May 14, 2020
To: All Domestic Employees
From: Pandemic Working Group
Re: COVID-19: Wisconsin ~ Vaccine Volunteers ~ Wuhan Back in the News ~ L.A. Masks
Wisconsin – Disorder in the Court
As reported in USA Today, yesterday the Wisconsin Supreme Court in a 4-3 decision struck down Governor Tony Evers’ stay-at-home order, granting relief sought by legislators on partisan lines, thereby immediately lifting all restrictions on businesses and gatherings, including bars, restaurants and concert halls, unless local officials implement their own restrictions. In reaching its decision, the majority found that, while having the power to impose restrictions for the sake of preventing disease, the governor had failed to submit his proposed regulations to a legislative body in advance. The dissenting justices in the court decision delivered a blistering opinion accusing the majority of judicial activism and failing to provide guidance on how the state is to govern through the crisis moving forward. This led to a mild degree of chaos. Some places, like this bar in Platteville, reopened within 45 minutes (as pictured courtesy of USA Today), while others, like State Street Pub in Green Bay remained closed but drew a crowd of hopeful patrons. Big box stores in Appleton were quickly crowded with mask-less customers who were not social distancing, while Milwaukee and Madison maintained the status quo. For localities keeping their COVID orders intact while nearby neighbors reopen without any restriction, this is coming to resemble what one epidemiologist described as having “nopeeing zone” in a swimming pool.
Volunteers for Vaccine Studies
As we reported earlier in the week, in connection with the global race to the vaccine, one area that could serve to accelerate its development is what is known as the “human challenge” study by which people volunteer to receive the vaccine and then to get intentionally infected with the coronavirus. This approach can be risky for the patient, as the safe level of the virus has yet to be determined. And yet, as reported by CNN today, the risk is not dissuading volunteers. On the contrary, more than 16,000 people, mostly young adults, have expressed an interest in participating in a controlled human infection study by completing a prequalification questionnaire on a site operated by 1 Day Sooner. The site’s sponsor was inspired by a March 31 article from the Journal of Infectious Diseases that called for consideration of unconventional approaches to answer the global emergency, concluding that “every week that vaccine rollout is delayed will be accompanied by many thousands of deaths globally.” These trials have not yet begun and would require prior approval from the FDA after consideration of ethics, safety and efficacy.
Wuhan Doubles Down on Infection Testing
As reported in the New York Times today, in the Chinese city where the coronavirus began, Wuhan, authorities have announced that, in light of a second wave of infections in China (six in Wuhan alone after a one-month period of no new cases), that province will embark upon a plan to administer infection tests to all 11 Million of its residents over a 10-day period that has been denominated the “10-day battle.” A testing center in Wuhan is shown in this photo from Reuters. The official Health Daily newspaper estimates that such a campaign would require at least 730,000 campaigns per day, which is several times the current testing capacity. The government is prioritizing testing among the elderly, densely populated communities and neighborhoods with rural migrants. Support for the effort is not unanimous, as the chief epidemiologist for China’s CDC, Dr. Wu Zunyou, has stated that testing should focus on key areas and key groups and that, where there are not infections, “there is no need to screen everyone.”
Meanwhile, closer to home, as reported by The COVID Tracking Project, the U.S. has cumulatively tested about 10 million people for infection with a daily average of about 300,000 and an infection rate of about 13%. According to Ashish Jha of the Harvard Global Institute, as cited in the New York Times on both April 17 and May 13, the U.S. should be testing about 700,000 persons per day before it can safely reopen without material restriction. Former FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb commented that greater testing remains of paramount importance, noting that even though the pandemic shows signs of slowing, we are reopening “against the backdrop of more spread than we anticipated.” In neither case, however, did these experts recommend the approach being followed by Wuhan.
Don’t Leave Home Without It
I’m not talking about your American Express card. Rather, if you find yourself in Los Angeles, then you should know about Mayor Eric Garcetti’s announcement of yesterday as reported by MSN News that all Angelenos must wear face coverings whenever they leave their homes, unless “you are doing a solitary activity or with your own household.” There are also exceptions for young people and those with disabilities. Wearing face coverings became mandatory for Metro trains, buses and visiting LAX earlier in the week. As a rule of thumb, the mayor now says that, with respect to face coverings, “It’s simple – wear one whenever you go out,” as you never know when you may come into close contact with someone from outside your household. Mayor Garcetti’s Facebook post is provided for your reference. Our Senior Director of Manufacturing, Arun Malik, has reported that the company has received additional cloth masks from FEMA, which are being shipped to our various domestic locations for distribution to employees.
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COVID-19 Advisory: Wisconsin ~ Vaccine Volunteers ~ Wuhan Back in the News ~ L.A. Masks