Coronavirus Outbreak: Daily Updates

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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 is seeing 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 COVID-19 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.

Plasma from people who survived COVID-19 is safe treatment for the disease

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 Food and Drug Administration (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.