[guest post by Dana]
It’s like there’s nothing happening in the world other than coronavirus. But still, feel free to talk about anything you think is newsworthy or might interest readers.
First news item
The entry of commercial lab companies Laboratory Corporation of America Holdings and Quest Diagnostics Inc to help identify cases of the new coronavirus does not seem to be easing the burden of testing in the United States.
Boosting testing capacity is crucial to assessing the scope of the U.S. outbreak and identifying where it is spreading most rapidly. There are currently more than 1,300 documented cases of coronavirus in the country, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, but experts say the actual number may be much higher because of the scarcity of diagnostic tests. There have been at least 38 documented deaths so far.
LabCorp and Quest said they now have the capacity to conduct thousands of tests per day and that they have already begun testing individuals for the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus, COVID-19. But patients, doctors and government officials say there is still a shortage.
Second news item
We’ve reached a tipping point. The chorus of hate being leveled at #PresidentTrump is nearing a crescendo as #Dems blame him—and only him—for #coronavirus – a #virus that originated halfway around the world! This is yet another attempt to #impeach THE PRESIDENT. #TrishRegan pic.twitter.com/nU3P4zcONA
— Trish Regan (@trish_regan) March 10, 2020
Third news item:
Better late than never, but they’re still out there shaking hands and mixing with the crowds:
The White House has begun checking the temperatures of anyone in close contact with President Donald Trump or Vice President Mike Pence.
White House staff met reporters at the door of the press briefing room with a thermometer, checking the temperatures of everyone coming in for a noon conference called by Pence.
A man who appeared to be a journalist was blocked from entering because his 99.9 degree temperature was too high.
“Out of an abundance of caution, temperature checks are now being performed on any individuals who are in close contact with the President and Vice President.” White House spokesman Judd Deere said in a statement.
Fourth news item
Mexico could consider measures at its northern border to slow the spread of the coronavirus into its relatively unaffected territory, health officials said on Friday, with an eye to containing a U.S. outbreak that has infected more than 1,800 people.
Mexico so far has confirmed 16 cases of the coronavirus, with no deaths. In the United States, 41 people have died.
Mexican Deputy Health Minister Hugo Lopez-Gatell said contagion from the United States was a threat.
“If it were technically necessary to consider mechanisms of restriction or stronger surveillance we would have to take into account not that Mexico would bring the virus to the United States, rather that the United States could bring it here,” he told a news conference.”
Fifth news item
Those experiments found that at least some coronavirus can potentially remain viable — capable of infecting a person — for up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to three days on plastic and stainless steel.
When aerosolized into fine, floating particles, the virus remained viable for three hours. On a copper surface, it was four hours, the study found. The median length of viability for the virus on stainless steel was 13 hours, and 16 hours on polypropylene, a common type of plastic.
The researchers used a nebulizer to aerosolize the virus, but in a natural environment, the virus does not spread through aerosol particles. Certain hospital treatments can result in aerosolized virus, but the main way the virus has been spreading has been through droplets — such as when someone sneezes or coughs. Such droplets can travel up to six feet.
As the coronavirus spreads, the simple act of touching a surface has become a delicate matter of risk analysis. The world is full of suspect surfaces. Is it safe to touch an ATM screen? Or the self-checkout at the grocery store? A door handle? A package that came in the mail?
FYI: Coronavirus updates at The Washington Post and The New York Times can be accessed anyone, even if you’ve used up your monthly freebies and/or don’t have a subscription. They are not behind the pay wall.
Exit question: Are you staying home (when possible)? Are you avoiding places where groups might congregate, even if in small numbers? Are you going for coffee, out to eat? Or are you just going out when absolutely necessary? Tell us where you’ve drawn the line.
Have a good weekend, in spite of everything. I’m going hiking to enjoy the solitude. But I won’t be surprised if the trail has more people on it than usual because everyone else is thinking the same thing!