Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update: March 5, 2020

6 03 2020

COVID-19 NOW TESTING POSITIVE IN THE HOUSTON AREA

My thoughts for a blog post in the morning always change by the evening.  Today I learned that three individuals who traveled to Egypt together, that the two in Harris County [Houston] who live in an unincorporated northwest area of Harris County, have had positive tests for COVID-19 and the one in Fort Bend County (which is southwest of downtown Houston in a suburb called Stafford) was presumptively positive.  One of the Harris County travelers was a professor from Rice University.  She had come into limited contact with an employee on February 24-25.  Fourteen Rice doctoral students, faculty and staff have been in self-quarantine away from campus.  None of those individuals have reported symptoms.  Potential contacts of the man from Stafford are being notified and being asked to self-quarantine for 14 days.   The only callers coming into the screening line in Stafford being referred for testing were those who were sick enough to go to a hospital and who had either come into contact with someone confirmed to have coronavirus or who had also traveled to China, Iran, Italy, Japan or South Korea.   People in area didn’t seem rattled by the news. 

The University of Houston announced that it requires students or staff returning from travel to countries under a CDC Level 2 or Level 3 travel warning related to coronavirus to self-quarantine for a period of 14 days away from campus.  Two faculty members and four students from the University of Houston are under a 14-day self-quarantine after returning from Italy and South Korea.

The Houston Health Department laboratory is now conducting COVID-19 testing for specimens collected by medical providers from patients who meet CDC COVID-19 testing criteria.

As a follow-up to my post about how companies planned to profit off Americans to come up with the test kits (and in the future a vaccine), companies we already pay upfront to subsidize their research with our tax dollars, a bright light came from sunny California from Governor Gavin Newsom:  BREAKING: we have ordered health insurance companies to waive ALL out-of-pocket costs for preventive coronavirus testing. Let’s hope other states will follow suit.

On Monday, March 2, 2020, San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg declared a public health emergency Monday after the federal government released a woman from quarantine who tested positive for COVID-19.  The woman was among the 91 Americans evacuated from Wuhan and was placed in federal 14-day quarantine at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland.  She tested negative twice for COVID-19 and was released on Saturday under the guidance from the CDC.  After the woman’s release, the CDC received the results of another test that showed a weakly positive confirmation of the virus that causes COVID-19.  Nirenberg said, “As mayor of this city, I find it totally unacceptable that CDC would release a patient prior to receiving all test results and potentially expose the public to this harm.”  According to the press release, the woman arrived at the Holiday Inn Express Airport at 3 p.m.  The woman also visited North Star Mall, where she browsed stores including Dillard’s, Talbot’s and Swarovski and ate at the food court.  They transported her to Texas Center for Infectious Disease at 2 a.m.  Local officials are tracking 16 people from the mall and three at the hotel who they believe had contact with her.  The city health department has recommended deep cleanings “with disinfectants” to both the hotel and mall.  Nirenberg said, “We simply cannot have a screw-up like this from our federal partners.  While the CDC is encouraging everyone to wash their hands and prevent the spread of the virus, as we would during the season, I would encourage the federal administration to not wash its hands of the responsibility to protect the public.” 

Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff said that 235 people were still under quarantine at Lackland. They came from the Diamond Princess cruise ship which was quarantined last month off the coast of Japan.  Those evacuees were scheduled to be released Monday but local officials have requested a third round of testing before giving them the all clear. 

Eleven of those individuals had tested positive prior to this gross error and were still being monitored at Lackland. 

I caught some video of a news correspondent who was in Seattle.  It looks like a ghost town; it is creepy.  My husband said that when he went to the gym today (and he goes at the same time every night after work) he noticed more people had dropped off.  On Monday it wasn’t as crowded (like one-third of the people were not there) but he didn’t give it much thought, but as the week went on, it became less and less. 

Meanwhile, China has discovered that the coronavirus has mutated at least once into two strains.  One type, called type L, accounted for about 70% of the cases in China and is much more aggressive than the other strain, called type S, which is milder and is the source of about 30% of cases.  Type L was more common in the early stages of the outbreak in Wuhan, but began to decrease after early January 2020.  They believe human intervention may have placed more severe selective pressure on the type L, which might be more aggressive and spread more quickly.  But type S, which is evolutionally older and less aggressive, might have increased in relative frequency due to the relatively weaker selective pressure per the scientists.   “The researchers said the S type is thought to be the ancestral strain and that the findings ‘strongly support an urgent need for further immediate, comprehensive studies that combine genomic data, epidemiological data, and chart records of the clinical symptoms of patients with coronavirus disease 2019.”   It goes on to say “the genomes studied were only sourced from China, so it is unclear what strains are most common in other countries or if there have been further mutations.” 

The Trump administration said today they will not have the number of kits available as VP Pence stated in his press conference yesterday (stop promising things until you know that this is true).  The stock market does not like uncertainty as one could see by the drop after the gains yesterday.

The CDC still does not have its correct number of cases.  Even though it says their numbers are updated at noon every day (and these were the noon March 5, 2020 totals), they don’t even say these numbers on air.  These numbers aren’t even the ones they publicly said on Monday and it was now Thursday.  Heavy sigh.  They say the numbers that are accurate (which is more than double their number on their web site).   

This is incorrect information — BTW

And here are the stats I post at the end of every blog:  

In the United States there are now 215 cases confirmed by lab tests and sadly 14 deaths.   Deepest sympathies to the family and friends of these individuals. This is as of 12:30 a.m. March 6, 2020.

Of hopeful note, Mainland China only saw an increase of 143 cases between yesterday and today, perhaps a sign that things are getting under control there.  Switzerland has reported its first death from the virus as did the United Kingdom. 

All the countries on the chart below had increases from the day before with the exception of these countries who did not have tests showing positive results (doesn’t mean there aren’t more people infected):  Afghanistan, Andorra, Argentina, Armenia, Belarus, Brazil, Cambodia, Croatia, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Estonia, French Guiana, Gibraltar, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Iraq, Ireland, Japan, Jordan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macau, Malaysia, Mexico, Monaco, Morocco, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Poland, Qatar, Republic of Macedonia, Senegal, Sri Lanka, Tunisia, Ukraine, Vietnam.

The only new country on the list tonight is the West Bank and Gaza. 


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