According to a report from ABC, Florida is reporting a massive surge in COVID-variant cases that appear to be tied to the massive surge of young people who flooded the beaches during spring break.
With Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) moving quickly to open the state up during the pandemic despite warnings from the CDC, the state is now seeing the after-effects of his decisions with a startlingly large 10,000 variant cases.
According to the report, "A total of 753 variant cases from three strains -- the B.1.1.7, the P.1, and the B. 220.127.116.11. -- were reported on March 14, according to variant infection data shared with ABC News. The Florida Department of Health does not disclose variant cases on its public dashboard," before adding, "That number swelled to 5,177 cases from five types of variants on April 15. Just two weeks later, the number of variant infections exploded to 9,248 on April 27."
According to experts, the timeline suggests spring break, which drew college students and vacationers, is likely the culprit that led to the outbreak.
"Florida is home to the most variant COVID-19 cases in the country. State health officials reported more than 11,800 cases of COVID-19 variants on Wednesday," the report continues. "The Florida Department of Health released the data as a part of a legal settlement with the Orlando Sentinel after the paper sued in March to obtain a county breakdown of variant cases. A judge ended up agreeing with the paper's claim that the data was vital 'to understand how the virus continues to spread and affect Floridians.'"
You can read more here.
According to a report from the Guardian, the chairman of a powerful Democratic-led committee is making a renewed push to access Donald Trump's taxes with a plan to not only investigate the former president, but also allow his financial documents to become public.
The Guardian's Hugo Lowell writes that Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), who heads the House Oversight Committee, is pushing forward and asking a federal judge to allow her committee to have the documents that have previously withheld.
According to the report, Maloney's move, "marks the latest salvo from Democrats in their years-long pursuit to secure Trump's tax records and related documents, in a case testing the scope and limits of Congress's oversight authority," with the report adding, "If successful, the committee would be a step closer to obtaining Trump's tax records and potentially making them public."
A filing made to the U.S. district court for the District of Columbia from Douglas Letter, the general counsel for congressional Democrats, reads: "While the committee's need for the subpoenaed information has not changed, one key fact has: plaintiff Donald J Trump is no longer the president."
"Because he is no longer the incumbent, the constitutional separation-of-powers principles that were the foundation of the supreme court's recent decision are significantly diminished," Letter added.
According to the Guardian's Lowell, "Prosecutors with the Manhattan district attorney's office in New York obtained the former president's tax records in March, just hours after the supreme court denied his last-ditch attempt to keep them concealed. But, as they are part of a law enforcement investigation, they have not so far been released."
Last summer the Supreme Court blocked access to the documents on separation of powers ground but now, with Trump out of office, Democrats claim circumstances have changed and they should be granted their request.
"If the committee is ultimately successful, it could pave the way for Trump's tax returns to one day become public, since Congress is not restricted by grand jury secrecy rules that bar the Manhattan district attorney's office from releasing the documents except as evidence at a trial," the Guardian report adds.
You can read more here.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has had the unenviable task of announcing, each and every week, just how many Americans have died of COVID-19. As of Wednesday, the official tabulation was that almost 562,000 Americans had passed away with COVID-19 being cited as the cause on their death certificates. This includes more than 178,000 deaths in the first four months of 2021.
Yet one group of researchers believe that these numbers, tragic enough as they are, may actually be lower than reality.
A new study released by the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation estimated that more than 900,000 Americans have died of COVID-19 since the virus that causes it, SARS-CoV-2, entered this country a little more than a year ago. They also argued that more than 7 million people have died worldwide from the disease, more than twice as many as the official estimate of 3.24 million.
The researchers reached these conclusions by first looking at excess mortality (which the CDC defines as "the difference between the observed numbers of deaths in specific time periods and expected numbers of deaths in the same time periods") from March 2020 through May 3, 2021. After comparing those figures with what would be expected during an ordinary non-pandemic year, they adjusted the statistics to take a number of variables related to the pandemic into account. For instance, they accounted for how public health guidelines has reduced influenza infections during the pandemic era, while more people deferred their health care and might have therefore died from other ailments.
Ultimately they concluded that, effectively, all of the net extra deaths should be attributed to the SARS-CoV-2 virus because the drop in other death rates offset the additional deaths not caused by COVID-19.
Want more health and science stories in your inbox? Subscribe to Salon's weekly newsletter The Vulgar Scientist.
"When you put all that together, we conclude that the best way, the closest estimate, for the true COVID death is still excess mortality, because some of those things are on the positive side, other factors are on the negative side," Dr. Christopher Murray, who heads the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, told NPR.
An epidemiologist at Harvard University was skeptical about the IMHE study's conclusions.
"I think that the overall message of this (that deaths have been substantially undercounted and in some places more than others) is likely sound, but the absolute numbers are less so for a lot of reasons," William Hanage told NPR by email.
If the IMHE number is accurate, that would mean that roughly the same number of Americans have died of COVID-19 as died fighting in both the Civil War (498,332) and World War II (405,399). The COVID-19 pandemic has swept through the planet and left havoc in its wake, destroying economies and forcing much of the world to go into periodic stages of lockdown. The pandemic also became a big issue during the 2020 presidential election and likely played a role in why the incumbent, President Donald Trump, lost to the Democratic nominee, former Vice President Joe Biden.
Don't Sit on the Sidelines of History. Join Raw Story Investigates and Go Ad-Free. Support Honest Journalism.
$95 / year — Just $7.91/month
I want to Support More
$14.99 per month