This new virus is called severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, or Sars-CoV-2. The disease it causes is called Covid-19. Source: Wall Street Journal. This is a serious disease – “a potential pandemic.” They think it originated in a (animal/seafood) market in Wuhan, China, on December 1, 2019. As of March 3, 2020, the WHO reports that there are 92,315 confirmed cases – 3,131 deaths; 60 cases in the US and 6 deaths.
The WHO and the CDC are monitoring the disease very closely, and they are taking measures to minimize the spread of the disease – no thanks to President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, his appointed “White House coronavirus response coordinator.” Source: Politico.com
Countries like China (Wuhan specifically) have been shut down; affecting the global economy. Hong Kong, Italy, Spain, South Korean, Japan, and Iran have also been hit hard. There’s talk of a global recession if this goes on for too much longer. (President Trump says it will be over by April, because of the warmer weather.)
A big health concern is the massing of people: any place or event where people gather is considered dangerous. The Summer Olympics, scheduled to open in Tokyo, Japan, on July 24, are in danger of being cancelled – or at best delayed for months. “March Madness” basketball tournaments might be played without fans. The Major League Baseball Opening Day is scheduled for March 26; they’re monitoring the situation.
Last week the WHO declared COVID-19 is a pandemic. Things are getting worse in the United States. Tomorrow, we’re starting to work-from-home and shelter-in-place for at least 1 week and possibly up to 8 weeks. It is already affecting the US economy, and we are looking at a global recession. Mnuchin dropped the “we could reach 20% unemployment” bomb, and the Fed cut rates to 0.0%. Smaller restaurants and retail shops in my town – and every city and town – are closing; health departments are mandating bars & restaurants close dining rooms. Some restaurants are adjusting – drive through, curbside, home delivery, etc.
Many States have postponed their Primaries until Summer. The 2020 Summer Olympics has been postponed until July 2021.
We are still stay-at-home/work-from-home, but there are signs that we will begin to “restart the economy” in phases in May.
Countries around the world are working to “flatten the curve” of the coronavirus pandemic. Flattening the curve involves reducing the number of new COVID-19 cases from one day to the next.Source: Johns Hopkins University.
Beginning in May, the President and the states’ governors were looking for ways to jump-start the economy – with coronavirus cases still increasing – and risking more American lives.
President Donald Trump fixed his course on reopening the nation for business, acknowledging that the move would cause more illness and death from the pandemic but insisting it’s a cost he’s willing to pay to get the economy back on track.Source: Bloomberg.com
On April 27, 2020, Governor Greg Abbott issued additional Executive Orders (GA-18) to continue the process of reopening the state of Texas: easing restrictions on onsite dining in restaurants (still no bars) , retail shops, movie theaters, malls, museums and libraries, and one-man shops.
Texas A&M President Michael Young basically told everyone to continue to work-from-home until until further notice (probably through May, maybe through June), but he – and Chancellor Sharp – want to have campus open for the Fall 2020 semester; all summer classes/activities will be online.
On May 18, 2020, Governor Abbott issued an Executive Order (GA-23) to expand reopening the state of Texas: easing restrictions on onsite dining in restaurants (50% capacity), bars (25%), tattoo parlors, child-care, gyms (25%). At the end of May more restrictions will be lifted.
Cases have been “spiking” in Arizona, Texas, and Florida, after these states began opening up in June. On Thursday (July 2) Governor Greg Abbott issued an Executive Order (GA-29) requiring all Texans to wear a face covering over the nose and mouth in public spaces in counties with 20 or more positive COVID-19 cases, with few exceptions.
Texas has once again broken its single-day record for new coronavirus cases. The state reported 10,028 new cases Tuesday [July 7] as officials warned that hospitals are reaching capacity. … The state also set a new record for single-day deaths, with 60.Source: CBS News
Meanwhile, we are still working from home (week 17), summer classes are 100% online, and we’re in limbo looking at current case numbers and trying to plan for the future. The current plan is to have 50% online and 50% face-to-face classes in the fall with classes starting earlier on August 19, and ending November 24. Class days will be longer too, 8 am – 8:35 pm, and conference rooms will be used as classrooms.
Students are back in College Station – “locust” buying everything in stores and queuing up in restaurants – without masks – before the start of the semester on Wednesday (8/19). This is not going to go well.
In Brazos County there was a spike after school started almost a month ago, but the number of active cases has come down to 672 as of yesterday. Despite the numbers, Texas A&M plans to host Vanderbilt this weekend for the first of 10 football games this season. The SEC scheduled conference-only games for each of its 9 universities.
Breaking News: Just 32 days until the election, and 2 days after the first presidential debate of 2020, the President and the First Lady both test positive for COVID-19. The President tweeted the announcement late Thursday (10/1/2020) night.
As of today there have been 54,518,771 cases worldwide and 1,319,342 deaths (JHU map); 11,048,174 cases in the United States and 246,255 deaths; 1,059,753 cases in Texas and 20,002 deaths (Texas DSHS).
As of today there have been 65,359,887 cases worldwide and 1,509,141 deaths (JHU map); 14,148,719 cases in the United States and 276,401 deaths; 1,286,369 cases in Texas and 22,573 deaths (Texas DSHS).
As of today there have been 75,883,142 cases worldwide and 1,678,339 deaths (JHU map); 17,485,578 cases in the United States and 313,942 deaths; 1,569,544 cases in Texas and 25,522 deaths (Texas DSHS).
The first vaccines from Pfizer were administered Monday (12/12/2020) to health care providers and nursing home staff.
First Americans Administered Pfizer’s Coronavirus VaccineSource: U.S. News
…the same day the U.S. death toll from the virus is expected to surpass 300,000.
In other news, Texas A&M is requiring all faculty, staff, and students who live/work on campus to get tested before they return to work/school in January; tests must be administered January 2 – 12 and reported by January 15, 2021. To add insult to injury, A&M’s insurance provider, Blue Cross, didn’t renew its contract with CHI St. Joseph (12/17/2020) – the major, local health care provider – so we have fewer options for testing.
2nd COVID-19 vaccine authorized in US preparing to ship outSource: AP News
Boxes containing the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine are prepared to be shipped at the McKesson distribution center in Olive Branch, Miss., Sunday, Dec. 20, 2020.
As of today there have been 83,718,625 cases worldwide and 1,823,154 deaths (JHU map); 20,007,149 cases in the United States and 346,408 deaths; 1,766,791 cases in Texas and 27,944 deaths (Texas DSHS).
Also as of today, local hospitals are at 104% capacity – mostly with COVID patients – and they fear the surge that will come from New Year’s parties.
As of today there have been 94,132,992 cases worldwide and 2,015,323 deaths (JHU map); 23,575,628 cases in the United States and 393,049 deaths; 2,069,286 cases in Texas and 31,693 deaths (Texas DSHS).
Locally, ICU bed occupancy is at 131%.