- 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 9.2 million confirmed cases and more than 478,000 associated deaths, according to Johns Hopkins.
- The United States currently has the highest reported number of confirmed cases with over 2.3 million. However, due to a lack of testing, the number of actual cases may be far higher.
- More than 121,000 people in the United States have died from the disease.
Healthline will update this page every weekday. For more information about the virus, go here.
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.
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.
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.
Six months into the COVID-19 pandemic and the virus is still surging across the globe.
On Sunday, June 21, the
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.
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.
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.
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.
The FDA is
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.
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.
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.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (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.
As states reopen and lockdowns end, the COVID-19 outbreak is showing no signs of stopping in the United States.
There have now been over 2 million U.S. cases of COVID-19 reported, according to Johns Hopkins.
The epicenter of the outbreak has now shifted from east coast areas like New York and New Jersey to other states including Texas, Arizona, and Florida.
In Arizona, the state health director told hospitals to start activating their emergency plans in order to free up more hospital beds and prepare for a surge of COVID-19 cases.
The rise in cases is likely due in part to the end of lockdown orders in certain states.
The incubation period for the virus that causes COVID-19 can take up to 14 days. This means states that opened up at the end of May or around Memorial Day will likely start seeing related infections from that reopening in the coming days.
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.”
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.
Johnson & Johnson announced today that they moved up their trial to start in July.
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.”
Nationwide deaths related to COVID-19 are going down, but 14 states are seeing dramatic increases in COVID-19 cases.
The Washington Post reported that Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Kentucky, New Mexico, North Carolina, Mississippi, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Utah are seeing their highest number of cases week over week.
Experts have been worried that as states reopened, cases would start to spike across the country.
Texas and Arizona are among the states hit hard by a rise in COVID-19 cases, and both of those states reopened at the end of May.
While large protests against police brutality have been held in many states, it’s too early to know if that has caused an increase in cases because the incubation rate for the disease is up to 2 weeks.
Additionally, CNN reports that 28 states are likely undercounting COVID-19 cases because they’re not including probable cases of the disease.
Undercounting infections could mean giving people a false sense of security that the disease isn’t as widespread as it actually is.
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.”
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
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A major study published Thursday, May 28 found a 13 percent fatality rate for people with cancer who contract COVID-19.
The study published in the medical journal The Lancet found people with advanced cancer were nearly 5 times as likely to die after contracting COVID-19 than people without cancer, according to CNN.
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.
The CDC has released
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.
A new report finds that COVID-19 was not being sustainably transmitted in the United States until weeks after the first case was detected. This means that cases weren’t spreading widely until mid-February.
The report was released in a pre-print article and hasn’t been peer reviewed. But it shows how delayed action by government officials may have worsened the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States.
The first known U.S. case of COVID-19 was found to have occurred on Jan. 15. But that person was quarantined and their contacts also asked to quarantine.
The study authors found that the start of sustained transmission of COVID-19 started in Washington state in mid-February after President Donald Trump had issued the travel ban for China.
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.
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.
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.
The FDA has given approval for a biotech company to start phase 2 trials for a potential SARS-CoV-2 vaccine.
Moderna is expected to start a 600-person phase 2 study of its experimental vaccine shortly. A phase 2 trial will look for signs of the effectiveness of the vaccine.
Should the trial prove successful, the company said they plan on starting a phase 3 trial this summer.
If the experimental vaccine is found safe and effective, it may be available as soon as 2021. The CEO also said that they’ll start to manufacture the vaccine this year and stockpile doses so that there won’t be a shortage in 2021 if it is approved.
While the news means we’re one step closer to a vaccine for the virus that causes COVID-19, many drugs or experimental vaccines fail in phase 2 tests and are never made widely available.
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.
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.”
A new study in
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.
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.”
The FDA is reiterating its
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
A study examined 9 people with SARS-CoV-2. The researchers wanted to understand virus shedding (when the virus leaves its host) during illness to determine how infectious the disease may be.
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.
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. More information can be found here.
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.
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.
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.
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.