Boston COVID-19 positive rate is a “wildfire” close to becoming an “inferno”

Boston’s COVID-19 positive test rate is a “wildfire” that is close to becoming an “inferno” if officials fail to take more precautions, according to one expert.

The city’s positive test rate has doubled in a month and a half to 7.8%, and shows no sign of dropping.

And Boston is not alone. Last week, 121 of the state’s cities and towns — more than a third of the 351 total Massachusetts municipalities — are in the high-risk “red zone.”

“7.8 % is a wildfire. We’re getting close to an inferno,” said Dr. Todd Ellerin, director of infectious diseases at South Shore Health. “The time is now to take our foot completely off the accelerator and onto the brakes; otherwise the governor, his leadership team and the state Department of Public Health will be forced to put their foot on the emergency brake. It may already be too late to avoid that.”

Boston Health Chief Marty Martinez told reporters on Friday that the city is considering stopping indoor dining or rolling back other restrictions as coronavirus cases continue to mount.

The city shut down both indoor and outdoor dining, as well as a range of other businesses, at the start of the pandemic before gradually allowing them to reopen over the summer.

But stopping indoor dining will not be enough to reverse the infection rate, Ellerin said. Because 80% of the coronavirus clusters have been in people’s homes, he said, they should wear masks at home, as well as elsewhere, and everyone who can work from home should.

Because people need ventilation, they also should open windows about 6 inches when they’re in a room, Ellerin said, and they should think twice about having people with whom they don’t live over for Thanksgiving.

Dr. Amesh Adalja, senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, said shutdowns or stay-at-home orders are not the solution.

“What you have to do is look at what’s driving the increase; is it restaurants, is it bars, is it sports activities?” Adalja said. “You can fix it. … It always boils down to testing, tracing and isolating.”

Dr. Jeffrey Singer, a Phoenix-based general surgeon and senior fellow at the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, agreed that lockdowns are not the answer, nor, he added is “micromanaging.”

“It’s a fool’s errand to think that if you lock down long enough, the virus is going to disappear,” Singer said. “We should give people who run businesses the freedom to come up with their own solutions, based on CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) guidelines. One size does not fit all. The more flexibility you have, the more compliance your’e going to get.”

But Ellerin said it’s unclear if individual behaviors will be enough to reverse the positivity rate.

“This virus can be unforgiving and relentless,” he said. “We have to act aggressively now because before we blink, the positive test rate could be 10 to 15%. Everything should be on the table because we are

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About 17% of COVID-19 Survivors Retest Positive on Follow-Up

Find the latest COVID-19 news and guidance in Medscape’s Coronavirus Resource Center.

For reasons unknown, about 1-in-6 people who recovered from COVID-19 subsequently retested positive at least 2 weeks later, researchers reported in a study in Italy.

Sore throat and rhinitis were the only symptoms associated with a positive result. “Patients who continued to have respiratory symptoms, especially, were more likely to have a new positive test result,” lead author Francesco Landi, MD, PhD, told Medscape Medical News.

“This suggests the persistence of respiratory symptoms should not be underestimated and should be adequately assessed in all patients considered recovered from COVID-19,” he said.

“The study results are interesting,” Akiko Iwasaki, PhD, an immunobiologist at Yale University and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, told Medscape Medical News. “There are other reports of RNA detection postdischarge, but this study…found that only two symptoms out of many — sore throat and rhinitis — were higher in those with PCR-positive status.”

The study was published online September 18 in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

The findings could carry important implications for people who continue to be symptomatic. “It is reasonable to be cautious and avoid close contact with others, wear a face mask and possibly undergo an additional nasopharyngeal swab,” said Landi, associate professor of internal medicine at Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Rome, Italy.

“One of most interesting findings is that persistent symptoms do not correlate with PCR positivity, suggesting that symptoms are in many cases not due to ongoing viral replication,” Jonathan Karn, PhD, professor and chair of the Department of Molecular Biology and Microbiology at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland, Ohio, told Medscape Medical News when asked to comment.

“The key technical problem, which they have discussed, is that a viral RNA signal in the PCR assay does not necessarily mean that infectious virus is present,” Karn said. He added that new comprehensive viral RNA analyses would be needed to answer this question.

Official COVID-19 Recovery

To identify risk factors and COVID-19 survivors more likely to retest positive, Landi and members of the Gemelli Against COVID-19 Post-Acute Care Study Group evaluated 131 people after hospital discharge.

All participants met World Health Organization criteria for release from isolation, including two negative test results at least 24 hours apart, and were studied between April 21 and May 21. Mean age was 56 and 39% were women. Only a slightly higher mean BMI of 27.6 kg/m2 in the positive group, vs 25.9 kg/m2 in the negative group, was significant.

Although 51% of survivors reported fatigue, 44% had dyspnea, and 17% were coughing, the rates did not differ significantly between groups. In contrast, 18% of positive survivors and 4% of negative survivors had a sore throat (P = .04), and 27% vs 12%, respectively, reported rhinitis (P = .05).

People returned for follow-up visits a mean 17 days after the second negative swab test.

Asymptomatic COVID-19 Carriers?

“These findings indicate that a noteworthy rate of recovered

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Residents test positive at Kansas nursing home

MISSION, Kan. — A nursing home where every resident has tested positive for the coronavirus in a rural Kansas county with the state’s highest infection rate has been removed from the Medicare program, putting its funding at risk.

A scathing report from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services cited a lack of masks as a main driver in the outbreak at the Andbe Home in Norton, Kansas. Sixty-one residents and about three dozen staff members have been infected at the home, and 12 have died.

That outbreak, along with one at a nearby state prison, has brought Norton County to the point where 106 out of every 1,000 residents have contracted the virus.


The federal report said infected residents were kept in the same rooms with those who were not sick, with only a sheet separating them. Communal dining continued for two days after residents began showing symptoms, and even then the facility waited a week before testing all its residents.

Amid the outbreak, the report said, six different staff members also were observed with their masks removed. The report said the failures “placed all residents in immediate jeopardy.

The agency said the facility faces $14,860 in fines and that it will lose its Medicare funding effective Nov. 18, although its temporary manager, Mission Health Communities, hopes to make adequate changes before then.

Mission Health, which took over the facility on Wednesday, is working to help restore compliance — an effort that will involve boosting testing and infection control precautions, ensuring adequate person protective equipment and restricting visitors, said Cheri Kauset, the company’s vice president of customer experience and communications.

___

HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:

— WHO says Europe has reached 10 million coronavirus cases

— Spain to keep state of emergency until May 2021

— Pope Francis ends general public audiences amid virus surge in Italy

— U.S. public health experts say the nation’s response to the crises has been marked by grave missteps and missed opportunities.

— ‘Difficult winter’: Europe divided on lockdowns as cases soar. EU leaders try to coordinate their approach to virus testing, tracing and vaccines.

— Advertising executive feeds downtrodden Venezuelans from his bicycle seat. Every day, he hands out corn flour patties known as arepas to the hungry.

___

— Follow AP’s coronavirus pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

___

HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn said protestors were at her home Thursday morning after her personal information was leaked online.

Dunn said it was “scary and wrong” that anyone would feel comfortable sharing her personal information. It was unclear which group organized the protest and why they were protesting.

“It’s taken a really big toll on my family and myself,” Dunn said when asked about the protest during the governor’s weekly COVID-19 briefing. “I think it’s really unfortunate we live in a state where people feel that it is OK to harass civil servants,”

Gov. Gary Herbert

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2 people who attended Trump’s rally in North Carolina have tested positive for coronavirus

The Gaston County Health & Human Services Department said in a statement Thursday that there have been two positive Covid-19 cases “involving individuals attending the recent campaign rally in Gastonia.”

The department stressed that the cases are “not thought to be an indication of spread from the rally at this time, but rather two independent cases among individuals who were in attendance.” The event took place at Gaston Municipal Airport on October 21.

Trump rallied last Wednesday in the Charlotte suburb, where he told attendees the pandemic was “rounding the corner.” Trump was due to return on Thursday but postponed that rally citing “gusts reaching 50 miles per hour and other weather conditions,” according to an email sent by his campaign.

Health officials said that due to the number in attendance last week they are unable to properly contact trace those who may have been exposed.

“Because of the large number of potential contacts from the rally, and the inability to alert them directly, the community is being notified so they can assess their own risk and take appropriate actions,” the health department statement said. “Anyone who was in attendance at the rally is encouraged to monitor their symptoms and seek testing if needed.”

One of the people who tested positive, a reporter who covered the rally for a local TV station, confirmed his positive test on Twitter.

“Full disclosure: I’m one of the two people who tested positive after covering Pres. Trump’s Gastonia rally. Thankfully, I feel okay though I’m quarantining per county guidelines,” Brandon Goldner, a reporter with WCNC Charlotte, wrote on Twitter.

Goldner said that he has contacted everyone who he “interviewed or interacted with” before the positive test result, and that he was wearing a mask at the entire rally, but “Secret Service protocols” occasionally made social distancing not possible.

WCNC Charlotte confirmed the positive test in a statement on its website.

CNN reached out to the Secret Service for comment.

When reached by CNN, the Trump campaign pointed to the county health department’s statement.

Cases on the rise

North Carolina is seeing high case counts and hospitalizations from Covid-19 as the virus continues spreading throughout the state, Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, said Wednesday.

The state has seen nearly 270,000 cases of Covid-19 resulting in 4,283 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University’s tally of cases in the United States.

Cooper said the state continues to monitor hospitalizations, adding, “We have plenty of hospital capacity, plenty of ICU capacity, plenty of labor capacity, but you are concerned when you see it creep up, and (Dr. Mandy Cohen, secretary of the state health department) continues to be concerned about some smaller hospitals that are already feeling a little bit of the pinch here.”

Contact tracers are finding that many Covid-19 cases come from smaller gatherings of extended family and friends, youth group outings, family meals or church, Cooper said.

“We too often let our guard down when we are with people we know and trust. But

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Space Force vice chief of space operations tests positive for COVID-19

Lt. Gen. David D. Thompson, Vice Commander of the United States Space Force, seen at the Air Force Association, Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando, Fla., in February, tested positive for COVID-19 this week. Photo by Jonathan Snyder/U.S. Air Force

Lt. Gen. David D. Thompson, Vice Commander of the United States Space Force, seen at the Air Force Association, Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando, Fla., in February, tested positive for COVID-19 this week. Photo by Jonathan Snyder/U.S. Air Force

Oct. 29 (UPI) — Space Force’s vice chief of space operations tested positive for COVID-19 Wednesday, Space Force announced.

According to a press release issued jointly by the Space Force and the Air Force, Gen. David D. Thompson took a test for the virus after learning that a close family member had tested positive.

Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek said Thompson has not shown symptoms of COVID-19 so far and was on leave last week, but returned to the Pentagon for work on Monday and Tuesday to address a virtual symposium for the National Defense Industrial Association and Texas A&M University.

He is now self-isolating and working from home.

According to Stefanek, Chief of Space Operations Gen. John W. “Jay” Raymond, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown, Jr., and Air Force Secretary Barbara M. Barrett have not tested positive for the new virus within the past 24 hours.

Raymond and Brown recently ended a period of isolation after a potential exposure among the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

“The Department of the Air Force continues to follow established DoD and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention policies and guidelines for COVID. Measures include temperature testing, social distancing to the greatest extent possible, the wearing of masks when social distancing is not possible, and contact tracing and quarantining, if needed,” the press release said.

As of Thursday morning a total of 55,443 COVID-19 cases had been reported in the military since the beginning of the pandemic, with 8,839 of those reported among Air Force personnel.

Earlier this month Marine Corps assistant commandant Gen. Gary Thomas and Adm. Charles Ray, vice commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, tested positive for COVID-19.

And last week United States Forces Korea said 13 service members had tested positive for the virus, the second time in two weeks that USFK reported personnel arriving in Korea had tested positive.

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Positive Coronavirus Case At Clark’s Trunk Or Treat

CLARK, NJ — A person who attended Clark’s Trunk or Treat event has tested positive for the coronavirus, the Clark Health Department stated.

The event was held on Saturday at the Clark Municipal Building.

The Clark Health Department is warning anyone who went to the event to monitor for COVID-19 symptoms, fever, chills, muscle aches/pains, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, wheezing, abdominal pain, and diarrhea to name a few.

Anyone with questions or concerns should speak with their primary care physician or pediatrician.

“If you are feeling ill, stay home from school, work and limit exposure with other people,” Clark Health Officer Nancy Raymond said. “Continue to practice social distancing, good hand hygiene, sanitize high hand contact surfaces and wear face coverings that cover your nose, mouth and chin.”

Those who are being tested for the COVID-19 virus, must stay home until they receive their result.
Those who may test positive will be contacted by the Clark Health Department for further guidance and contact tracing.

As of Friday, the Clark Health Department reports a total of 337 COVID-19 cases in Clark with 333 closed and 4 cases pending.

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This article originally appeared on the Clark-Garwood Patch

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Second highest ranking officer in US Space Force tests positive for Covid-19

“General David D. Thompson, Vice Chief of Space Operations, tested positive today for COVID-19. He took the test today after learning that a close family member, with whom he had contact, tested positive for the virus,” the statement read. “In accordance with established COVID policies, General Thompson is self-quarantining and working remotely from home.”

The US Space Force is a newly formed military service branch structured within the Department of the Air Force that “trains, equips and maintains mission-ready space forces that provide missile warning, space domain awareness, positioning, navigation and timing, communications and space electronic warfare,” according to the US Defense Department.

Thompson isn’t the first Defense Department official to have been diagnosed with the virus. The vice commandant of the US Coast Guard, Adm. Charles Ray, tested positive for Covid-19 earlier this month. His diagnosis prompted Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mark Milley and several members of the Pentagon’s senior leadership to quarantine.
Additionally, during the coronavirus outbreak among members of President Donald Trump’s inner circle who had attended a Rose Garden event earlier this month, at least one staffer — who is military personnel directly assigned to support the President in the Oval Office and residence — tested positive, according to a person familiar with the matter at the time.
The Defense Department has struggled with several coronavirus outbreaks during the pandemic. CNN reported earlier this month that the coronavirus had returned to the USS Theodore Roosevelt, the same aircraft carrier that experienced a major outbreak earlier this year, the handling of which caused the ship’s captain to be fired and led to the resignation of the acting Navy secretary.
In March, the department banned travel for members of the armed services, Defense Department civilian employees and their family members who are living on or serving at military properties to curtail the spread of the coronavirus.
As of Wednesday morning, there had been 81,288 cases of coronavirus and 105 deaths from the virus among Defense Department personnel, according to department data. That includes military, civilian, dependents and contractors.

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Space Force’s No. 2 officer tests positive for Covid-19

The Space Force’s No. 2 officer has tested positive for coronavirus, the service announced Wednesday night.



Pamela Melroy et al. sitting at a table: Then-Lt. Gen. David Thompson, left, testifies before the Senate Aviation and Space Subcommittee in May 2019.


© Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Then-Lt. Gen. David Thompson, left, testifies before the Senate Aviation and Space Subcommittee in May 2019.

Gen. David Thompson, the vice chief of space operations, took a test after a close family member also tested positive, according to a news release. He is self-quarantining and working from home.

Despite one of the service’s top officers being sidelined with the virus, the Space Force “remains operationally ready to answer the nation’s call,” the release said.

Video: UN Chief: conflicts must stop to prevent COVID (Associated Press)

UN Chief: conflicts must stop to prevent COVID

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Contact tracing to determine if other military leaders may have been exposed to Thompson was underway Wednesday night, an Air Force spokesperson said. Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett, Chief of Space Operations Gen. John Raymond and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. C.Q. Brown all tested negative within the last 24 hours, she said.

The news comes three weeks after the Coast Guard’s second in command, Adm. Charles Ray, tested positive, forcing members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and other high-ranking military officials who had been in contact with Ray during a meeting at the Pentagon to self-quarantine.

Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Gary Thomas tested positive two days later on Oct. 7. No other members of the Joint Chiefs got sick and all were cleared to return to work after a two-week quarantine.

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2 patients, 3 staff test positive for COVID-19 at UCSF

Photo of Amy Graff

UCSF Hellen Diller Medical Center Hospital in San Francisco on March 20, 2020.

UCSF Hellen Diller Medical Center Hospital in San Francisco on March 20, 2020.

Douglas Zimmerman/SFGate

UCSF is investigating whether five COVID-19 infections identified at a unit over the past week were the result of transmission within the hospital.

Two patients sharing a room and three employees who cared for them tested positive, and both patients were negative before being admitted to the hospital, UCSF said in a statement released Tuesday.

The small cluster was first identified when one of the patients unexpectedly tested positive on a routine discharge test. A contact-tracing effort found the other cases.

Neither of the patients are displaying any symptoms and the three staff have only mild symptoms, according to the statement.


“We have not yet determined the original source or exact sequence of these infections,” UCSF said. “However, we have isolated these patients and employees, and are working to identify, test and quarantine other individuals who may have been exposed to them, or who have symptoms.”

The location of the unit where the patients and staff tested positive hasn’t been revealed.

UCSF said it is working with the California and San Francisco departments of public health to address the situation.

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Almost half of South Dakota’s prison population tests positive for COVID-19

ABC News Corona Virus Government. Response

The notion that prisons can be sealed from the outside is “magical thinking.”

Nearly half of South Dakota’s 3,347-person prison population has tested positive for COVID-19, according to the most recent data released by the state’s department of corrections Tuesday.

“Unfortunately, the result was predictable,” said Leo Beletsky, a professor of law and health sciences at Northeastern University. “In many states, the top hotspots for COVID spread have been prisons and jails.”

PHOTO: A guard checks on inmates at the Jameson Annex of the South Dakota State Penitentiary in Sioux Falls, S.D., Nov. 13, 2013. A coronavirus outbreak has infected a notable percentage of the inmate population.

A guard checks on inmates at the Jameson Annex of the South Dakota State Penitentiary in Sioux Falls, S.D., Nov. 13, 2013. A coronavirus outbreak has infected a notable percentage of the inmate population.

South Dakota’s concerning rate of COVID-19 in prisons is part of a larger narrative. Like so many aspects of the pandemic, the virus has shined a light on vulnerable communities and weak spots in the health care system. Prisons and jails, many of which are chronically overcrowded dormitory settings with shared toilets and showers, and where basic hygiene is hard to uphold, are primed for infectious disease outbreaks.

“People don’t even have access to soap,” Beletsky added.

Then there’s the population itself. Incarcerated people have higher rates of underlying conditions than the general population, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which puts them at risk for severe complications and death if they contract the virus.

“The reality is that people are living on top of each other and breathing infected air,” said Kate Chatfield, senior adviser for legislation and policy at The Justice Collaborative, a criminal justice research and advocacy organization.

In conjunction with the state health department, the corrections department is doing mass testing in all facilities, according to Mike Leidholt, secretary of corrections. In addition to screening for COVID-19 symptoms and quarantining those who test positive and their close contacts, they’ve restricted access to community work programs and suspended in-person visitation and volunteer opportunities.

In a statement to ABC News, Leidholt detailed additional changes, including: “revised schedules to increase social distancing, bolstered disinfection efforts and laundry services, implemented physical plant changes and adjusted admission and intake processes.”

“All inmates and staff are wearing masks,” Leidholt added.

Importantly, COVID-19 infections in South Dakota prisons don’t exist in a bubble. By every available metric, South Dakota’s COVID-19 outbreak is worsening. On Tuesday, daily infections, hospitalizations, testing positivity rate and deaths were all rising in South Dakota, according to an ABC News analysis of data from The COVID Tracking Project.

“This idea that a correctional facility can be cordoned off and sealed doesn’t reflect reality,” Beletsky said. “That’s magical thinking.”

PHOTO: A fenced area of Mike Durfee State Prison is seen in Springfield, S.D., Oct. 23, 2020. A coronavirus outbreak at the minimum-security facility has infected a notable percentage of the inmate population.

A fenced area of Mike Durfee State Prison is seen in Springfield, S.D., Oct. 23, 2020. A coronavirus outbreak at

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