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After 53 years of marriage, a Texas couple died holding hands from Covid-19

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On June 18, after 53 years as a married couple, the two died from coronavirus within an hour of each other in a Texas hospital, spending their last moments together holding hands, their son told CNN.

Tim Tarpley said his mom, who was 80, had been sick for a few days when he took her to Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth and found out she had Covid-19.

She was admitted on June 9 and his 79-year-old dad was admitted on the 11th.

Tarpley, 52, said his dad was in the ICU and seemed to be doing well. Nurses had even been able to wheel Curtis to Betty’s unit, so they could spend some time together.

Betty’s condition declined, and Tarpley said she called him and his sister, Tricia, and told them she “was ready to go.”

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It took him time to make peace with her decision.

“I just screamed ‘No!’ I was like, ‘I’ve got too much, too many other things to do in this life that I want to show you, and I’m not ready,'” he said.

Hospital staff let Tarpley and his sister visit their mom twice, he said.

On the first visit she was heavily medicated and didn’t really know they were there.

She was alert and cracking jokes when they came back the next day, but Tarpley said it was clear that she was uncomfortable and doctors said she didn’t have much time.

Tarpley said he called his dad to update him on his mom’s condition and told him how much he loved him.

Shortly after receiving the update from his kids, Curtis’ oxygen levels plummeted.

“I really feel like he like he was fighting because he was supposed to and once he knew she wasn’t gonna make it, then he was okay with, you know, taking it to the house,” Tarpley said. “I think he fought because he thought the team needed him, but he was also tired and he was in pain.”

It happened so quickly that Tarpley and his sister weren’t able to see their dad again.

‘The right thing to do was to get them together’

Tarpley said that a nurse he’d never even spoken to arranged for his mom and dad to be together. They had both decided to go on comfort care, which involved giving them heavy doses of medication to ease their pain.

“It felt like the right thing to do was to get them together,” said Blake Throne, one of the ICU nurses caring for Curtis. “I started inquiring about if it was even possible and then I started shaking the tree to try to get it done.”

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Throne said it took a team effort, but they were able to move Betty to the ICU, so she and her husband could be side-by-side.

When another nurse told Curtis that Betty was there, he tried to look over at her. But Throne said he was very weak.

“His eyes opened and his eyebrows went up,” Throne said. “He knew what we said. He knew that she was there.”

Throne said he then put Betty’s hand on Curtis’ arm.

Communicating without words

“I honestly think they were so incapacitated that all they could do was talk with their souls or something, a special unspoken language,” Tarpley said. “They obviously knew each other well enough that they could communicate without words.”

Betty died after about 20 minutes and Curtis died about 45 minutes later, Throne said.

Tarpley said the was grateful for the hospital staff’s empathy and kindness.

“That’s what makes them the best,” he said.

Tarpley said he doesn’t know how his parents got Covid-19, but he said he had to quarantine because he caught it from them. He said his mom and dad had mostly been in isolation since March, but he visited them every couple of days to check in.

That time together made their relationship even stronger, which Tarpley said gave him “another level of peace.”

He said the family and friends hope to be able to have a celebration of Betty and Curtis’ life next year.

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Like ‘A Bus Accident a Day’: Hospitals Strain Under New Flood of Covid-19 Patients

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Hospital bed capacity, including in I.C.U.s, is generally used to gauge a region’s health care infrastructure and the preparedness of its hospitals to respond to the coronavirus. Data showing I.C.U.s at full or near capacity have made headlines recently, but health experts say that attention to capacity does not paint an entirely accurate picture of the severity of the pandemic.

Regular beds are easily converted into I.C.U. capability, doctors and hospital experts say. The bigger challenge is having enough advanced practice nurses who are qualified to care for such patients and equipment such as ventilators.

Hospitals can “pivot enough space,” said Jay Wolfson, professor of public health at the University of South Florida. “The trick is going to be staffing. If you get people burned out, they get sick, then you lose critical care personnel.”

At the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, emergency room waiting times can last up to four hours before patients are seen by a physician. The hospital has set up large white tents outside to allow for social distancing, but patients are increasingly leaving the site before their treatment, unwilling to endure the wait.

As physicians and nurses fall ill with the coronavirus, much like their patients, fewer and fewer staff members have been available to accommodate the burgeoning number of sick people at their doorstep. Some emergency room doctors have taken on extra shifts, and the hospital plans to implement a new system where some doctors will be on-call, even on their days off, to respond to the surge.

Mohamed Ibrahim Ali, a critical care doctor at AdventHealth North Pinellas near St. Petersburg, Fla., one of the hospitals that have no more available I.C.U. beds, said that the system was clogged up by patients, sent from nursing homes, who had recovered but had not yet received the all-clear. He said nursing homes have refused to accept residents back unless they have tested negative, a period that could take days.

Roopa Ganga, an infectious disease specialist at two hospitals near Tampa, said that they lacked sufficient supplies of remdesivir, the antiviral drug, forcing her to choose which patients needed it the most. Patients were also being discharged “aggressively” — perhaps too early, she said. They sometimes return a few days later, she said, their symptoms worsened.

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What derailed the great summer opening

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Harvard University students will take courses online, even those living on campus.

The big US reopening of the pandemic summer, it turns out, has gone way off track.

“Basically, we’re seeing what happened in New York back in March, except it’s happening in multiple metropolitan areas of the country,” said Dr. Leana Wen, an emergency physician and public health professor at George Washington University.

“And we don’t have the political will and the public willingness to impose the shutdowns as we did back in March.”

There were consequences to reopening so soon

States with serious coronavirus problems need to consider shutting down again, Fauci says
The first reported case of Covid-19 in the US was on January 21. By late April, more than one million Americans were infected. At the time, states like Florida were already outlining reopening plans even as New York, an early epicenter, had counted more than 22,000 deaths and 300,000 cases.
A couple of weeks into June, there were two million cases. On Wednesday, less than a month later, the country topped three million cases of the novel coronavirus. This was one day after reporting the highest single day tally so far with 60,000.
More than 90% of the US population was under stay-at-home orders in the early spring as the sheer number of cases brought the healthcare system in some states to the brink.
Still, the Trump administration was eager to get the economy restarted. Protests against shelter-in-place orders erupted from Washington state to western New York. In late May, many states began lifting restrictions despite warnings that expanded testing and contact tracing and better treatment options were needed.
Oregon woman has battled coronavirus symptoms since March

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, said “divisiveness” and partisanship across the country has contributed to a failure to halt the uncontrollable surge in cases.

“From experience historically … when you don’t have unanimity in an approach to something, you’re not as effective in how you handle it,” he said Thursday on FiveThirtyEight’s weekly Podcast-19.

He added, “When you compare us to other countries, I don’t think you can say we’re doing great. I mean, we’re just not.”

Wen said most of the country is now living the consequences of reopening too soon — and of a failure to have an adequate national coronavirus strategy in place.

“The American people have made tremendous sacrifices to get us to where we are,” said Wen, Baltimore’s former health commissioner.

“Tens of millions of people have lost their jobs. Kids were out of school and lost valuable time and unfortunately we are in this position where it appears that we have squandered the time that these sacrifices were supposed to buy us.”

33 states trend upward in average daily cases

Many states are pausing or rolling back reopening plans. Those accounting for over 40% of the US population have put their reopening on hold, Goldman Sachs reported Thursday. States with another 30% of the population have already reversed parts of their plans.

Washington has largely left reopening plans to the states.

At least 33 states have trended upward in average daily cases — an increase of at least 10% over the previous week.

CNN medical analyst Dr. Celine Gounder, an internist, infectious disease specialist and epidemiologist, said most states took “halfhearted” steps to combat the spread of the virus, noting, for instance, that stricter shelter-in-place orders could have been implemented earlier than March and April.

“If we had all locked down simultaneously and taken that two-month period to do what we needed to do with preparing and meeting the gating criteria (for reopening) and then all lifted slowly, we’d actually be in a very different place right now,” she said.

‘A piecemeal approach’ and ‘mix messaging’

Countries such as South Korea, Germany and Taiwan succeeded in slowing the spread of the virus with steps that included moving quickly to monitor those quarantined and conducting widespread testing and tracing.

“Other countries have been able to combat this because they had a national coordinated strategy instead of a piecemeal approach combined with mixed messaging and even a disdain of science and public health that some of our public officials exhibited,” Wen said. “We really did not need to be in this position.”

In Florida, heath officials reported on Thursday 8,935 new Covid-19 cases and at least 120 deaths.

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Florida, California, Arizona, and Texas account for about 50% of new infections.

Texas on Thursday set another record for highest single-day fatality increases with 105 — one day after it reported the second highest daily count of new cases at 9,979.

Louisiana, despite progress in recent weeks, has mounting levels of community spread, forcing New Orleans to limit bars and restaurants to 25 patrons inside and prohibit bar seating.

Arizona has led the nation for more a month with the highest seven-day average of new coronavirus cases per 100,000 people, according to a CNN analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University.

Even California, once praised for implementing early restrictions, has seen infection rates rise in Los Angeles to levels not seen since April.

“If the goal is to have schools open in the fall maybe what we should do is to not have bars be open in the summer,” Wen said.

A possible ‘double whammy’ in the fall

The nationwide spikes in cases come less than three months before the start of flu season, which health experts warn could coincide with a new wave of Covid-19.

“We could well face the double whammy come the fall,” Wen said.

“So you’ll have many patients coming in with the same type of symptoms of fever, shortness of breath, coughs and that will really exhaust our supply of PPE because the patients who come in, you don’t know what they have. So you have to treat them as if they have Covid. And it will be a huge strain on our healthcare systems — for beds, for ventilators, and more importantly, for our healthcare workers.”

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“The health system is going to be overwhelmed with Covid in most of the country this fall and winter,” Gounder said.

Fauci and others say there is still time to turn the tide of the pandemic across parts of the South and Southwest.

But states need to start pausing their reopenings, expanding testing and tracing, and encouraging physical distancing and mask wearing.

“I would hope we don’t have to resort to shut down,” Fauci said Thursday at an event hosted by The Hill.

“I think that would be something that is obviously an extreme. I think it would not be viewed very, very favorably… So rather than think in terms of reverting back down to a complete shutdown, I would think we need to get the states pausing in their opening process.”

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4 mystery objects spotted in deep space, unlike anything ever seen

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Astronomers are baffled about four objects that were spotted in deep space by a massive radio telescopes, reports said.

LiveScience.com reported on Thursday that the highly circular objects that appear bright along the edges were discovered when astronomers reviewed archival data from radio telescopes in Australia and India.

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Kristine Spekkens, an astronomer from the Royal Military College of Canada and Queen’s University, told the science website that the objects appear to be something not yet probed.

“It may also be that these are an extension of previously known class of objects that we haven’t been able to explore,” she said. Scientists have referred to the objects as ORCs, or “odd radio circles.”

The Australian astronomers in the study noted that the objects were found while working on the Evolutionary Map of the Universe Pilot, an all-sky continuum survey, using a square kilometer array pathfinder telescope.

The objects were described as circular, “edge-brightened discs.” They do not “correspond to any known type of object.” Two of them are relatively close together, which could indicate some relation. Two also feature “an optical galaxy near the center of the radio emission.”

“We speculate that they may represent a spherical shock wave from an extra-galactic transient event, or the outflow, or a remnant, from a radio galaxy viewed end-on,” the scientists wrote.

The scholarly papers were posted on Arxiv.org.

The paper lists a few possible explanations but dismisses them. They theorized that it could be a supernova remnant, galactic planetary nebula or a face-on star-forming galaxy or ring galaxy.

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The face-on star-forming galaxy theory, for example, was dashed, in part, due to the “lack of measurable optical emission” in comparison to the radio emission.

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