World sees record case increase; judge overturns Pennsylvania's virus restrictions — 6 COVID-19 updates

The world saw its highest single-day COVID-19 case increase Sept. 13, with 307,930 new infections recorded by the World Health Organization. 

Six updates: 

1. A federal judge has overturned Pennsylvania's COVID-19 orders, deeming them unconstitutional, reports The Hill. U.S. District Judge William Stickman IV said COVID-19 orders from Gov. Tom Wolf and Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Rachel Levine, which closed businesses and limited gatherings, violated the First and 14th Amendments. The efforts to stop the virus spread were undertaken with "good intention," but even in a public health emergency, "the authority of government is not unfettered," Mr. Stickman wrote. 

2. Thirty-seven Louisiana legislators are calling for an investigation into allegations that a New Orleans hospital system sent COVID-19 patients to hospice facilities or back home to die, according to ProPublica. The demands of the Legislative Black Caucus follow an earlier ProPublica report claiming New Orleans-based Ochsner Health sent vulnerable COVID-19 patients home. In all the cases ProPublica examined, every patient who died after being sent home was Black. Ochsner CMO Robert Hart, MD, told Becker's that patients were moved around the system due to bed space this spring, but care was never rationed.

3. House Democrats have launched an investigation into HHS communication aides' screening of CDC's scientific reports. Six House members penned a letter to HHS Secretary Alex Azar and CDC Director Robert Redfield, MD, requesting transcribed interviews and documents regarding political appointees' efforts to "block the publication of accurate scientific reports." The letter, first obtained by Politico, comes after the publication released an investigative report in which sources claimed aides tried to "to intimidate the reports' authors and water down their communications to health professionals." 

4. New research from 23andMe strengthens the association between blood type and COVID-19, reports STAT. The research backs previous evidence that people with type O blood are less likely to test positive for COVID-19. Patients with a specific genetic variant were also less likely to have serious respiratory symptoms, which suggests that a person's genetic code may influence their likelihood to contract the virus or their symptom severity. Experts noted the findings are interesting, but will not affect treatment decisions. The study was published on the preprint server MedRxiv and has not been peer reviewed. 

5. It would take 500 years to invest the amount of money the world is losing due to COVID-19 in future disease preparedness actions, according to an annual report from the WHO and World Bank's Global Preparedness Monitoring Board. The world has spent more than $11 trillion responding to the pandemic, which is also projected to cause an estimated $10 trillion loss in future earnings. "Expenditures for prevention and preparedness are measured in billions of dollars, the cost of a pandemic in trillions," researchers said, highlighting the importance of better preparing the world for future pandemics and health emergencies.

6. States that reopened bars saw COVID-19 cases double in an average of three weeks, according to an analysis of location and virus data by The Washington Post. States had an average of 3.7 cases per 10,000 residents the week they reopened. Three weeks later, this average jumped to 6.9 cases per capita. The analysis revealed a statistically significant national relationship between foot traffic to bars one week after opening and a jump in cases three weeks later.

Snapshot of COVID-19 in the U.S.

Cases: 6,553,384
Deaths: 194,547
Recovered: 2,474,570

Counts reflect data available as of 8:20 a.m. CDT Sept. 15.

More articles on public health:
23 states where COVID-19 is spreading fastest, slowest: Sept. 15
ED visits for COVID-19 fall for 8th week: 4 CDC findings
Nearly 40% of Americans know a coronavirus patient who was hospitalized or died


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