Texas Hospitalizations Surge To Record High As Dr. Fauci Warns Pandemic "Far From Over": Live Updates

Summary:

  • Texas hospitalization hit 2,056 - a record high

  • Dr. Fauci: US outbreak is "far from over"

  • Ohio drivers tests to resume Friday

  • Cali reports daily dip

  • NJ abruptly lifts lockdown

  • Global COVID-19 cases top 7 million

  • Hospital visits spiked in Wuhan last fall, suggesting outbreak hit earlier than we realized

  • Nearly half of US states are seeing a sustained rise in new COVID cases

  • UK says students won't return to school until the fall

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Update (1745ET): Texas reported another record-breaking number of COVID-19 hospitalizations Tuesday (2,056) as the governor plans to reopen more businesses and double capacity.

That extends yesterday's rise above the previous record of 1,888 on May 5.

The department's new figures were released as Gov. Greg Abbott moves forward with a plan to open bars, restaurants, amusement parks and other businesses to 50% capacity.

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Update (1635ET): We give the NYT a lot of credit: Even though none of its readers seem to care about the coronavirus anymore, it still went ahead and published this story about remarks made by Dr. Anthony Fauci (remember him?) during a (virtual) speech before the Biotechnology Innovation Organization during an event on Tuesday.

After insisting last week that a second wave of the virus isn't a sure thing, Dr. Fauci warned that the coronavirus was the virus of his worst nightmares, and that he remains surprised by its capacity to spread around the world and dominate human society in the span of just four months (though recent research suggests the outbreak may have started earlier than previously believed).

"In a period of four months, it has devastated the whole world," Dr. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on Tuesday during a conference held by BIO, the Biotechnology Innovation Organization. "And it isn’t over yet."

His discussion with a moderator was conducted remotely and recorded for presentation to conference participants. Although he had known that an outbreak like this could occur, one aspect has surprised him, he said, and that is "how rapidly it just took over the planet."

Once again, the good doctor insisted that there's still so much we don't know about SARS-CoV-2, which he described as "complex" compared with HIV, a virus Dr. Fauci studied for decades.

But much is still unknown about the disease and how it attacks the body - research that Dr. Fauci described as "a work in progress."

He said that he had spent much of his career studying H.I.V., and that the disease it causes is "really simple compared to what’s going on with Covid-19."

The differences, he said, include Covid’s broad range of severity, from no symptoms at all to critical illness and death, with lung damage, intense immune responses and clotting disorders that have caused strokes even in young people, as well as a separate inflammatory syndrome causing severe illness in some children.

But don't worry, because Dr. Fauci believes at least one of the hundreds of vaccines currently being researched will pan out.

Vaccines are widely regarded as the best hope of stopping or at least slowing the pandemic, and Dr. Fauci said he was “almost certain” that more than one would be successful. Several are already being tested in people, and at least one is expected to move into large, Phase 3 trials in July.

Marshaling more resources to stop the virus, especially in poor and/or predominantly minority communities, is essential, Dr. Fauci added.

Unfortunately, it doesn't seem like too many Americans still care.

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Update (1410ET): As the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles prepares to resume driving tests on Friday, Gov. Mike DeWine is updating the public on the state’s response to the coronavirus in his latest daily briefing.

Driving tests will begin Friday and next Tuesday, though not at all DMV locations, but people need to make appointments online before going in for a test.

Meanwhile, California reported a drop in new cases statewide on Tuesday, though recent days have seen spikes in LA County and the Bay Area.

  • CALIFORNIA COVID-19 CASES RISE 1.7% VS 7-DAY AVERAGE 2.2%

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Update (1310ET): As more Western and Southern state see coronavirus cases rise, numbers in the New York metropolitan area, once the biggest hotspot in the country, have continued to wane. The same people who were hysterically screaming at their neighbors to put on their masks are now out marching in crowds for racial equality, and in the midst of it all, New Jersey Gov Phil Murphy has abruptly lifted the state's stay at home order.

Now, after allowing outdoor graduations to move forward and easing other restrictions, New Jersey Gov Phil Murphy has decided to lift his state's stay-at-home order.

Watch the briefing live below:

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Last night, we shared the findings from a bombshell report which found that hospital foot traffic and COVID-19-related search terms surged in Wuhan and the surrounding area as early as October or November, suggesting that the virus might have already been spreading in Wuhan for months before China informed the WHO on New Year's Eve about the "newly discovered" virus.

Beijing infamously withheld evidence of human-to-human transmission until later in January, when it finally alerted the international community, kicking off the global coronavirus crisis in earnest as the initial round of projections warned that millions could perish, setting off the global panic.

By that time, as we've reported in the past, China probably had enough of a head start to gobble up all of the PPE and other critical medical supplies in the world, which would help explain the baffling shortages that confronted American consumers during the first weeks of the outbreak, with some claiming that shortages of popular goods like cleaning supplies and toilet paper persist in some places, or regularly reoccur.

Adding even more confusion to the global conversation (not that anybody cares about the coronavirus anymore, now that the progressives who were hysterically decrying the risks of reopening are crowding together in the streets), a WHO scientist last night discussed new research suggesting asymptomatic carriers of the virus - previously believed to be a primary driver of the virus's spread - actually aren't all that dangerous. If these findings are confirmed, it would suggest that contact tracing has little value in the late stages of an outbreak, though it could be a game-changer during the early weeks, when successful containment remains possible.

With futures markets pointing toward a lower open in the US, the Washington Post warns that 14 states and Puerto Rico have seen their 7-day average for the number of new cases being reported climb to their highest levels since the outbreak began. Yesterday, we noted the WSJ story highlighting the finding that rural areas with large numbers of people living in the same houses saw outbreaks that were in many cases more severe than more densely populated areas, suggesting transmission between members of the same household remains the primary means of spread, which, if anything, suggests that markets and the general public is underestimating the potential of these outbreaks in more rural states.

Since the start of June, 14 states and Puerto Rico have recorded their highest-ever seven-day average of new coronavirus cases since the pandemic began, according to data tracked by The Washington Post: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Kentucky, New Mexico, North Carolina, Mississippi, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Utah.

If the pandemic’s first wave burned through dense metro hubs such as New York City, Chicago and Detroit, the highest percentages of new cases are coming from places with much smaller populations: Lincoln County, Ore., an area of less than 50,000, has averaged 20 new daily cases; the Bear River Health District in northern Utah has averaged 78 new cases a day in the past week, most of them tied to an outbreak at a meat processing plant in the small town of Hyrum.

The increase of coronavirus cases in counties with fewer than 60,000 people is part of the trend of new infections surging across the rural United States. Health experts worry those areas, already short of resources before the pandemic, will struggle to track new cases with the infrastructure that remains.

The NYT's coronavirus tracker tool offers a convenient illustration:

What's more alarming: epidemiologists say any surge in cases tied to the protests likely has yet to emerge.

Yesterday, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases surged past 7 million, after the death toll topped 400k over the weekend. Russia, Latin America and now India appear to be the newest hot spots, as cases have started to accelerate as Brazil and Mexico face a difficult reckoning.

Even the FT cheered on Tuesday as the UK reported its smallest excess-death total (a figure the paper has been using as a measure of the 'total' COVID-19 deaths) since the final week in March. Meanwhile, HMG has reportedly scrapped plans to return pupils to their classrooms before the beginning of the summer break.

The government is set to drop plans to fully reopen primary schools in England before the summer holiday, in a move welcomed by teachers’ unions that argued the return of all pupils would be unsafe. Education secretary Gavin Williamson is expected on Tuesday to announce that headteachers can choose whether or not to reopen to more year groups than currently outlined. Health Secretary Matt Hancock said during yesterday's daily briefing that secondary schools in England likely wouldn't reopen until September "at the earliest."