Coronavirus Outbreak: Daily Updates

  • 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.
COVID-19 cases
  • Globally, there have been more than 16.3 million confirmed cases and over 650,000 associated deaths, according to Johns Hopkins.
  • The United States currently has the highest reported number of confirmed cases with more than 4.2 million. However, due to a lack of testing, the number of actual cases may be far higher.
  • More than 147,000 people in the United States have died from the disease and more than 50,000 are currently hospitalized.

 

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.”