Scientists say new nasal spray can help fight COVID; college football season in shambles; Texas passes 500K cases

Laveta Brigham

While scientists around the world rush to find a vaccine for COVID-19, researchers in San Francisco developed an antiviral nasal spray that could fight the coronavirus.  Coronavirus infections have spiked in Texas as the state surpassed the 500,000 case marker Tuesday. While state hospitalizations have decreased, Gov. Greg Abbott said gatherings […]

While scientists around the world rush to find a vaccine for COVID-19, researchers in San Francisco developed an antiviral nasal spray that could fight the coronavirus. 

Coronavirus infections have spiked in Texas as the state surpassed the 500,000 case marker Tuesday. While state hospitalizations have decreased, Gov. Greg Abbott said gatherings may have contributed to the surge in positive cases.

In college sports, the Pac-12 postponed its season Tuesday, hours after the Big Ten announced it would not play football this fall over concerns of the coronavirus. The historic decision may lead the rest of the Power Five conferences to delay their seasons.

Here are some significant developments:

? Today’s numbers:  Wisconsin has reported its 1,000th death. New weekly case records were set in Indiana and North Dakota, and also Guam and Puerto Rico. Weekly record numbers of deaths were reported in Georgia and Tennessee, and also Puerto Rico. The United States has reported more than 5 million cases and nearly 165,000 deaths.

? What we’re reading: Outdoor dining may save restaurants during the COVID-19 pandemic. But are diners at risk from cars plowing into them?

Pac-12 joins Big Ten in not playing college football this fall

The Pac-12 has decided to not play its football season this fall over concerns that the sport carries too much risk for athletes, the conference said Tuesday, joining the Big Ten as the second member of the Power Five to elect not to play over the health issues raised by the coronavirus pandemic. Combined, the announcement by the two leagues less than two hours apart foreshadow a series of similar moves that may eventually lead to the cancellation of the entire Bowl Subdivision season.

“The health, safety and well-being of our student-athletes and all those connected to Pac-12 sports has been our number one priority since the start of this current crisis,” said Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott. 

“Our student-athletes, fans, staff and all those who love college sports would like to have seen the season played this calendar year as originally planned, and we know how disappointing this is.” 

All Pac-12 sports competitions will be postponed until at least Jan. 1, the league said. The decision came following a meeting of the Pac-12 CEO Group.

– Paul Myerberg

Scientists develop nasal spray that could be sold in stores to fight coronavirus

Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, said Tuesday they have created a nasal spray that can help ward off the coronavirus – not as a cure or vaccine, but as an antiviral.

“Far more effective than wearable forms of personal protective equipment, we think of AeroNabs as a molecular form of PPE that could serve as an important stopgap until vaccines provide a more permanent solution to COVID-19,” said AeroNabs co-inventor Peter Walter, professor of biochemistry and biophysics at UCSF, in a news release.

Nanobodies in the spray are smaller than human antibodies, making them easier to manipulate in a laboratory setting, said co-inventor Aashish Manglik, MD, PhD, an assistant professor of pharmaceutical chemistry. Nanobodies, for this reason, are therefore less expensive and easier to mass produce.

The researchers are currently working to get the spray manufactured and clinically tested.

– Elinor Aspegren

US immigration services to furlough two-thirds of its workers

The federal agency tasked with offering citizenship, green cards and visas to immigrants is planning to furlough about two-thirds of its workers at the end of the month after Congress failed to reach a deal on a coronavirus stimulus package. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services notified about 13,400 of its 20,000 employees they would be furloughed Aug. 30 due to budget shortfalls, which the agency hoped Congress would fill in its next relief package before negotiations stalled last week. 

“In the past few months, USCIS has taken action to avert a fiscal crisis, including limiting spending to salary and mission-critical activities,” an agency spokesperson said. “Without congressional intervention, USCIS will have to take drastic actions to keep the agency solvent.” 

The agency had asked Congress for $1.2 billion and the funds were expected to come through its next coroanvirus relief package. But after about two weeks of negotiations, talks dissolved with Democrats and the White House blaming one another for the stalemate.

– Christal Hayes

Quarantine hasn’t canceled FOMO, ‘fear of missing out,’ experts say

The coronavirus pandemic has canceled many things, but FOMO doesn’t appear to be one of them. Jennifer Wolkin, a New York-based health and neuropsychologist, describes FOMO, aka the “fear of missing out,” as “anxiety that’s elicited by the perception that others are thriving while we aren’t, or that others are overall experiencing a better version of life.”

In other words, you know that sinking feeling you get when you see other people on vacation while you’re sitting at home? That’s FOMO. But with travel plans nixed, large gatherings canceled and many stuck in quarantine, is 2020 a year of less FOMO? The fear of missing out is alive and well in lockdown, according to Wolkin and other mental health experts.

“It’s shape-shifted,” she says. “It might not be looking at pictures of someone’s vacation or their parasailing trip or swimming with dolphins. It now becomes ‘They’re making sourdough starters,’ and ‘They’re going for a hike in these woods with their family, and I’m just on the couch and doing nothing and surviving and trying to find my breath.'”

– Charles Trepany

Clorox is making 1 million packages of disinfecting wipes per day, CEO says

Clorox said it’s churning out more disinfectant wipes than ever before to keep up with increasing demand during the pandemic. The company’s president, Linda Rendle, said Monday that it is “making wipes in record numbers and shipping to stores in record numbers” as consumers continue to scour grocery store aisles for Clorox and Lysol products, which health agencies say may help curb the spread of COVID-19. 

“In terms of wipes, we are making more disinfectant products than we ever have before. Since January, we’re able to make 100 million more disinfecting products than we did before, that’s a 50% increase,” Rendle said in an interview with Robin Roberts of “Good Morning America.” 

“We are making nearly 1 million packages of wipes every day and shipping them to stores,” Rendle said. Clorox Disinfectant Wipes have not been tested on the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. But the wipes are “expected to be effective against COVID-19 based on data for harder-to-kill viruses.”

Southwest removes family after autistic son, 3, would not wear mask

A Texas woman says that she was removed from a Southwest Airlines flight Monday after her three-year-old son with autism would not wear a face mask, in violation of the airline’s COVID-19 policy. Houston resident Alyssa Sadler says that her Southwest flight from Midland, Texas to Houston returned to the gate when her son refused to wear the protective mask. Her family, including her one-year-old daughter, was asked to exit the plane.

“When you get kicked off your flight because your 3 year old autistic child won’t wear a mask,” Sadler wrote on Facebook. “Looks like I’m stuck here in midland.” Sadler told local TV station KPRC her son has a sensory processing disorder and does not like to have his face touched. She said she had a note from the boy’s doctor about his condition.

Southwest Airlines’ COVID-19 policy, enacted in July, states that all passengers over age two must have proper face coverings while traveling. The rule is pointed out during the online booking, in a pre-trip e-mail and during the check-in process.

– Bryan Alexander

3 COVID-19 deaths tied to Florida school before it reopens

The mother of Jordan Byrd, a 19-year-old custodian at a Tallahassee school who died of COVID-19, has herself died of the virus, further raising concerns about the state-mandated reopening of the school’s district, set for later this month. 

Jacqueline Byrd, a former Fort Braden School employee, died Monday morning, according to loved ones. Her surviving son, Jacary Byrd, paid tribute to his late brother, Jordan Byrd, and his mom in a post on Facebook. “To my heart I will definitely miss you‼️” he wrote. “You and Jordan Byrd have both left me. I know that you both are having a good time in the Lord. Mommy I will definitely miss you.”

Jacqueline Byrd, 55, is the third person from the Fort Braden School community to die after contracting COVID-19. Her son, Jordan Byrd, a school custodian who attended Fort Braden School as a child, died July 18. Karen Bradwell, 53, who managed an after-school program at Fort Braden, died July 25, a week after Jordan Byrd’s death. Bradwell’s daughter was Jordan Byrd’s girlfriend.

– Jeff Burlew, Tallahassee Democrat

Texas surpasses 500K confirmed cases of coronavirus

Texas surpassed 500,000 confirmed coronavirus cases Tuesday as Gov. Greg Abbott suggested family and neighborhood gatherings are behind a sharp rise in the rate of positive tests, which has climbed to record levels just as schools are beginning to reopen across the state. He also continued to say more testing in Texas is likely after dropping off in recent weeks, a trend seen across the U.S. even as deaths mount. Texas has reported more than 1,400 new deaths over the past week, including 220 on Tuesday.

Although health officials say there are encouraging signs in Texas — particularly hospitalization levels that have dropped more than 30 percent since July’s peak — infection rates have been on a steady increase. On Tuesday, the rolling average of positive cases over the past seven days jumped to 24%, by far the highest of the pandemic, according to figures from the state Department of Health Services.

“There’s a reason why this is happening, I believe, and that is some people feel if they’re just with family members” they can let their guard down, Abbott told reporters in Victoria, which had a surge of cases in July. “And that turns out not to be the case.”

More COVID-19 resources from USA TODAY

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Contributing: The Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: COVID news: antiviral treatments; Pac-12, Big Ten postpone football

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