Amid reports that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is telling some health officials around the country to be ready to start distributing a coronavirus vaccine by November, the chairman and CEO of Pfizer said Thursday that the company may have an effective vaccine by the end of October.
That timeline is “conceivable” but not likely, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, told CNN Thursday.
Meanwhile, higher education continues to grapple with the impact of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The Penn State University director of athletic medicine raised alarms when he reported that about one-third of Big Ten athletes who tested positive for the coronavirus also appear to have inflammation of the heart muscle, or myocarditis, a potentially fatal condition.
In addition, nearly 800 students at the University of Georgia tested positive for COVID-19 or reported positive tests last week, the first full week of classes, and the university has set aside or rented nearly 500 rooms on and off campus for students in quarantine or isolation. Iowa State University on Wednesday reversed its decision to allow 25,000 fans to its home-opening football game, and 30 out of 40 Greek houses at Indiana University-Bloomington were asked to quarantine after a spike in cases.
Some universities, however, are staying the course. University of South Carolina officials said they had no plans of shutting down campus even after reporting more than 1,000 confirmed cases among students.
Some significant developments:.
📰 What we’re reading: Operation Quack Hack, the federal government’s initiative to clamp down on fake coronavirus medications and cures, has exposed a health underground in America brimming with distrust not only of mainstream medicine but the government itself. Read more here.
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Penn State team doctor says one-third of COVID-positive Big Ten athletes have heart inflammation
The possible link between COVID-19 and a potentially fatal inflammation of the heart muscle detected on Big Ten athletes seems to validate the conference’s decision to postpone fall sports amid the pandemic, at the same time raising questions about the safety of student-athletes in other leagues that are choosing to play.
Major concerns were raised when Dr. Wayne Sebastianelli, Penn State’s director of athletic medicine, made the revelation at a meeting of the State College Area school board of directors, saying that information contributed to the Big Ten and Pac-12 postponing the fall seasons. The other Power Five conferences — the SEC, ACC and Big 12 — have decided to play.
“When we looked at our COVID-positive athletes, whether they were symptomatic or not, 30 to roughly 35 percent of their heart muscles [are] inflamed,” Sebastianelli said. “And we really just don’t know what to do with it right now.”.
Dr. Robert Glatter, an emergency physician and former sideline doctor for the New York Jets, says it may be time to put all fall sports on hold, pointing out the danger myocarditis presents.
“We need to reconsider allowing all professional, collegiate — as well as school sports at all levels — from going forward this fall,” Glatter said. “I believe we need to wait until a viable vaccine is available before we can safely allow organized sports at all levels of competition to proceed.”.
Pfizer says it may have an effective vaccine by October
The chairman and CEO of Pfizer said Thursday the company may have an effective coronavirus vaccine by the end of October.
“We may be able to say the product is safe and efficacious in the October time frame and submit immediately for approval and authorization,” Dr. Albert Bourla told the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations in a virtual meeting.
Bourla said the U.S.-Based company, which is developing its vaccine in partnership with German biotechnology company BioNTech, has enrolled 23,000 participants in its Phase 3 clinical trial and aims to enroll 30,000 total. A “significant number” of participants have already started getting the second dose of the experimental vaccine, Bourla said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, meanwhile, has told some state health officials to prepare to distribute the vaccine “in the near future.”.
Feds hit by backlash over fake COVID-19 treatments
Providers of alternative medicines and treatment are mobilizing against the federal government in its attempt to stamp out fake cures against the coronavirus. They are angry about government warning letters that they believe infringe on their right to free speech, free trade and people’s control over their health care. And they’ve got a strong argument in fighting back: How can we trust the same government that signed off on opioids?
The backlash follows Operation Quack Hack, the federal government’s initiative to clamp down on fake coronavirus medications and cures.
“The health care system in this country is rigged against inexpensive, safe and effective natural remedies in favor of expensive pharmaceutical drugs,” said Clark Hansen, a naturopathic medical doctor in Arizona, in an email message to USA TODAY.
– Michael Braga.
Latinos, Blacks hit hardest by COVID outbreaks in meatpacking plants
Latinos, Blacks and recent immigrants, who fill eight out of 10 of the nation’s front-line meatpacking jobs, now account for 90% of the meatpacking-related coronavirus cases, based on an analysis by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
A two-month project by the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting and USA TODAY looking at data from 21 states found the government has taken an even more hands-off approach to employee safety even as workers’ and activists’ calls for basic safety measures were met with months of inaction and indifference.
– Heather Schlitz, Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting.
Pandemic appears to be a factor for rising highway deaths
Speeding and traffic fatalities are both up in Vermont, and law enforcement officials think they know the reason: fewer cops to enforce traffic laws because of the coronavirus.
The state has seen 43 traffic deaths so far this year, up from 21 at the same point last year. And 125 lead-footed motorists were cited for speeding faster than 99 miles per hour through Sept. 1, up from 107 during the same period last year, reports the Barre Montpelier Times Argus.
Though there appears to be no single reason for the increase, the coronavirus could be a factor for having thinned the number of law enforcement officers on the highways.
“When you drive around, people seem to be speeding more. They seem to be looking at their phones more. They do not see law enforcement out as much as they used to,” Bill Jenkins of the state Highway Safety Office said. “I think some people, unfortunately, got the message that they could do things that they shouldn’t be doing.”.
Canada’s top doctor: Consider wearing a mask during sex, avoid kissing
Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, is warning Canadians to practice safe behaviors with their sex lives amid the pandemic.
“Sexual health is an important part of our overall health. However, sex can be complicated in the time of COVID-19, especially for those without an intimate partner in their household or whose sexual partner is at higher risk for COVID-19,” Tam said in a statement.
Among the measures that Tam suggested Canadians take to avoid their risk: Wearing a mask if they do have sex and avoiding kissing. “The most important step is to establish a trusting relationship with your sexual partner,” Tam added.
Number of Americans seeking jobless aid remains high
More than 833,000 Americans sought unemployment assistance last week as parts of the economy remained shuttered because of COVID-19 and millions of out-of-work people have gone more than a month without the additional $600 in jobless aid.
About 833,352 Americans filed first-time applications for unemployment insurance during the week ending Aug. 29, the Labor Department said Thursday, a 7,591 rise from the prior week and slightly more than the 825,000 expected by economists at J.P. Morgan. Those figures are based on non-seasonally adjusted figures.
– Jessica Menton.
Dow has worst day since June, drops more than 800 points
The Dow fell more than 800 points Thursday, offsetting big gains the previous day. It was the worst day for stocks since June.
Stocks on Wednesday soared, with the S&P 500 — the broadest measure of Wall Street — and the Nasdaq hitting highs. The Nasdaq had also climbed above 12,000 points for the first time in history Wednesday.
Experts said the sudden downturn came amid a steep drop in tech companies’ stocks brought the rest of the market lower.
A villain that Batman can’t defeat halts filming
Filming on the movie “The Batman” starring Robert Pattinson was stopped after a member of the U.K. Production team tested positive for COVID-19.
The shoot at Warner Bros. Studio in Hertfordshire, England, came to a halt after resuming production three days ago. It is being directed by Matt Reeves. Production of “The Batman” was originally shut down in March by the coronavirus crisis.
– Bryan Alexander.
Cyberattacks, outages hit Florida’s largest school district
Florida’s largest school district has been plagued with outages and cyberattacks as it reopens virtually amid the pandemic.
Students and teachers in recent days have both said they can’t access the online platform used by Miami-Dade County schools, the Miami Herald reported. Moreover, Ron Steiger, the district’s chief financial officer, said Wednesday that a $15.3 million contract with the online platform at the center of the crisis was missing the signature of Superintendent Alberto Carvalho.
District officials have determined the cyberattackers have demanded no ransom, and some of the attacks came from outside the U.S.
On Wednesday night, an email was sent to all secondary school teachers asking them to use Microsoft Teams and Zoom until Sept. 11. The district will then assess if grades six through 12 will use the platform beginning Sept. 14 or stick with Microsoft Teams and Zoom.
What we’re reading
Pandemic fear, uncertainty could be a drag on the economy for decades
A new study suggests the COVID-19 pandemic has generated fears that are likely to dampen risk-taking and economic output for decades.
The crisis has increased the “perceived probability of an extreme, negative shock in the future,” and over time, the economic cost of that warier outlook is “many times larger” than the short-term damage, the study says.
The study, released at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City’s annual conference last week, attempts to quantify such long-term economic losses by assessing the toll taken by other economic upheavals, such as the Great Recession of 2007-09.
– Paul Davidson.
University of South Carolina reports over 1,000 cases, doesn’t plan to shut down
More than 1,000 students at the University of South Carolina have tested positive for COVID-19, according to the university’s dashboard. But President Robert Caslen on Wednesday said he has no plans of shutting down the school, The State newspaper reported.
“We do not have any plans to close,” Caslen said during a virtual town hall. “The last thing I want to do is take this university, shut it down and dump the problem on the city of Columbia. I prefer to work through this if I can.”.
One way school officials plan to do so is by testing more students. “We want to find them, we want to take care of them and we want to get them back into the classroom,” he said.
Also in South Carolina, Furman University suspended the Kappa Alpha fraternity for at least four years after it hosted parties that helped spread the virus. Nearly 60% of those who attended the events on Aug. 21 and 22 – at least 29 students – tested positive for the coronavirus.
Meanwhile, other universities are pausing their in-person reopening plans as cases spike on their campuses. Here is the latest:.
Schools may not have enough teachers to get through the year
It’s more and more likely the nation won’t have enough teachers to staff schools even once reopening is safe amid the public health and economic crises caused by the pandemic, experts say.
A potential exodus of older educators susceptible to the coronavirus and those with existing health problems may fuel already high turnover.
Many substitutes also may quit. Now, new restrictions on foreign visas will make it harder for some states to import teachers from other countries to work in already hard-to-staff positions.
And for those teachers willing to return to the classroom – whether virtually or in person – pink slips may be coming later this year as state tax revenue is decimated and budgets slashed.
– Bracey Harris and Neal Morton, The Hechinger Report.
COVID-19 resources from USA TODAY
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Contributing: The Associated Press.