COVID-19: Snapshot of the Week
(WellnessPursuits.com) – This week, as of 1:00 PM EDT (17:00 GMT), April 29, 2020, the reported worldwide numbers were 3,179,532 cases and 220,713 deaths in 210 countries and territories. There were 986,314 recoveries reported worldwide.
The US had 1,046,052 reported cases and 60,111 deaths. New York accounted for 305,086 of those cases and 23,474 of those deaths. New Jersey, Massachusetts, Illinois, California, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Florida, Louisiana, Texas, Connecticut and Georgia were the states with the next highest numbers of reported cases (all above 25,000).
The US Military reported 6,648 cases and 27 deaths while the Veterans Affairs reported 7,481 cases and 461 deaths. The Navajo Nation reported 1,769 cases and 59 deaths. Federal Prisons reported 1,648 cases and 30 deaths.
Last week, as of 1:00 PM EDT (17:00 GMT), April 22, 2020, the reported worldwide numbers were 2,594,835 cases and 181,170 deaths in 210 countries and territories. There were 710,695 recoveries reported worldwide.
The US had 822,572 reported cases and 46,054 deaths. New York accounted for 256,555 of those cases and 20,167 of those deaths. New Jersey, Massachusetts, California, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Michigan, Florida, Louisiana, Georgia, Texas and Connecticut were the states with the next highest numbers of reported cases (all above 20,000).
The US Military reported 5,575 cases and 22 deaths. The Navajo Nation reported 1,321 cases and 45 deaths. Federal Prisons reported 863 cases and 23 deaths. The US experienced its worst day for deaths so far on Tuesday, April 21, with 2,804 reported.
Approximately 32 meat and poultry packing plants have closed in the US over the past few weeks, including nine in just the last week, because of outbreaks of COVID-19 amongst workers. In a letter submitted to the New York Times on Sunday, April 26, John Tyson of Tyson Foods wrote that the US “food supply chain is breaking.”
National and State Closures and Re-Openings
Nine states made the decision this week to begin reopening their economies and easing restrictions on social distancing. Alaska, Colorado, Georgia, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Tennessee have all reopened to varying degrees.
As of this week, 41 states and the District of Columbia (which account for about 85% of the US population) are still under stay-at-home orders until the end of the month on Thursday when only 34 states will still be under those orders. Some states may extend their orders.
In the nine states that have reopened, most have allowed restaurants, retail stores and non-essential businesses to reopen at reduced capacities, as long as they observe reasonable social distancing guidelines — although each state is slightly different.
Stay-at-home orders are set to expire in seven states by Thursday, April 30, and some or all of those states may begin staged reopenings. Those seven states include Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Idaho, Maine, Nevada and Texas. Idaho and Texas governors have both submitted detailed plans for reopening their states.
Nevada’s governor has indicated he will extend the shelter in place and that he is relying on the advice of medical and scientific experts regarding reopening. One of his benchmark criteria for reopening is a consistent drop of COVID-19 hospitalizations over a 14-day period, which was one of the recommended criteria in the White House Coronavirus Task Force’s Guidelines for Opening Up America Again.
In the remaining 34 states, the situation is developing. Most states have still shut down all but essential businesses and are requesting residents to remain at home, except when participating in life-sustaining activities as defined by their state. Essential businesses and jobs are exempt.
Essential and life-sustaining businesses in all communities — grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations, medical clinics and restaurant delivery/take-out services — remain open. Elective medical and dental procedures in most states are still postponed or rescheduled, although the nine states mentioned above are reopening certain medical and dental services this week with prior qualified testing and new safety requirements in place. Check with your provider to be sure about status.
All states have closed schools for extended periods of time, with many shut down until the end of the academic year or until further notice. Most schools and colleges are conducting online learning. It seems likely that commencements will be delayed for most high schools, colleges and universities.
A total of 26 states, one territory and one county have imposed self-quarantines upon individuals entering from specific “hot” infection zones in an attempt to keep citizens of their states safer. These states include Alaska, Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
Most states are requiring entrants to undergo a 14-day self-quarantine. In addition, Dare County in North Carolina has restricted entry to permanent residents with identification only, stopping visitors and non-residents from entering. Puerto Rico imposed a 14-day self-quarantine on anyone traveling to the island.
CDC Guideline Updates
In response to the closures of 32 meat and poultry-packing plants because of COVID-19 outbreaks, the CDC issued interim guidance on steps and processes that should be taken to minimize worker exposure. While some of these guidelines have already been put into action by different companies, there is still concern among workers and industry leaders.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also issued new guidance for Contact Tracing as states prepare to reopen. The current social distancing and hand hygiene guidelines remain in effect. Under those guidelines, you should:
- Stay at least 6 feet (2 meters) from other people.
- Avoid group and mass gatherings, as well as crowded spaces.
- Use a cloth face covering to cover your mouth and nose when you’re in public places, such as the grocery store.
- Work from home if you’re able.
- Avoid using any kind of public transportation, ride-sharing, or taxis, if possible. If you must use these modes of transport, be sure to wear a cloth face cover.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water. When hand-washing isn’t an option, use a hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol (but the higher the percent, the better).
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces using an EPA-registered household disinfectant. Spots to watch out for include doorknobs, light switches, toilets and other objects in shared spaces.
Financial Assistance Updates
Another 4.4 million people filed for unemployment claims last week joining the over 22 million already unemployed in the US — suggesting a current unemployment rate of over 20% and an estimated total of 26.5 million job losses. While additional claims may continue to be filed, experts believe the majority of claims have been made.
While additional funding has been set aside by the federal government to assist state governments in meeting unemployment insurance payments, many state systems were overwhelmed by the sheer volume of claims but have mostly caught up. Government and private businesses are striving to meet this economic need in several ways:
- Unemployment benefits are available; the waiting period has been waived.
- The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has a foreclosure and eviction moratorium in place. Most states have also placed a moratorium on foreclosures and evictions.
- An economic relief bill made paid sick leave and paid time off available to most employees impacted by the virus. Most states have also implemented additional emergency leave and benefits for first responders who may fall ill.
- The U.S. Small Business Administration has pledged up to $2 million in low-interest loans. That funding has been completely used up, and Congress passed a $484 billion interim bill funding on Thursday, April 23, and the President signed it on Friday, April 24. The bill allocates $310 billion to replenish the SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), $75 billion for hospitals and $25 billion for COVID-19 testing. The bill also includes additional funds for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program.
- The deadline for filing federal taxes has been pushed to July 15. Most states have also delayed their filing deadlines to July 15 without penalty.
- The $2.2 trillion stimulus package passed on March 27 providing economic stimulus incentives to taxpayers, increased and expanded unemployment benefits for laid-off employees and limited payroll assistance for small businesses.
- A phase 4 stimulus package has been proposed which would further aid small businesses, as well as individuals, states and hospitals.
What to Do if You Get Sick
Call your healthcare provider or reach out to a telehealth provider if you believe you have COVID-19. Do not go to a medical facility without calling ahead. It may be possible to treat symptoms of the virus at home with over-the-counter medications. When you speak to your doctor or telehealth provider, they will be able to evaluate your symptoms and their severity and will direct you to go to a testing center or hospital, if necessary.
If you have a medical emergency, call 911; tell them if you or anyone else in the home might have COVID-19. If you have questions or aren’t sure what to do, call your local health department. Many states have hotlines set up for this purpose. Some states have 211 service lines that you can call for help and resources.
As states reopen in phases, it’s still important to maintain social distancing for the foreseeable future. Until vaccines and treatments become available, maintaining good hand hygiene, using facial coverings in public, contact tracing, containment and mitigation will be our best tools to prevent and control infections.
~Here’s to Your Healthy Pursuits!
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