Nearing Coronavirus Capacity -UPDATE #50

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Deepnews Digest #50

Nearing Coronavirus Capacity -UPDATE

This Digest focuses again on medical capacity, one of the most important aspects of the medical community’s race to save as many lives as possible. That includes not just thinking about now, but thinking about the months ahead, including the vaccines and systems needed as resources are stretched. From Central Park to central Africa, this selection of articles spotlights those trying to get everyone tested and treated.


Editor’s Note: If you find this useful, then you may like to check out the core of what Deepnews really does, our Distill newsletters. Beyond our newsletters that touch on aspects of coronavirus. there are other newsletters for those who want to escape to other topics and are having trouble doing so through their Facebook or Twitter feeds. There really is excellent reporting out there, by outlets big and small, and we hope that with the one-month trial of the Distills you will realize there is a whole other world of news.
Story Source
The New York Times
WASHINGTON — Early on, the dozen federal officials charged with defending America against the coronavirus gathered day after day in the White House Situation Room, consumed by crises. They grappled with how to evacuate the United States consulate in Wuhan, China, ban Chinese travelers and extract Americans from the Diamond Princess and other cruise ships

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Science
The coronavirus that for weeks had been crippling hospitals in her hometown of Seattle changed Jennifer Haller’s life on 16 March—but not because she caught it. Haller, an operations manager at a tech company in the city, became the first person outside of China to receive an experimental vaccine against the pandemic virus, and in the days since, she has been flooded by an outpouring of gratitude

Editor’s Note: This article gives a great look at one of the most important aspects of the medical response to coronavirus, the search for a vaccine. Jon Cohen goes in-depth on not just the efforts, but the different types of vaccine all hoping to help solve this crisis. If you are interested in more like this, you can check out our Future of Medicine Distill, which I also edit. It is quickly becoming one of my favorites. – Christopher Brennan, Editor

Reuters
In the world’s largest refugee settlement in Bangladesh, filmmaker Mohammed Arafat has been making public safety videos to warn about the dangers of coronavirus.

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Vox
Very few people have the breadth and depth of experience with infectious disease — scientific, activist, and personal — as Gregg Gonsalves.

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Nature
Planners have known that something like COVID-19 would come, even if they could never be sure when or from where. It is hard for politicians to garner the social licence to prepare for catastrophes that people see as unlikely and far from their daily lives. From 2012 to 2019, I was a chief scientific adviser — a technocratic expert — in the UK government. When an emergency did happen, such as the release of a nerve agent in the city of Salisbury in 2018, I knew that real people might die if I made mistakes.

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The Hill
Today politicians, public health officials, and economists debate whether to roll back social distancing and other containment measures by Easter in order to open the economy. Our nation faced similar challenges in 1918. The start of the influenza pandemic began in March 1918, with more than 100 reported cases at Camp Funston in Fort Riley, Kansas.

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NPR
To give the rest of the country similar flexibility in addressing the wave of COVID-19 patients expected to need hospital care soon, the federal government is relaxing a lot of what are usually thought of as safety requirements, says Seema Verma, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and a senior member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force. Hospitals can now operate inside dorms, for example, as well as gyms, schools, and parking lots.

Editor’s Note: The medical system is not just doctors, but a whole administrative apparatus with rules and procedures. Here NPR interviews Seema Verma on a range of topics that touch on the work of the response, including telehealth and questions of playing catch up. – Christopher Brennan, Editor

The Atlantic
Under usual circumstances, a person with a dangerous, infectious respiratory disease such as COVID-19 requires special precautions in a hospital. Everyone who enters the patient’s room—even to ask how they’re doing or to pick up a lunch tray—is required to don a fresh gown, gloves, and a mask. If the worker must get in close contact with the patient, the mask has to be an N95 respirator, and a face shield is required to guard the eyes. Without exception, every piece of this gear must be discarded in a biohazard dispenser upon leaving the room. An errant mask or glove or gown, coated in virus, can become lethal.

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The Conversation
We are in a partial lockdown state now, but it has been gradual. Different restrictions have been added on a rolling basis over a few weeks now, with schools still open. This is more of a slow trickle approach than a short, sharp, instant lockdown.

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Denver Post
When I opened Colorado’s first brewpub, we had to work hard to get people in the door to try something new. Today, in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, restaurant owners and other small businesses will have a much more difficult burden to bear. Even when restrictions are lifted and officials allow businesses to reopen, people aren’t likely to go out to eat, go shopping, or head back to the office without knowing for certain that their health and the safety of their community isn’t at risk.

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UC Berkeley
The first cases of COVID-19 emerged in China last November, and the virus has since moved inexorably to Europe and the United States. The virus didn’t arrive in Africa — home to 1.2 billion people — until the end of February, when a case emerged in Nigeria.

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Bloomberg
Developing a vaccine or a treatment for a newly discovered virus is a painstakingly slow and detailed endeavor. Finding a compound that works, testing it in animals, and then rolling it out to clinical trials in humans can take years. And even the top experts in virology and epidemiology typically toil in obscurity, spending long, lonely hours in the lab and garnering fleeting interest only when an unknown ailment sparks headlines. The novel coronavirus has changed all that.

Editor’s Note: Stephanie Baker, John Lauerman, and James Paton interview some of the key individuals working across the globe to develop a vaccine, their hopes, fears and opinions on the crisis. – David Finch, Co-founder

The Lancet
In a continued effort to curb the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), countries have been tightening borders and putting travel restrictions in place. These actions have affected refugees and migrants worldwide. The International Organization for Migration and UNHCR announced on March 10, 2020, that resettlement travel for refugees will be temporarily suspended, although the agencies have appealed to states to ensure emergency cases are exempted

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NPR
President Trump on Sunday described models showing U.S. coronavirus cases could peak in two weeks — at Easter — a time when he had hoped things would be back to normal for parts of the country.

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Reuters
SAN FRANCISCO/NEW YORK – U.S. hospitals and physician groups are beginning to feel severe financial strain as they shift operations from profitable procedures to focus on the rapidly spreading coronavirus pandemic.

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The Atlantic
On the surface, the American COVID-19 testing regime has finally hit its stride. Over the past five days, the states have reported a daily average of 104,000 people tested, according to data assembled by the COVID Tracking Project, a volunteer collaboration incubated at The Atlantic. Today, the U.S. reported that 1 million people have been tested for the coronavirus—a milestone that the White House once promised it would hit the first week of March.

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LA Daily News
As a “critical” week began in the battle on the novel coronavirus outbreak, testing capacity in Los Angeles County stepped up a notch on Monday with the opening of a new public drive-through testing site.

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Portland Press Herald
The tests – about 50,000 produced per day – will be made solely at Abbott’s Scarborough plant, starting this week. The Scarborough location has worked for years on rapid-fire flu tests that are used around the world. The COVID-19 tests, like the rapid flu tests, will cost about $40 each.

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Financial Times ($)
Chinedu Nwokoro is one of thousands of British doctors braced for a tidal wave of coronavirus cases.

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Al Jazeera
One in six COVID-19 patients can develop breathing difficulties, potentially needing access to a ventilator.

Editor’s Note: There has been a lot of coverage in some countries about the lack of ventilators and the various schemes to procure more. Here Al Jazeera explains why ventilators are important and highlights some of the solutions to meet the demand. – David Finch, Co-founder

USA Today
Our hospitals have been kept at almost capacity because an empty bed is not generating revenue, and hospitals need to remain profitable to stay open. Now that we face a pandemic, we will quickly run out of the critical care beds and equipment required to treat the worst the coronavirus has to throw at us, leaving doctors with only terrible choices.

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Associated Press
LONDON — As increasing numbers of European hospitals buckle under the strain of tens of thousands of coronavirus patients, the crisis has exposed a surprising paradox: Some of the world’s best health systems are remarkably ill-equipped to handle a pandemic.

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The Telegraph
Ministers from across government were seated, ashen faced, in the Cabinet Office Briefing Room (COBR). On a large flat screen, epidemiologists from Imperial College London were showing a slide which detailed the scale of the epidemic that was enveloping Britain.

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VoA
KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA – Health experts say the low Covid-19 case numbers some Southeast Asian countries are reporting — some still in the single digits — have much more to do with limited testing than reality. They warn that faulty figures may breed a false sense of security and help the virus causing the deadly disease to spread.

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Press Trust of India
The number of coronavirus hotspots in the country has increased as a result of “lack of public support” at some places and failure to inform authorities in time about suspected cases, the Health Ministry said on Monday.

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