Last night, following the President’s comments, noting that persons with underlying conditions were the most severely affected by the pandemic, Dr. Deborah Birx reiterated that “everyone is susceptible of getting infected, not just those with underlying conditions” (such as asthma, hypertension, heart disease and diabetes). She surveyed trends within the U.S., finding that the NY-NJ-CT-RI area was experiencing 11,000 new cases per day with a 40% positivity rate of those tested, while, at the milder end of the spectrum, Los Angeles metro is experiencing 800 new cases per day and only 9% positivity. She was followed by Dr. Anthony Fauci, who found encouragement in the fact that daily hospitalizations, ICU admittances and intubations in New York City were leveling off. He added that “mitigation is having a positive effect, but you don’t see it until weeks later.” Consistent with these observations, we remain committed toward keeping our employees healthy and our workplaces safe.
According to an article from today’s New York times, using genome tracing from thousands of cases, geneticists from Mount Sinai and NewYork University in separate studies came to the same conclusion that the COVID-19 virus came to the New York region through people traveling back from Europe. Knowing that a virus mutates slightly each time it spreads from one person to the next, researchers collected and analyzed the genome of the virus from patients in different regions at different times. When a particular mutation that had infected multiple people in the EU mysteriously appeared in New York City, researchers concluded that that version was carried from one region to the other. Researchers also found that this virus was silently transmitting within New York weeks before the first positive test result on March 1. In similar studies, researchers in Washington state concluded that the virus first appeared in that region from one or more persons traveling back from Wuhan Province in China. Using similar methods, researchers from Penn State University have determined that the virus’s genome makes it clear that it arose from bats, possibly the Chinese horseshoe bat. As a point of encouragement, researchers note that the typical mutation occurring in a single transmission are insignificant and that, like other viruses, COVID-19 should be vulnerable to a single vaccine.