Bits ‘n pieces from east, west and beyond

| May 15, 2020 8:41 AM

East, west or beyond, sooner or later events elsewhere may have a local impact, which COVID-19 has illustrated so well. A recent sampling:

As of early Monday, five children were dead from COVID-19, according to NBC New York. They experienced pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome, which affects organs and can put the body into shock. Further study may reveal why COVID-19 impacts adults more than children, and show how the virus operates. The CDC reported that 2 percent of COVID-19 cases involve those under age of 18.

Germany had cautiously reopened with the understanding that if any county exceeded 50 new cases per 100,000 a lock-down would resume. Several counties did so over the weekend. That experience has occurred as well in other nations, like China and South Korea, CNN said.

The United States ranks 39th in the world for coronavirus testing, according to worldometer.info. To safely return to a resemblance of normal life, it’s likely daily testing will be required. The price will be “trivial compared with the economic pit into which the virus is driving this country and the world,” wrote a director of medical ethics and a Yale adjunct biology professor together in Newsweek. The two advocate for “immunity passports” showing a person’s COVID-19 status.

With testing and documentation, they said, even sans a vaccine or treatments, we could start to live in a world free of COVID-19 fears.

Safety tips for re-opening while the death rate climbs: Emergency physician and George Washington University of Public Health’s Leona Wen, writing in the Washington Post, said that re-opening without a cure or vaccine will cause C-19 to spread with “explosive speed.” Wen argues that family gatherings and shopping aren’t worth the risk. Wen recommends continued social distancing, washing hands frequently, limiting human interactions at work and becoming an advocate for employee and customer safety.

A UK-Hong Kong study shows that face masks make a significant difference in reducing coronavirus infection rates.

Illinois’ stay-at-home order is constitutional, a 37-page ruling by U.S. District Court Judge John Z. Lee determined. A church had objected to the order. The judge said practicing religion freely “does not include liberty” to expose others to ill health or death.

The church’s suit argued it was unfair that people could grocery shop but not gather at a house of worship. Lee said grocery shopping under pandemic restraints means leaving as quickly as possible without social interactions, unlike church gatherings.

California adopted stay-at-home early into the pandemic. With a population of 39.51 million, they’ve had 2,719 COVID-19 related deaths as of May 11. Canada, population 37.8 million, has seen 4,993 deaths. The U.S. has a population 329 million and has suffered 81,634 deaths. Worldwide (population 7.8 billion), there have been 286,000 COVID-19 related deaths.

Business Insider compared the $1,200 CARES Act checks for U.S. citizens to other countries’ plans, which range from one-time cash payments for low-income earners to the U.K paying up to 80 percent of wages, plus free cash grants to small businesses. The chief economist at Nataxis Bank said, when comparing Europe’s approach to the U.S., “The idea is to have no layoffs or company closures, so that when the coronavirus is finally under control the economy can start right back up.”

Scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory, in a new study, said a newly identified strain of the coronavirus could be more contagious than the earliest strain. That strain came to the U.S. from Europe in February. It is now the dominant strain, and has been since mid-March. It spreads faster and appears to make those who’ve already had it liable for a second bout of COVID-19.

COVID-19 and elections in South Korea: They had the world’s first nationwide vote in April and did so by regularly disinfecting polling stations, providing gloves and hand sanitizers for voters, and practicing social distancing. Those with COVID-19 could mail their ballots or vote early at special polling stations, TIME reported. Voter turnout was higher than that of the previous election.

Priorities sought by U.S. doctors and nurses: access to personal protective equipment and diagnostic testing, says Dr. Bill Frist, a heart transplant surgeon and former senator. He told Newsweek there are two other important needs to meet. One is a National Response Portal that would analyze data and provide community monitoring that would lead to the reopening schools and businesses. The other is the expansion of telehealth, which he said could safely replace more than 80 percent of routine visits and cross-state physician licensing, which could increase physician capacity by up to 40 percent.

Big Blast from the past: Mount St. Helens erupted May 18, 1980, killing 57 people and creating a 15-mile high volcanic cloud. Trees downed by the blast still float in Spirit Lake. The volcano, on active status, went from 9,677 feet high to 8,330 feet, and can be climbed without technical experience.