Bits ‘n pieces from east, west and beyond

| May 22, 2020 8:28 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:

To avoid a surge in COVID-19 cases, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that non-essential travel should not be considered until 42 days after cases begin declining. The Associated Press reviewed the guidelines in the CDC report, which the White House had not planned to release.

Too rapid of a reopening could cause unnecessary deaths and suffering and a retrograde impact on economic recovery, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the presidential administration’s top infectious disease expert, recently warned the U.S. Senate.

A new study shared by NBC News shows that social distancing can cut the spread of the coronavirus, which causes COVID-19, up to 9 percent per day. Without shelter-in-place orders, there could have been 10 times as many cases as of late April.

COVID-19 is moving from densely populated regions to rural areas, the Washington Post reported. There may be political ramifications to that development, according to research conducted by the Brookings Institution. In recent weeks, 1,014 counties that carried Donald Trump in the 2016 election are now “high-COVID” areas as they report having 100 or more cases per 100,000 residents.

Testifying before Congress, immunologist and vaccine expert Dr. Rick Bright said that without a solid plan to produce and fairly distribute COVID-19 supplies and vaccinations, the U.S. could face “the darkest winter in modern history,” featuring “unprecedented illness.” He said it remains difficult for health professionals to acquire limited supplies.

His comments came as U.S. deaths from the illness hit 84,000. U.S. deaths exceeded 92,000 on May 19 (worldwide deaths were at 319,000).

To avoid his gloomy prognostication, Bright recommended undertaking comprehensive national testing, increasing education on basic COVID-19 safety, ramping up production of equipment and supplies, and implementing a fair system for distribution of resources. The Washington Post noted that, despite his “outstanding” job performance rating at Health and Human Services, Bright earned scorn from some in D.C. for speaking out against the potentially risky use of hydroxychloroquine.

A COVID-19 vaccine developed by Moderna and tested on eight people ended with all subjects producing antibodies. Meanwhile, replication of the virus in patients had been stopped, The New York Times reported. It’s being fast-tracked by the FDA and will next be tested on 600 people.

A firsthand account of COVID-19 at age 33: The day prior to manifesting the disease, Mara Gay ran three miles and walked 10. The next day it felt like “I could not get a deep breath unless I was on all fours.” A month later, she has lingering pneumonia, uses two inhalers and can’t walk a block without stopping. She asks: “Why are more people dying of this disease in the U.S. than anywhere else in the world?” Gay’s opinion piece, with more details about her story, is on The New York Times’ website.

The results of President Donald Trump’s proposed payroll tax cut (no withholding of funds for Social Security) to address COVID-19 financial concerns, according to Social Security Works: Members of Congress and CEOs of Wall Street banks and Fortune 500 companies would see an annual tax cut of $2,754. There would be no tax cuts for the unemployed. The cut is predicted to do long term harm to Social Security, a program that would be healthy if the lid on pay-ins by wealthier citizens were lifted.

A poll by Public Religion Research Institute shows voters over age 75 are now less supportive of the president. About 56 percent of them supported Trump in March, but that slid to 34 percent in April. Talk of older and weaker people as being disposable, if it aids the economy, does not appear to resonate among members of the age group.

Review of the COVID-19 process, from The Week: A human carrier has trillions of the parasitic microbes. Coughing, sneezing, talking or heavy breathing can emit 40,000 droplets that can lead to transmission of the coronavirus through the eyes, nose or mouth. Once inside, the virus’ knobby spikes latch onto human cells. The coronavirus’ vigor on surfaces declines with time.

In humans, the coronavirus first travels to the throat and sinuses. One is then a carrier but may never show or manifest symptoms. Onset of noticeable symptoms averages between two days to two weeks. Recovery can then take two weeks. If the immune system can’t clear the virus, lung cell linings come under attack. Breathing becomes shorter and more difficult. Cells die and lungs can clog with fluid, causing pneumonia.

In up to 3 percent of cases, the immune system fails to respond appropriately and damaged and healthy cells are attacked. Fluids and dying cells fill lung sacs, causing drowning and leads to the potential for multiple organ failure. Why some get sicker than others is not yet known.

Blast from the past: “It is a great advantage to a president, and a major source of safety to the country, for him to know that he is not a great man,” said Calvin Coolidge, 30th president, who served from 1923 to 1929.