Daily Digest 3/24 – Trump Considers Reopening Economy, Why Mass COVID-19 Testing Is Key To Stopping Spread


Trump Considers Reopening Economy, Over Health Experts’ Objections (Sparky1)

Relaxing those restrictions could significantly increase the death toll from the virus, public health officials warn. Many economists say there is no positive trade-off — resuming normal activity prematurely would only strain hospitals and result in even more deaths, while exacerbating a recession that has most likely already arrived.

The economic shutdown is causing damage that is only beginning to appear in official data. Morgan Stanley researchers said on Monday that they now expected the economy to shrink by an annualized rate of 30 percent in the second quarter of this year, and the unemployment rate to jump to nearly 13 percent. Both would be records, in modern economic statistics.

Keeping the Coronavirus from Infecting Health-Care Workers (tmn)

The fact that these measures have succeeded in flattening the covid-19 curve carries some hopeful implications. One is that this coronavirus, even though it appears to be more contagious than the flu, can still be managed by the standard public-health playbook: social distancing, basic hand hygiene and cleaning, targeted isolation and quarantine of the ill and those with high-risk exposure, a surge in health-care capacity (supplies, testing, personnel, wards), and coördinated, unified public communications with clear, transparent, up-to-date guidelines and data. Our government officials have been unforgivably slow to get these in place. We’ve been playing from behind. But we now seem to be moving in the right direction, and the experience in Asia suggests that extraordinary precautions don’t seem to be required to stop it.

The Fed Goes All In With Unlimited Bond-Buying Plan (Sparky1)

The Fed is throwing its full weight at confronting the economic fallout from the coronavirus, which poses a severe threat as factories shut down, people lose jobs and the economy grinds to a halt while lawmakers in Congress continue to struggle to find a fiscal response, making the central bank the primary line of defense.

Best way to track coronavirus severity? Hospitalizations. Oregon stopped reporting them (Jamie)

On Thursday, authority spokesman Jonathan Modie said the agency stopped sharing it because of an increase in commercial lab testing. That left health officials unable to determine whether the patients were in hospitals when they tested positive, he said.

Spit On, Yelled At, Attacked: Chinese-Americans Fear for Their Safety (tmn)

As the coronavirus upends American life, Chinese-Americans face a double threat. Not only are they grappling like everyone else with how to avoid the virus itself, they are also contending with growing racism in the form of verbal and physical attacks. Other Asian-Americans — with families from Korea, Vietnam, the Philippines, Myanmar and other places — are facing threats, too, lumped together with Chinese-Americans by a bigotry that does not know the difference.

‘They were completely unaware’: Why mass COVID-19 testing is key to stopping spread (Leo)

While on sabbatical at the University of Padua, Crisanti has been participating in a mass testing experiment for COVID-19 infections in Vò, a town of roughly 3,400 people located west of Venice.

Though the country’s overall death toll is in the thousands and climbing, Crisanti said Vò has effectively stopped its local outbreak by testing — and retesting — every single resident, regardless of whether they showed any symptoms.

The Peace Corps isn’t just bringing home 7,300 volunteers because of the coronavirus. It’s firing them. (Sparky1)

Although the volunteers received dismissal notifications separate from the open letter, “Director Jody Olsen’s statement is very misleading to the public as well as the volunteers,” Ruck said by email Friday, her last day as a volunteer in her post in Windhoek, Namibia, in southwestern Africa. “What is really happening is she has ended the service of ALL volunteers and there will be no volunteer activity in any of the 61 countries until the Corona Virus is over, until countries open borders, until countries issue visas and until Peace Corps begins accepting applications to join.”

Coronavirus is experiencing exponential growth in the US. Here’s what that means (Michael S.)

“You’re going to see an exponential increase in the number of people who test positive on a daily basis,” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said Monday. “So people just need to be prepared and not shocked by the mathematical reality.”

Banks Pressure Health Care Firms To Raise Prices On Critical Drugs, Medical Supplies For Coronavirus (Sparky1, ht dtrammel)

The drug, though developed in partnership with the University of Alabama through a grant from the federal government’s National Institutes of Health, is patented by Gilead Sciences, a major pharmaceutical company based in California. The firm has faced sharp criticism in the past for its pricing practices. It previously charged $84,000 for a yearlong supply of its hepatitis C treatment, which was also developed with government research support. Remdesivir is estimated to produce a one-time revenue of $2.5 billion.

Party Zero: How a Soirée in Connecticut Became a ‘Super Spreader’ (tmn)

The Westport soirée — Party Zero in southwestern Connecticut and beyond — is a story of how, in the Gilded Age of money, social connectedness and air travel, a pandemic has spread at lightning speed. The partygoers — more than half of whom are now infected — left that evening for Johannesburg, New York City and other parts of Connecticut and the United States, all seeding infections on the way.

Trump Signs Order to Prevent the Hoarding of Virus Supplies (Sparky1)

He said the government had already initiated investigations of activities that are disrupting the supply chain and suggestive of hoarding. The president has given the Department of Health and Human Services the authority to designate items that people are prohibited from accumulating in more than reasonable amounts and from selling for above market value. Such items haven’t yet been designated, Barr added.

Real Estate Billionaire Barrack Says Commercial Mortgages on Brink of Collapse (Sparky1)

“To keep people employed, you have to support the employers,” he said Monday in the interview. “The biggest part of employer expense is rent. When commerce stops and they can’t pay rent and they can’t pay interest on the debt, and then the banks and the intermediaries can’t pay their investors, it all collapses.”

The SARS-CoV-2 exerts a distinctive strategy for interacting with the ACE2 human receptor (izzy)

The COVID-19 disease has plagued over 110 countries and has resulted in over 4,000 deaths within 10 weeks. We compare the interaction between the human ACE2 receptor and the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein with that of other pathogenic coronaviruses using molecular dynamics simulations. SARS-CoV, SARS-CoV-2, and HCoV-NL63 recognize ACE2 as the natural receptor but present a distinct binding interface to ACE2 and a different network of residue-residue contacts. SARS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2 have comparable binding affinities achieved by balancing energetics and dynamics.

A Man Died After Self-Medicating With A Drug Trump Promoted As A Potential Treatment For The Coronavirus (tmn)

According to the Banner Health hospital system in Phoenix, the couple, both in their sixties, ingested chloroquine phosphate, “an additive commonly used at aquariums to clean fish tanks.” One aquarium supply store online described it as a “wonder drug” that was once only available through veterinarians — for saltwater fish, not humans. The site is currently sold out of the drug.

Thirty minutes after taking the chloroquine phosphate, the couple experienced serious, immediate effects that required them to go to the hospital.

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