Thursday, May 13, 2021

FDA approves at-home test; Chicago schools; Los Angeles

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The Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday night approved emergency use of the first at-home COVID-19 test that delivers results in 30 minutes.

“This new testing option is an important diagnostic advancement to address the pandemic and reduce the public burden of disease transmission,” FDA Commissioner Stephen M. Hahn said in a statement. The test will require a prescription for individuals over the age of 14.

The FDA’s announcement comes amid record-setting numbers of cases and deaths across the U.S.

Officials in Los Angeles County, the nation’s most populous, are preparing to issue a mandatory curfew for all but essential workers if cases continue to spike. Meanwhile, Chicago school officials on Tuesday released a plan to resume in-person instruction in January.

Also Tuesday, France became the latest country to surpass 2 million COVID-19 cases, the fourth-highest total in the world behind the U.S., India and Brazil, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Russia is nearing the grim milestone with 1.95 reported infections.

📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has reported more than 11.3 million cases and more than 248,500deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: 55.5 million cases and 1.33 million deaths.

Nursing home cases surpass 10K in a week, an all-time high

New coronavirus cases have surged to an all-time high at nursing homes across the country despite federal efforts to shield residents through aggressive testing and visitor restrictions, a new report shows.

Federal data shows 10,279 COVID-19 cases during the week of Nov. 1, the most recent data available. The figures surpassed the previous high of 9,903 cases in late July, according to a report by the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living.

The surge in cases among the nation’s most vulnerable residents comes as cases, hospitalizations and deaths surge nationwide.

“We have been begging people the last eight months to wear a mask, socially distance and to be careful,” said Mark Parkinson, president and CEO of AHCA/NCAL. “Unfortunately, the public has not listened or complied.”

– Ken Alltucker

Chicago schools to resume in-person classes in January

Chicago Public Schools plans to welcome some students back into classrooms in January, officials announced Tuesday. Parents can decide whether they want to send their children to classrooms or continue remote learning.

Students enrolled in moderate and intensive classrooms and pre-kindergarten are scheduled to return Jan. 11, 2021. Students in kindergarten through 8th grade will be back on Feb. 1. Officials have not announced a return date for high school students yet.

The Chicago Teachers Union strongly opposed the news, calling it “arbitrary.”

But school officials believe children can safely return to classrooms, pointing to other states and some European countries that are keeping schools open despite a surge in COVID-19 cases.

“It’s our moral imperative to do everything in our power to safely open schools beginning with our youngest and highest-needs learners,” said Chicago schools CEO Janice Jackson.

FDA allows 1st rapid test that gives results at home

U.S. regulators on Tuesday allowed emergency use of the first rapid coronavirus test that can be performed and developed entirely at home.

The FDA granted emergency authorization to the 30-minute test kit from Lucira Health, a California manufacturer. The company’s test allows users to swab themselves to collect a nasal sample. The sample is then swirled in a vial that plugs into a portable device, that interprets the results and displays whether the person tested positive or negative for coronavirus.

Study: Museums losing millions due to COVID-19

A new American Alliance of Museums study released Tuesday showed that recent COVID-19 surges are doing a number on already hurting museums.

According to an October AAM survey of 850 respondents from across the USA about the continued impact of coronavirus on museums, millions of dollars are being lost – with around a third of institutions facing permanent closure – and job loss is mounting as nearly 30% of American museums remain closed since the March lockdown.

“The financial state of U.S. museums is moving from bad to worse,” Laura Lott, AAM’s president and CEO, said in a statement. “Those that have reopened are operating on an average of 35% of their regular attendance — a reduction that is unsustainable long-term. Those that did safely serve their communities this summer do not have enough revenue to offset higher costs, especially during a potential winter lockdown. Without financial help, we could see thousands of museums shutter forever.”

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock issues stricter rules, curfew

Montaga Gov. Steve Bullock announced a new round of directives Tuesday, which will limit crowd size and close bars, restaurants and casinos at 10 p.m., in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

The new directives go into effect 5 a.m. Friday.

“The situation is serious in Montana, and it is serious across the nation,” Bullock said. “We need to turn things around over the next few months while we wait on a widely distributed vaccine or else we risk hospitals that turn patients away and risk any further ability to control the spread.”

Montana is among the 36 states with a mask mandate. What are the rules in your state? Check the list.

– Phil Drake, Great Falls Tribune

Los Angeles plans new restrictions, including curfew

Los Angeles County imposed new restrictions on businesses Tuesday and is readying plans for a mandatory curfew for all but essential workers if coronavirus cases keep spiking.

The county of 10 million residents has seen daily confirmed cases more than double in the last two weeks to nearly 2,900. Hospitalizations have topped 1,100, a rise of 30% in that period.

The county, which for most of the pandemic has had a disproportionately large share of California’s cases, issued new restrictions ordering nonessential retail businesses to limit indoor capacity to 25% and restaurants to 50% capacity outdoors. Restaurants already are not allowed to serve customers indoors.

All those businesses must close at 10 p.m. The changes take effect Friday.

COVID-19 resources from USA TODAY

Contributing: The Associated Press

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