Daily Digest 5/12 – 20.5 Million Jobs Lost In One Month, The Engineers Taking on the Ventilator Shortage


Renewed outbreaks in South Korea, Germany and China show continued risk as more countries seek to reopen (TS)

South Korea was among the first places to deal with a major coronavirus epidemic, and seemed to be on track to loosen restrictions, after weeks of social distancing measures and careful surveillance. But the new cluster seems to have put an end to that, for now, with Moon warning his people “we must never lower our guard regarding epidemic prevention.”

WHO warns that coronavirus cases have jumped in countries that eased lockdowns (TS)

“In the Republic of Korea, bars and clubs were shut as a confirmed case led to many contacts being traced,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during a press conference at the agency’s headquarters in Geneva. “In Wuhan, China, the first cluster of cases since the lockdown lifted was identified. Germany has also reported an increase in cases since the easing of restrictions.”

Tedros urged caution as more countries seek to ease such restrictions and jump-start the economy. He added that South Korea, China and Germany have all rolled out surveillance infrastructure such as broad testing and tracing to alert authorities in case the virus does reassert itself.

One month, 20.5 million jobs lost (Sparky1)

The loss of jobs in April cut across all sectors, though some were notably more hard hit than others. Hospitality saw the largest decline in jobs with 7.7 million jobs lost. But as a percent of March employment levels, Hospitality was the hardest hit sector, losing 46.8% of its workers.

Covid-19 and America’s Vulnerabilities – A Way Forward (Richard C.)

Covid-19 represents a sudden burst of heat that should awaken us to the fact that we are being cooked to death. Nonetheless, let us be clear: We are already damn-well cooked, losing so much productive capacity that to revive our economy will require us to overcome significant coordination and collective action challenges, and then sustain those efforts over multiple years — even as the pandemic recedes to the background.

Early Precautions Draw A Life-And-Death Divide Between Flushing And Corona (Ed J.)

The divide between Corona and Flushing also highlights a striking possibility: that early measures many Flushing residents, workers and businesses took to protect themselves — during crucial weeks while city and state government held back — may have made a difference.

In the early days of the pandemic, the U.S. government turned down an offer to manufacture millions of N95 masks in America (DennisC)

Bowen’s medical supply company, Prestige Ameritech, could ramp up production to make an additional 1.7 million N95 masks a week. He viewed the shrinking domestic production of medical masks as a national security issue, though, and he wanted to give the federal government first dibs.

The Engineers Taking on the Ventilator Shortage (jdargis)

Since February, engineers in industry and academia have been working on designs for cheap, easy-to-build ventilators. Ford has christened its effort Project Apollo. And yet comparisons to the moon landings may understate the complexity of the problem. covid-19 is a mysterious illness, and ventilators admit to many styles of operation. In the best case, the machines keep patients with failing lungs alive, buying time for the body to heal. In the worst case, they can aggravate lung damage. In the course of the pandemic, critical-care specialists have disagreed about how the devices should be operated and at what point in a patient’s decline they should be used; mortality rates for covid-19 patients on ventilators have ranged widely. Manufacturing a ventilator is difficult, especially during a pandemic, when supply lines are unreliable. Different designs negotiate different bargains between cost and functionality. Reaching the moon is challenging enough. It’s harder when no one is sure where the moon is.

The Strong Case for Mask Requirements in Public Transportation and Border Control Settings in NZ’s Current COVID-19 Pandemic Context (Sophie)

Current pandemic control policies such as physical distancing, hand washing and coughing into elbows are also not based on extensive data from high quality RCTs, but on a collection of imperfect evidence. The high societal and economic cost of prolonged lockdowns should prompt policy makers to carefully consider every potentially beneficial tool to curb pandemic spread. Mass masking is a low-cost intervention with minimal risks and significant potential benefits.

Observational Study of Hydroxychloroquine in Hospitalized Patients with Covid-19 (Kevin V.)

In this observational study involving patients with Covid-19 who had been admitted to the hospital, hydroxychloroquine administration was not associated with either a greatly lowered or an increased risk of the composite end point of intubation or death. Randomized, controlled trials of hydroxychloroquine in patients with Covid-19 are needed.

Under 1% of MLB employees test positive for virus antibodies (TS)

“I was expecting a little bit of a higher number,” Bhattacharya said during a telephone news conference. “The set of people in the MLB employee population that we tested in some sense have been less affected by the COVID epidemic than their surrounding communities.”

Data for players was not separated in the study, and some MLB family members were included.

COVID-19 Could Spark A Renewable Energy Boom (Michael S.)

The crisis has “demonstrated that governments can intervene decisively once the scale of an emergency is clear and public support is present,” wrote the report’s authors, which included renowned economists Joseph Stiglitz and Nicholas Stern.

Facing the worst downturn since the Great Depression, governments are passing once unthinkable pieces of legislation, with price tags that boggle the mind. Still, they are still falling short, and more trillion-dollar fiscal packages are likely.

Inspections, citations, recalls slashed: Coronavirus is testing America’s food safety net (Sparky1)

Experts say there is no evidence yet of resulting widespread health issues, but food safety advocates say Americans are now more at risk.

“We have so many different safeguards built into our system, and one by one COVID is knocking pieces out,” Sarah Sorscher, deputy director of regulatory affairs at the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

2 million chickens to be killed because there aren’t enough workers to kill them (tmn)

The Maryland Department of Agriculture says it is monitoring the situation but is not directly involved since the slaughter involves private business decisions, not health concerns, CNN reported.

The Delmarva Poultry Industry association has 1,800 members in Delaware and on the Maryland and Virginia Eastern Shore, The Washington Post reported.

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