reopening strategy as some are seeing cases decline. However, several of the states rushing to reopen their economies are seeing new record infection and death rates since they began reopening. California is one of 20 states where COVID-19 case numbers have increased since public health measures have been relaxed.

New numbers show 1,155 new cases with 43 new deaths. This brings LA County’s numbers to 58,234 confirmed cases and 2,489 deaths. Part of the blame is being placed on the state for bowing to pressure from various counties pushing to reopen, even defying state orders to reopen parts of their economy.

Texas has become a hotspot as the state records multiple days in a row of high COVID-19 infection rates.

According to a tracking program by Texas 2036, the state is experiencing a sharp increase in cases of COVID-19 since May 26, about two weeks after Texas started Phase 2 of its reopening plan. California’s numbers have also started increasing coinciding with the stay at home and public health measures relaxing to allow people back into confined spaces, like shops and restaurants.

Update May 28, 2020, 12:24 p.m. PST: The U.S. death count has surpassed 100,000 marking a grim reality of the disease in the country.

The United Kingdom has the second-highest death count with more than 37,000 people dying from COVID-19. The top four countries for infections are, in order, the U.S. with more than 1,700,000, Brazil with more than 411,000, Russia with more than 379,000, and the U.K. with more than 270,000.

The number of COVID-19 cases continues to increase in the U.S. as President Trump pushes to reopen the economy. Currently, only three states meet the strict criteria to start reopening. Those states are Alaska, Kentucky, and New York. Every state has started partial reopenings defying the scientific data.

The monumental loss of life is painting a stark reality of COVID-19 in the U.S.

More deaths are expected and health officials are warning of a second wave in the coming months that will be more devastating than the current wave. There is also data showing that if the Trump administration had acted sooner, tens of thousands of lives could have been spared. More populous countries in the world have seen much smaller outbreaks because of strict, nationwide lockdowns and restrictions.

Update May 20, 2020, 9:54 p.m. PST: Georgia faces immediate criticism after manipulating their COVID-19 infections chart.

The Georgia Department of Public Health released a chart that showed a steady decline in COVID-19 cases. However, the chart was created to show a more consistent decline but rearranging the dates. The chart was widely criticized because it had the dates out of order to create the decline you see. One Twitter user fixed the graph by drawing a line to show how you should read the chart.

“It’s just cuckoo,” state Rep. Scott Holcombs told the Atlanta Journal Consitution. “I don’t know how anyone can defend this graph as not being misleading. I really don’t.”

Florida is also facing criticism for not handling their COVID date properly to paint a different picture of their cases.

The scientist in charge of the state’s COVID-19 dashboard was dismissed from her position recently and there has been a lot of speculation about why. The controversy centers around an email sent by the scientist, Rebkah Jones, that some critics say Governor Ron Desantis is misrepresenting.

“As a word of caution, I would not expect the new team to continue the same level of accessibility and transparency that I made central to the process during the first two months. After all, my commitment to both is largely (arguably entirely) the reason I am no longer managing it,” she wrote in an email, according to Florida Today.

Gov. DeSantis claimed that Jones was referring to her team not being able to answer all questions sent to them. He made the statement during a press conference, after which documents were released claiming Jones had a history of insubordination.

Update May 14, 2020, 10:28 a.m. PST: Texas has quickly become the next major hotspot for COVID-19 infections.

Republican Governor Greg Abbott was one of the first governors to ignore health guidelines and scientific data and pushed for his state to reopen. The result has been a significant increase in COVID-19 infections. For 5 straight days, the state of Texas reported 1,000 new cases per day.

“Overwhelmingly, Texans are concerned that testing is too slow, the state is moving too fast, and that Gov. Abbott’s actions threaten to undo the sacrifices people have made to protect our health and safety,” Ed Espinoza, executive director of Progress Texas, said in a statement. “Just how many lives is a possibility of ‘boosting’ the economy worth?”

This is a trend that is affecting the American heartland with Republican leadership.

According to The New York Times, Texas, Tennessee, Alabama, Kentucky, and North and South Dakota are all experiencing surges in their COVID-19 cases. These states are also where governors began reopening their state economies without meeting the minimum requirements for reopening, even by the White House’s own guidelines.

A report from the White House, obtained by NBC News, also contradicts President Trump’s claims that the infection rate is declining quickly. On the contrary, the number of cases in America’s rural Republican heartland is all experiencing significant spikes in their cases. Nashville, Tennessee; Des Moines, Iowa; Amarillo, Texas; Racine, Wisconsin; Garden City, Kansas, and Central City, Kentucky are all experiencing the biggest spikes in COVID-19 infections with the latter experiencing a 650 percent increase in cases.

Update April 23, 2020, 11:05 a.m. PST: Some states have started to reopen ahead of the advised timetable.

Florida, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, and Tennessee have formed a coalition to coordinate the reopening of their economies. The decision comes too soon, even according to the White House’s suggestions for reopening. One key metric needed for states to begin reopening is a 14-day downward trend of COVID-19 cases. The above-mentioned states have yet to reach that metric.

African-American communities are the hardest hit in the South prompting criticism of reopening early.

According to several reports about COVID-19 infections and deaths, African-Americans in the southern U.S. are one of the hardest-hit communities. In Louisiana, 70 percent of COVID-19 deaths are African-American while they make up 33 percent of the state’s population. This kind of trend in COVID-19 infections in African-American communities in the south is common within states.

“African Americans not only have higher prevalence of these chronic conditions, but they also, on average, acquire these conditions at younger ages,” Thomas LaVeist, dean of public health at Tulane University, told The Guardian. “So when we talk about people over the age of 65 being at increased risk, for African Americans, that age is probably 55, maybe even 50.”

Health experts are pleading with the public to stay home as much as possible to flatten the curve.

Several reports show that California, the first state to issue lockdown orders, is starting to see their curve flattening. The news means that California’s hospitals will likely not be overwhelmed during the peak of the health crisis in the state. In fact, California is loaning 500 ventilators back to the federal government.

A report shows that millennials are more susceptible to the worst of this virus than previously thought.

Italy recently surpassed China for the most deaths in the world from COVID-19. On March 19, Italy reported 3,405 deaths linked to COVID-19 while China reported 3,130. Cases from Italy are showing that millennials, once thought to be better at handling the virus than the elderly, are more prone to the serious symptoms than originally thought.

“There are concerning reports coming out of France and Italy about some young people getting seriously ill, and very seriously ill, in the ICU,” Dr. Deborah Birx said at a White House briefing on the pandemic.

Birx continued to say that there is a belief that the virus is hitting the millennial generation so hard because of reports from China and South Korea. Originally, people believed that the elderly and those with underlying health conditions were most at risk of getting seriously ill.

To slow the spread of COVID-19, governments around the world are ordering citizens to self-isolate and practice social distancing.

Health experts recommend that people keep six feet between them and other people while they are outside. This distance will help to slow the virus from spreading across the nation like a tidal wave. There is no immunity to this disease which leaves everyone vulnerable to the virus.

The novel coronavirus COVID-19 is causing widespread panic but it’s important to know the facts before reacting.

The mortality rate of COVID-19 was adjusted this week by the World Health Organization to 3.4 percent. The rate is much higher than the seasonal flu, which has a mortality rate of 0.1 percent. In response, governments across the world have taken aggressive and necessary precautions to limit the spread of the virus. In Saudi Arabia, the government has shut down Medina and Mecca ahead of the major Umrah pilgrimage. The Saudi government has canceled visas that allowed people to visit the holy sites and have recently banned Saudi citizens from participating in the pilgrimage. Numerous countries and states are closing schools to prevent the spread of the virus in various communities.

The mortality rate of the virus depends on the patient’s age and health.

The mortality rate is much higher from people 80+ with a death rate of about 21.9 percent. People 10-39 have a death rate of about 0.2 percent and it steadily increases with age. Health issues are another major factor in the lethality of the virus. Those suffering from cardiovascular diseases have a death rate of 13.2 percent and diabetes is in second with a death rate of 9.2 percent.

It is important to verify the information you get about the virus, especially if you are concerned about contracting it.

The Trump administration has been chastized for downplaying the severity of the virus to the potential risk of preventable deaths. The president has even politicized the virus claiming it to be a Democratic hoax further exposing people who might not think the virus is real. During a press conference at the end of February, President Trump claimed that the number of infections in the U.S. was going down, not up. However, the virus is spreading within communities in the U.S. with a climbing number of infected people and an increasing death toll. Trump also claimed that a vaccine for the virus will be ready soon, however, health experts working on the virus say we are one year away from developing a vaccine for this specific virus.

According to the scientific community, there is reason to be alarmed by the virus, but not panicked.

There are very specific segments of the population that are the most vulnerable when it comes to COVID-19’s lethal impact. The elderly and those with underlying health conditions are the most vulnerable while children are among the least vulnerable to die. There are outlying instances of young, healthy people dying from the virus, but that happens with other viruses and ailments.

Health organizations are here to help make sure you do not get infected or spread the disease with some easy steps, like washing your hands regularly.

Washing your hands regularly during an outbreak is one of the best ways to prevent being infected. It is also important not to touch your face or eyes before washing your hands as that’s an easy way to become infected. You should be washing your hands for 20 seconds in order to really clean all of the dirt, germs, and chemicals you might have on your hands from using them throughout the day.

Calm down with all of those masks you’re buying. Health care workers need them more and we are facing a shortage.

Credit: World Health Organization

Wearing medical masks might make you feel better but they aren’t as effective as you might think. It is also disruptive to the medical community when there are mask shortages. The most likely time you should wear a mask is if you are sick or personally taking round the clock care of a person who is infected with COVID-19. Even then, it is important to wash your hands regularly or it doesn’t work.

It is also crucial to avoid or limit contact with anyone who is sick and showing symptoms.

COVID-19 is spreading in communities in the U.S. through person-to-person contact. If you see someone who is sick and showing symptoms, avoid contact with that person to limit your chance of contracting the virus.

The CDC has released risk assessments as the virus spreads in the U.S.

According to the CDC, the current risk assessment is:

  • For most of the American public, who are unlikely to be exposed to this virus at this time, the immediate health risk from COVID-19 is considered low.
  • People in communities where ongoing community spread with the virus that causes COVID-19 has been reported are at elevated, though still relatively low risk of exposure.
  • Healthcare workers caring for patients with COVID-19 are at elevated risk of exposure.
  • Close contacts of persons with COVID-19 also are at elevated risk of exposure.
  • Travelers returning from affected international locations where community spread is occurring also are at elevated risk of exposure.

For more information on the COVID-19 outbreak, check the CDC and WHO websites for updates and tips to stay healthy.

READ: Tracking The Coronavirus As It Spreads Throughout Latin America

Latino Homes Are Experiencing The Highest Rate Of The Worst COVID-19 Symptoms

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Latino Homes Are Experiencing The Highest Rate Of The Worst COVID-19 Symptoms

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COVID-19 is still a threat to the U.S. The country is experiencing a sudden spike two weeks after Americans defied social distancing rules and gathered in mass for Memorial Day. Latino households are experiencing a higher number of cases with severe symptoms and the rising cases are troubling the community.

Latino households are experiencing some of the worst COVID-19 cases.

A new analysis from USA Today found that Latino households are experiencing severe COVID-19 symptoms at higher rates. According to a study of more than 1.6 million people, Latinos, by and large, said they have experienced the symptoms tied to COVID-19. These symptoms include difficulty breathing, loss of taste, and coughing.

“Data is now emerging that matches the reality that we’re seeing,” Clarissa Martínez de Castro, deputy vice president of UnidosUS, told USA Today. “There are lots of factors at play, but among the biggest is the overrepresentation of Latinos in front-line jobs that don’t allow working from home.”

This a trend that health experts have seen within Latino communities in major cities.

Latino and Black communities have been devastated by COVID-19. The communities have been disproportionately affected by the virus with death rates higher than the population statistics in various states. Fears of discrimination and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrests have prevented Latinos from seeking medical care long before the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Public charge was just the latest thing,” Dr. Daniel Correa, a neurologist at Montefiore Medical Center, told NBC News. “There was already a lot of apprehension in the community before the pandemic. We were seeing concerns regarding public services, and in health care we were already seeing a decrease in public visits.”

These statistics come along the backdrop of Latinos facing the steepest financial and employment impact of any other group.

Latino households have faced the most job losses of any other demographic in the U.S. because of COVID-19. The job losses have compounded problems for the Latino community as DACA recipients and undocumented people are not eligible for federal government aid, despite paying billions in taxes.

According to Unidos US, 5.3 million out of 27.8 million Latinos in the U.S. are out of work giving Latinos the highest unemployment rate. Unemployment within the Latino community is 18.9 percent. The current national unemployment rate is 13.3 after the U.S. added 2.5 million jobs in May as states reopen.

The current job numbers are being celebrated by the Trump administration as a signal that the pandemic economic toll is ending. However, the current unemployment rate is higher than any point since the Great Depression and most jobs added are part-time jobs. The large portion of part-time employment has left some skeptical about the stability of the economic recovery.

READ: Covid-19 Cases Surge In Meat-Processing Plants As COVID-19 Spreads In Rural America

Working From Home Can Impact Your Mental Health, Here’s How To Stay Sane And Healthy

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Working From Home Can Impact Your Mental Health, Here’s How To Stay Sane And Healthy

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A recent survey shows that thirty-five percent of workers who telecommute said their mental health had deteriorated as a result of doing so amid the coronavirus lockdown. As someone who has gone from working in a social, fun-filled, compassionate office space, I can consider myself part of that 35%.

Although working from home (for those privileged enough to do so) is a necessity for our safety and that of the community – it definitely presents some unique challenges.

Yes, the benefits are many: avoiding transit problems and the stress of commuting; sidestepping office politics; adopting a flexible schedule that allows for chores and errands to be incorporated into the work day; more time with family and pets; and a break on keeping up a business wardrobe and other appearance-related expenses.

But there’s a dark side. It’s an arrangement that fosters isolation and disconnection, two conditions that feed the greedy depression monster.

Here are some excellent tips for taking care of your mental health during these unprecedented times.

Break up your workday

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Some common challenges when working from home during the pandemic is the lack of stimulation and connection to people you used to see regularly. This can become a bit confusing, so it’s great to try to break up the schedule.

One of the best tips for working from home that I’ve discovered is breaking up the work day with movement. This can be a quick burst of movement (like jumping jacks, or lifting kettle bells) or some lower impact movement like a walk. I’m also a huge fan of taking a mid-afternoon break (longer than your typical 30-minute lunch break) to go on a long walk or run errands.

Get a routine and stick to it

Routine is essential, and it’s even more important when structure is missing.

Sticking to a routine does not mean that you have to abide by the old standard 9-5 office hours, and only take downtime in the evening. It simply means that you have a system for waking up on time, getting ready, feeling confident and getting your work done in a timely manner. 

When you do this regularly enough, it will feel more natural over time, and you won’t have to think about it so much. For me, this has meant taking my dogs out on a walk to get a coffee in the morning and then coming home and getting to work – it’s like creating my own little commute.

Stay connected

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Remember to keep up with friends and family, even if that can only be done through a Zoom or FaceTime call. Text someone you care about, and when restrictions are lifted in your area, try to make plans as regularly as you feel comfortable.

Connection is key, and it can be challenging when you don’t leave your home for long stretches of time.

It’s also helpful to join platforms of people doing similar work as you and interacting with them throughout the day. Or you can join an online book club or participate in volunteer work – having this sort of obligation will go a long way in helping you show up when you don’t feel great.

Incorporate wellness activities into your day

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One of the biggest perks of working from home is that you get to do things you might not be able to if you’re in an office all day.

I’ve been doing 20 minute walks around my neighborhood while listening to music. This moves the energy in the body and allow us to to have a shift in consciousness, which is so important when you’ve been isolated in front of a computer screen.

Another way to experience new energy in the body is to pause from work, find a comfortable place to sit, and then do deep belly breaths. This involves taking one deep breath in, and then focus on the exhale. You’ll notice your shoulders will relax, and your body will feel lighter.

Learn how to detach

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It’s so important when working from home that you keep your work and personal lives and actual physical areas totally separate. For many, it may not be possible to create an actual separate office space but you can create workspaces outside of your most “lived in” spaces. That’s what matters most.

There is a risk that working hours will get longer if the boundaries between work and personal life become blurred. It is necessary to establish a rigid system in which work can be carried out in a planned manner, such as by setting working hours and the timing of contact with supervisors.

No matter what you do, remember that working from home is yet another “new normal” to get used to — and the sooner you adapt to what makes you most productive, healthy, and mentally well, the better.