Image: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

The coronavirus pandemic is still with us, with over 75,000 new cases reported Thursday in the USA. That would be the eleventh record for single-day infections in just the last month. And while people keep getting sick and dying (the death rate is increasing, too), too many elected Republicans keep doing all they can to help out the virus. Let's review the latest!

In Kentucky, state Attorney General Daniel Cameron, a Republican, is fighting in court to rescind every last one of Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear's executive orders aimed at limiting the spread of the virus, and to block any future orders too. Cameron insists that Beshear has exceeded his authority when it comes to things like mandating masks and limiting the size of public gatherings, so they have to go, and then Kentuckians will be free to make their own choices about whether to infect other people, because the Constitution is some kind of death pact. Beshear called Cameron's crusade irresponsible, and pointed out that no other state attorneys general are trying to undermine governors' executive orders to limit the virus. Beshear warned that Cameron's court motion

would lead to the "Wild West" of no public health rules to specifically address COVID-19.

"That's terrifying," said Beshear at his Thursday coronavirus briefing. "It would mean we would fail, and it means people would die."

Beshear has already asked the Kentucky Supreme Court for an immediate injunction upholding two emergency public health orders that Cameron is challenging. For his part, Cameron is doing all he can to portray Beshear as a power-mad tyrant running roughshod over the people's right to ignore public health, because why not, it worked on Obama. (It did not work on Obama.)

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp escalated his war on local governments' efforts to control the virus, filing a lawsuit against Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms to block her order requiring residents to wear masks when they're out in public. In a statement, Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr said, "The State of Georgia continues to urge citizens to wear masks," but explained the lawsuit was absolutely necessary, because it's "about the rule of law." The lawsuit argues that Bottoms has no authority to issue any public health orders beyond those issued by Kemp.

A spokesperson for Bottoms said the Atlanta order is still in effect, adding that city policy will continue to assume science is real and "masks save lives." Bottoms herself said, "A better use of taxpayer money would be to expand testing and contact tracing. [...] If being sued by the State is what it takes to save lives in Atlanta, then we will see them in court."

A growing number of retail chains aren't waiting for state governments to order the wearing of masks, and have announced they'll require customers to wear masks or go elsewhere. So far, the list includes Walmart, Target, Kroger grocery stores and all weird regional Kroger variants, CVS Health, Publix grocery stores, as well as all Starbucks, Best Buy, and Panera Bread locations. USA Today notes that these chains are all Johnnies-come-lately, since Costco and Apple Stores started requiring face masks in May. Not all the mask requirements are going into effect immediately; while 80 percent of Target stores already require masks, the chain-wide requirement won't start until August 1. Some of the other retailers will begin their requirements next week.

As more stores begin requiring masks, get ready for more Twitter videos of idiots yelling at store employees about the Constitution, God, and probably George Soros, too.

Evidence increasingly suggests masks DO protect the wearer more than previously thought, as this LA Times story explains. Dr. Monica Gandhi, a professor of medicine at UC San Francisco and the medical director of the HIV Clinic at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, points out that the severity of the disease can vary with the amount of virus people breathe in. Because of that, even simple cloth face masks can reduce viral exposure enough to make a difference in whether someone gets sick, or how ill they become if infected.

Masks don't filter out all viral particles, Gandhi said. But even cloth face masks filter out a majority of viral particles.

And even if a person wearing a mask gets infected, the mask — by filtering out most of the viral particles exhaled by the infected person — probably leads to less severe disease, Gandhi said.

Gandhi also noted that in Asian countries where mask use is nearly universal, like Taiwan, Thailand, South Korea, and Singapore, "They have all seen cases as they opened ... but not deaths." Of course, those places also have far fewer loons yammering on about their sacred individual right to be stupid, so that could be a factor as well. And here's a hell of a thing:

[A] study published in May found that surgical mask partitions significantly reduced the transmission of the coronavirus among hamsters. And even if the hamsters protected by the mask partitions acquired the coronavirus, "they were more likely to get very mild disease," Gandhi said.

Bookmark that article and pass it on to people who insists masks simply can't block itty-bitty viruses.

The US moratorium on cruise ship travel was extended yesterday by the CDC, which extended its "no sail" order until September 30, or unless the CDC director rescinds it before then. The ban on all-you-can-infect cruise buffets had been scheduled to end July 24. As it happens, the trade group for the US cruise industry had already planned not to resume cruises until September 15.

USA Today reports,

In their announcement, the CDC revealed that between March 1 and July 10, data showed 2,973 cases of COVID-19 or "COVID-like" illnesses emerged on cruise ships, with 34 deaths. During that period, there were 99 outbreaks on 123 cruise ships meaning that 80% of U.S. jurisdiction ships were impacted. Nine of those cruise ships are still dealing with coronavirus outbreaks on board.

Okay, but if cruises were already shut down, who the hell is still on board a cruise ship with COVID-19? We read the rest of the story for an explanation, but darned if we saw any. Also too, in Europe, which is Coronavirus Gallant to the USA's Coronavirus Goofus, cruises are set to begin again in August, under a strict 49-page set of guidelines from the EU. Rule One appears to be no Americans, who are already banned from most travel to Europe.

Finally, everybody grab your crowns:

There's your Rona Roundup for now; we'll no doubt have more soon, since the news on the virus, like the disease itself, is expanding exponentially.

[Louisville Courier Journal / NBC News / USA Today / ABC News / USA Today / LA Times]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.


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