(CNN)A Georgia second grader tested positive for Covid-19 after attending the first day of school, the school district told CNN.
(CNN)A Georgia second grader tested positive for Covid-19 after attending the first day of school, the school district told CNN.
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MELBOURNE, Australia — A new wave of coronavirus infections prompted officials to impose restrictions on some 5 million people in Australia’s second-largest city, illustrating the difficulty of conquering the pandemic even in a country that had enjoyed relative success in taming its toll.
Authorities in Melbourne, the capital of Victoria state, said they would reinstate curbs for six weeks starting Wednesday night to try to beat back a surge in new cases that threatens to spiral out of control. Residents of the city and some surrounding areas will be required to stay at home except for essential activities such as certain work or study, food shopping, exercise or medical care, and they won’t be able to leave the metropolitan area.
In announcing the measures Tuesday, Daniel Andrews, the state premier, said a sense of complacency that had set in after most social-distancing rules were lifted in June was partly responsible for the jump in new infections. Victoria as recently as last month had reported daily new cases in the single digits, but on Tuesday reported a record 191 new cases, of which only 37 were linked to known outbreaks.
“These are unsustainably high numbers of new cases. It is simply impossible with case rates at this level to have enough contact tracing staff, to have enough physical resources . . . to continue to suppress and contain this virus without taking significant steps,” Andrews told reporters.
“We are in many respects in a more precarious, challenging and potentially tragic position now than we were some months ago.”
The resurgence of the virus in Melbourne echoes the difficulties facing the United States, where some areas, particularly in the South and West, are mandating masks and reimposing shutdowns as they report spiraling numbers of infections and hospitalizations.
Still, with a total of 8,755 cases and 106 deaths among a population of 25 million, Australia has largely avoided the devastating effects seen in many other Western countries. The United States has a population 13 times that of Australia but has recorded more than 1,200 times the number of deaths.
In Melbourne, the new measures will require some businesses to close, including beauty and personal care services, cultural and entertainment venues and community facilities. Cafes and restaurants will remain open but only for takeout and delivery.
The spike in cases coincided with wider testing; with more than 26,000 tests performed in a single day, Victoria has done nearly 1 million tests.
“This is not over, and pretending that it is because we all want it to be over is not the answer — it is indeed part of the problem,” Andrews said.
A day earlier, officials said they would close Victoria’s state borders to prevent the outbreak from spreading elsewhere.
Officials had already reinstated a partial lockdown for some areas of Melbourne after some residents in public housing complexes tested positive in recent days. About 3,000 residents in nine high-rise buildings were given an hour’s notice before being banned from leaving their apartments for at least five days as extensive testing is carried out.
Genomic sequencing has indicated some of the outbreak has emerged from guards and guests in hotel quarantine, where Australian citizens and permanent residents returning from overseas must isolate for 14 days.
So far, Victoria appears to be alone among Australia’s states in suffering a second wave of the pandemic. New South Wales, the most populous state, on Tuesday reported only seven new cases, while three states and two territories recorded none.
Yet epidemiologists say the nature of how the virus spreads means the second wave could have happened anywhere.
“The Victorian outbreak highlights what we’ve always known: that this virus has explosive potential and that we have a long road ahead of us,” said James McCaw, an expert in infectious diseases at the University of Melbourne.
“The breakdown in infection control in hotel quarantine — just one or two events across the many hundreds of people successfully managed through the system — has had a huge consequence.”
Catherine Bennett, chair of epidemiology at Deakin University, said a failure at the front line was key and that a new tipping point was occurring as the health system reached capacity due to the “sheer scale of keeping up with contact tracing.”
Bennett said the state had not been sufficiently prepared to shield high-risk vulnerable populations like the residents of the housing towers under hard lockdown, many of whom are new migrants, refugees, those with mental health issues and survivors of family violence.
Ahmed Dini, a resident of one of the towers, said Tuesday that residents felt they had been treated like second-class citizens, yet on the other hand they had received an outpouring of public support.
“These towers are like vertical cruise ships, we are like sitting ducks — we’re scared and we know there’s potential for the numbers to skyrocket very soon,” he said in an interview.
The second wave is also adding to anxiety about Australia’s economic recovery from the virus, which the central bank on Tuesday warned would be rocky. Prime Minister Scott Morrison had hoped that officials would be able to ease most restrictions and border closures this month.
Yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell changed his tune and said that a second stimulus check “could well be” part of the next coronavirus relief bill. Equally telling was his follow-up remark: “I think the people who have been hit the hardest are people who make about $40,000 a year or less,” he said.
The tides have been turning on the odds of a second stimulus check since the House of Representatives passed the HEROES Act and included an expanded second stimulus payment. Republican opposition has started to wane as President Trump and other members of his administration have increasingly, albeit unevenly, voiced support for a second direct payment. However, this is the first time McConnell has even tepidly acknowledged that direct payments may be included. His comments come as the Senate started a two-week recess and on the heels of record high cases of coronavirus across the U.S. and a reversal of state re-opening plans across several states and counties. While still far from a slam dunk, the fact that the Senate Majority leader is making positive comments is a noteworthy development.
McConnell’s comments about how individuals earning less than $40,000 a year have been hit the hardest shouldn’t be overlooked. “Multiple sources say McConnell didn’t just throw out $40,000 as a cut-off haphazardly — consensus within GOP is moving that direction, which would sharply limit eligibility,” tweeted Jeff Stein of The Washington Post. In many ways, it could signal how McConnell will attempt to thread the needle between agreeing to a second direct payment to placate President Trump while keeping the overall cost of the next stimulus bill down to mollify fiscal conservatives feigning concern over the mounting national debt.
The $40,000 figure is also in line with McConnell’s stated goal of making the next round of stimulus more targeted. The notion of more surgical aid may actually find support across the political aisle. “I think the next round we’ve got to be more targeted to those who are really in need. So I hope we can target this a little bit better to those who have been hit hard because of COVID-19,” Senator Ben Cardin (D-Maryland) said of a second stimulus payment.
Those earning under $40,000 were hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic. Close to 40 percent of Americans earning less than $40,000 annually lost their jobs in March, when the coronavirus brought parts of the economy to a standstill, according to Jerome Powell, Chairman of the Federal Reserve. Therefore, using the $40,000 as a cutoff would allow Congress to help those were were disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.
McConnell told President Trump recently that the next relief bill cannot exceed $1 trillion. While this is in some ways posturing, it does reflect pressure on McConnell from his conservative base to keep the total cost of the next bill in check. There appears to be some consensus that the relief bill will come in between $1 trillion and $2 trillion dollars; more than McConnell’s gauntlet, but less than the $3 trillion HEROES Act passed by the House.
By reducing the income eligibility of a second stimulus check, McConnell can reduce the overall cost of the next relief bill. As part of the first round of CARES Act stimulus payments, the Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) sent out checks to more than 159 million Americans, totaling almost $267 billion. There are also an estimated 35 million payments that have not been issued yet, according to a report from the House Ways and Means Committee.
If an income limit of $40,000 for a second stimulus check was imposed, presumably for single filers, the number of eligible Americans would come down drastically. Kyle Pomerleau, an economist and resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, tweeted that using a $40,000 cut-off would result in approximately 80 million households being eligible for payments.
Given that the first round of direct payment had higher income eligibility for married filers, it may be safe to assume that if a second payment is included in the next bill, it would follow suit. Pomerleau added that a very rough estimate shows the “IRS has an additional 12 million married couples filing jointly in the $40,000 – $75,000 income range.”
Similarly, the first round of payments include an income phase-out. While individual filers earning less than $75,000 would receive a full $1,200 stimulus check, those making more than $75,000 but less than $99,000 were eligible for a partial check. If a similar clause is included for the next round of stimulus payments, that would augment the number of recipients too.
While the total number of eligible payments will vary depending on specific criteria, it will likely be significantly lower than the close to 200 million payments from the first round of stimulus. Perhaps this is the way of achieving consensus among Republicans, Democrats, and the White House?
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A second Minnesota prison inmate has died after testing positive for COVID-19, state corrections officials said Saturday.
Leroy Wallace Bergstrom, 71, died at a hospital on Saturday, according to the Minnesota Department of Corrections.
Bergstrom tested positive for COVID-19 on June 10, the department said. An autopsy to determine the cause of death is pending.
Bergstrom was an inmate at the Minnesota Correctional Facility in Faribault, Another Faribault inmate, Adrian Raymaar Keys, 43, died Tuesday after testing positive for COVID-19. The Corrections Department said one incarcerated person in Minnesota remains hospitalized.
The first case of COVID-19 in the Faribault prison was reported on June 3. The department has been testing all inmates at staff at the facility. As of Friday, 4,892 tests of inmates had been conducted at the Faribault facility, with 206 tests positive. Most who tested positive are experiencing no symptoms. The facility currently houses 1,718 men.
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Beijing has reported a rising number of new COVID-19 cases for the second day running, raising fears about the re-emergence of the coronavirus in the Chinese capital.
Beijing health officials on Monday confirmed 36 new COVID-19 cases, the same increase as a day earlier, which was the city’s highest daily infection count in nearly two months. There had been no new domestic cases in the city for 56 consecutive days, but since June 11 the capital has reported 79 new cases.
The new outbreak has been linked to a major wholesale food market in Beijing’s southwestern Fengtai district.
The spike has put the district in “wartime emergency mode,” shutting down the market and closing off 11 residential compounds in its vicinity as authorities try to identify people who have recently visited the market and their close contacts.
China’s top epidemiologist, Wu Zunyou, told the Chinese state media outlet China News on Sunday that the authorities have yet to pinpoint the source of the infection in the Xinfadi market, adding that he believes the outbreak is still isolated and has not spread to the whole of Beijing, home to some 20 million people.
“Beijing will not turn into a second Wuhan, spreading the virus to many cities all across the country and even needing a lockdown,” Zeng Guang, the former chief epidemiologist at Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention and currently a senior expert with the National Health Commission, said at the press conference on Sunday.
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The coronavirus pandemic is believed to have originated at a seafood market in Wuhan, causing the city to go into a strict lockdown for 11 weeks starting in late January to slow the spread of the virus. However, the virus spread abroad, infecting nearly 8 million people worldwide and killing more than 430,000.
Restrictions in Beijing have only recently been eased and things began going back to normal, with some children going back to school and attractions reopening. But that has come to an abrupt end amid fears of a second wave of infections in the Chinese capital.
“The risk of the epidemic spreading is very high, so we should take resolute and decisive measures,” Xu Hejiang, spokesman at the Beijing city government, said Monday.
Authorities are testing tens of thousands of people at testing sites set up at sport stadiums, hospitals and drive-through locations across the capital. Residents are also having their body temperatures checked.
Out of the 36 new cases recorded Sunday, 34 were either directly or indirectly linked to the Xinfadi market, including 19 people who worked there, Beijing’s health commission said Monday.
City authorities said over 8,000 vendors, purchasing and managing staff at the market have been tested and transferred to designated areas for medical observation.
To date, the city has traced nearly 200,000 people who have visited the market since May 30.
Meanwhile, Baoding, a major city near Beijing in Hebei province, launched “wartime” measures Monday to prevent an outbreak in the city, after three new cases, all related to Beijing’s Xinfadi market, were confirmed there.
The city’s government said temperature checks will be conducted in shopping malls, residential communities, office buildings and on public transit. Stores and supermarkets must strictly control people’s movement, and medical institutions have been told to strengthen safety procedures around treating patients with fever.
The spike in Beijing, along with three cases in Baoding and 10 new cases imported from abroad have increased the total number of cases in China to 83,181 as of Sunday — far fewer than in Europe and the United States, where millions of people have been sickened by the virus.
The World Health Organization said Saturday it’s closely monitoring the outbreak in Beijing.
“All cases are in isolation and under care as needed, and contact tracing is underway,” the WHO said in a statement. “Genetic sequencing of samples is also underway and rapid sharing of these results is important to understand the origin of the cluster and links between cases.”
Now scientists say they have details on the habits of FRB 121102, which repeats every 157 days, according to a study published in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.
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This FRB was discovered in 2012, and researchers noted its repeating nature in 2016. The source is a dwarf galaxy more than 3 billion light years away. The pattern might be the result of a massive star, a neutron star or black hole’s orbital motion.
“This is an exciting result as it is only the second system where we believe we see this modulation in burst activity,” the University of Manchester’s Kaustubh Rajwade, who led the research, said in a release. “Detecting a periodicity provides an important constraint on the origin of the bursts and the activity cycles could argue against a precessing neutron star.”
Aliens and the search for extraterrestrial intelligence
FRBs remain mysterious — they were first discovered in 2007 — but each new one offers astronomers a better sense of their origins. We know what you’re thinking… aliens, right? It seems unlikely that would be the case, according to Swinburne University of Technology astrophysicist Adam Deller.
“I think in all likelihood we’ll work out a natural explanation for these events, but I like to keep an open mind and follow wherever the evidence leads me,” he said of the first repeating burst.
When it comes to the origins of FRB 121102, Rajwade told CNET that one good guess is a neutron star.
“Based on the short durations and the high luminosities of the bursts themselves, a good guess would be a neutron star with a very high magnetic field that is orbiting a companion object,” he said.
Americans are finally starting to get outside again, and it’s a huge mental release after being under stay-at-home orders for many weeks. But public health officials are here with a warning: We could go under lockdown again, and it could be terrible for mental health.
assistant secretary for mental health and substance abuse, said in a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday that there could be an increase in the number of suicides, fatal drug overdoses and instances of domestic abuse, in addition to more general mental health stressors, if the United States goes through a second COVID-19 lockdown.” data-reactid=”24″ type=”text”>Dr. Elinore McCance-Katz, the assistant secretary for mental health and substance abuse, said in a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday that there could be an increase in the number of suicides, fatal drug overdoses and instances of domestic abuse, in addition to more general mental health stressors, if the United States goes through a second COVID-19 lockdown.
Wall Street Journal. “We need to discuss the risks versus the benefits of taking action, and I would say we wouldn’t want to take the same approach.”” data-reactid=”25″ type=”text”>“I would very much hope that we would not do this again. I don’t see the science to back it up,” she said of a shutdown, according to the Wall Street Journal. “We need to discuss the risks versus the benefits of taking action, and I would say we wouldn’t want to take the same approach.”
imposed another Wuhan-style lockdown in the country’s northeastern region after the area saw a resurgence of COVID-19 cases. A second lockdown can definitely happen in the U.S. too, Dr. Richard Watkins, an infectious disease physician and professor of internal medicine at the Northeast Ohio Medical University, tells Yahoo Life. “It will depend on if we see a spike in infections after the reopenings,” he says. But there’s a chance that things won’t get to a full-on lockdown again. “I think what we’ll see is much more precision-guided social distancing recommendations and not another type of shutdown if cases get out of hand in any part of the country,” Dr. Amesh A. Adalja, senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, tells Yahoo Life.” data-reactid=”26″ type=”text”>It’s important to point out that China has just imposed another Wuhan-style lockdown in the country’s northeastern region after the area saw a resurgence of COVID-19 cases. A second lockdown can definitely happen in the U.S. too, Dr. Richard Watkins, an infectious disease physician and professor of internal medicine at the Northeast Ohio Medical University, tells Yahoo Life. “It will depend on if we see a spike in infections after the reopenings,” he says. But there’s a chance that things won’t get to a full-on lockdown again. “I think what we’ll see is much more precision-guided social distancing recommendations and not another type of shutdown if cases get out of hand in any part of the country,” Dr. Amesh A. Adalja, senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, tells Yahoo Life.
Either way, life could change — again. That raises a huge question: What does this mean for mental health?
John Mayer, PhD, author of Family Fit: Find Your Balance in Life, tells Yahoo Life.” data-reactid=”28″ type=”text”>“A second lockdown will be taken as very defeating for the public. The feeling will prevail that the virus will win, and it will stimulate hopelessness and great despair,” John Mayer, PhD, author of Family Fit: Find Your Balance in Life, tells Yahoo Life.
“People are already struggling with isolation and quarantine fatigue. They’re feeling overwhelmed,” Thea Gallagher, PsyD, clinic director at the Center for the Treatment and Study of Anxiety at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine, tells Yahoo Life. “It will be hard to adapt back to ‘normal’ life and then have to go back to lockdown.”
Change is difficult for most people, Gallagher says, and it’s concerning that there’s so much change in such a small period of time. “Hopefully, we will adapt slowly to real life so that if we have to go back to lockdown, it won’t feel as jarring,” she says. But doing a second lockdown “can make people feel like it’s endless,” she says, adding, “the uncertainty of it all is going to be more difficult a sec
As states begin to reopen and social distancing rules are relaxed, public health officials are warning about a possible second wave of coronavirus cases later this year. Dr. Shoshana Ungerleider, an internal medicine physician at Sutter Health in San Francisco, said Monday on CBSN that public health officials agree another round of cases is “very, very likely to happen.”
Ungerleider said a potential second wave coinciding with flu season could cause a lot of confusion due to the overlap in symptoms between the viruses. “This may put a heavy strain on an already taxed healthcare system, so I think we need to be preparing for this now,” Ungerleider said.
The lag time between infection and symptoms could also cause an increase in cases in the U.S. as social distancing rules are relaxed. “City and state officials, as well as the public, need to prepare and to understand that places may need to quickly reissue stay-at-home orders if in fact these local outbreaks start occurring,” Ungerleider said. “We need to continue focusing on expanding testing and contact tracing.”
Ungerleider said that since the novel coronavirus is only 16 weeks old, there’s a lot we don’t know yet. “People need to be aware that this virus has not gone away and people need to remain vigilant,” she said.