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Coronavirus update: Worries about new hotspots, Red Cross tests for antibodies

An anonymous donation has given RVs to California’s homeless

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Coronavirus (COVID-19) tally as compiled by Johns Hopkins University. (Previous numbers in parentheses.)

Total U.S. confirmed cases: 2,096,902 (2,026,073)

Total U.S. deaths: 115,755 (113,883)

Total global cases: 7,949,973 (7,550,933)

Total global deaths: 434,181 (422,136)

Concern about emerging hotspots

Cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) are falling in areas of the Northeast that were hit hard in the early days of the pandemic. But now they’re growing up in the South and West, regions of the country where the virus was slow to take hold.

Several states in these regions, including Texas and Arizona, are seeing a sudden spike in cases. Dr. Scott Gottleib, the former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), says he’s concerned cases could easily get out of control.

In an interview with CNBC, Gottlieb said these states should be conducting more aggressive contact tracing. “We’re going to need to try to isolate the sources of these outbreaks and take targeted steps,” Gottlieb said. “If we can’t do that, these will get out of control.”

Red Cross is testing donated blood for antibodies

Here’s another good reason to roll up your sleeve and make a blood donation. The Red Cross says that it will test each blood, platelet, and plasma donation for coronavirus antibodies for a limited time.

The test will help determine whether the donor has been exposed to the virus. Antibodies form in the blood to help fight the infection and remain after the patient has recovered. In some cases, someone may have never developed symptoms, so they may not know that they’ve had the virus.

Blood supplies have reached a critically low level because so many blood drives have been canceled due to the coronavirus. Red Cross donation centers remain open and are accepting blood donations. 

Homes for California’s homeless

Homeful Foundation is using a $500,000 donation from an anonymous donor to purchase RV trailers to temporarily house some of California’s homeless population, who are especially vulnerable to the coronavirus.

Many homeless people are avoiding homeless shelters since the virus is most likely to spread when groups of people are together in close quarters. Homeful says it has purchased 28 trailers to provide temporary housing so far.

Homeful is coordinating the effort with a number of California state agencies. Presently, the RVs are housing families in Northern and Southern California towns, including Salinas, San Bernardino, and Santa Cruz.

Feds investigating sharp rise in post-pandemic meat prices

Meat processing plants were hit hard by the coronavirus, with many workers who were operating in close proximity to one another getting sick. As many of these plants shut down temporarily, meat prices rose sharply higher.

Bloomberg reports that the Trump administration is investigating beef companies, and regulators are said to be looking for possible price manipulation. The Justice Department is also launching a criminal probe of major players in the poultry industry.

Farmers and ranchers have been on record for years in their concerns about the dominance of a few large companies in the beef and poultry markets. To date, there has been no significant antitrust action in that area. 

Study pinpoints personality traits common to toilet paper hoarders

Just who were those people who filled their shopping carts with toilet paper in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic? Researchers have concluded that they all share common personality traits.

The international study published in PLOS ONE determined that the people who were most frightened by the COVID-19 outbreak rank highly on scales of emotionality and conscientiousness and were most likely to stockpile toilet paper during March.

The researchers say it appears to have been an international phenomenon and not confined to the U.S. Some companies reported an increase of up to 700 percent in toilet paper sales, despite calls from governments to refrain from “panic buying.”

Around the nation

  • Missouri: Gov. Mike Parson has announced that his state will be reopening this week as some restrictions are being eased more slowly in the St. Louis area. “All remaining businesses in the county can reopen. That includes places like gyms, casinos, pools, and banquet halls,” St. Louis County Executive Sam Page said. “However, they’ll be capped at 25 percent capacity until June 29.”

  • Virginia: Cases in the state continue to rise despite a cautious approach to reopening. The Virginia Department of Health reports that the number of cases rose Sunday in nearly every Virginia county in which the virus is present.

  • Tennessee: Nursing homes have been an area of special concern everywhere during the coronavirus, but Tennessee announced today that is beginning to allow limited visitation. Facilities will also have to meet certain requirements, including being in counties with a low number of cases.

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