Coronavirus live USA: latest Covid-19 news now in U. S - Wednesday 12 August

Coronavirus USA live updates: news, cases, deaths and stimulus checks, in today s morning

U S A coronavirus latest: 06:00 PT / 08:00 ET on Wednesday 12 August (14:00 CEST)
According to the latest figures published by Johns Hopkins University, 20,318,420 cases have been detected worldwide, with 742,048 deaths and 12,606,946 people recovered.

In the US there have been 5,141,879 confirmed cases and 164,545 deaths, with 1,714,960 people recovered from the virus.

spread of misinformation on coronavirus
CNN has cited several celebrities, including Madonna, Rihanna and John Voight, for dangerously spreading misinformation or playing down the severity of coronavirus through their social media channels. 

The same report highlights the a study by the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, which identified "2,311 reports of rumours, stigma, and conspirancy theories in 25 languages from 87 countries."

In pictures: U.S.A couple Adria and Ayman Arafat, who were stranded for months in the Gaza Strip by coronavirus-related restrictions, wait to leave the Palestinian Rafah border crossing in the southern Gaza strip before heading home to Florida, August 11, 2020. Picture taken August 11, 2020. (REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa)

Coronavirus sparks surge in armchair investors
It seems that the coronavirus has prompted the sharp rise in the number of armchair investors in the US. A report by NPR cites app, Robinhood, which witnessed its user base grow from from 10 million to 13 million during the first four months of 2020. But critics have warned that such apps make "investing feel like a video game".

China denounces US health chief's criticism over virus as 'political show'
(Reuters) China said on Wednesday that US Health Secretary Alex Azar has performed the "worst in the world" in controlling the novel coronavirus, rejecting criticism of China made by Azar during a three-day trip to Taiwan this week.

Azar attacked China's response to the coronavirus pandemic on Tuesday saying that if such an outbreak had emerged in Taiwan or the United States it could have been "snuffed out easily".

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told a regular briefing the epidemic in the United States was "out of control" and the blame lay with Azar.

"He ignored millions of Americans suffering from the virus and went to Taiwan to put on a political show," Zhao said. "His behaviour proves once again that in the eyes of US politicians, American lives mean nothing when compared with their selfish political gains," he said.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte says he will volunteer for Russian vaccine trials
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has expressed his confidence in Russia's controversially approved vaccine and says he is willing to volunteer in trials.  

“I will volunteer to receive it in public. I will be the first to be experimented on,” Duterte said in a state address broadcast by state-run RTVM (via CNN).

"I believe that the vaccine that (Russia has) produced is really good for humanity. By December... we will hopefully have a Covid-free December."

Renters moving away from big city life
According to a report from CNBC, Manhattan has seen a marked decline in the number of people looking to rent in the heart of the Big Apple as part of a shift from the cities to the suburbs as a reult of the Covid-19 pandemic.

S.Korea, US to hold smaller military drills due to coronavirus 
(Reuters) South Korea and the United States will kick off their annual joint military drills this week but without mobilising US-based troops after scaling back the programme due to coronavirus concerns, South Korean media reported on Wednesday.

The allies have been discussing how to adjust the exercises, which usually begin in August, with the coronavirus threatening to disrupt the travel of US personnel.

The programme involves tens of thousands of soldiers from both sides, though largely focused on computerised simulations rather than live field training.

U.S. insurers' coronavirus costs are less than feared so far
The coronavirus pandemic dealt a relatively modest $2.5 billion blow to five insurers with large U.S. operations in the second quarter - a cost that was far less than feared and which the industry has absorbed without touching capital, analysts said.

American Airlines extends window for employees to seek voluntary exit
American Airlines (AAL.O) told employees on Tuesday the company is extending the window to apply for voluntary exit packages or long-term voluntary leave of absences through Aug. 17.

The announcement comes as it is uncertain if Congress will approve another $25 billion in payroll assistance for passenger airlines to keep tens of thousands of workers employed for another six months after Sept. 30.

The iconic summer job for high school and college students has been on the wane for nearly 20 years. But the pandemic is squeezing even more young people out of the workforce.
Quarantine in Georgia
Remember masks are not mandated at state level with that decision being left to district superintendents.

Anger over plan to block US citizens from entering the country
A Southern California-area hospital system, immigrant advocacy groups and Americans living in Mexico have criticized a US government draft proposal that could block US citizens and permanent residents from entering the country if they are suspected of being infected with the novel coronavirus.

The pushback comes a day after news outlets reported the administration of US President Donald Trump was considering a regulation that would give the government authorization to keep out Americans believed to have contracted Covid-19 or other diseases.

Chris Van Gorder, CEO of Scripps Health, which operates five hospitals in San Diego County, told Reuters the hospital system "would never endorse American citizens not being able to get the care they need."

Scripps and Sharp HealthCare, which operate hospitals that serve many Covid patients in the San Diego-area, sent a joint letter to Trump officials in April that called for medical checks at the border and mandatory quarantine for individuals suspected to be infected with coronavirus. But Van Gorder said they never supported blocking Americans.

Phil Canete, co-director of the Refugee Health Alliance, a San Diego-based organization that provides medical care to migrants, called the reports "extremely troubling." 

"The irony of this regulation is that it presents a barrier for medical workers and (organizations) like ours to mitigate Covid spread across the border," he said.

Americans living in Mexico were also upset by the news. Bruce Newby, who practiced law for two decades in California before retiring in 2003 to Guadalajara, Mexico, called it "ridiculous" and said a 14-day quarantine for US citizens would make more sense. 

"They cannot keep you out," he said. "You have a right to be there." (Reuters)

Hospitalisations fall 25% in San Francisco
There are currently 88 people in hospital with Covid-19 in the city.

Another vaccine deal
The US government has agreed a $1.525 billion deal with Moderna to manufacture and deliver $100 million doses of the company's Covid-19 vaccine, if and once it gets regulatory approval.

Moderna's vaccine, mRNA-1273, has been developed in collaboration with the US Government. It is currently in government funded Phase 3 clinical trials as part of Operation Warp Speed the US government's programme to get a coronavirus vaccine to market as soon as possible. 

The government also has deals with Pfizer, Janssen, Johnson&Johnson, GlaxoSmithKline, Sanofi Pasteur, Novavax and AstraZeneca.

“In creating a vaccine portfolio for Operation Warp Speed, the Trump Administration is increasing the likelihood that the United States will have at least one safe, effective vaccine by 2021,” the US Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said.

Russia's vaccine claims
In case you missed it from earlier, as expected, Russia are claiming they have the first vaccine authorised. There is a problem though, Sputnik V, as the vaccine has been dubbed, has not been through a phase III trial involving thousands of volunteers, a step that is seen as vital in proving the safety of any vaccine. 

There are several vaccines at the same stage as Sputnik V, but they have not received regulatory approval because in the US and Europe a vaccine at phase II would not be granted approval. 

Of course Sputnik V might have no safety issues and turn out to be one of the winners of all the vaccine candidates. But if it given widely, without completing full trials there is the risk of something going badly wrong, which would be terrible both for those harmed and for the public's confidence in vaccines
Putin says Russia has created first Covid-19 vaccine

Herd immunity - not a solution
NPR's Geoff Brumfiel reports that according to scientists the idea of so-called "herd immunity" comes with potentially devastating risks: "We're certainly talking north of a million [deaths], probably much more."

The other very real problem with the concept of herd immunity is that it has never been witnessed occurring naturally (although it can occur with small sub-groups of a population, say a group of children in a village or a group of medics who have all been exposed). It only happens with vaccines. The idea the coronavirus could infect the 70% of the population experts reckon is needed to create herd immunity was probably always misguided, even ignoring the terrible havoc that would be wrought by actually letting that happen.
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