Our Response to COVID-19: Information
Good evening,

December 18, 2020 -- 738,913 is the new global daily record of confirmed infections, established yesterday. Today's 12,326 global death toll is the fourth day with over 12,000 daily deaths (above the last seven days' 11,409 daily average) and the world has added 4,537,971 new cases in the last week, with a growing daily average of 648,282 positive tests over the last seven days, on track to reach 83 million global covid-19 infections and over 1.8 million related deaths by New Year’s Eve. Today, covid-19 killed one person every 6.98 seconds.

Many countries, including the United States, set new records of single day confirmed infections and related deaths in this continuing and relentless global surge. Brazil is again publishing alarming daily numbers, after having hovered around 20,000 daily cases in early November, the country is now spiking with a surge of cases, reporting 68,832 new daily infections on Thursday. South Korea, one of the earliest global flares, revealing its first confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection on the same day as the United States', in January 2020, held as an example of efficient covid-19 spread containment, is also experiencing a troubling surge, the magnitude of which is far less alarming, compared to other current global hot spots, but nonetheless worthy of note. Sweden’s covid-19 cases peaked again this week, as its King Carl XVI Gustaf publicly proclaimed that its country's coronavirus approach 'had failed'.

COVID-19 in the world today:

  • COVID-19 Global cases: 75,992,769 (+717,261)
  • COVID-19 Global deaths: 1,680,357 (+12,387)
  • COVID-19 Global death rate: 2.21%
  • COVID-19 Global testing*: 1,138,188,351 confirmed tests (+7,401,892)
  • COVID-19 Global positivity rate: 6.68%
  • COVID-19 Global single-day positivity rate: 9.64%

*: 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.
The U.K. has identified a new Covid-19 strain that spreads more quickly. Here’s what they know | cnbc.com
England’s top medical officer on Saturday announced that the U.K. has identified a new variant of the coronavirus that “can spread more quickly” than prior strains of the virus, leading Prime Minister Boris Johnson to impose fresh restrictions on parts of the nation to control its spread.

“We’re learning about it as we go, but we already know enough, more than enough, to be sure that we must act now,” Johnson said during a press briefing on Saturday where he laid out fresh restrictions on London and other parts of England ahead of the Christmas holiday.

“When the virus changes its method of attack, we must change our method of defense,” Johnson said.

The U.K. government announced the new coronavirus strain on Monday following an increase in cases in the southern and eastern parts of England. Just over 1,100 Covid-19 cases with the new variant had been identified as of Sunday, according to a statement from Public Health England.

Now, it’s thought that the new strain could be up to 70% more transmissible than the original strain of the disease, Johnson said on Saturday, adding that it appears to be driving the rapid spread of infections. Johnson called on residents to refrain from traveling and “stay local” to prevent the new strain from moving around the country and abroad.

The United Kingdom is reporting roughly 24,061 new Covid-19 cases every day, based on a weekly average, which is a more than 40% increase compared with a week ago, according to a CNBC analysis of data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

“This is early data, and it’s subject to review, but it’s the best that we have at the moment and we have to act on information as we have it because this is now spreading very fast,” Johnson said.

Great Britain COVID-19 data

  • global rank: 7
  • 1,977,167 cases (+28,507)
  • 65,541 deaths (+489)
  • 49,579,548 tests
  • positivity rate 3.99%
  • 24hr positivity rate: 7.11%
Sweden COVID-19 deaths

  • global rank: 33
  • 367,120 cases (+9,659) peak
  • 7,993 deaths (+20)
  • 3,989,420 tests N/A
  • positivity rate 8.96%
  • 24hr positivity rate: N/A
Colombia COVID-19 deaths

  • global rank: 11
  • 1,482,072 (+13,277) peak
  • 40,019 deaths (+232)
  • 7,386,031 tests (+75,263)
  • positivity rate 20.07%
  • 24hr positivity rate: 17.64%
South Korea COVID-19 deaths

  • global rank: 90
  • 47,515 cases (+1,062)
  • 645 deaths (+11)
  • 3,598,797 tests (+50,957)
  • positivity rate 1.32%
  • 24hr positivity rate: 2.08%
In the US
39 states reported at least 1,000 new COVID-19 infections in the last 24 hours. Today the nation set a new daily record as it reported 254,680 new infections and covid-19 killed 2,794 Americans in the last 24 hours. A record 114,685 covid-19 patients are now hospitalized in the United States, with 21,745 in ICU and 7,786 currently on ventilators. The numbers are worsening every day: the hospitalization numbers never broke 60,000 during the first two waves. November 2020 was the most infectious month of the pandemic with almost 4.5 million new confirmed covid-19 cases in the US. Many state curves now track the shape of a third more devastating wave. The first 11 days of December have already confirmed 3,922,777 new covid-19 infections, killing 46,480 Americans and putting us on track to pass 7 million new infections by New Year's Eve.
Georgia COVID-19

  • national rank: 7
  • 576,678 cases (+8,141) peak
  • 10,332 deaths (+38)
  • 5,291,181 tests (+49,173)
  • positivity rate 10.90%
  • 24hr positivity rate 16.38%
North Carolina COVID-19 data

  • national rank: 11
  • 466,104 cases (+8,444) peak
  • 6,125 deaths (+60)
  • 6,321,842 tests (+172,197)
  • positivity rate 7.37%
  • 24hr positivity rate: 4.90%
Warp Speed Official: 7.9 Million Doses Of Vaccine Ready For Distribution Next Week | npr.org
With a second COVID-19 vaccine now authorized for emergency use, the top military official with Operation Warp Speed says a combined 7.9 million doses of vaccine are ready to be distributed next week.

U.S. Army General Gustave Perna, the chief operating officer of the federal vaccine effort, briefed reporters on Saturday, less than a day after the Food and Drug Administration authorized the vaccine developed by the biotech company Moderna. Perna said efforts to distribute the Moderna vaccine were already underway, with the first doses scheduled to arrive at sites across the U.S. on Monday.

Perna said the Moderna vaccine will be delivered alongside the Pfizer vaccine — which was authorized on Dec. 11 — and continue throughout the week.

"Just as we did last week with Pfizer, we are prepared," Perna said, noting that Moderna had already moved its vaccine to distribution centers and that shipments would begin rolling out as early as Sunday.

"Jurisdictions have already ordered the vaccine and we know it is going to
3,700-plus locations with more requests coming in every day based on
allocations," Perna said.

COVID-19 in the USA

  • Cases: 17,888,353 (+254,680) PEAK
  • Deaths: 320,680 (+2,794)
  • Death rate: 1.79%
  • Testing: 230,816,169 individual tests (+2,207,096)
  • Positivity rate 7.75%
  • Single-day positivity date: 11.54%
US top 5 infected states:

  1. California: 1,1809,469 COVID-19 cases, 22,437 deaths
  2. Texas: 1,572,594 COVID-19 cases, 25,663 deaths
  3. Florida: 1,181,483 COVID-19 cases, 20,414 deaths
  4. Illinois: 886,805 COVID-19 cases, 16,206 deaths
  5. New York: 868,068 COVID-19 cases, 36,222 deaths
In California
In California, wealthy patients are offering top dollar to cut the line for a Covid-19 vaccine | cnn.com
(CNN)While the nation continues to see record levels of new Covid-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths, wealthy patients in Southern California -- the epicenter of the state's Covid-19 crisis -- are offering to pay top dollar to cut the line and be among the first to receive a vaccine.

At a number of concierge medical practices in Southern California, doctors say they've received calls from their well-off clients asking if they can have early access to the extremely limited supply of vaccine doses in exchange for a financial contribution to a hospital or charity.

Dr. Jeff Toll, whose boutique internal medicine practice has admitting privileges at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, said one patient offered to donate $25,000 to the hospital in exchange for an early shot of the vaccine. Toll's practice services a well-heeled clientele that includes chief executives and entertainment figures, but the doctor said he is telling his patients they too must wait as the first rounds of vaccines are distributed to those most in need of protection.

Earlier this week, California received 327,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine, administering the first shots to front line health care workers battling the virus that has caused more than 22,000 deaths statewide since the start of the pandemic.
"I think one of the difficult things is for physicians who take care of these high-power people to be able to say, no you have to wait," Toll said. "These people don't usually have to wait."

Toll said his practice has applied with the state of California to become a vaccine distribution center for his clients and has already purchased special ultra-cold freezers in anticipation of storing vials of the Pfizer vaccine.

In the last seven days, California has confirmed 283,679 new covid-19 cases and the disease has killed 1,586 more Californians.

  • COVID-19 California cases: 1,809,469 (+49,070)
  • COVID-19 California deaths: 22,437 (+278)
  • COVID-19 California death rate: 1.24%
  • COVID-19 California testing: 28,741,027 individual tests (+284,669)
  • COVID-19 California positivity rate: 6.30%
  • COVID-19 California single-day positivity rate: 17.24%
In the Central Valley
The Madera County Department of Public Health COVID-19 Update:

12/18/2020: Reporting 82 cases from the public, 50 from Valley State Prison, and 1 from Central California Women’s Facility (total 133 cases) bringing the total number of reported cases to 8,574. 
Of the 8,574:
  • 2,347 active case (including 25 Madera County residents hospitalized in Madera County)
  • 6,116 recovered (79 released from isolation)
  • 111 deceased
Madera County is averaging 137 new cases per day (86 per 100K), with 962 new cases revealed over the last 7 days. We need to get down to an average of 11 cases per day or 77 cases over 7 days to switch from purple to red (from "widespread" to "substantial" contagion risk).

Merced and Fresno counties are recreating new dashboards; some of the information previously published is no longer displayed, which will affect these reports. Madera county has decided to only report covid-19 deaths once a week on Wednesdays.

Today, the seven local counties together reported 3,647 new infections and 14 new coronavirus deaths. In the combined 7 counties, COVID-19 has infected 173,809 people and has killed 1,821 residents of our region since it claimed its first central valley victim, in Madera, on March 26, 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: 185 cases, 4 deaths, 10,708 tests, 1.73+%
  • Merced: 16,026 cases (+215), 216 deaths (+4), 84,796 tests, 18.90+%
  • Madera: 8,574 cases (+133), 111 deaths, 118,002 tests, 7.27+%
  • Fresno: 49,918 cases (1,857), 557 deaths, 513,361 tests, 9.72+%
  • Tulare: 28,130 cases (+340), 353 deaths (+7), est. 281,300 tests, 10.00+%
  • Kings: 14,289 cases (+216), 101 deaths, 188,939 tests, 7.56+%
  • Kern: 56,687 cases (+886), 479 deaths (+3), 309,637 tests, 18.31+%

COVID-19 in the 7 counties together

  • 7 counties cases: 173,809 (+3,647)
  • 7 counties deaths: 1,821 (+14)
  • 7 counties death rate: 1.05%
  • 7 Counties tests: 1,506,743 (est.)
  • 7 Counties positivity rate: 11.54%
This was the most infectious week since the first case was discovered in the central valley's seven monitored counties, 40 weeks ago. In the last 7 days, 20,881 new infections and 69 covid-19 deaths were confirmed. The ongoing covid-19 surge added the humbling count of 6,148 more cases to last week's record numbers. To date, COVID-19 has killed 1,821 and infected 173,809 California Central Valley residents in the area covered by Merced, Mariposa, Madera, Fresno, Tulare, Kings, and Kern Counties. The next few weeks will prove difficult as the massive caseload hike of the last seven days will inevitably translate into the painful reality of a vast loss of life in the region.
Ambulances serving Fresno hospitals may deny rides for less-sick patients as COVID surges
Hospital emergency rooms in Fresno County and neighboring Valley counties have gotten so full with coronavirus patients and people with other serious illnesses and conditions that ambulance crews are being told, starting Friday night, to assess patients and deny them rides to hospitals if they are not true emergencies.

Dan Lynch, Fresno County’s emergency medical services coordinator, told reporters Friday that an unprecedented “assess and refer” policy will take effect Friday night for paramedic ambulance crews in Fresno, Kings, Madera and Tulare counties.

“An ambulance will respond to a call (and) evaluate the patient,” Lynch said. “If you can be seen at an urgent care or wait a couple of days and visit your primary care physician, they will be referred to that and not transported to the emergency department.”

“This is precedent-setting for our area,” he added. “We’ve never had to get to this point in Fresno County before,” he added.

Across Fresno, Kings, Madera, and Tulare counties, hospitals were treating nearly 900 confirmed and suspected COVID-19 patients as of Thursday, including 153 people who were sick enough to require treatment in intensive-care units.

Keep observing the simple yet proven safety 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.

PS: We welcome comments and questions. If you wish to review previous reports, we now host past issues here.