COVID-19

Monday, August 3, 2020

Nobody Accurately Tracks Health Care Workers Lost to COVID-19. So She Stays Up At Night Cataloging the Dead.

Posted By on Mon, Aug 3, 2020 at 12:00 PM

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When police discovered the woman, she’d been dead at home for at least 12 hours, alone except for her 4-year-old daughter. The early reports said only that she was 42, a mammogram technician at a hospital southwest of Atlanta and almost certainly a victim of COVID-19. Had her identity been withheld to protect her family’s privacy? Her employer’s reputation? Anesthesiologist Claire Rezba, scrolling through the news on her phone, was dismayed. “I felt like her sacrifice was really great and her child’s sacrifice was really great, and she was just this anonymous woman, you know? It seemed very trivializing.” For days, Rezba would click through Google, searching for a name, until in late March, the news stories finally supplied one: Diedre Wilkes. And almost without realizing it, Rezba began to keep count.

The next name on her list was world-famous, at least in medical circles: James Goodrich, a pediatric neurosurgeon in New York City and a pioneer in the separation of twins conjoined at the head. One of his best-known successes happened in 2016, when he led a team of 40 people in a 27-hour procedure to divide the skulls and detach the brains of 13-month-old brothers. Rezba, who’d participated in two conjoined-twins cases during her residency, had been riveted by that saga. Goodrich’s death on March 30 was a gut-punch; “it just felt personal.” Clearly, the coronavirus was coming for health care professionals, from the legends like Goodrich to the ones like Wilkes who toiled out of the spotlight and, Rezba knew, would die there.

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Food insecurity amid COVID-19 prompts Native Americans to return to their roots

Posted By on Mon, Aug 3, 2020 at 11:00 AM

PHOTO COURTESY OF UTAH DINÉ BIKÉYAH
  • Photo courtesy of Utah Diné Bikéyah
Editor’s Note: Coronavirus has devastated Native American communities and put a spotlight on some long-standing problems in Indian Country that have made this pandemic that much worse. But at the grassroots level, everyday heroes have stepped up to help. Part of a series.

PHOENIX – From a traditional hogan in a remote area on the Utah-Arizona line, Cynthia Wilson spent much of her spring sourcing drought-resistant seeds, packing them in small manila envelopes and labeling them to ship to families across the Four Corners.

Seeds for corn – white, blue and yellow. For squash. For melons. For many of the foods that long sustained her Navajo ancestors, before their land was carved into a reservation and the government started shipping in commodities. And long before the COVID-19 pandemic emptied grocery store shelves of necessities.

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Cannabis, Lies and Foreign Cash: A Mother and Daughter’s Journey Through the Underground Mask Trade

Posted By on Mon, Aug 3, 2020 at 10:30 AM

Juanita Ramos, left, and her daughter, Dawn. (Montinique Monroe for the Texas Tribune/ProPublica)
  • Juanita Ramos, left, and her daughter, Dawn. (Montinique Monroe for the Texas Tribune/ProPublica)
ProPublica is a nonprofit newsroom that investigates abuses of power. Click here to read their biggest stories as soon as they’re published.

In late April, as an escalating pandemic shut down most of the country and the federal government shelled out billions of dollars to untested contractors for protective masks, Juanita Ramos got a call from a friend in the marijuana business.

Her friend and some other ganjapreneurs were buzzing over a potentially huge payday. They had in their possession a $34.5 million purchase order from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. A contractor hired by the VA to provide 6 million N95 respirators to the nation’s largest hospital system had searched for weeks but found none of the potentially life-saving masks. So he had reached out far and wide for help, offering to cut in anyone who could help him finance, purchase and deliver masks by his deadline.

His PO, as it’s commonly called, had made its way to players in the cannabis industry, where deals are made quickly and often in cash. The friend asked Ramos: Did she want in on the action?

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Southern AZ COVID-19 AM Roundup for Monday, Aug. 3: Total cases hit 179K; Death toll rises to 3,779; Congressman Grijalva tests positive for coronavirus

Posted By on Mon, Aug 3, 2020 at 9:14 AM

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The number of Arizona’s confirmed novel coronavirus cases topped 179,000 as of Monday, Aug. 3, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services.

Pima County had seen 16,741 of the state’s 179,497 confirmed cases.

A total of 3,779 Arizonans had died after contracting COVID-19, according to the Aug. 3 report.

Arizona hospitals remain under pressure although the number of patients has declined from a peak earlier this month. ADHS reported that as of Aug. 2, 2,017 COVID patients were hospitalized in the state, down from a peak of 3,517 on July 13 and the lowest number hospitalized since June 22, when 2,136 were hospitalized.

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A total of 1,138 people visited ERs on Aug. 2 with COVID symptoms. The number of ER visits hadn’t dipped that low since June 29, when 1,077 people with COVID symptoms visited ERs. That number peaked at 2,008 on July 7.

A total of 628 COVID-19 patients were in ICU beds on Aug. 2. That’s the lowest it’s been since June 26, when 657 COVID-19 patients were in ICU. The number in ICUs peaked at 970 on July 13.

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Grijalva Tests Positive for Coronavirus

Congressman Raul Grijalva has tested positive for the coronavirus.

Grijalva, 72, had been in self-quarantine after being in contact during hearings with Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas, who tested positive last week.

Grijalva, a Democrat who has represented Southern Arizona since he was first elected to Congress in 2002, said he felt fine and was showing no symptoms.

In a prepared statement, Grijalva was critical of Republican members of Congress who refuse to wear masks.

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Saturday, August 1, 2020

Congressman Raul Grijalva Tests Positive for COVID-19

Posted By on Sat, Aug 1, 2020 at 10:30 AM

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Congressman Raul Grijalva, a Democrat who was first elected to serve Southern Arizona in Congress in 2002, announced today that he had tested positive for COVID-19.

Grijalva, 72, had been in self-quarantine after Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas tested positive earlier this week. He said he felt fine and was showing no symptoms.

Grijalva's comment:

The Attending Physician of the Capitol informed me that I tested positive for COVID-19. As a result, I will be self-isolating in quarantine at his recommendation. I currently have no symptoms, feel fine, and hope to make a quick and speedy recovery.

While I cannot blame anyone directly for this, this week has shown that there are some Members of Congress who fail to take this crisis seriously. Numerous Republican members routinely strut around the Capitol without a mask to selfishly make a political statement at the expense of their colleagues, staff, and their families. I’m pleased that Speaker Pelosi has mandated the use of masks at the Capitol to keep members and staff safe from those looking to score quick political points. Stopping the spread of a deadly virus should not be a partisan issue.

I urge all of us to recognize the severity of this virus and follow the CDC guidance to keep our family, friends, and loved ones safe. We can all play a part in stopping the spread of COVID-19 in our communities.

Friday, July 31, 2020

COVID-19 on pace to become third-leading cause of death in state

Posted By on Fri, Jul 31, 2020 at 3:30 PM

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PHOENIX – Six months after the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in Arizona, the disease is well on its way to becoming the third-leading cause of death in the state this year, following cancer and heart disease, according to state data.

As of Friday, July 31, the Arizona Department of Health Services reported 3,694 deaths from COVID-19, which was first reported in the state on Jan. 26. That number has grown by 631 in the last week alone.

If COVID-19 deaths continue at the current pace, that would put the disease squarely between cancer, which killed 12,097 Arizonans in 2018, and accidents, which killed 4,211 people that year, the most recent for which state mortality numbers are available.

A health department official cautioned against reading too much into the numbers at this time, however, noting that the cause of death will not be official until analysts can review death certificates, something that is not likely to happen until late 2021.

“Final death certificate information can take weeks or months to collect, depending upon the complexity of each case and whether testing or autopsy is required through the medical examiner,” said Holly Poynter, the department spokesperson, adding that final counts “tend to be lower than the counts produced” by daily reporting.

But other health experts in the state said the disease could “easily” become one of the biggest killers in the state this year.

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Your Southern AZ COVID-19 AM Roundup for Friday, July 31: 174K Confirmed Cases in AZ; Trump Backs Away from Call To Delay in November Presidential Election; Senate Effort To Pass New Relief Package Stalls as Boosted Unemployment Benefits Expire

Posted By on Fri, Jul 31, 2020 at 9:12 AM

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The total number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Arizona climbed past 174,000 as of Friday, July 31, after the state reported 3,212 new cases this morning, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services.

Pima County had seen 16,167 of the state's 174,010 confirmed cases.

A total of 3,694 people have died after contracting the virus, including 459 in Pima County.

Maricopa County had 117,293 of the state's cases.

Hospitals remain under pressure, although they report a slight decrease in the number of Arizonans hospitalized with COVID-19-related symptoms. The report shows that 2,302 COVID patients were hospitalized yesterday in the state, down from a peak of 3,517 on July 13. That’s the lowest number of hospitalized COViD patients since June 23, when 2,270 people were in hospital beds.

A total of 1,195 people visited ERs yesterday with COVID symptoms, the lowest that number has dipped since July 28, when 1,225 people sought help in ERs for COVID symptoms. That number peaked at 2,008 on July 7.

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A total of 719 COVID-19 patients were in ICU beds yesterday, the lowest number since July 3, when XXX COVID patients were in ICU. The number of COVID patients in ICUs peaked at 970 on July 13.

TRAILING IN POLLS, TRUMP SAYS HE WASN'T SERIOUS ABOUT ASKING FOR DELAY IN ELECTION

As he trails Democrat Joe Biden in the polls, President Donald Trump yesterday said he wasn’t really serious about delaying the election, although he expressed concern that allowing people to mail in ballots during a pandemic would lead to massive fraud and lawsuits that could linger in the courts for years.

“Do I want to see a day change?” Trump said during his daily coronavirus briefing. “No. But I don’t want to see a crooked election.”

Trump had started the day with a tweet asking if the election should be delayed.

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Thursday, July 30, 2020

How the Trump Administration Allowed Aviation Companies to Keep Relief Money That Was Supposed to Go to Workers

Posted By on Thu, Jul 30, 2020 at 4:00 PM

Gebrish Weldemariam, who was laid off by an airline catering company that later received government aid, with his family outside their Virginia home. (Dee Dwyer for ProPublica)
  • Gebrish Weldemariam, who was laid off by an airline catering company that later received government aid, with his family outside their Virginia home. (Dee Dwyer for ProPublica)
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This spring, as the coronavirus spread and international travel bans grounded flights, Gebrish Weldemariam got a layoff letter from his airline catering job at Dulles International Airport.

He’d been working as a driver making more than $18 per hour for Flying Food Group, ferrying in-flight meals between the company’s kitchen and gated planes waiting on the tarmac. Between overtime at the airport and a part-time job driving buses on the side, Weldemariam felt that times were good. Last fall, with his wife expecting a fourth child, the family bought a house not far from the airport, allowing him to be nearby to help care for his oldest son, who has Down syndrome and needs constant attention.

“I have kids. I have a mortgage. I have two car loans,” Weldemariam said. “That’s why I work hard.”

Flying Food Group told him only that when business picks up, it would call him. Now, even with boosted unemployment benefits, he said he makes $600 less than a typical week when he was working. He’s worried he won’t be able to cover all of his monthly bills.

Flying Food didn’t just lay off Weldemariam. The Chicago-based company, one of the largest airline caterers in the country, has pink slipped more than 2,000 other workers since March. The cuts left the vast majority of its workforce out of a job at facilities in California, Chicago, Virginia and the New York City area, according to the union UNITE HERE, which represents Flying Food workers. Then in June, the Flying Food was approved to receive $85 million from the Trump administration from a pandemic relief program that was intended to preserve those very jobs.

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