Coronavirus (COVID-19) Outbreak
- The outbreak, initially identified in China, is continuing to grow.
- The disease is called COVID-19. It’s caused by an infection with the new coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, which is one of multiple coronaviruses that can be transmitted to humans.
- Other examples of coronaviruses include SARS, MERS, and even the common cold.
- Globally, there have been more than 16.5 million confirmed cases and over 655,000 associated deaths, according to Johns Hopkins.
- The United States currently has the highest reported number of confirmed cases with more than 4.3 million. However, due to a lack of testing, the number of actual cases may be far higher.
- More than 148,000 people in the United States have died from the disease and more than 50,000 are currently hospitalized.
Europe fears second wave of COVID-19 as cases rise
COVID-19 cases are rising again in multiple parts of Europe, raising fears of a second wave.
Cases are on the upswing in Belgium, France, Germany, and Spain according to the Washington Post.
Some countries are pulling back again after reopening. In Spain, nightclubs and gyms are closed in Barcelona and a popular beach is also being closed.
In France, the government is now mandating that everyone wear face masks while in shops or indoor venues.
The Belgium Prime Minister has now outlined a variety of new measures to stop the spread of COVID-19. These include limiting contact to people outside your home to only 5 other households. People can only stay inside a store for 30 minutes at a time, and they must shop alone.
Study finds evidence that drug for autoimmune issues may help fight COVID-19 symptoms
A new study finds evidence that a drug originally designed to treat autoimmune diseases and types of lymphoma may help treat COVID-19.
Published in the journal NatureTrusted Source, the study found that the drug called LAM-002A may help stop the virus that causes COVID-19 from replicating.
The study looked at infected cells in a lab so further tests need to be done in people to see if the drug is an effective way to combat COVID-19.
According to a press release by Yale University, the drug may also be combined with remdesivir to treat COVID-19.
COVID-19 vaccine trial in US reaches critical phase 3
A major vaccine trial is underway in the United States with researchers planning on involving at least 30,000 participants.
Those involved in the study will be divided into two groups with one group getting the experimental vaccine candidate and another group getting a placebo.
According to CNN, people who are part of the trial will get two doses of either the vaccine candidate or the placebo over 28 days to see how their immune system reacts.
A phase 3 trial is designed to verify that a medication or vaccine is effective, safe, and find out its effective dosage. The vaccine has been developed by Moderna and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
This trial is just one of at least 2 dozen going on globally in the hunt to find an effective COVID-19 vaccine. Despite the early good news about a potential COVID-19 vaccine, it is possible this vaccine will not be approved for use.
In the past, many drugs can appear effective in phase 1 or 2 trials only to be found ineffective or dangerous in phase 3 trials.
Experts urge second shutdown in US as COVID-19 cases climb
Over 100 medical experts signed an open letter urging U.S. government leaders to shut down the country in an effort to stop COVID-19 cases and deaths.
The letter, posted by the U.S. PIRG (Public Interest Research Groups), cited climbing COVID-19 cases in multiple states as a reason to shut down again. According to the authors, without another shutdown it will be extremely difficult to stop the virus.
“We need that protocol in place until case numbers recede to a level at which we have the capacity to effectively test and trace,” the authors wrote. “Then, and only then, we can try a little more opening, one small step at a time.”
The authors said much more testing is needed to reopen safely.
“We currently have only 35 percent of the testing capacity we need to meet that threshold. The more people get sick, the more testing is required,” they wrote.
Additionally, they point out more contact tracers are needed to determine who has been exposed to the virus. They also said that more personal protective equipment (PPE) is needed to safeguard medical professionals.
“If you don’t take these actions, the consequences will be measured in widespread suffering and death,” the authors wrote.
COVID-19 cases top 4 million in US
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage in the United States with no clear end in sight.
The number of U.S. people who have tested positive for COVID-19 has now reached over 4 million.
July has seen a serious surge in positive COVID-19 tests. While it took months from the start of the outbreak to hit 3 million COVID-19 cases, the last 1 million took just over 2 weeks.
States across the country are recording record daily highs of hospitalizations and deaths.
The United States currently has the highest number of COVID-19 cases and deaths. Brazil, which has about two-thirds of the U.S. population, comes in second for COVID-19 cases and deaths. That country has documented over 2.2 million COVID-19 and over 82,000 deaths.
Poll finds 3 out of 4 Americans support mask requirements
A new poll from the Associated Press and NORC Center for Public Affairs Research finds that a large majority — or about 3 out of 4 Americans — support requiring people to wear masks while outside.
The study results come as the United States is seeing new record high cases of COVID-19. The country is nearing 4 million cases with over 140,000 deaths.
While mask wearing has become politicized, the study found that the majority of both Democrats (83 percent) and Republicans (58 percent) support mask requirements.
A vast majority of Americans — about 95 percent of Democrats and 75 percent of Republicans — say they’re donning face coverings when they leave their home.
Health authorities have supported wearing facial coverings like masks to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Red Cross running low on convalescent plasma to treat COVID-19 patients
The American Red Cross announced July 22 that they’re running out of vital convalescent plasma used to treat people with COVID-19.
The plasma is taken from people who have already recovered from the illness and have crucial antibodies that can help fight the virus.
With the surge in COVID-19 cases in the United States, the Red Cross says there’s more demand for the plasma than supply.
“It is critical that COVID-19 survivors give their antibody-rich plasma now to ensure this blood product is available to help those actively battling this coronavirus,” Dr. Pampee Young, chief medical officer of American Red Cross Biomedical Services said in a statement.
“Convalescent plasma has been used for decades as a potentially lifesaving treatment until virus or disease specific treatments and vaccines are developed,” Young continued. “It remains crucially important today in the fight against this COVID-19 pandemic.”
A lack of testing access has compounded the plasma shortage. If people are unable to be tested when they have the disease, they may not be able to donate plasma after they recover.
People who have tested positive for COVID-19 and want to donate plasma can learn more about the process here.
Over 100,000 people volunteer to take part in COVID-19 vaccine trials
In just 2 weeks, at least 138,000 people have volunteered to be studied in COVID-19 vaccine trials, according to Forbes.
The National Institute for Allergies and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) put out a call this month for volunteers to take part in vaccine trials this fall.
At least 120,000 people are needed to take part in four different vaccine trials that will examine the efficacy and safety of COVID-19 vaccine candidates.
“While this early response is very gratifying, it is important to note that this is just a fraction of the number of people needed to participate in various trials and ensure adequate representation of various demographic categories,” a spokesperson for the NIAID told Forbes.
Actual COVID-19 rate may be 10 times higher than current number
A study published July 21 in JAMA Internal MedicineTrusted Source found evidence that the number of Americans who have developed COVID-19 may be 10 times higher than the reported number.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) examined samples from over 1,600 people in multiple states to look for signs of COVID-19 antibodies.
Researchers found the percentage of people with COVID-19 antibodies ranged widely from state to state with nearly 7 percent of people in New York having antibodies while only 1 percent of people in San Francisco having them.
Researchers estimate that the actual number of COVID-19 cases is likely 10 times higher than the recorded number, which may be due to people with mild or no symptoms.
“The findings may reflect the number of persons who had mild or no illness or who did not seek medical care or undergo testing but who still may have contributed to ongoing virus transmission in the population,” the study authors wrote.
Additionally, many people with symptoms have been unable to get tested for the disease due to a lack of supplies.
Researchers investigate potential new treatment for COVID-19
A new study published July 20 found that a commonly available treatment may help people with COVID-19 recover.
The treatment is interferon beta, a type of protein that’s traditionally used to treat people with multiple sclerosis. In the UK-based study, researchers had people with COVID-19 inhale the interferon beta.
The researchers reportedly found that people who were given the treatment had a 79 percent decreased chance of dying or having severe COVID-19. However, experts caution that the study was small with only 101 people involved. Additionally, researchers haven’t released full data, which has drawn criticism from experts, according to the New York Times.
Another study is being planned for the United States with around 400 participants.
At least 49 Florida hospitals are out of ICU beds
The COVID-19 surge has led to Florida hospitals running out of room to treat patients. At least 49 hospitals in Florida have run out of room in their ICUs, according to a state database.
As hospitals run out of ICU space, patients will have to be transferred to other facilities around the state or even out of state for treatment.
The situation doesn’t look likely to improve in the coming days or weeks.
In just the last 5 days, Florida has reported more than 10,000 positive COVID-19 cases every day. The state has now reported more than 360,000 COVID-19 cases and over 5,000 deaths.
U.S. breaks another record with over 75,000 positive cases in one day
The COVID-19 outbreak in the United States is continuing to surge with a record number of daily cases reported in just 24 hours.
On July 17, there were at least 75,000 positive COVID-19 tests reported in 24 hours according to the New York Times.
While deaths related to COVID-19 initially remained flat even as cases climbed, the United States is now seeing a steady rise in deaths.
Three states have hit records for deaths in a single day. Florida, South Carolina, and Texas have each announced a record-high number of deaths tied to COVID-19.
In total, more than 4,900 people have died in Florida, more than 3,700 people have died in Texas, and more than 1,000 people have died in South Carolina due to COVID-19.
Texas hospitals and funeral homes are so overwhelmed that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is sending an additional 14 refrigerated trucks after hospital morgues started to fill up, according to CNBC.
FEMA had already sent eight trucks to the state.
White House tells hospitals to bypass CDC when sending COVID-19 data
The White House is telling hospitals to send important data on COVID-19 cases and deaths directly to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), bypassing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The HHS oversees the CDC.
The CDC has been collecting data on COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths since the outbreak began.
Infectious disease experts told NPR they’re concerned that the agency is being ignored and politicized during the pandemic.
The CDC has long-standing relationships with hospitals nationwide and collects data from hospitals and state governments about a variety of infectious diseases including foodborne outbreaks and seasonal flu.
“It’s really hard not to see this as some kind of interference or snub [to] the CDC,” University of Arizona epidemiologist Saskia Popescu told NPR. “With so many concerns over the politicization of data right now, this is concerning.”
Oklahoma governor tests positive for COVID-19
Governor Kevin Stitt announced yesterday that he has developed COVID-19.
Stitt said he had been getting tested periodically and that his symptoms were mild.
“I feel fine. I felt a little bit achy yesterday, didn’t have a fever but just a little bit achy,” the governor said, according to NPR. “So just did my regular testing and it came back positive.”
The governor had attended President Donald Trump’s rally in Tulsa Oklahoma last month, although it’s unlikely he contracted the virus at that event since it occurred nearly a month ago.
Stitt is the first U.S. governor to test positive for COVID-19. Other politicians to get the disease include Senator Rand Paul and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Bottoms.
Remdesivir shortage in COVID-19 hotspots
Health officials are reporting a shortage of the medication remdesivir in areas where COVID-19 is surging.
The federal government is overseeing the distribution of the medication, originally developed to treat people for Ebola. However, according to CNN, physicians in areas hit the hardest by COVID-19 are reporting they don’t have enough of the drug.
In Texas, one hospital reported it had enough remdesivir for just 53 patients despite having admitted over 250 patients since mid-June.
Remdesivir, however, isn’t a highly effective drug against COVID-19. In early studies, experts found that it may decrease hospital stays by about 4 days.
California starts to shut down again amid rising COVID-19 cases
Governor Gavin Newsom is now mandating a statewide shut down of indoor dining, places of worship, bars, and other establishments where COVID-19 could transmit easily.
The new shut down comes as the state has seen a surge of COVID-19 cases with over 9,000 cases in a single day (July 7).
In a press conference, Newsom said officials are worried that rural counties are running out of hospital beds.
“This virus is not going away any time soon,” Newsom said. “It’s incumbent upon all of us to recognize soberly that COVID-19 is not going away any time soon, until there is a vaccine and/or an effective therapy.”
NYC reports first day with no new COVID-19 deaths since outbreak began
Officials in New York City said there were no deaths linked to COVID-19 in a 24-hour period this Saturday.
This marks the first day with no COVID-19 related deaths in New York City since the outbreak accelerated in March.
The milestone is a glimmer of hopeful news in the fight against COVID-19 as much of the country is seeing a surge in cases.
In Florida this weekend, officials reported a record-breaking 15,299 COVID-19 positive tests in just 24 hours. This is higher than the previous record of 12,274 in New York at the height of that state’s outbreak in the spring.
Study finds about half of people have signs of heart abnormality after developing COVID-19
A new study found that over half of people who had survived COVID-19 had signs of cardiac abnormalities.
Published in the European Heart Journal, researchers looked at data from 1,261 people who had been treated for COVID-19. The research subjects were between ages 52 and 71. About 70 percent of the patients were men.
The researchers found that slightly more than half of the total patients — or 667 people — had an abnormal echocardiogram.
Among people who didn’t previously have heart disease, about 46 percent had an abnormal echocardiogram.
The abnormalities seen included issues with the left and right ventricles of the heart and inflammation of the heart muscle.
About 15 percent of those studied had severe cardiac disease, including fluid around the heart muscle that can impact its ability to function.
Woman who was first in US to get experimental COVID-19 vaccine says she feels fantastic
The first person in the United States to get an experimental COVID-19 vaccine says she hasn’t had any side effects.
Jennifer Haller, 43, told KOMO News in Seattle that in the months since she was given the experimental vaccine she feels “fantastic.”
“It’s been 16 weeks since I had the first dose,” Haller told KOMO News. “I feel fantastic.”
The trial is run by Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute, and the experimental vaccine was developed by Moderna and the National Institutes of Health.
It uses messenger RNA in the hopes of priming the immune system to develop antibodies.
Haller said she’s still taking precautions, since it’s not clear if the experimental vaccine will provide immunity. During initial phase 1 trials, researchers look to make sure that the vaccine is safe.
A phase 3 trial is expected later this year that may shed light on how effective the vaccine is.
Spring lockdowns saved 370,000 lives, according to new research
States that had shelter-in-place orders this spring helped save the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.
The new data was released as the United States is seeing a record number of COVID-19 cases after shelter-in-place orders were lifted in late May and early June.
But the report from Health Affairs found that those shelter-in-place orders likely saved many U.S. lives in the early months of the pandemic.
According to the report, between 250,000 and 370,000 lives were saved by May 15 as a result of shelter-in-place orders.
The report found that effects of physical distancing orders on COVID-19 cases and deaths were less clear.
Medical workers face another shortage of crucial protective gear
With cases of COVID-19 hitting new highs in the United States, medical providers are again facing shortages of critical protective equipment.
Medical providers in states that are seeing surges — including Texas, Florida, and California — may be increasingly likely to contract the virus if they have to start reusing protective material like face masks or eyewear.
The New York Times reported that staff at a Houston hospital have been told to reuse N95 masks for over 2 weeks.
National Nurses United said that their members are reporting serious shortages of key equipment.
“We’re 5 months into this and there are still shortages of gowns, hair covers, shoe covers, masks, N95 masks,” Deborah Burger, president of National Nurses United, told the Associated Press. “They’re being doled out, and we’re still being told to reuse them.”
At least 87 percent said they had to reuse respirator masks, and another 72 percent said they had exposed skin or clothing when treating patients, making them more susceptible to COVID-19.
According to a report from Kaiser Health News, nearly 600 healthcare workers in the United States have died after developing COVID-19.
U.S. cases of COVID-19 rise 1 million in 28 days
The number of people who have tested positive for COVID-19 has now topped 3 million in the United States, according to Johns Hopkins data.
U.S. disease transmission is accelerating, with 1 million people testing positive in just the last 28 days.
The new hotspots of the disease are in Florida, Arizona, Texas, and California. Many of these states have started to pull back on reopening as the disease has spread more widely.
This new milestone comes as officials are trying to figure out how or if schools should reopen in the fall. President Donald Trump said he wanted schools to reopen and threatened to cut funding for schools that stayed closed.
Woman has COVID-19 symptoms for over 100 days
While many people who develop COVID-19 recover within weeks, one woman says she still has symptoms of the disease months after she was first diagnosed.
Ann Wallace told CBS Boston that she was diagnosed with COVID-19 back in March and has had symptoms ever since.
Wallace, who has multiple sclerosis and survived cancer, told CBS that she has been to the emergency room 5 times and spent weeks unable to walk more than a few steps.
“For weeks on end I couldn’t get off my couch,” Wallace told CBS. “I would come downstairs in the morning, lie down on my couch. I would come downstairs because there I could be close to my refrigerator so I could get water or a snack, and I could be close to the bathroom… But I couldn’t take more than 10 or so steps at a time. If I did, I would feel myself start to black out. It is a terrifying virus to have.”
Wallace said she’s currently in pulmonary rehab but still feels burning in her lungs.
Brazilian President tests positive for COVID-19
The president of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, has tested positive for COVID-19.
Bolsonaro has been criticized by health experts for downplaying the pandemic. According to the Associated Press, as of July 7 more than 65,000 people in Brazil have died from the disease and more than 1.5 million have developed COVID-19.
Bolsonaro said he had fever, muscle aches, and malaise. He’s also taking the antimalaria medication hydroxychloroquine, despite recent studies finding it doesn’t help treat COVID-19 and can increase risk of irregular heartbeat.
In recent months Bolsonaro has been seen in crowds without a mask. He has also been critical of local leaders who wanted to shut down to stop the virus from spreading further.
FDA gives emergency authorization to COVID-19 test that takes 15 minutes
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA)Trusted Source approved the emergency use of a new COVID-19 test designed to take just 15 minutes.
The FDA is allowing the new test to be released under its emergency use authorization. This means that there’s evidence the test works and can be used due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, it hasn’t yet been fully vetted by the FDA, so it’s not officially FDA approved.
The test from the medical technology company Becton, Dickinson and Company is both portable and quick. Test results may be available within 15 minutes according to a company statement.
The test works by looking for signs of antigens to detect signs of SARS-CoV-2. These tests can detect viral proteins in the body.
Actor Nick Cordero dies from COVID-19 after months in ICU
Tony-nominated actor Nick Cordero has died after developing COVID-19 earlier this year. The actor died in Los Angeles after being hospitalized for over 90 days.
Cordero’s wife Amanda Kloots had been documenting his illness on social media. Kloots’ nearly daily updates on Cordero’s perilous condition helped put a face on the toll of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Cordero was seemingly healthy when he developed COVID-19 in March, and at 41 he didn’t appear to be at significant risk for complications. But after being hospitalized, the actor spent weeks on a ventilator and in an induced coma. He had to have his leg amputated and sustained severe lung damage according to his wife.
Cordero made a name for himself on Broadway in musicals like “Waitress” and “Bullets over Broadway,” which led to his Tony nomination. He’s survived by his wife and son Elvis.
Cain tests positive after Tulsa rally
Former Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain has been hospitalized with COVID-19.
Cain, 74, attended the campaign rally for President Donald Trump in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on June 20 without wearing a mask. On June 29, Cain tested positive for the coronavirus.
He developed symptoms serious enough to warrant hospitalization in the Atlanta, Georgia area.
Hospital officials say the 2012 presidential candidate isn’t on a ventilator and is “resting comfortably.”
Officials say it’s not known for certain where Cain contracted the virus, but they note his positive test result came 9 days after the Tulsa rally.
COVID-19 parties with prize money
In Tuscaloosa, Alabama, young people are throwing COVID-19 parties, reports CNN. People with the virus are encouraged to attend so they can pass the virus on to others who are willing to contract it.
The first person to receive a diagnosis of COVID-19 reportedly wins the proceeds from ticket sales for the gathering.
“We thought that was kind of a rumor at first. We did some research — not only do the doctors’ offices confirm it, but the state confirmed they also had the same information,” said Sonya McKinstry, a Tuscaloosa City Council member.
NY governor says it’s getting worse, not better
In the past 2 weeks, 30 U.S. states and territories have experienced more than 25 percent of an increase in COVID-19 cases, reports NBC.
“We have dark clouds on the horizon,” said New York Governor Andrew Cuomo in a recent press briefing. “The situation across the country is getting worse, not better.”
According to Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), the United States could experience a massive spike in COVID-19 cases if more isn’t done to prevent its spread.
“We are now having 40,000 cases a day. I would not be surprised if we go up to 100,000 a day if this does not turn around,” Fauci told a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee hearing.
Checking the virus by region
A new tool can better compare transmission risk by region.
Danielle Allen, a professor and director of the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University, and her colleagues at the Harvard Global Health Institute collaborating with scientists across the United States, have created an online COVID-19 risk assessment map.
“It allows you to compare a rural area in upstate New York compared to New York City and have an apples-to-apples comparison for relative impact and relative caseload,” said Ellie Graeden, PhD, the founder and chief executive officer at Talus Analytics and a faculty member at the Center for Global Health, Science, and Security at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.
Europe bans U.S. travelers
Leaders of the European Union have announced that most travelers from the United States will be barred from entering when countries reopen their borders.
The European leaders said they’re taking the action because the spread of COVID-19 is still too prevalent in the United States.
They also said the list of countries from which travelers can arrive will be reviewed every 2 weeks and could be revised.
Summer indoor activities
More time spent indoors to escape summer’s heat may increase risk of COVID-19, according to Edward Nardell, a professor of medicine and global health and social medicine at Harvard Medical School in Massachusetts.
“The states that, in June, are already using a lot of air conditioning because of high temperatures are also the places where there’s been greater increases in spread of COVID-19, suggesting more time indoors as temperatures rise,” Nardell told the Harvard Gazette.
“As people go indoors in hot weather and the re-breathed air fraction goes up, the risk of infection is quite dramatic,” he said.
WHO says pandemic is ‘speeding up’
Tedros Ghebreyesus, PhD, MSc, the director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO), cautioned at a briefing, “Although many countries have made some progress, globally the pandemic is actually speeding up.”
He explained that while many countries have used “unprecedented measures” to contain the virus, those measures have only slowed the spread — not stopped it.
Ghebreyesus concluded that “the hard reality is: this is not even close to being over.”
Pregnant women face higher risk
According to a recent Mortality and Morbidity Weekly Report (MMWR) from the CDC, pregnant women may be at increased risk of experiencing severe COVID-19 symptoms that could require hospitalization.
The most recent CDC data suggests that pregnant women are more likely to be hospitalized.
They also have an increased risk of being placed on a ventilator, compared with women who aren’t pregnant.
Have 20 million Americans had the virus?
Government experts estimate that more than 20 million Americans may have contracted the new coronavirus — 10 times the official count.
This means more people without symptoms have gotten the virus than previously thought.
Fauci ‘optimistic’ on vaccines
Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNN that he’s “cautiously optimistic” that we’ll have one or more effective COVID-19 vaccines available by the end of this year.
However, he warned “no vaccine is 100 percent effective,” but with COVID-19, he’d settle for 70 to 75 percent effectiveness.
COVID-19 cases rise, symptoms may last months
June 25 saw 40,401 new U.S. cases of COVID-19, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University & Medicine Coronavirus Resource Center.
However, according to the CDC, those numbers are very likely understated.
“Every epidemiologist was telling, screaming as loud as we could, that three weeks after Memorial Day we’d have a peak in the cases, and five weeks after Memorial Day we’d begin to see a peak in hospitalizations and deaths,” epidemiologist Larry Brilliant told CNN.
“If you let everybody out without face masks and without social distancing in the middle of a pandemic, this is what was predicted,” he said.
Although COVID-19 typically resolves in weeks, a significant number “are still suffering with symptoms 3 months into the illness,” Dr. Helen Salisbury of University of Oxford wrote in the British Medical Journal.
Meanwhile, scientists are just beginning to understand the array of health problems caused by the coronavirus, which may affect both patients and health systems for some time.
Texas stops reopening amid surge in COVID-19
Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced that reopening will be paused as the state sees a major surge in COVID-19 cases.
The state reported 5,500 cases in a single day this week. Over 125,000 cases of COVID-19 have been reported in the state since the outbreak began.
Texas is one of many states seeing a massive uptick in COVID-19 cases. Arizona and Florida are also seeing major rises with each state seeing record numbers of cases this week.
California is also seeing a surge in cases with over 5,000 daily cases reported this week.
In all, 26 states are seeing some increase in COVID-19 cases.
While Abbott announced a pause in reopenings due to the disease, he said that he will not reimplement shutdowns.
“The last thing we want to do as a state is go backwards and close down businesses,” Governor Abbott said in a statement. “This temporary pause will help our state corral the spread until we can safely enter the next phase of opening our state for business. I ask all Texans to do their part to slow the spread of COVID-19 by wearing a mask, washing their hands regularly, and socially distancing from others.”
Federal funding for 13 COVID-19 testing sites to be cut
The funding for 13 COVID-19 testing sites is expected to be cut by the federal government, according to NBC News.
Federal funding for the sites will end June 30 even as COVID-19 cases continue to surge in the United States.
Seven of the testing sites are in Texas which is seeing a spike in cases after reopening at the end of May. On June 23, state officials reported a new daily high of 5,000 cases.
Federal officials said they weren’t slowing down on testing and hundreds of sites will remain open.
“We have expanded from the original 41 sites to over 600 in 48 states and the District of Columbia in the federal bundled payment program to pharmacies, and enabled over 1,400 additional pharmacy sites through regulatory flexibility empowering pharmacists and facilitating billing and reimbursement,” Brett Giroir, the administration’s testing czar, told NBC News.
The other sites affected by the loss of federal funding are in Illinois, New Jersey, Colorado, and Pennsylvania.
President Trump made headlines this weekend after saying that he wanted to slow down testing. He later said he wasn’t joking about the statement.
EU may bar American visitors due to rising COVID-19 cases
The European Union may bar visitors from the United States due to rising COVID-19 cases, according to the New York Times.
The United States currently has the most reported number of COVID-19 cases in the world with over 2.3 million. Additionally, daily cases have begun to increase again in recent weeks as states have reopened.
According to the New York Times, if these rules are finalized, Americans would be barred from entering the European Union along with people from Brazil and Russia which have the next highest levels of COVID-19 cases after the United States.
Some essential travel between America and the E.U. would be allowed, according to the report.
Next 2 weeks are ‘critical’ in US as cases surge, Fauci says
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director for the National Institute for Allergies and Infectious Diseases, addressed the congress today to give an update in the fight against COVID-19.
Fauci, speaking at a congressional panel along with other members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, said that the next 2 weeks will be critical to see if deaths are likely to increase.
While deaths from COVID-19 have been declining, cases of the disease have started to tick back up as states have reopened.
“The next couple of weeks are going to be critical in our ability to address those surges we are seeing in Florida, Texas, Arizona, and other states,” Fauci told the panel, according to the New York Times.
As cases have risen, Fauci also said that they will be doing more testing despite President Donald Trump saying at a rally he wanted officials to slow down testing.
“It’s the opposite. We’re going to be doing more testing, not less,” Fauci told Congress.
Fauci pointed out that doing more testing and surveillance is critical to know where infections are occurring.
Fauci also said health officials are “cautiously optimistic” that a vaccine for COVID-19 may be available next year. Although he cautioned it would need to be tested in the real world before it’s fully approved.
WHO reports highest 1-day increase of COVID-19 cases
Six months into the COVID-19 pandemic and the virus is still surging across the globe.
On Sunday, June 21, the World Health Organization reportedTrusted Source the largest single-day increase in COVID-19 cases with over 183,000 cases reported.
The center of the outbreak has shifted from Asia to Europe and now to North and South America.
Brazil reported over 50,000 cases in one day, while the United States reported over 30,000 cases.
While COVID-19 cases had been decreasing in the United States since a peak in May, in recent days, cases have started to increase again.
As states have reopened, COVID-19 hotspots have appeared in multiple states including Arizona, Texas, and Florida.
A new study out June 18 finds that using plasma from people who have recovered from COVID-19 is safe for people currently battling the disease.
The study published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings involved 20,000 people and found that the treatment, called convalescent plasma, appeared to be safe for people with COVID-19.
The first group, about 5,000 people who received the plasma, had a mortality rate of around 12 percent in the subsequent week. In the early stages of the study, plasma was in short supply and people who received the treatment were severely ill.
As plasma became more readily available, people were able to get the treatment earlier in their disease when it’s more likely to be effective, and the mortality rate went down. However, it’s unclear if there were other advancements happening simultaneously that could also explain that change.
For the larger study, the mortality rate for people who received the plasma was under 9 percent, according to the Washington Post.
Because of the way the study was conducted, it wasn’t conclusively clear if the plasma helped lessen COVID-19 symptoms. There wasn’t a control group of people who didn’t receive treatment.
“You’d like to have the gold standard [of evidence] in something this important, and I feel like it always ends up here with this approach,” said Jeffrey P. Henderson, an infectious disease specialist at Washington University in St. Louis, told the Washington Post. “It’s pushed into action quickly, because there’s no other option, and there’s a theoretical reason in the moment that it works.”
Researchers say more studies are needed to determine if receiving plasma helped effectively treat people with COVID-19.
Florida, Arizona, and Texas see surge in cases amid reopenings
The epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak is now shifting in the United States from the east and west coast to southern and western states including Florida, Arizona, and Texas.
Texas reported an increase of 11 percent in COVID-19 cases in a single day with over 2,700 new cases reported on Wednesday.
Over 93,000 cases of COVID-19 have been diagnosed in the state and over 2,000 people have died from the disease, according to the Texas Department of Health and Human Services.
In Arizona, over 2,300 cases of COVID-19 were reported on Wednesday. Hospitals in the state are being put under pressure as well, with over 1,500 people hospitalized yesterday and at least 500 people in ICU beds, according to AZ Central.
Florida is also seeing a spike in cases with over 2,700 cases reported on Tuesday. In Florida, over 82,000 cases have been reported with more than 3,000 deaths.
At least 21 U.S. states are seeing an increase in cases, although former hotspots in New York and New Jersey are seeing their cases decline.
FDA revokes emergency approval for a specific antibody test
The FDA has revoked approval for a COVID-19 antibody test made by Chembio company.
These tests were supposed to detect antibodies that would indicate a past infection of COVID-19.
According to the FDA, initial data on the tests was adequate to give approval under emergency authorization. However, subsequent data on the tests found that they were not as accurate as initially thought and that they found high rates of false positives and negatives.
Many antibody tests were approved under the FDA’s emergency use authorization earlier this year, but experts have said it’s unclear how accurate these tests are.
UK will use steroid to treat COVID-19 after reported benefits
Health officials in the United Kingdom said they will start using a common steroid to treat people with COVID-19 after a study reportedly found the drug could help improve outcomes for patients.
Researchers at Oxford University said that they’ve seen benefits from using a common cheap steroid called dexamethasone to treat people with COVID-19. The team announced the findings in a statement today, but haven’t yet released the findings in a published study.
However, the early reports have led health officials in the U.K. to conclude that they will use the steroid to treat people with COVID-19.
“This drug, dexamethasone, can now be made available across the NHS, and we’ve taken steps to ensure we have enough supplies, even in the event of a second peak,” UK prime minister Boris Johnson said, according to The Guardian.
According to reports from the researchers, the drug helped reduce the mortality rate for the sickest COVID-19 patients — those on ventilators — by a third. Other patients who took the drug had their mortality rate reduced by one-fifth.
FDA revokes emergency use approval for hydroxychloroquine
The FDA is officially revoking emergency use authorizationTrusted Source for hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine to be used as a treatment for COVID-19.
The drugs, designed originally as antimalarial medication, have been studied as a potential treatment for COVID-19.
The drugs were also touted by President Donald Trump, who took hydroxychloroquine for 2 weeks, despite little evidence it could be used to prevent COVID-19.
Recent studies of the drugs have found little evidence it helped people with the disease. Additionally, the drugs are known to increase risk of cardiac complications.
Rare antibodies may help researchers develop vaccine for COVID-19
California researchers say that a rare type of antibody may help them develop a vaccine for COVID-19.
Researchers from the University of California San Francisco and Stanford University are investigating neutralizing antibodies from people who have recovered from COVID-19, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
Researchers say that just 5 percent of people with COVID-19 develop these antibodies. Additionally, these antibodies develop in low numbers, so researchers want to see if they can take enough of these antibodies to turn them into a serum that can be given to anyone.
More research needs to be done, but researchers hope they can use these antibodies to create a vaccine that can protect against SARS-CoV-2.
Protester in Kansas tests positive for COVID-19
As protests against police brutality have taken place across the country, public health experts have been concerned that the virus that causes COVID-19 could spread.
This is especially true if people don’t wear masks, are unable to physically distance, or if the police arrest people and put them in jail cells where they’re unable to distance.
Now, public health officials in Kansas are reporting that a protester has tested positive for COVID-19 after attending a march without wearing a mask.
“Similar to what we would ask anyone who goes out in public right now, we are asking anyone who attended the recent protest to self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms and isolate if they become sick, as well as call their healthcare provider for next steps,” said Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health, Informatics Director, Sonia Jordan.
While cases are increasing rapidly in certain states, it’s likely that those increases are due to officials easing lockdowns and physical distancing measures.
Due to the incubation period of SARS-CoV-2, which can be up to 2 weeks, an outbreak of COVID-19 linked to protests is unlikely to be identified until later this month.
CDC gives guidance on how to have a cookout, go to the bank safely
The CDC has given new guidance about how to get back to normal activities and stay safe.
In a call with reporters, CDC officials gave tips on how to safely go to the bank, have a cookout, and stay in a hotel, according to the Washington Post.
The CDC recommended people only use drive up windows or ATMs for banks, for cookouts people should bring their own food and beverages and maintain physical distancing.
If you’re going to a hotel or motel this summer, get ready to use the stairs. The CDC is advising people to avoid the elevator unless necessary.
Additionally, the CDC has advice for large gatherings.
Among the recommendations, they say planners should broadcast tips on staying safe, cut down on the number of attendees to decrease the risk of viral transmission, and limit attendance to people who live in the area so the virus is unlikely to spread far if there is an outbreak.
Formerly healthy woman in her 20s has lung transplant after contracting virus
A formerly healthy woman in her 20s who developed COVID-19 underwent a successful lung transplant, according to physicians at Northwestern Medical Center.
The woman, whose name hasn’t been released, had been hospitalized for weeks after developing COVID-19.
Doctors not only put her on a ventilator, they had to put her on an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) machine that oxygenates her blood, essentially doing the work of her lungs.
After putting her name on the organ transplant list, they had a match within 48 hours.
The patient is now in stable condition and her health is improving, the physicians said.
Dr. Ankit Bharat, chief of thoracic surgery and director of the lung transplant program at Northwestern Medical Center, said the patient is awake and talking.
“Yesterday, the patient smiled and told me ‘Thank you for not giving up on me,’” Bharat said via the Northwestern Medical Center Twitter. “There’s nothing more gratifying to hear. This is why we do what we do.”
US will fund three major COVID-19 vaccine trials
The U.S. government will fund three major studies on potential COVID-19 vaccines, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Each trial is a phase 3 trial — traditionally the last phase before a medicine or vaccine can be approved for use — often involving thousands of volunteers.
The three trials are being conducted by three different pharmaceutical companies each looking at a different vaccine candidate. According to CNN, the studies will start with Moderna’s trial in July and then an Oxford/AstraZeneca’s trial in August.
Early successes in phase 1 and phase 2 trials don’t mean any of these vaccine candidates will be successful in their phase 3 trials.
However, due to the number of vaccine candidates being tested, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director for the National Institutes for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told Healthline this week that he’s cautiously optimistic there may be a viable COVID-19 vaccine by the end of the year.
“Hopefully by the end of this year we will develop a vaccine we can deploy,” he told Healthline. “We can never guarantee that. You can never, ever guarantee the success of a vaccine. We just have good experience to know that we are aspirationally, cautiously optimistic that we will have one by the end of the year.”
US supply of remdesivir may run out
A U.S. government official said that doses of the country’s supply of the drug remdesivir may soon run out.
The drug has been granted emergency approval to treat COVID-19 and early research finds it may offer modest benefit against the disease.
Dr. Robert Kadlec, a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services official, told CNN that the government supply of remdesivir may soon run out. The government has been distributing doses of the medication to hospitals across the country.
Kadlec told CNN that the last shipment of the drug from the government will go out at the end of the month and that they’re talking to the drug’s manufacturer Gilead about when they can expect new supplies.
“Right now, we’re waiting to hear from Gilead what is their expected delivery availability of the drug as we go from June to July,” Kadlec told CNN. “We’re kind of not in negotiations, but in discussions with Gilead as they project what the availability of their product will be.”
Over half a billion COVID-19 cases likely prevented by lockdowns
A new study finds that over half a billion COVID-19 cases were likely prevented by a variety of lockdowns in six countries including the United States and China.
Published June 8 in NatureTrusted Source, researchers from the University of California, Berkeley looked at how six countries — China, South Korea, Italy, Iran, France, and the United States — responded to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Specifically in the United States, the study found that lockdown measures, which occurred to some degree in nearly all states, helped stop the spread of the disease and that 60 million COVID-19 cases were likely avoided.
“Without these policies employed, we would have lived through a very different April and May,” Solomon Hsiang, director of the Global Policy Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley, and lead author of the study, told the Washington Post.
He said the shutdowns and other mitigation measures were “saving more lives in a shorter period of time than ever before.”
Another studyTrusted Source also published June 8 found that measures taken by 11 European countries helped curb the transmission of the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 and likely helped stop 3.1 million deaths.
Brazil has major surge of COVID-19 cases, second only to US
Brazil currently has over 614,000 reported cases of COVID-19, second only to the United States in total cases.
There have been 34,000 deaths in the country. This week there were over 1,300 deaths in a single day, according to NBC News.
Only the United States and the United Kingdom have reported higher daily death rates.
President Jair Bolonsaro has been criticized for downplaying the pandemic. One health advisor was fired after disagreeing with Bolonsaro about how to respond to the disease.
CDC reports people are misusing cleaning products during COVID-19 outbreak
The misuse of cleaning supplies is likely among people trying to avoid contracting the virus during the pandemic. Experts say that physical distancing, wearing a mask, and regular handwashing are all key to avoid spreading the virus.
In the survey of 502 people, nearly 20 percent said they had put bleach on food, 18 percent said they had used household cleaners on their skin, and 10 percent said they had misted themselves with disinfectant.
Additionally, 6 percent said they had inhaled cleaners and 4 percent said they had ingested or gargled cleaners like bleach.
This exposure to household cleaners led to a quarter of respondents saying they had negative health effects.
Major medical journals retract studies on hydroxychloroquine as treatment for COVID-19
The Lancet medical journal has retracted a study on hydroxychloroquine that made headlines last week.
Researchers, who published the study looked at more than 96,000 people hospitalized with COVID-19.
The study was retracted due to data used in the study that had not been directly obtained by the researchers themselves. In their retraction letter the researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston said they worked with the company Surgisphere Corporation to obtain data. After other medical experts raised concerns about the company, the researchers conducted a review of the data. However, the Surgisphere Corporation would not give the full dataset to the reviewers meaning they could not do a full independent analysis of the data leading them to retract their study.
In the now-retracted study, the drug had been found not to improve people with COVID-19 and more people died after taking the drug.
Additionally, the New England Journal of Medicine also reacted a study on COVID-19 and cardiovascular health since it also used data from the company.
Hydroxychloroquine fails to prevent COVID-19 in a new study
Unlike the studies mentioned above, a new study released today has not been retracted.
The large study found that taking hydroxychloroquine wasn’t effective as a prophylactic treatment against COVID-19.
Researchers looked at 821 people with no symptoms of COVID-19. Over 87 percent had close contact with someone with the disease.
About half of the people — 414 — were given hydroxychloroquine and the other participants were given a placebo.
Researchers found the infection rate among the two groups was statistically similar, meaning hydroxychloroquine didn’t show any ability to protect people from contracting the virus that causes COVID-19.
They found side effects were more common in people taking hydroxychloroquine but there was no major reactions reported.
Study finds plasma therapy may help people with COVID-19
A new study found that plasma from people who recovered from COVID-19 may be an effective treatment for the disease.
The small study published on June 2 in The American Journal of Pathology examined 25 patients with severe or life-threatening symptoms of COVID-19. The patients were given plasma infusions from 9 donors who had already recovered from the illness.
The primary goal of the study was to see if plasma transfusions were safe. The researchers found no adverse events from the transfusion in 24 hours after it was administered.
Additionally, the researchers reported that 19 of the 25 patients improved after being given the plasma infusions. Three deteriorated and one patient died from causes unrelated to plasma infusion.
“While physician scientists around the world scrambled to test new drugs and treatments against COVID-19, convalescent serum therapy emerged as potentially one of the most promising strategies,” Dr. James M. Musser, PhD, chair of the department of pathology and genomic medicine at Houston Methodist and corresponding author for the study, said in a statement.
“With no proven treatments or cures for COVID-19 patients, now was the time in our history to move ahead rapidly,” he said.
People with cancer are twice as likely to die from COVID-19
A major study published Thursday, May 28 found a 13 percent fatality rate for people with cancer who contract COVID-19.
Even for people whose cancer was relatively stable had double the risk of death if they contracted the disease.
“The death rate for this group of patients as a whole was 13 [percent] more than twice that reported for all patients with COVID-19… Certain subgroups, such as patients with active (measurable) cancer and those with an impaired performance status, fared much, much worse,” said Dr. Jeremy Warner, MS, associate professor of medicine and biomedical informatics at Vanderbilt University, the study’s corresponding author in a statement.
However, the team didn’t find that undergoing treatment for cancer, including chemotherapy or having surgery, impacted the risk of dying by COVID-19.
They advised that these treatments shouldn’t be delayed due to the pandemic since it can cause worse outcomes for patients.
Among their recommendations, the CDC advises companies to assess the building itself to make sure it has enough ventilation to prevent the virus from recirculating. Additionally, they advise separating workspaces and desks so people can maintain 6 feet of separation at all times.
They point out that staggered start times, temperature checks, and disinfecting common space areas can also cut down on risk of transmission.
Even with all these safeguards, the CDC recommends all workers wear face masks to protect themselves and others from aerosolized viral particles.
Young adults also getting rare syndrome linked to COVID-19
Health officials are reporting that young adults, including people in their 20s, have developed symptoms of a rare syndrome now linked to COVID-19.
Officials had initially only seen this rare syndrome called pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome (PMIS) in children. It appears to be similar to Kawasaki disease, which is characterized by inflamed blood vessels.
Experts believe this new rare syndrome, where inflamed blood vessels cause symptoms including severe abdominal pain, rash, and difficulty breathing is related to COVID-19.
One physician told the Washington Post that young adults with the syndrome appear to have more severe cases than children.
Study finds shutting down just 2 weeks earlier could have saved over 50,000 lives in U.S.
As the United States starts to reopen, new research looks into the devastating impact of waiting to implement lockdowns when the virus first started to spread.
Researchers from Columbia University looked at lockdown measures in the United States and the spread of the virus. While the nation was never completely locked down, widespread shelter-in-place orders started in mid-March.
The preprint of the research reports that if wider lockdown measures had been implemented 2 weeks earlier on March 1 over 53,000 lives could have been saved.
Pharmaceutical company Moderna reported positive results on phase 1 testing of a potential vaccine for COVID-19.
Phase 1 testing is designed to look at the safety of the vaccine. The company reported that they’ve seen evidence that people developed antibodies to COVID-19 and that early results show the vaccine is likely safe.
However, this is just a phase 1 trial and in order for the vaccine to be approved for use, it will need to be successful in phase 2 trials that look for efficacy and phase 3 trials that look at the appropriate dosage.
Additionally, another pharmaceutical company, AstraZeneca, said they would start to produce vaccines even before they’re proven successful so that there won’t be a shortage of the product if it is approved for use.
The company is currently working with Oxford University and investigating an experimental vaccine that’s still being tested for safety and efficacy.
AstraZeneca said they’ll produce and earmark at least 70 million doses of a potential vaccine for the United States in case it’s approved for use.
WHO warns COVID-19 “may never go away”
Officials from the WHO said that the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 may never go away.
During a briefing on May 13, WHO emergencies expert Dr. Mike Ryan warned reporters that the public needs to be ready to deal with the virus for the long term.
“I think it is important we are realistic and I don’t think anyone can predict when this disease will disappear,” he said. “I think there are no promises in this and there are no dates. This disease may settle into a long problem, or it may not be.”
While dozens of potential vaccines are being studied, there’s no guarantee they’ll work effectively enough to eliminate the virus.
Llamas may help researchers combat COVID-19
Early research finds that certain antibodies in llamas may help combat the virus that causes COVID-19.
A study published this week in the journal Cell found that antibodies taken from a llama were engineered to fight the new coronavirus. These special antibodies were effective in a lab setting at neutralizing the virus.
The research is still in the early phases, but if successful it could mean that llama antibodies could help protect people from developing a severe case of COVID-19.
Children just as likely as adults to spread virus
New studies find children are just as likely as adults to spread the new coronavirus. These early findings could make potential school openings especially fraught.
A German study, which is not yet published in a peer-reviewed journal, looked at 60,000 people with COVID-19 in addition to 47 children with the disease. The team found that children had just as much viral load or even higher amounts of viral load than some adults.
This early research focusing on how children can spread the virus could be pivotal in helping officials combat a second wave as some states weigh loosening shelter-in-place orders.
Another study out of China found that school closures drastically helped lower transmission of the virus and lessen the severity of the outbreak.
“While proactive school closures cannot interrupt transmission on their own, they can reduce peak incidence by 40-60 percent and delay the epidemic,” the authors said.
Experts point out this is early research and more information is needed.
“Are any of these studies definitive? The answer is ‘No, of course not,’” said Jeffrey Shaman, an epidemiologist at Columbia University. But, he said, “to open schools because of some uninvestigated notion that children aren’t really involved in this, that would be a very foolish thing.”
Study finds airborne coronavirus in hospitals
A new study in NatureTrusted Source found that the virus that causes COVID-19 was detected in the air in certain areas of two hospitals.
The two hospitals in Wuhan, China are at the center of the outbreak in that country. Researchers found evidence of aerosolized SARS-CoV-2 in the toilet area and in areas prone to crowding.
The study has given more information about whether the virus is easily transmitted through the air. Researchers said proper ventilation and disinfection may help stop the virus from spreading in other similar areas.
COVID-19 may increase stroke risk
In late March, doctors at Mount Sinai Hospital noticed something strange happening to patients’ blood, reported Reuters.
“Across New York City, we were seeing a large number of strokes and that these strokes were extremely concerning, and they were blocking big vessels to the brain,” Dr. J. Mocco, a Mount Sinai neurosurgeon, said in an interview.
Reuters also reported that under a new protocol, higher doses of a blood thinner normally used to dissolve clots will be given to COVID-19 patients at Mount Sinai before any clots are detected.
“We’re seeing clots everywhere, high rates of clots in veins of the legs. So, across the board, for sure, we all believe that — and there’s objective evidence that this disease increases clot formation,” Mocco said.
The American Society of Hematology has noted COVID-19-associated clotting.
Its guidance to physicians states the benefits of blood-thinning therapy for those patients not already showing signs of clotting are “currently unknown.”
FDA warns about dangers of using hydroxychloroquine
The FDA is reiterating its warningTrusted Source that people shouldn’t take hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine unless they’re under careful supervision from a physician.
The warning comes as serious side effects were noted during medical studies of the drug on people with COVID-19.
Some of the patients had serious side effects including abnormal heart rhythms and some even died.
First COVID-19 death in U.S. happened weeks earlier than previously thought
The deaths of two people with COVID-19 in California has shed new light on when SARS-CoV-2 was first circulating.
The Santa Clara County Medical Examiner reported Tuesday, April 21, that two people who died at home in early February had the virus. The cases were identified after the medical examiner tested samples from the patients for COVID-19 due to their flu symptoms.
Both of these people likely developed the disease via community spread and not from travel.
The first death occurred on Feb. 6 and the second on Feb. 17. Previously, the first known U.S. death from COVID-19 was said to occur in Washington state in late February.
“What these deaths tell us is that we had community transmission probably to a significant degree far earlier than we had known and that indicates that the virus was introduced and circulating in our community far earlier than we had known,” Santa Clara Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody told reporters.
Study finds summer weather won’t help stop COVID-19
A study published April 7 found that the arrival of spring and summer weather likely won’t stop the spread of the virus.
The study was published after a panel from the National Academies of Sciences reviewed data from around the world about the spread of SARS-CoV-2.
Past pandemics such as the 1918 influenza outbreak have often waned dramatically in the summer with warmer temperatures and higher humidity helping to stop the spread of the virus, at least temporarily.
However, officials say in this new report there’s no sign that changes in temperature nor humidity will have a big effect on COVID-19.
In part, the panel found that because the virus is new and people don’t have natural immunity, they’ll be more susceptible to contracting the virus throughout the year.
The panel did say more research would be needed and there’s a chance the viral spread may slow somewhat during the summer months even if it doesn’t stop.
“There is some evidence to suggest that SARS-CoV-2 may transmit less efficiently in environments with higher ambient temperature and humidity,” the panel wrote, according to the Washington Post. “However, given the lack of host immunity globally, this reduction in transmission efficiency may not lead to a significant reduction in disease spread.”
FDA relaxes blood donation restrictions for gay and bisexual men
The FDA announced April 2 that they’re relaxing restrictions that prohibit many gay and bisexual men from donating blood or plasma.
The FDA will now allow gay and bisexual men to donate blood if they haven’t had sex with a man in the last 3 months. Previously, there was a ban on giving blood for men if they had sex with another man within the previous year.
Prior to 2015, any man who had ever had sex with another man was banned from donating blood or plasma.
China may have concealed COVID-19 cases, according to reports
U.S. intelligence believes that China may have downplayed the extent of the COVID-19 outbreak, according to Bloomberg News.
According to the report, China “intentionally” reported false numbers about the extent of the COVID-19 outbreak.
While the intelligence report itself hasn’t been revealed, certain government officials and experts say a lack of transparency about the actual data may have impacted how countries prepared for the COVID-19 outbreak.
“The medical community made — interpreted the Chinese data as: This was serious, but smaller than anyone expected,” said Dr. Deborah Birx, who’s coordinating the White House response to the outbreak, according to Bloomberg News.
“Because I think probably we were missing a significant amount of the data, now that what we see happened to Italy and see what happened to Spain,” she said.
This comes one day after China reported that an additional 1,500 asymptomatic cases of COVID-19 hadn’t been counted in national totals.
Not sure if you have COVID-19 or the flu? Know the symptoms
No, the new coronavirus is not the flu. In fact, it can present very differently from that seasonal virus.
We spoke to experts about how you can identify the different symptoms for COVID-19, the flu, and spring allergies.
Virus shedding is high early in illness, study finds
Conducted by German researchers, though not yet peer-reviewed, the findings suggest that viral shedding occurred in high levels from the throat during early phases of illness for the patients studied.
However, the rate of shedding dropped after the fifth day in all patients except for two experiencing signs of pneumonia. They continued to shed COVID-19 at high levels until the 10th or 11th day, according to researchers.
“The present study shows that COVID-19 can often present as a common cold-like illness. SARS-CoV-2 can actively replicate in the upper respiratory tract, and is shed for a prolonged time after symptoms end, including in stool,” the study authors wrote.
Scientists also found that people with COVID-19 may shed over 1,000 times more virus than emitted during peak shedding of the 2003 SARS infection. They say this could explain why COVID-19 has spread so rapidly.
You touch your face 16 times an hour
Public health experts have advised people to stop touching their faces to cut down on the risk of contracting the new coronavirus. But that’s easier said than done.
We talked to experts who told us how we can train ourselves to avoid touching our face constantly.
How to stock your medicine cabinet
As the outbreak continues to spread, there are ways you can prepare. Among them is simply stocking up your medicine cabinet with over-the-counter cold and flu medications.
While they can’t cure the virus, they can help relieve symptoms of mild cases.
Research finds new ways the virus can spread
Researchers are studying how people with the virus shed it and what impact it’s having on affected populations.
Testing and confirmation of SARS-CoV-2 is currently carried out by oral swabs. But research published Feb. 17 in Emerging Microbes & Infections finds evidence that there’s an oral-fecal transmission route.
The scientists reported that viruses’ genetic material can be detected in both anal swabs and blood samples. Crucially, evidence of the new coronavirus was found in anal swabs and blood — even when it wasn’t detected using oral swabs.
According to the study, this was particularly true for those patients receiving supportive care for several days.
Where did the virus come from?
Experts are still investigating, but early research suggests the virus originated in bats and then was transmitted to humans via an intermediary animal.
What’s the intermediary animal? Potentially a snake or type of anteater called a pangolin.
How to talk to kids about the outbreak
A global outbreak is frightening enough for adults. For kids, it can be overwhelming.
We talked to experts about the best way for parents to talk to their kids about what’s going on and how to reassure them.
Parents should also check in with themselves and consider how their fears may be influencing their children.