July 27, 2020

New CDC guidelines push for schools to reopen

Daily Briefing

    CDC last week released updated guidelines that push for schools to reopen and a strategy to address Covid-19 health inequities, as 18 states reported record single-day increases in their numbers of new coronavirus cases.

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    US new coronavirus cases surpass 4.2M, deaths top 146K

    As of Monday morning, U.S. officials had reported 4,244,600 total cases of the new coronavirus since the country's epidemic first began—up from 4,050,100 cases reported as of Friday morning.

    Data from the New York Times shows that Puerto Rico; Washington, D.C.; and 32 states saw their average daily numbers of newly reported coronavirus cases rise over the past 14 days: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

    Last week, 18 states reported record single-day increases in their numbers of new coronavirus cases. And on Sunday, Florida surpassed New York, which was an epicenter of America's coronavirus epidemic during its first peak in the spring, as the state with the second-highest number of reported coronavirus cases in the country. As of Sunday, Florida officials had reported 423,855 cases of the virus, trailing behind only California, which had reported 453,659 cases as of Sunday.

    On average, the number of new coronavirus cases reported in America each day has more than doubled over the past month, rising from an average of 31,402 newly reported cases per day during the week ending on June 24 to an average of 66,100 newly reported cases per day during the week ending July 24.

    Meanwhile, the Times' data shows that the average daily numbers of newly reported coronavirus cases over the past two weeks remained mostly stable in Guam and 16 states: Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Vermont, and West Virginia.

    Arizona, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Utah saw their average daily numbers of newly confirmed cases decrease over the past 14 days, according to the Times' data.

    Data shows that growth in America's national coronavirus-related death rate also has been rising in recent weeks.

    On Friday, U.S. officials for the fourth consecutive day reported more than 1,100 new deaths linked to the coronavirus. According to the Times' data, Puerto Rico and 25 states saw their average daily numbers of newly reported deaths linked to the coronavirus rise over the past 14 days: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Wisconsin.

    Overall, officials as of Monday morning had reported 146,754 U.S. deaths linked to the new coronavirus—up from 144,283 deaths reported as of Friday morning.

    Trump says some schools 'may need to delay reopening,' as CDC releases new guidance

    On Thursday, Trump during a White House press conference reiterated his opinion that every school should be "actively making preparations to open" this fall. The statement aligned with his prior comments on the issue, including a statement that his administration would "put pressure on governors and everybody else to open the schools," as well as a tweet from Trump stating that his administration "[m]ay cut off funding if [schools do] not open" and another tweet criticizing CDC's reopening guidance as "very tough [and] expensive."

    However, Trump on Thursday also said school districts located in areas that are hot spots for new coronavirus infections "may need to delay reopening for a few weeks."

    Regarding federal funding for schools that don't reopen, Trump said, "If schools do not reopen, the funding should go to parents to send their children to the public, private, charter, religious, or home school."

    Trump also announced that CDC on Thursday issued updated guidance on reopening schools, following Vice President Pence's statement earlier this month that CDC would provide "more clarity" on its original guidance.

    According to the Associated Press, while largely similar to the original guidance, the updated guidance adds new material on the importance of schools reopening to provide students with in-person instruction. In addition, NPR reports that the updated guidance no longer includes a statement indicating that "virtual-only classes, activities, and events" are "lowest risk" when it comes to possible transmission of the novel coronavirus.

    CDC in the guidance recommends that school administrators work with local officials to determine whether to reopen schools in the fall, and the agency suggests that local and school officials base those decisions on several factors, including coronavirus transmission rates in their areas. For instance, CDC recommends that, in areas where there is minimal community transmission, schools could reopen if they ensure they have proper ventilation in their facilities, monitor absences among students and staff to identify potential coronavirus cases, and enforce measures intended to protect against coronavirus transmission. Meanwhile, in areas where the coronavirus' transmission is uncontrolled, CDC recommends that officials consider "whether to maintain school operations," adding that "school closure is an important consideration."

    CDC's updated guidance also now includes emerging evidence regarding the transmission rate of the coronavirus among children. The guidance states, "As of July 21, 2020, 6.6% of reported [coronavirus] cases and less than 0.1% of Covid-19-related deaths are among children and adolescents less than 18 years of age in the United States." However, CDC in the guidance acknowledges that "relatively little" is known about how the new coronavirus is transmitted among children and states that, "while uncommon, deaths and rare illness" among children infected with the virus "may occur."

    CDC releases strategy to collect more data on the epidemic's impact on people of color

    Separately, CDC on Friday released a new strategy document that calls for improvements in the agency's collection of data on the coronavirus epidemic's impact on communities of color.

    Under the strategy, CDC aims to improve coronavirus testing, contact tracing, and treatment among people of color. In addition, CDC under the plan would help people of color at high risk of contracting or transmitting the new coronavirus safely quarantine and isolate. The strategy also calls for diversifying the public health workforce involved in the country's coronavirus response.

    CDC in the strategy document states that the changes aim "[t]o reduce the disproportionate burden of Covid-19 among populations at increased risk for infection, severe illness, and death," and "[t]o broadly address health disparities and inequities related to Covid-19 with a holistic, all-of-response approach."

    According to the AP, CDC did not release details on how the changes called for in the strategy document will be funded (New York Times, 7/25; Associated Press, 7/26; Binkley, Associated Press, 7/23; Kamenetz, NPR, 7/23; Quilantan/Ollstein, Politico, 7/23; Stobbe, Associated Press, 7/25 New York Times, 7/27; CDC Covid-19 Response Health Equity Strategy, July 2020).

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