Topic: COVID-19

Let’s developments about the 2019-nCoV coronavirus.

Dolphins QB Ryan Fitzpatrick tests positive for COVID-19

MIAMI (AP) — Miami Dolphins backup quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick tested positive for COVID-19 and is expected to miss Sunday’s regular-season finale at Buffalo.Coach Brian Flores shared the news with Fitzpatrick’s teammates during a Zoom meeting Thursday, safety Eric Rowe said. Fitzpatrick’s positive test was first reported by NFL Network.“It hurts,” Rowe said. “He’s a leader of our team. He brings energy, even in the Zoom meetings. But you’ve got to push forward. I’m just praying for his health.”Fitzpatrick replaced Tua Tagovailoa last week in the fourth quarter and orchestrated an improbable comeback win at Las Vegas that allowed the Dolphins to retain control of their playoff chances.“He's our guy,” receiver Isaiah Ford said. “But if this year has taught us anything, it is to expect the unexpected. We all love Ryan, but we've got a job to do.”Flores earlier designated Tagovailoa as this week’s starter. Fitzpatrick’s availability for a wild-card playoff game next week is in question. The 16-year veteran has never made the postseason, but the Dolphins (10-5) will clinch an AFC wild-card berth if they beat Buffalo.Fitzpatrick practiced Wednesday but was absent Thursday. The Dolphins’ lineup has endured only modest disruptions because of COVID-19. Just one starter — running back Myles Gaskin — went on the list in December, and he missed two games.“Everyone has had to make some sacrifices,” Flores said last week. “Overall it has been good, as long as guys follow the protocols, make the sacrifices and make smart decisions. We’re still in it, though. We’re not done by any stretch of the imagination.”___ Follow Steven Wine on Twitter: http://twitter.com/Steve_Wine___ More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

Tech firms offer treats during virus outbreak

Technology firms are offering various free services during the coronavirus outbreak, including films, music and education resources, to keep people at home without boredom, which is...
Nokia latest to drop out of mobile tech fair over virus

Nokia latest to drop out of mobile tech fair over virus

LONDON (AP) — Nokia on Wednesday became the latest company to drop out of one of the world's biggest technology fairs over worries about...

Barcelona concert tests use of same-day COVID-19 screening

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Eager for a live music show after months of social distancing, more than 1,000 Barcelona residents gathered Saturday to participate in a medical study to evaluate the effectiveness of same-day coronavirus screening to safely hold cultural events. After passing an antigen screening, 500 of the volunteers were randomly selected to enjoy a free concert inside Barcelona’s Apolo Theater. The other 500 who didn't get selected were sent home. They will form a control group that will allow the organizers to analyze if there was any contagion inside the concert hall despite the screening with antigen tests, which while not as accurate as other types of tests, do produce results in 15 minutes as compared to several hours, or days, later. Carolina Rius was one music lover willing to accept the risk of mingling among a large group of people indoors so she could finally experience a concert without having to remain seated and two meters apart as currently dictated by health authorities. “I really, really missed going to concerts, above all to hear some rock ’n’ roll,” the 56-year-old Rius said. “I don’t feel like a guinea pig. I feel like I am taking a stand. The world of culture, and above all the concert halls, are having a very bad time of it and I don’t want them to shut for good.“And if they end up choosing me in the draw to go to a concert, that will be the cherry on top.” The study is organized by Barcelona's The Fight AIDS and Infectious Diseases Foundation along with the Primavera Sound music festival. The study was given the go-ahead by the regional authorities in northeast Catalonia.“This is not a party, this is a scientific study,” Dr. Boris Revollo, the virologist who designed the study’s protocols, told The Associated Press. He insisted that the use of same-day antigen screening for large events wasn't a substitute for face masks and other sanitation rules, but he believed it could be a powerful tool to help make large events safe enough until vaccines are widespread enough to beat back COVID-19. “This could be useful in all types of events, from cultural events, to business congresses, to sporting events,” Revollo said. “And young people, as we have seen, are holding their own clandestine parties because they have no other outlet.” The 500 allowed into the five-hour music festival of rock groups and disc jockeys must wear FFP2 face masks and hand disinfectant. Social distancing, however, on the concert floor wasn't to be enforced in an attempt to get as close as possible to a real concert atmosphere. Organizers said they will also keep a close watch on the designated areas for drinking to ensure that they don't become a hotspot of trouble. All 1,000 of the volunteers will also undergo two PCR tests, which have a higher capacity to detect the virus than the same-day antigen test, first on Saturday before the concert, and then again eight days later. Revollo said these PCR tests will allow him and his fellow investigators to determine if any infected people got past the same-day antigen screen and, if so, did they infect others inside the show.Spain is still under limited restrictions for the pandemic that has killed a confirmed 47,600 residents. Concert halls have been one of the hardest hit sectors by the health restrictions applied in Spain, twice being completely shut down for several months. In November, an association representing concert halls in Spain said that more than 25,000 shows had been canceled because of the pandemic, costing the industry 120 million euros ($145 million) in lost revenue. Halls were only recently allowed to reopen in Barcelona but at 50% capacity or a maximum of 500 people. Epidemiologist Joan Caylà, who has no connection to the study, said that while “vaccines are still far off” before they reach everyone, even the successful use of antigen testing wouldn't eliminate the need to keep events small and highly controlled. “It is very important that those attending the event act responsibly,” Caylà said. “A certain risk of causing an outbreak exists.” ___Follow AP’s coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

Belarus starts COVID-19 vaccinations with Russian shots

MOSCOW (AP) — Belarus on Tuesday announced the start of mass coronavirus vaccinations with the Russian-developed Sputnik V shot, becoming the second country after Russia to roll out a vaccine that is still undergoing late-stage studies to ensure its safety and effectiveness. The first batch of Sputnik V arrived in the former Soviet republic on Tuesday, according to a joint statement by the Belarusian Health Ministry, the Russian Health Ministry and the Russian Direct Investment Fund that bankrolled development of the jab. The health ministry posted pictures of people getting the shots on social media."A new stage starts in Belarus today with mass vaccinations against COVID-19. Medical staff, teachers, and those who come into contact a lot of people due to their jobs will be the first to get vaccinated. Vaccination will be entirely voluntary,” Health Minister of Belarus Dmitry Pinevich was quoted in the statement as saying. Belarus conducted its own trial of Sputnik V among 100 volunteers and gave the shot regulatory approval on Dec. 21. The Russian-made vaccine was also approved on an emergency basis in Argentina, where vaccinations are expected to start Tuesday as well. Russia has been widely criticized for giving the domestically developed Sputnik V regulatory approval in August after the vaccine only had been tested on a few dozen people. An advanced study among tens of thousand started shortly after the vaccine received the Russian government's go-ahead. Despite warnings to wait for the results of the study, Russian authorities started offering it to people in high-risk groups — such as medical workers and teachers — within weeks of approval. This month, mass vaccinations with Sputnik V started in Russia, even though it is still undergoing the late-stage trial. Belarus has reported nearly 190,000 confirmed coronavirus cases and about 1,400 deaths since the start of the pandemic, but many in the Eastern European nation of 9.4 million people suspect that authorities are manipulating statistics to hide the true scope of the country’s outbreak. President Alexander Lukashenko, who has faced months of demands by protesters to step down after an August election they say was fraudulent, has cavalierly dismissed the coronavirus. He shrugged off the fears and national lockdowns the new virus had caused as “psychosis” and advised citizens to avoid catching it by driving tractors in the field, drinking vodka and visiting saunas. His attitude has angered many Belarusians, adding to the public dismay over his authoritarian style and helping to fuel months of post-election protests. Opposition figures say Lukashenko's government has allowed COVID-19 to run rampant in jails where it has detained thousands of protesters.___Follow all the developments in Belarus at https://apnews.com/Belarus.___Follow AP’s coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic, https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak_

Germany tightens virus lockdown rules over Christmas period

BERLIN (AP) — Germany is closing most stores and schools, and further limiting social contacts in an effort to drive down the rate of coronavirus infections that have remained stubbornly high in recent weeks.Chancellor Angela Merkel said she and the governors of Germany's 16 states agreed Sunday to step up the country's lockdown measures from Dec. 16 to Jan. 10 to stop the exponential rise of COVID-19 cases.“We are forced to act, and we’re acting too,” Merkel told reporters in Berlin.Existing restrictions imposed in November failed to significantly reduce the number of new infections, she said. Germany recorded 20,200 newly confirmed cases and 321 additional deaths Sunday, a high number for the weekend when many local authorities don’t report figures.With the exception of Christmas, the number of people allowed to meet indoors will remain restricted to five, not including children under 14. The sale of fireworks traditionally used to celebrate New Year's will be banned, as will the outdoor sale of alcohol.___Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

Greek nurse erects ICU at home to treat relatives with virus

AGIOS ATHANASIOS, Greece (AP) — What does a medical professional do when his wife and in-laws contract the disease at the center of a months-long pandemic? Gabriel Tachtatzoglou, a critical care nurse, did not feel good about the treatment options available in Greece's second-largest city when his wife, both her parents and her brother came down with COVID-19 in November. Thessaloniki has been among the areas of Greece with the most confirmed coronavirus cases, and hospital intensive care units were filling up.Tachtatzoglou, who had to quarantine and could not go to work once his relatives tested positive for the virus, decided to put his ICU experience to use by looking after them himself. That decision, his family says, probably saved their lives. “If we had gone to the hospital, I don’t know where we would have ended up,” Polychoni Stergiou, the nurse's 64-year-old mother-in-law, said. “That didn’t happen, thanks to my son-in-law.”Tachtatzoglou set up a makeshift ICU in the downstairs apartment of his family's two-story home in the village of Agios Athanasios, located about 30 kilometers (nearly 20 miles) from the city. He rented, borrowed and modified the monitors, oxygen delivery machines and other equipment his loved ones might need. He also improvised. Out of a hat stand, he fashioned an IV bag holder. At one point, the repurposed pole supported four bags dispensing antibiotics, fluids to address dehydration and fever-reducing medicine. “I’ve been working in the intensive care ward for 20 years, and I didn’t want to put my in-laws through the psychological strain of separation. Plus, there was already a lot of pressure on the health service,” Tachtatzoglou told the AP in an interview. In most countries, doctors and nurses are discouraged from treating close relatives and friends on the theory that emotional bonds could cloud their judgment and affect their skills. Tachtatzoglou says he remained in daily contact with doctors at Papageorgiou Hospital, the overwhelmed facility where he works, while caring for his sick family members, and that he would have hospitalized any of the four if they needed to be intubated..“I looked after them up until the point where it would pose no danger," he said. "At all times, I was ready to move them to the hospital, if needed.” Greece, which has a population of 10.7 million, spent the first phase of the coronavirus pandemic with some of the lowest infection rates in Europe. As cold weather set in, the number of confirmed cases and virus-related deaths began doubling. The country's cumulative death toll in the pandemic went from 393 on Oct. 1 and 635 a month later to 2,517 on Dec.1. As of Tuesday, it stood at 4,730. With ICU wards in Thessaloniki pushed to capacity, COVID-19 patients deemed too sick to a wait for a bed were taken to hospitals in other parts Greeks, riding in torpedo-shaped treatment capsules. Meanwhile, the situation for Tachtatzoglou’s family deteriorated as his wife and in-laws fell ill in alarming succession. Tachtatzoglou said he agonized constantly over whether to transfer his relatives to hospitals in Thessaloniki, knowing it would mean they would not be able to see each other and might get moved to a hospitals farther away. “We were reduced to tears. There were times when I was desperate, and I was really afraid I would lose them,” the nurse said. They all pulled through, although Tachtatzoglou eventually became infected with the virus himself. “I took precautions when I treated them, but I didn’t have the personal protection gear you find in hospitals," he said. "That’s probably how I got sick." ___ One Good Thing at AP: https://apnews.com/hub/one-good-thing ___ Follow Kantouris at: https://twitter.com/CostasKantouris

Second lawmaker in lockdown tests positive for COVID-19

WASHINGTON (AP) — A second Democratic member of the House who was forced to go into lockdown during last week’s siege at the U.S. Capitol has tested positive for COVID-19.Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., said she has tested positive and criticized Republican members of Congress who declined to wear a mask when it was offered to them.“Too many Republicans have refused to take this pandemic and virus seriously, and in doing so, they endanger everyone around them,” Jayapal said. “Only hours after President Trump incited a deadly assault on our Capitol, our country, and our democracy, many Republicans still refused to take the bare minimum COVID-19 precaution and simply wear a damn mask in a crowded room during a pandemic."Jayapal’s statement came after Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman of New Jersey said Monday that she had tested positive for COVID-19. They were among dozens of lawmakers whisked to a secure location when pro-Trump insurrectionists stormed the Capitol. A press release from her office on Monday noted that “a number of members within the space ignored instructions to wear masks.”Some members of Congress huddled for hours in the large room, while others were there for a shorter period.Both lawmakers are isolating. Jayapal called for “serious fines to be immediately levied on every single member who refuses to wear a mask in the Capitol.”“Additionally, any Member who refuses to wear a mask should be immediately removed from the floor by the Sergeant at Arms. This is not a joke,” she said. “Our lives and our livelihoods are at risk, and anyone who refuses to wear a mask should be fully held accountable for endangering our lives because of their selfish idiocy.”Over the weekend, the Capitol’s attending physician notified all lawmakers of possible virus exposure and urged them to be tested. Dr. Brian Moynihan wrote Sunday that “many members of the House community were in protective isolation in the large room — some for several hours” on Wednesday. He said “individuals may have been exposed to another occupant with coronavirus infection.”
WHO working with Google to combat virus misinformation

WHO working with Google to combat virus misinformation

GENEVA (AP) — The World Health Organization is working with Google to ensure that people get facts from WHO first when they search for...

California sets records for cases, deaths as virus surges

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Two people are dying of COVID-19 every hour in California's most populous county as the state set daily records for newly reported cases and deaths and hospitals struggle to to keep up with the surge of coronavirus patients. Most California residents are under a stay-at-home order because of dwindling intensive care unit capacity where they live. Los Angeles County, home to 10 million people, has 2,500 ICU beds but within a month could easily need far more, said Dr. Christina Ghaly, the county’s health services director.“Hospitals are under siege and our models show no end in sight,” she said.Southern California and the Central Valley — regions that together include 23 counties — had exhausted their regular supply of intensive care beds and many medical centers were tapping into their “surge” capacity. California is averaging more than 35,000 newly reported coronavirus cases a day. Health officials estimate 12% of them — 4,200 — end up in hospitals. Records were set Wednesday, with 53,711 new cases and 293 deaths statewide. The massive rise in infections began in October and is being blamed largely on people ignoring safety measures and socializing with others. More recently, health officials said they’ve seen cases stemming from gatherings during the Thanksgiving holiday and have pleaded with residents to avoid getting together with people from other households over Christmas and New Year’s.Health officials in Southern California's Orange County on Wednesday issued an order preventing hospitals from diverting ambulances to other medical centers. Dr. Carl Schultz with the county's Health Care Agency said ambulances could have run out hospitals to take their patients. “Therefore, we temporarily suspended ambulance diversion. While this will place some additional stress on hospitals, it will spread this over the entire county and help to mitigate the escalating concern of finding hospital destinations for ambulances," Schultz said in a statement.Jeremy Zoch, chief executive at Providence St. Joseph Hospital of Orange, said nurses, respiratory therapists and housekeepers have been taking extra shifts to help out during the crush. Registry and traveling nurses have come in and officials are talking to a nearby children’s hospital about using additional space to care for patients, he said.“It has challenged us. So, every single one of our units that we have available to us, we’ve been redesigning them and utilizing them to care for COVID patients,” Zoch told reporters. “It is really challenging us on the capacity front. Our ICUs are very close to full.”Also in Orange County, UCI Health is planning to add a 50-bed mobile field unit by Christmas.Hospitals administered the first Pfizer vaccines to health care workers this week as a pair of state advisory committees started making potential life-and-death decisions over who is next in line for the scarce inoculations. The committees are considering whether groups like teachers, farmworkers, grocery workers, ride-hailing drivers and news reporters should be among them. On Wednesday, California announced the San Francisco Bay Area would join three of the state’s five regions already under a state-mandated stay-at-home order as ICU available beds dropped below 15%. The regions of greater Sacramento, the San Joaquin Valley and Southern California are already under Gov. Gavin Newsom’s order, which closes businesses including hair and nail salons and movie theaters and severely limits retail operations. The Northern California region, which includes Humboldt, Lake and Mendocino counties, is not affected for now.Many of the Bay Area’s counties had already applied the order as a precaution and those that hadn’t must now do so on Thursday. In Santa Clara County, which had already applied the shutdown rules, reported infections are topping 1,000 per day, compared with 300 in July, said Dr. Marty Fenstersheib, the county’s testing director.“We’re not anywhere out of the woods yet,” he said.Barbara Ferrer, the public health director for Los Angeles County, the state's most populous, said the transmission of the virus is rampant and noted two people are dying every hour in the county. “We’re experiencing an explosive and very deadly surge,” Ferrer said.___Taxin reported from Orange County. Associated Press writers Jocelyn Gecker, Janie Har and Haven Daley in San Francisco, and Don Thompson in Sacramento contributed to this report.