Our Response to COVID-19: Information
Good evening,

December 23, 2020 -- Today's 13,428 global daily death toll is the second highest, well above the last seven days' 11,686 daily average. The world has added 4,526,955 new cases in the last week, with a daily average of 646,708 new positive tests over the last seven days, on track to reach 84 million global covid-19 infections and over 1.8 million related deaths by New Year’s Eve. Today, covid-19 killed one person every 6.43 seconds.

CNBC reports that over 1 million Americans have been vaccinated, however that is 19 million short of the government's original goal to vaccinate 20 million Americans by the end of the year. The New York Times reports that "As previously agreed, Pfizer will provide an initial 100 million doses by July. The company will also provide an additional 70 million by the end of June and 30 million by the end of July. In exchange for the extra doses, the government is invoking the Defense Production Act to help Pfizer get access to specialized products it needs. With the extra doses, the U.S. will now have enough vaccines to immunize 60 million out of the 260 million eligible for the vaccine."

The long path to the end of the pandemic is winding before us, although still far into the horizon, and the global victory will require yet more patience than we probably wish to muster at this moment. The vaccines are here but they are meaningless to anyone until the two jabs have been administered. Until a majority of us have been immunized, we will need to keep altering our daily lives and keep practicing the mitigation measures we are growing tired of following in this seemingly never-ending nightmare. One thing is almost certain: the 2021 Holidays will be celebrated like never before. Happy Holidays to you all and may your wishes come to be in 2021!

COVID-19 in the world today:

  • COVID-19 Global cases: 79,036,550 (+710,204)
  • COVID-19 Global deaths: 1,736,664 (+13,428)
  • COVID-19 Global death rate: 2.20%
  • COVID-19 Global testing*: 1,174,344,095 confirmed tests (+9,659,133)
  • COVID-19 Global positivity rate: 6.73%
  • COVID-19 Global single-day positivity rate: 7.07%

*: 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.
Genetics experts worry coronavirus vaccines might not work quite as well against UK variant | cnn.com
(CNN) Michael Worobey, a biologist at the University of Arizona, has seen more than 100,000 different strains of the virus that causes Covid-19. But when he saw the new variant from the UK, he noticed something different.

"This is the first variant I've seen during the whole pandemic where I took a step back and said: 'Whoa,' " he remembers.

Health officials have downplayed the possibility that the coronavirus vaccines won't work against the UK strain, but Worobey and other scientists think it's a possibility -- and it's just a possibility -- that this new variant might, to a small extent, outsmart the vaccines.

"This is the first variant I've seen where I think there is this burning question," said Worobey, head of the department of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Arizona.

Trevor Bedford, an associate professor in the vaccine and infectious disease division of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, is also keeping a close eye on the UK variant.

Large clinical trials have shown that the vaccines by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna are about 95% effective against the novel coronavirus. Those trials, however, were done before the UK variant started its explosive growth.

Bedford said he doesn't believe the vaccine will be useless against the new UK strain, but that it might lower its effectiveness somewhat.

"It might decrease vaccine efficacy from 95% to something like 80% or 85%," he said. "It would be a modest effect, not a dramatic effect."

Health officials have said there's no reason to think the vaccine won't work against the new variant.

"[There is] no evidence to suggest, nor reason to believe, that it would evade the vaccines that we have right now," Assistant Secretary for Health Admiral Dr. Brett Giroir said Monday.

"This particular variant in the UK, I think, is very unlikely to have escaped the vaccine immunity," Moncef Slaoui, the head of Operation Warp Speed, said Sunday.

But some scientists point out that this mutation isn't like others that have preceded it.

"We shouldn't immediately jump to the conclusion (as many have done) that it isn't a concern," Kristian Andersen, a professor in the department of immunology and microbiology at Scripps Research Andersen wrote to CNN. "We simply don't know at this point in time -- but we should know more soon."

Great Britain COVID-19 data

  • global rank: 6
  • 2,149,551 cases (+39,237) peak
  • 69,051 deaths (+744)
  • 51,747,003 tests (+459,760)
  • positivity rate 4.15%
  • 24hr positivity rate: 8.53%
Colombia COVID-19 deaths

  • global rank: 12
  • 1,544,826 (+14,233) peak
  • 41,174 deaths (+243)
  • 7,681,709 tests (+74,032)
  • positivity rate 20.11%
  • 24hr positivity rate: 19.23%

In the US
37 states reported at least 1,000 new COVID-19 infections in the last 24 hours. Today the nation reported 230,855 new infections and covid-19 killed 3,357 Americans in the last 24 hours. A record 119,463 covid-19 patients are now hospitalized in the United States, with 22,489 in ICU and 7,819 currently on ventilators. The US hospitalization numbers have more than doubled the apex reached 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 states' curves now track the shape of a third more devastating wave. The 23 days of December 2020 have already confirmed 4,949,907 new covid-19 infections, killing 59,809 Americans, and putting us on track to pass 7 million new infections by New Year's Eve. As Christians celebrate tomorrow's midnight mass, the US will have confirmed over 19 million covid-19 cases.
Texas COVID-19 (peaked yesterday)

  • national rank: 2
  • 1,656,629 cases (+20,642)
  • 26,716 deaths (+255)
  • 14,728,384 tests (+103,907)
  • positivity rate 11.25%
  • 24hr positivity rate 19.87%
Virginia COVID-19 data

  • national rank: 20
  • 319,133 cases (+4,652) peak
  • 4,760 deaths (+55)
  • 4,776,275 tests (+56,313)
  • positivity rate 6.68%
  • 24hr positivity rate: 8.26%
Covid pandemic turned 2020 into the deadliest year in U.S. history, CDC finds | nbcnews.com
This is the deadliest year in U.S. history, with deaths expected to top 3 million for the first time — due mainly to the coronavirus pandemic.

Final mortality data for this year will not be available for months. But preliminary numbers suggest that the United States is on track to see more than 3.2 million deaths this year, or at least 400,000 more than in 2019.

U.S. deaths increase most years, so some annual rise in fatalities is expected. But the 2020 numbers amount to a jump of about 15 percent and could go higher once all the deaths from this month are counted.

That would mark the largest single-year percentage leap since 1918 when tens of thousands of U.S. soldiers died in World War I and hundreds of thousands of Americans died in a flu pandemic. Deaths rose 46 percent that year, compared with 1917.

Pre-pandemic life expectancy
Covid-19 has killed more than 318,000 Americans and counting. Before it came along, there was reason to be hopeful about U.S. death trends.

The nation's overall mortality rate fell a bit in 2019, due to reductions in heart disease and cancer deaths. And life expectancy inched up — by several weeks — for the second straight year, according to death certificate data released Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But life expectancy for 2020 could end up dropping as much as three full years, said Robert Anderson of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC counted 2,854,838 U.S. deaths last year, or nearly 16,000 more than 2018. That's fairly good news: Deaths usually rise by about 20,000 to 50,000 each year, mainly due to the nation's aging, and growing, population.

Indeed, the age-adjusted death rate dropped about 1 percent in 2019, and life expectancy rose by about six weeks to 78.8 years, the CDC reported.

“It was actually a pretty good year for mortality, as things go,” said Anderson, who oversees CDC death statistics.

COVID-19 in the USA

  • Cases: 18,915,483 (+230,855)
  • Deaths: 334,174 (+3,357)
  • Death rate: 1.77%
  • Testing: 240,131,254 individual tests (+1,742,357)
  • Positivity rate 7.88%
  • Single-day positivity date: 13.25%
US top 5 infected states:

  1. California: 2,010,543 COVID-19 cases, 23,635 deaths
  2. Texas: 1,656,629 COVID-19 cases, 26,716 deaths
  3. Florida: 1,234,399 COVID-19 cases, 20,874 deaths
  4. New York: 919,159 COVID-19 cases, 36,883 deaths
  5. Illinois: 918,070 COVID-19 cases, 16,842 deaths
In California
Locked-down California runs out of reasons for surprising surge | politico.com
OAKLAND, Calif. — California has had some of the toughest restrictions in the country to combat the coronavirus, from a complete ban on restaurant dining to travel quarantines and indoor gym closures.

It hasn't been enough.

America's most populous state has become one of the nation's worst epicenters for the disease, setting new records for cases, hospitalizations, and deaths almost every day. Things are so bad in Southern California that some patients are being treated in hospital tents, while doctors have begun discussing whether they need to ration care.

The turnabout has confounded leaders and health experts. They can point to any number of reasons that contributed to California's surge over the past several weeks. But it is hard to pinpoint one single factor — and equally hard to find a silver bullet.

It couldn't come at a worse time, given that the Christmas and New Year's holidays have arrived, and officials fear that residents are even more likely to travel and congregate than during the Thanksgiving period that propelled the current trends.

“We are facing a very, very difficult and very dangerous time in our county, in our region and in our state. All of our numbers are going in the wrong direction, and our reality is rather grim at the moment,” Santa Clara County public health officer Sara Cody said Wednesday.

“If we have a surge on top of a surge," she added, "we will definitely break."

Today, California became the first state to pass the 2 million mark of confirmed covid-19 infections. In the last seven days, California has confirmed 291,245 new covid-19 cases and the disease has killed 1,692 more Californians.

  • COVID-19 California cases: 2,010,543 (+44,328)
  • COVID-19 California deaths: 23,635 (+347)
  • COVID-19 California death rate: 1.18%
  • COVID-19 California testing: 30,468,560 individual tests (+278,378)
  • COVID-19 California positivity rate: 6.60%
  • COVID-19 California single-day positivity rate: 15.92%
In the Central Valley
The Madera County Department of Public Health COVID-19 Update:

"12/23/2020: Reporting 154 cases from the public, 1 from Valley State Prison (total 155 new cases) bringing the total number of reported cases to 9,305. We also regret to report 5 additional deaths.
Of the 9,305:
  • 2,829 active case (including 35 Madera County residents hospitalized in Madera County)
  • 6,360 recovered (52 released from isolation)
  • 116 deceased (5 additional)

  1. Female, 90s, underlying conditions
  2. Female, 90s, no underlying conditions
  3. Male, 80s, no underlying conditions
  4. Male, 70s, no underlying conditions
  5. Male, 60s, no underlying conditions

As a reminder, Madera County has moved to reporting deaths on a weekly basis. As always, reported deaths have COVID-19 listed as a cause of death and have a confirmed positive COVID-19 PCR test result."
Madera County is averaging 148 new cases per day (93 per 100K), with 1,036 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. Merced is no longer reporting its testing data totals.

Today, the seven local counties together reported 3,252 new infections and 120 new coronavirus deaths. In the combined 7 counties, COVID-19 has infected 193,635 people and has killed 1,964 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: 208 cases (+3), 4 deaths, 11,103 tests, 1.787+%
  • Merced: 17,785 cases (+674), 232 deaths (+7)
  • Madera: 9,305 cases (+155), 116 deaths (+5), 124,099 tests, 7.50+%
  • Fresno: 59,640 cases (1,072), 646 deaths (+89), 538,649 tests, 11.07+%
  • Tulare: 30,422 cases (+371), 373 deaths (+13)
  • Kings: 14,951 cases (+68), 108 deaths (+3), 197,276 tests, 7.58+%
  • Kern: 61,324 cases (+1,064), 485 deaths (+3), 323,336 tests, 18.97+%

COVID-19 in the 7 counties together

  • 7 counties cases: 193,635 (+3,252)
  • 7 counties deaths: 1,964 (+120) peak
  • 7 counties death rate: 1.01%

Fresno proposal to shutter retail over COVID-19 spread is still evolving, author says | fresnobee.com
A controversial Fresno ordinance that could close many more businesses to try to reduce the spread of the coronavirus will continue to get some massaging this holiday weekend, according to its author.

Councilmember Luis Chavez said he is working with the Fresno Chamber of Commerce to try to refine the language in the proposed ordinance, which calls for a five-day shutdown of all retail stores if Fresno County’s health care system is further strained.

The number of intensive care units available in the county has lingered in the double digits and Chavez said the number could reach zero by next week if current trends for the spread of COVID-19 continue.

“After consulting business leaders in recent days, I am currently working with colleagues and local small business to revise the language in the proposed bill that creates a workable solution that will ensure the health and safety of our residents, reduce the exploding numbers of COVID-19 infections in our city and protect our economy,” Chavez said.

An additional 952 new coronavirus cases were reported Tuesday in Fresno County, bringing the case count to 58,568, while 89 new deaths were added, raising the death toll to 646 since the pandemic began.

December has been Fresno County’s deadliest month related to the pandemic with about 167 deaths. August held the previous record with 152 deaths. On Tuesday, doctors said they expect even more people to die in the coming weeks as COVID-19 cases continue to rise locally.

Chavez made the proposal public earlier this week. The ordinance would give the city the power to fine shops from $1,000 to $10,000 if they remain open despite the emergency order.

The proposal would apply to all retail and office space, excluding medical facilities, according to the earlier draft. The shutdown could be extended past five days.

But because it is an emergency order, it needs more support from the seven-member board than a simple majority. It would need five “yes” votes, but didn’t seem to have the support on Tuesday.

Councilmembers Garry Bredefeld, Paul Caprioglio and Mike Karbassi said Tuesday they would not support the proposal as it’s written. Three “no” votes would leave the proposal dead in the water.

Councilmember Miguel Arias tweeted Wednesday about the evolving proposal.

“We are monitoring the worsening conditions and the development of the emergency public health mitigation proposed by Councilmember Chavez,” the tweet said. “We are prepared to take actions necessary to protect our city and preserve our health care system at a moment’s notice this holiday season.”

City officials say the special meeting to hear the proposal could be called during the holiday weekend or next week.

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.