California Coronavirus Updates: US Life Expectancy Saw Biggest Drop Since World
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Wednesday, July 21
U.S. life expectancy fell by a year and a half in 2020, the largest one-year decline since World War II, according to the Associated Press.
The decrease for both Black Americans and Hispanic Americans was even worse — it dropped three years. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released the calculations for 2020 on Wednesday.
The drop is mainly due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which health officials say is responsible for close to 74% of the overall life expectancy decline. More than 3.3 million Americans died last year, far more than any other year in U.S. history, with COVID-19 accounting for about 11% of those deaths.
The abrupt fall is “basically catastrophic,” said Mark Hayward, a University of Texas sociology professor who studies changes in U.S. mortality.
Killers other than COVID-19 played a role. Drug overdoses pushed life expectancy down, particularly for white Americans. Rising homicides were also a small but significant reason for the decline for Black Americans.
Some health experts say too many people have already died from COVID-19 this year, and they’re concerned as variants are spreading among unvaccinated Americans — many of which are younger adults.
“We can’t. In 2021, we can’t get back to pre-pandemic” life expectancy, said Noreen Goldman, a Princeton University researcher.
The head of the World Health Organization says the Tokyo Olympics should not be judged by all of the COVID-19 cases that arise, but more so how the infections are handled.
According to the Associated Press, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom says it’s impossible for there to be a zero risk of infection at the Olympic Games this year. Due to that, he doesn’t want the world to judge the success of Tokyo or Japan by how many cases they accumulate, but how “cases are identified, isolated, traced and cared for as quickly as possible and onward transmission is interrupted.”
The number of games-linked COVID-19 cases in Japan this month is now 79. Multiple international athletes have tested positive at home and are barred from traveling.
For example, Team USA Basketball athlete Zach LaVine was previously barred from traveling to Japan due to a coronavirus testing-related issue. He has since been cleared and will fly to Japan and rejoin the team soon.
Other players from the same team have been in various stages of arrival due to other issues. The team will only be able to have one full practice together before its games start to count.
The Tokyo Olympics are going ahead despite opposition from many quarters inside Japan, and politics are everywhere.
According to the Associated Press, the Japanese medical community is largely against holding the Games. The government’s main medical adviser has said it’s abnormal to hold the Olympics during a pandemic.
There’s the risk of the Olympics spreading variant strains, particularly after two members of the Ugandan delegation were detected last month entering Japan with the delta variant. Still, the games are going ahead as the International Olympic Committee and the Japanese government have been able to surmount strong opposition.
Tuesday, July 20
Masks are back in Las Vegas, where a rising number of coronavirus cases has health officials advising everyone — vaccinated or not — to wear facial coverings in crowds and indoor places.
The recommendation Friday from the Southern Nevada Health District affects casinos, concerts, clubs and supermarkets. However, the masks are not a requirement.
It follows a call this week by the top public health official in Los Angeles for Californians to reconsider traveling to Nevada until COVID-19 case numbers decrease.
Nevada health officials reported 938 new cases on Thursday — the biggest one-day case jump for the state since February. The number of new cases reported Friday was 866.
Amazon said it will stop testing its workers for COVID-19 at its warehouses by the end of July, citing the availability of vaccines and free testing.
According to the Associated Press, the company began testing warehouse workers last year when tests were difficult to find for the average American. Warehouse workers, who were considered essential, went to work to pack and ship orders throughout the pandemic.
In May, the online shopping giant said fully vaccinated warehouse workers could stop wearing face masks inside its facilities as long as the employee uploads a photo of their vaccine cards to an Amazon worker app.
9:54 a.m.: Olympic athletes test positive for COVID-19
Two South African soccer players have become the first athletes inside the Olympic Village to test positive for COVID-19, according to the Associated Press.
Other cases connected to the Tokyo Games were also confirmed Sunday to highlight the herculean task organizers face to keep the virus contained while the world’s biggest sports event plays out.
The positive tests came as some of the expected 11,000 athletes and thousands more team officials from across the globe began arriving in the village in Tokyo.
The Olympic Games open on Friday.
International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach has said there was “zero” risk of athletes passing the virus to the Japanese populace or other village residents — but it seems that his bold statement is just starting to get tested.
Monday, July 19
Between the first six months of 2019 and the first six months of 2020, California’s chlamydia cases dropped 31% and gonorrhea cases dipped 13%, according to a new study from the California Department of Public Health.
But health advocates worry that sexually transmitted infections are still rampant — they’re just not being tracked.
“The numbers we might see don’t tell the full story,” said Amy Moy of nonprofit group Essential Access Health. “There’s been a huge gap in STI testing. Also during the pandemic, city and county health departments that were conducting STI prevention activities had to really shift.”
The state health department study found that 78% of health departments surveyed had to reassign at least half of their workforce to COVID-19 by the fall of 2020.
They also found the largest declines in STI case reporting were among Hispanic, Asian/Pacific Islander, and Black residents.
Onyenma Obiekea, a program coordinator with Los Angeles-based nonprofit Black Women for Wellness, says the high rates of congenital syphilis among African American mothers illustrates the need for affordable screening.
“We are concerned that the pandemic has exacerbated the issues Black women face when it comes to access,” Obiekea wrote in an email. “The CDC identified lack of access to healthcare, lack of access to economic mobility and incarceration as some contributing factors to high STI rates, and we know that the pandemic has certainly had deleterious effects on these factors, particularly for Black women.”
Moy says the pandemic has exacerbated the need for more screening and…