Our Response to COVID-19: Information
Good evening,

September 15, 2020 -- Ten days from today, our planet will have accumulated 32 million coronavirus infections and 1 million deaths from the pandemic. Many of the European counties that were initially battered with high infection rates, and were able to flatten their respective epidemiological curves down to double digit daily counts, are now facing a second and larger wave of new cases after having relaxed their hardcore and economically unsustainable lock downs. France, Spain, Great Britain, and the Netherlands (with a new peak today) are facing increasingly large daily numbers while other neighboring countries are also noticing smaller yet noticeable spikes: Germany, Belgium, Italy, Switzerland, and even Portugal are in the process of reconsidering their current COVID-19 management policies. Israel is going further, to the ire of many of its religious leaders, as its government just announced it will shut down the country again, for three weeks, to mitigate the unmanageable hotspots that have resulted in the country’s highest daily infections count reached just yesterday (+4,764) – see article below. In South America, Argentina almost equaled its recent peak today while many of its continental neighbors appear to be stuck on high plateaus, mired in uncontrolled spreads resulting from poorly measured outbreaks and severe under-testing. In the US, a dozen states are stuck on high plateaus -- Florida, Texas, Illinois, North Carolina, Tennessee, Ohio, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Wisconsin, Indiana, Virginia -- unable to reach their targeted local baselines, even as California, the nation’s most populous state, is well on its way to reaching its epidemiological goals, having reduced its daily case counts to early June levels. Our nation is still struggling to reduce its daily count to the stated goal of no more than 10,000 new daily cases, as we hover around 35,000 to 40,000 new infections every day. Finally, the California Central Valley is showing real progress and its counties are working hard towards being able to reduce their daily tallies, with the most immediate goal of being allowed to safely reopen their local businesses. The long term goal remains maintaining vigilance in their fight to prevent the arrival of a dreaded second wave of infections. 

COVID-19 in the world today

  • COVID-19 Global cases: 29,720,477 (+286,766)
  • COVID-19 Global deaths: 939,054 (+6,430)
  • COVID-19 Global death rate: 3.16%
  • COVID-19 Global testing*: 578,594,169 confirmed tests (+4,270,612)
  • COVID-19 Global positivity rate: 5,.14%
  • COVID-19 Global single-day positivity rate: 6.48%

*:incomplete data set.
Tip: click on any of the graphs for larger and clearer images and click on READ MORE to view the complete articles.Also, please forgive the occasional typos.
Netherlands COVID-19 data

  • global rank: 41
  • 84,778 cases (+1,379) PEAK
  • 6,258 deaths (+2)
  • 1,832,451 tests
  • positivity rate 4.70%
Israel COVID-19 data

  • global rank: 24
  • 164,402 cases (+4,034)
  • 1,147 deaths (+11)
  • 2,771,732 tests
  • positivity rate 5.93%
Argentina COVID-19 data

  • global rank: 10
  • 577,338 cases (+11,852)
  • 11,852 deaths (+185)
  • 1,602,403 tests (+16,022)
  • positivity rate 36.03%
Italy COVID-19 data

  • global rank: 20
  • 289,990 cases (+1,229)
  • 35,633 deaths (+9)
  • 9,943,944 tests (+80,517)
  • positivity rate 2.92%
How Israel Became the First Rich Country to Go Into a Second Nationwide Coronavirus Lockdown | time.com
Israel was one of the earliest adopters of stringent measures to combat the spread of COVID-19, forcing all foreign arrivals to self-isolate on March 9, just before the World Health Organization announced a global pandemic. This week, as cases rise, it is set to become the world’s first country to enter a second nationwide shutdown.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced the new three-week-long shutdown in a televised message to Israelis on Sunday evening. Returning Israel to shutdown, he said, would “exact a heavy price on us all.” That address came shortly before the Prime Minister flew to Washington D.C., where on Tuesday he is set to sign a historic normalization agreement with foreign ministers from the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain—only the third and fourth Arab countries respectively, to make peace with Israel since its founding.

Polls show that Israelis welcome that development in foreign policy but it contrasts with serious discontent at home. Since June, thousands of protesters have gathered at weekly demonstrations outside the Prime Minister’s Jerusalem residence and elsewhere in Israel, calling for Netanyahu to resign over his serial corruption indictments, his mismanagement of the country’s COVID-ravaged economy, and his role in Israel’s ongoing constitutional crisis. The new measures, which are set to come into force hours before the start of Jewish New Year this Friday, have drawn further backlash from small businesses, and religious communities.

Here’s what to know about the new shutdown, how Israelis are reacting, and what lessons it could have for other parts of the world where cases are rising.

Why is Israel locking down for a second time?

The shutdown comes on the recommendation of Israel’s Health Ministry and Netanyahu’s coronavirus czar, Ronni Gamzu. Shortly after Gamzu took up the post in July, he told local television networks that the “socioeconomic trauma” inflicted by COVID restrictions was greater than its health impact. With Israel still in recession and the unemployment rate above 25% Gamzu said he had no plans to reimpose lockdown measures.

Those plans have changed in light of Israel’s soaring infection rate. In recent days, Israel has registered between 3,000 and 4,000 new cases daily and there are currently more than 40,000 active cases in a country of just 9-million people. Ahead of religious holidays that traditionally see Israelis gather with relatives at home, or attend prayers in synagogues, hospital directors have warned Israel’s parliament that the healthcare system risks collapse if cases keep rising. On Monday, one overburdened hospital in northern Israel announced it would not be accepting any more coronavirus patients because of overcrowding. READ MORE
In the US
Bill Gates slams ‘shocking’ U.S. response to Covid-19 pandemic | statnews.com
Philanthropist Bill Gates, who has long warned of the need to prepare for pandemics, is dumbfounded by how poorly the United States has responded to Covid-19.

In an interview with STAT, Gates sounded exasperated at times as he described the badly bungled launch of Covid-19 testing, the enlisting of a neuroradiologist — rather than an epidemiologist or infectious diseases specialist — to help guide the White House’s response decisions, and the recent move to discourage testing of people who have been in contact with a known case but who aren’t yet showing symptoms.

“You know, this has been a mismanaged situation every step of the way,” Gates said in the wide-ranging interview. “It’s shocking. It’s unbelievable — the fact that we would be among the worst in the world.”

He leveled his harshest criticism at Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Stephen Hahn, who mischaracterized findings from a Mayo Clinic study on Covid-19 and said researchers had seen a 35% survival benefit with the use of convalescent plasma. “Many of you know I was a cancer doctor before I became FDA commissioner,” Hahn said at the time. “And a 35% improvement in survival is a pretty substantial clinical benefit.”

“This is third grade math. I mean, are you kidding?” Gates said. “The head of the FDA got up and said it was a 35% death reduction where it’s not even a 3% reduction based on just a tiny little subset that was nonstatistical. This is unheard of.”

In fact, there are no data from randomized controlled trials to indicate whether convalescent plasma — an antibody rich blood product created from blood donations from Covid-19 survivors — actually increases survival. The as-yet unpublished Mayo Clinic study only reports that Covid patients who received plasma infusions with high levels of antibodies fared better than those whose plasma infusions contained lower levels of antibodies.

Hahn later said wider criticism of his remarks was “entirely justified,” and acknowledged his misstatement.

Early in the outbreak, as it was becoming clear the new coronavirus was spreading from China, experts from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation were in regular contact with the Trump administration, urging officials to come up with a plan for who to test and how to test them, and to get surveillance data up on the website of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Gates said from the start the foundation insisted that commercial laboratories should only be paid for their work if they returned test results within 24 hours — a target rarely reached in the U.S. response. Anything longer than that meant the tests were not useful for containing spread of the virus, he said, adding: “You get to write apology notes to the people you infected in the meantime.”

This advice still isn’t being heeded. “I’ve been saying this and I just don’t get why it hasn’t changed,” Gates said.

The CDC’s early missteps on testing — “they created this overly complicated test,” Gates said — was followed by a slow rollout of commercial tests. The commercial tests use polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, to look for small fragments of the genetic material of the virus in mucus swabbed out of the nasal passages of people who are tested.

COVID-19 in the USA

  • Cases: 6,787,665 (+35,965)
  • Deaths: 200,174 (+1,174)
  • Death rate: 2.95%
  • Testing: 93,608,892 individual tests (+718,570)
  • Positivity rate: 7.25%
  • Single-day positivity date: 5.01%
US top 5 infected states:

  1. California: 768,601 COVID-19 cases, 14,615 deaths
  2. Texas: 704,418 COVID-19 cases, 14,711 deaths
  3. Florida: 668,846 COVID-19 cases, 12,788 deaths
  4. New York: 479,184 COVID-19 cases, 33,141 deaths
  5. Georgia: 296,833 COVID-19 cases, 6,398 deaths
In California
In California: Harris and Newsom visit Creek Fire; state’s COVID-19 rate reaches new low | usatoday.com
A day after President Donald Trump visited California and blamed poor forest management for recent wildfires, Gov. Gavin Newsom and Democratic vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris surveyed the damage caused by the Creek Fire on Tuesday afternoon. Harris addressed reporters in front of a charred playground, emptied due to the dual crises of COVID-19 and wildfires, the Visalia Times-Delta reported.

"This is not a partisan issue," she said of global warming. "This is just a fact."

The Creek Fire, which is burning on both sides of the San Joaquin River in Central California, is the state's 12th largest as of Tuesday. Five of the state's 20 largest fires are burning simultaneously. "Climate change is real," Newsom said. "If you don't believe in science, come to California and observe with your own eyes.

Among those fighting the blazes are inmate firefighters, and they are facing longer and more dangerous days due to a shortage of prison fire crews, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

The ranks of incarcerated firefighters have shrunk 30% from last year to this year, leaving a "critical gap" in resources amid a historic fire season. The shortage of prison fire crews has been exacerbated by the pandemic, because the state has released thousands of minimum-security offenders early to prevent the spread of the virus.

"You don't really get to recover," said a 35-year-old inmate working his second fire season. "The resources have been spread so thin." READ MORE
  • COVID-19 California cases: 768,601 (+2,822)
  • COVID-19 California deaths: 14,615 (+153)
  • COVID-19 California death rate: 1.90%
  • COVID-19 California testing: 12,928,170 individual tests (+121,981)
  • COVID-19 California positivity rate: 5.95%
  • COVID-19 California single-day positivity rate: 2.31%
In the Central Valley
The Madera County Department of Public Health COVID-19 Update:

9/15/2020 COVID-19 UPDATE: Reporting 4 new cases bringing the total number of reported cases to 4,230. Of the 4,230:
  • 514 active case (including 15 Madera County residents hospitalized in Madera County) 
  • 3,658 recovered (4 released from isolation) 
  • 58 deceased

Today, the seven local counties together confirmed 658 new infections and 16 new coronavirus deaths (1,427 new cases and 33 new deaths since our last report on Friday 9/11/2020). Our friends and neighbors are needlessly dying, many families are suffering. Science and the courage to follow its logic will solve this pandemic, any other discourse is inadequate.
COVID-19 in Madera + 6 local counties (+% is the positivity rate)

  • Mariposa: 75 cases, 2 deaths, 5,451 tests, 1.38+%
  • Merced: 8,645 cases (+29), 131 deaths (+2), 50,804 tests, 17.02+%
  • Madera: 4,230 cases (+4), 58 deaths, 48,561 tests, 8.71+%
  • Fresno: 26,739 cases (+453), 348 deaths (+11), 253,681 tests, 10.54+%
  • Tulare: 15,361 cases (+91), 253 (+2) deaths, est. 128,008 tests, 12.00+%
  • Kings: 7,125 cases (+15), 77 deaths, 69,518 tests, 10.25+%
  • Kern: 30,916 cases (+66), 333 deaths (+1), 182,384 tests, 16.95+%

COVID-19 in the 7 counties together

  • 7 counties cases: 93,091 (+658)
  • 7 counties deaths: 1,202 (+16)
  • 7 counties death rate: 1.29%
  • 7 Counties tests: 738,407 (est.)
  • 7 Counties positivity rate: 12.61%
Keep observing the simple yet proven habits of physical-distancing, mask-wearing, and frequent hand-washing, that will help drive down new infections and new deaths numbers, to a level low enough so as to give us a chance to reopen our schools for onsite education and thus, reopen our economy. Nothing else will work until we have a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine.
From our hearts to yours,

Fredo and Renee Martin
Workingarts Marketing, inc.

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