What you need to know about coronavirus on Thursday, October 15

 What you need to know about coronavirus on Thursday, October 15

Let’s look at the situation in the UK: As a result of its spring lockdown, the British economy shrank by 20% in the second quarter, pushing it into the deepest recession of any major developed economy. Which is why Prime Minister Boris Johnson is now under pressure from some members of his Cabinet to keep the economy open, even as the country recorded 17,234 new cases on Tuesday and 143 deaths.

Johnson’s fix, of a patchwork of local lockdowns and restrictions, will have little impact on the virus and hurt the economy more over time, say experts, especially when key systems used to control the epidemic — like contact tracing and testing — remain plagued with problems. The key, says Robert West, professor of health psychology at University College London, is to scale up those systems while in a lockdown.

The same tussle is happening in France, where President Emmanuel Macron said in August that he would not shutter the whole country again. On Wednesday, soaring rates forced him to announce a curfew on Paris and other cities. Experts say a second lockdown not only feels inevitable, but makes economic sense. “We need to stop thinking that there is an opposition between economy and public health,” Catherine Hill, a prominent French epidemiologist, told CNN. “If we solve the coronavirus crisis, then we solve the economic crisis. In China, they controlled the epidemic and the economy returned. The aim is simple: To get rid of the virus, so that life gets back on track.”

YOU ASKED. WE ANSWERED

Q. How do we celebrate Halloween safely?

A: Instead of Halloween parties or trick-or-treating, the CDC suggests carving pumpkins with your family or with friends and neighbors (at a safe distance). You can also have virtual costume contests or a Halloween scavenger hunt, “where children are given lists of Halloween-themed things to look for while they walk outdoors from house to house admiring Halloween decorations at a distance,” the CDC said.​
Send your questions here. Are you a health care worker fighting Covid-19? Message us on WhatsApp about the challenges you’re facing: +1 347-322-0415.

WHAT’S IMPORTANT TODAY

Melania Trump details Covid illness and reveals son Barron contracted it

The US first lady posted a personal essay on the White House website detailing her experience battling Covid-19, for which she tested positive approximately two weeks ago. Melania Trump also revealed that her son, Barron Trump, 14, eventually tested positive for the virus, a diagnosis the White House did not share.

She has now tested negative for the virus, as has her husband, President Donald Trump, according to his doctors. “Naturally, my mind went immediately to our son,” she wrote, adding Barron had “no symptoms,” and has now tested negative.

At a campaign rally in Iowa on Wednesday, Trump used his son’s experience of the virus and his own rebound — helped along by a cocktail of expensive therapies not available to the public — to downplay the virus. “I don’t even think he knew he had it, because they’re young and their immune systems are strong and they fight it off. 99.9%. And Barron is beautiful and he’s free,” he said.

‘Safe and effective’ Covid-19 vaccine may be widely available by April 2021, Fauci says

A Covid-19 vaccine may be widely available by April 2021, the US’s top infectious diseases expert said in an interview with CBS News Wednesday. Dr. Anthony Fauci said researchers should know by “November or December” whether some vaccine trials have a safe candidate. And even in the event that a safe candidate is determined, initial quantities will likely only be a few million doses.
He also called on Americans to “bite the bullet and sacrifice that social gathering” over Thanksgiving. “It is unfortunate, because that’s such a sacred part of the American tradition, the family gathering around Thanksgiving, but that is a risk,” Fauci said, adding that given the current spread of Covid-19 and the uptick in infections, people need to be very careful about social gatherings, especially older people and those with underlying conditions.

Herd immunity is not the way out of the coronavirus pandemic, experts say

Herd immunity has once again emerged as a controversial topic. During a call with reporters on Monday, White House senior administration officials discussed a contentious declaration written by some scientists that advocates for ending lockdowns, building immunity and pushing for those who are not vulnerable to Covid-19 to resume normal life.

The Great Barrington Declaration aligns “very strongly with what the President has said for months — that is strongly protect the high-risk elderly and vulnerable and open schools and restore society to function,” a senior administration official said during the call.

But to allow the virus to circulate freely is “a dangerous fallacy unsupported by scientific evidence” that risks “significant morbidity and mortality across the whole population,” 80 scientists from around the world wrote in an open letter. World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called it “unethical” during a briefing on Monday. Others have warned of catastrophic consequences: Dr. Leana Wen, emergency physician and CNN medical analyst, back in August estimated 2 million Americans could die.

ON OUR RADAR

Cultural performers from the Maasai tribe wear masks in the Maasai Mara National Reserve, where their work of performing for visiting tourists has dwindled.
  • A massive animal migration is still happening in the Maasai Mara. But the pandemic means few can see it
  • Arizona family lost their business — and eight family members — to Covid-19
  • What the reaction to Chinese President Xi Jinping coughing during a speech says about East Asia right now

TODAY’S TOP TIP

Today is Global Handwashing Day and observing it has never been more important than during a pandemic, which could be stemmed, in part, by everyone taking hand hygiene seriously.

Here are some tips on how to motivate yourself to keep your hands clean.
  • Build your knowledge of the coronavirus and the risks.
  • Tape to your entrance hall and bathroom wall or mirror pieces of paper that say, “Don’t forget to wash hands.”
  • Further internalize the habit and motivation by creating a routine and considering yourself a role model for others.

TODAY’S PODCAST

“If there were 200,000 15-year-olds dying, I think we would have had a very different approach to the pandemic.” — Azim Shariff, associate professor in the department of psychology at the University of British Columbia.

Around the world, more than 1 million people have now died from the coronavirus. Rationally, we know this is devastating, but emotionally, why can we feel so removed from it? CNN’s Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta talks to Shariff about the limits of human empathy in today’s episode. Listen Now.

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