- A new report from the CDC found that younger adults were statistically just as likely to get the coronavirus and be hospitalized as people who were 65 and older.
- The report contradicts the general narrative that younger people are in less danger.
- Meanwhile, hoards of spring breakers are still partying in crowded areas and beaches in Florida, despite warnings from the CDC and efforts by Gov. Ron DeSantis to shut down bars and clubs and limit group sizes on beaches.
- In a now-viral CBS clip, several young party-goers said that they care more about their spring break than the global outbreak.
Partying On Brings Public Health Risks
The world might feel like it’s coming to an end, but while you’re at home eating beans or hoarding thousands of dollars of hand sanitizer, there are still plenty of people out partying for spring break.
It should come as no surprise that a group of people who couldn’t care less about totally endangering everyone’s health and safety also don’t care about their own wellbeing. But now, they’re speaking out.
“If I get corona, I get corona. At the end of the day, I’m not going to let it stop me from partying,” Ohio native and self-described aspiring SoundCloud rapper Brady Sluder told CBS in a now-viral video.
“You know, I’ve been waiting, we’ve been waiting for Miami spring break for a while, about two months we’ve had this trip planned, two, three months, and we’re just out here having a good time,” he continued. “Whatever happens, happens.”
To his credit, two, three months is a very long time.
In an effort to stop party-goers from doing even more damage, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis addressed the situation Tuesday by closing all bars and clubs for 30 days and limiting beach parties to 10 people— if you can even call 10 people a party!
But that seems to have just angered the springer breakers, who now feel as though their undeniable human rights are being violated.
“It’s really messing up with my spring break,” said 21-year-old Brianna Smith. “What is there to do here other than go to the bars or the beach? And they’re closing all of it. I think they’re blowing it way out of proportion. I think it’s doing way too much.”
“What they’re doing is bad, we need a refund,” said Atlantis Walker, another 21-year-old visiting Florida. “This virus ain’t that serious.”
Florida already has reported 328 confirmed coronavirus cases and eight deaths, but like everywhere else in the U.S., they have a massive test shortage, so that number is likely higher.
Florida Politicians Respond
Speaking on Fox and Friends Thursday, DeSantis doubled down on his message to party hungry visitors.
“The message I think for spring breakers is that the party’s over in Florida, you’re not going to be able to congregate on any beach in the state,” he said. “Many of the hot spots that people like to go to, whether it’s Miami Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Clearwater Beach, are closed entirely for the time being.”
DeSantis also said that the videos of crowded beaches and other public areas were from people who went down to Florida before things got bad. Now, he says people are canceling trips.
The videos circulated last weekend and early this week, so you can decide for yourself if that was before things got bad.
Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) also hit similar points during an interview with CNN Thursday morning.
“Get off the beach,” he said. “I mean, unless you can figure out how to be completely isolated from anyone else.”
“Take some personal responsibility here, don’t infect other people,” he added. “Don’t take a chance that you’re going to be the one to cause your grandparent or your parents or another friend from school to get sick.”
Both politicians refused to say whether they would close the beaches altogether.
New CDC Report
Scott’s argument about spreading the virus is important, and while his message is true for people everywhere, it’s especially important for those in Florida.
The sunshine state is the infamous host of two major populations that are incredibly dangerous when put together: drunk kids on vacation who think they are indestructible and old people.
On one hand, you have a state where 27% of the population is over 60 and thus at risk for coronavirus, and on the other hand, you have a massive tourism industry that brought in more than 126 million people in 2018 alone.
While some of those people are there to marvel at Florida’s unparalleled biodiversity or buy some bath salts, a lot of people are there to party. And right now, those people are putting everyone at risk.
Many of those young spring breakers seem to believe that they will not get the coronavirus, or that if they do, they’ll be okay. But a new report released by the CDC Wednesday indicates that those assumptions are not true at all.
According to the report, out of the 508 patients known to have been hospitalized in the U.S., 20% of them were between 20 and 44—roughly millennials— and more than half of them were under 65.
Though notably, less than 1% of those under 19 were hospitalized, and the vast majority of deaths— about 80%— were from people 65 and older.
But one of the most shocking pieces of information from this report was the number of younger adults who tested positive for the coronavirus. Of the 2,449 patients with known ages, 29% were between 20 and 44, and more than half were under 65.
Meaning that statistically, people under 65 were just as likely to get the virus and have conditions serious enough to be hospitalized as those who were over 65.
It also seems to contradict the general narrative that people under 65 are significantly less at risk. They are less at risk for dying, but not necessarily for getting the virus or being hospitalized.
“Younger people may feel more confident about their ability to withstand a virus like this,” said Dr. Christopher Carlsten, the head of respiratory medicine at the University of British Columbia explains. “If that many younger people are being hospitalized, that means that there are a lot of young people in the community that are walking around with the infection.”
Even beyond that, there have also been recent reports that some people who get over the virus still have lasting issues.
“Lots of young people are getting hospitalized, a lot more than we’re messaging, and, yes, maybe you don’t die, but living with a damaged lung or damaged organ is not a good outcome,” said Prabhjot Singh, a physician and health systems expert at Mount Sinai Health System and the Icahn School of Medicine.
In other words, despite what Brady Sluder might tell you, whether young or old, you should worry about getting the coronavirus.
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (The Hill) (Fox News)
Trump Signs Order Allowing Former Troops to Be Called Upon for Coronavirus Fight
- President Trump signed an executive order that allows for former troops to be brought back to active duty to help fight the coronavirus pandemic.
- This is not an immediate order to call former service members back, but it is typically used when the military is in need of specific skill sets, like persons with high demand medical capabilities.
- Officials are still reviewing who might be activated.
- The order comes just days after the Army called upon former service members to voluntarily rejoin and help in the military’s response efforts. Over 14,000 have expressed interest as of Friday.
Trump Signs Executive Order
President Donald Trump signed an executive order Friday that allows the Pentagon to bring former U.S. troops and members of the National Gaurd and reserve back to active duty to help those already battling the county’s coronavirus outbreaks.
During his press conference Friday night, Trump said the decision allows the federal government “to mobilize medical, disaster and emergency response personnel to help wage our battle against the virus by activating thousands of experienced service members including retirees.”
“We have a lot of people, retirees, great military people — they’re coming back in,” Trump added.
What This Means
The executive order released by the White House states that anyone recalled can remain on active duty for up to 24 months straight. It provides the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security the authority to order as many as 1 million individuals at one time, however, it is not an order to do so.
According to Pentagon spokesperson Jonathan Hoffman, the order applies to units and individual members in the National Guard and Reserves and certain Individual Ready Reserve members who are normally in an inactive status.
Hoffman said that decisions about who may be activated are still being reviewed, but he added, “Generally, these members will be persons in Headquarters units and persons with high demand medical capabilities whose call-up would not adversely affect their civilian communities.”
As of now, the Individual Ready Reserve contains 224,841 members, according to the Department of Defense, and nearly 11,000 of those members “have medical capabilities.”
“This is a dynamic situation, we do not currently have a projected number of expected activations, but the Department is now fully authorized to make activations as needed,” Hoffman said.
He also stressed that the departments would consult with state officials before using any National Gaurd Reserve Component units under the executive order.
Earlier this week, the Army called upon former service members to voluntarily rejoin and help in the military’s pandemic response efforts. The Army said the initial response has been positive, with at least 14,6000 people expressing interest as of Friday.
See what others are saying: (Politico) (CNN) (Fox News)
FDA Authorizes Portable Test Kit That Can Detect COVID-19 in 5 Minutes
- The FDA has approved the use of a new coronavirus test kit that can give positive results in as little as 5 minutes and negative results in 13, leaps faster than the hours and sometimes days laboratory tests normally take.
- The tests are run on a lightweight and small portable device that can be used in emergency rooms, urgent care clinics, and even outside hospital walls.
- Abbott, the medical device company that makes the kits, plans to send out 50,000 tests a day starting next week.
New Test Approved
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration gave Emergency Use Authorization to the medical device company Abbott for a new coronavirus test kit that gives results within minutes.
Abbott announced the news in a Friday press release, saying it plans to start delivering 50,000 tests a day beginning next week. The tests run on the company’s ID NOW platform, a portable device about the size of a small toaster than weights only 6.6 pounds.
Its portability means it can be used directly in an emergency room or urgent care clinic and even, “outside the traditional four walls of a hospital in outbreak hotspots.”
The company called it “the fastest available molecular point-of-care test for the detection of novel coronavirus(COVID-19), delivering positive results in as little as five minutes and negative results in 13 minutes.”
Second Rapid Test to Be Approved by FDA
The approval from federal health officials means that regulators were satisfied with the test’s validation data and are confident that its benefits outweigh any risk, like false positives or negatives.
The FDA’s approval marks the seconds time it has green-lit a fast working test that could accelerate testing across the country. Last week, it approved a 45-minute rapid point of care test by the molecular diagnostics company Cepheid. However, that test is primarily intended for emergency rooms and hospitals, not doctors’ officers or urgent care clinics.
Still, those turnaround times are leaps faster than the hours to days it takes most laboratory tests to bring results.
Medical Shortages Still Cause Concern
The approval of the Abbott test comes as cities across the nation battle with numbers of potential patients that surpass available tests and resources. Even with insufficient testing, the United States became the country with the largest number of reported cases of coronavirus on Thursday, exceeding China and Italy. By Friday, the U.S. hit more than 100,000 cases.
Many fear that shortages of other critical medical equipment, like masks and swabs, could stifle the new rapid test’s impact. That’s because the kit requires a swab sample collected from patients, and many health care facilities are running desperately low on the tools needed to safely collect those samples.
The Center for Disease Control issued guidance Tuesday that allows some patients to collect their own nasal swabs in health care facilities, in an effort to reduce the amount of protective equipment needed for health care workers.
On the opposite end, however, others note that fast and efficient testing can help medical professionals determine how much protective equipment they actually need to wear when interacting with a patient, as well as what kind of care to provide. Since this test can be done in a doctor’s office, it could even potentially help diagnose patients with mild or asymptomatic cases of the virus and help stop them from unknowingly spreading it.
Experts also say drastically increasing testing capacity can help get the economy back on track sooner. With increased testing, measures like keeping everyone at home could be replaced with more targeted identification and isolation of those infected.
EPA Limits Environmental Regulations During Coronavirus Crisis
- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced Thursday that it is scaling back its enforcement of environmental rules during the coronavirus emergency as businesses face challenges like layoffs and accessibility issues.
- The temporary policy allows companies to monitor their own compliance with environmental laws, and the EPA said it will not issue penalties for violations of certain reporting requirements.
- Many critics slammed the move, arguing that it opens doors to excess pollution and does not prioritize the health and safety of people and wildlife.
- The EPA defended the policy, saying it has reserved its authorities for situations other than routine monitoring and reporting and will consider the pandemic’s impacts on a “case-to-case basis.”
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says it will limit the enforcement of certain regulations as the coronavirus pandemic continues, leaving companies in charge of monitoring their own compliance with environmental laws.
The agency unveiled the temporary policy on Thursday, arguing that businesses are running into obstacles like layoffs and accessibility issues as the virus alters normal life across the nation.
“EPA is committed to protecting human health and the environment, but recognizes challenges resulting from efforts to protect workers and the public from COVID-19 may directly impact the ability of regulated facilities to meet all federal regulatory requirements,” EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said in a statement.
Under normal circumstances, companies must report when their facilities release a certain amount of pollution into the air or water. Now, that requirement will be put on hold for the time being.
“In general, the EPA does not expect to seek penalties for violations of routine compliance monitoring, integrity testing, sampling, laboratory analysis, training, and reporting or certification obligations in situations where the EPA agrees that Covid-19 was the cause of the noncompliance and the entity provides supporting documentation to the EPA upon request,” the policy states.
The agency also said it would exercise “discretion” in enforcing other environmental rules. It noted that the policy does not apply to criminal violations or hundreds of the country’s most toxic waste sites that fall under the Superfund act. The EPA also said it expects public water systems to maintain high standards.
“Public water systems have a heightened responsibility to protect public health because unsafe drinking water can lead to serious illnesses and access to clean water for drinking and handwashing is critical during the COVID-19 pandemic,” the policy says.
The memo said that the changes will apply retroactively beginning on March 13, with no set end date indicated.
Criticism of New Policy
Some, including people in the oil industry, had been asking for these regulations to be loosened, but others slammed the EPA’s choice, claiming it is too broad and lax.
Gina McCarthy, who headed the EPA under the Obama administration and is now president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, called the policy an “open license to pollute.”
Some called the changes “outrageous” and “evil,” accusing the EPA of prioritizing businesses over the health of individuals and wildlife.
Prominent figures in the climate change fight slammed the move as well.
“The EPA uses this global pandemic to create loopholes for destroying the environment,” teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg tweeted. “This is a schoolbook example for what we need to start looking out for.”
Others pointed out the irony of suspending rules that preserve air quality while a respiratory disease makes its rounds across the country.
“What part of, ‘air pollution increases our vulnerability to respiratory diseases LIKE CORONAVIRUS,’ is not clear, EPA?” one Twitter user wrote.
Defense of Policy
The EPA stood behind their move and did not agree with its classification as a dismissal of regulations.
“It is not a nationwide waiver of environmental rules,” Andrea Woods, an E.P.A. spokeswoman, told The New York Times. “For situations outside of routine monitoring and reporting, the agency has reserved its authorities and will take the pandemic into account on a case-by-case basis.”
Susan Parker Bodine, the EPA official who issued the policy, said that it does not excuse organizations from consequences if they do committ environmental violations.
“If you do have violations of your permit, you’re still obligated to meet your permit limits, you’re supposed to do everything possible,” Bodine told ABC. “And after the fact the agency will take that all into consideration but there isn’t a promise of no penalties in those kinds of situations.”
“If you have an acute risk, if you have an imminent threat … the facility has to come in and talk to their regulator, their authorized state or come into the agency,” she added. “And the reason for that is that we want to, we want to put all of our resources into keeping these facilities safe keeping communities safe.”