Among the top coronavirus news out today are: Antibody testing reveals 1 in 7 people in New York might have had COVID-19 by the end of March and Trump says U.S. will terminate its relationship with the World Health Organization. For other info: U.S. case counts, coronavirus symptoms, our kids guide, comparison with seasonal flu and treatments in the works.
Health officials are trying to contact people who gathered at Missouri's Lake of the Ozarks over Memorial Day weekend, after visitor tests positive for the coronavirus
— On Memorial Day weekend, large crowds gathered in Missouri’s Lake of the Ozarks, despite social distancing guidelines, igniting outrage on social media. Now, health officials are trying to contact many of these people after one of the party-goers tested positive for the coronavirus, according to The New York Times. The person was a Boone County resident who had arrived to the lake on Saturday and developed illness on Sunday, “so was likely incubating illness and possibly infectious at the time of the visit,” according to a statement from The Camden County Health Department. The county released a timeline of where the person had visited on Saturday and Sunday “due to the need to inform mass numbers of unknown people,” according to the release. The Boone County Health Department is now conducting an investigation and Lake Area health departments are helping with local contacts, according to the statement.
— There are now more than 6 million people who have gotten COVID-19 worldwide and more than 367,600 people who have died from the infection, according the Johns Hopkins Dashboard. There are more than 1.7 million people in the U.S. who have gotten COVID-19 and more than 103,600 who have died in the country, according to the dashboard.
— There are now more than 465,100 COVID-19 cases in Brazil and 27,878 deaths, according to the dashboard. COVID-19 related deaths in Brazil has now surpassed Spain’s, making the country the fifth deadliest hit by the virus, according to Reuters.
Trump says U.S. is terminating its relationship with the World Health Organization, Monkey runs away with blood samples from possible COVID-19 patients in India
— A couple of days ago, a monkey attacked a lab technician at a medical school in Meerut, India and ran away with blood samples from patients suspected to have COVID-19, according to a Live Science report. The lab technician took a video with his phone of the monkey climbing up a tree and eating what seems to be surgical gloves, Indian news outlet NDTV reported. Residents in the area are concerned that this theft could increase the risk of COVID-19 transmission in the area if the monkey thief infects other monkeys and these animals become another source of transmission to humans, India Today reported. But there is no evidence that the monkeys or any animal can catch the virus from the blood of infected people, the New York Times reported.
— President Donald Trump said today that the U.S. will stop funding and terminate its relationship with the World Health Organization (WHO), according to CNBC. "China has total control over the World Health Organization despite only paying $40 million per year compared to what the United States has been paying, which is approximately $450 million a year,” Trump said during a news conference today. He has been criticizing the organization for their response to the pandemic and for being too "China-centric," according to CNBC. It's not clear if Trump can completely withdraw U.S. funding from the WHO without going through Congress.
Most funding from the U.S. goes directly out to the program that helps countries in “all sorts of fragile and difficult settings,” Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of WHO’s health emergencies program, had said on May 20, according to CNBC. (This was two days after Trump sent the WHO a letter threatening to freeze funding if the organization didn't make "substantive improvements" to their response to the pandemic.) “This is going to be a major implication for delivering essential health services to some of the most vulnerable people in the world, and we trust developed donors will, if necessary, step in to fill that gap, Ryan said.
In response to Trump's announcement today, the Infectious Diseases Society of America released a short statement, according to CNN.
"As infectious disease physicians on the front line of combating the current global crisis, we stand strongly against President Trump's decision to leave the world Health Organization," Dr. Thomas File, the president of the Infectious Diseases Society of America said in the statement. "This pandemic has demonstrated that neither national boundaries nor political positions can protect us from the spread of an infectious disease. We will not succeed against this pandemic, or any future outbreak, unless we stand together, share information, and coordinate actions."
New York City is expected to enter first phase of reopening on June 8
— New York City is expected to enter the first phase of reopening on June 8, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced today during his daily briefing. About 400,000 employees that work in construction, manufacturing and retail are expected to be able to go back to work during this first phase, he said. "Remember that reopening does not mean we're going back to the way things were," Cuomo said. "We go forward." New York City is reopening to "a new normal," he said. "People will be wearing masks, people will be socially distanced."
— U.S. offices that may reopen this year should undergo some major changes to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, according to new guidelines released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). These changes include conducting daily temperature screenings and symptoms checks before employees enter the office, requiring face coverings in all areas of the workspace, moving desks so that employees are at least 6 feet apart, marking the floors to help social distancing and setting up transparent "shields" in areas where social distancing isn't possible, according to a new Live Science report. Also, coffee pots, water coolers and snack bins should be replaced with pre-packaged and single-serve items, and people should be discouraged from taking public transportation and carpooling and rather be encouraged or incentivized to travel alone and at less busy times, according to the report.
1 in 7 people in New York might have been infected with the coronavirus by the end of March, results from statewide antibody testing reveal
— 1 in 7 people in New York might have had COVID-19 by the end of March, according to a new study published as a pre-print on MedRxiv and that hasn’t yet been peer-reviewed. That means that over 2 million adults might have been infected by the end of March, which is about 10 times the official count, according to CNN. These are the results of the random antibody testing that New York state conducted at grocery stores across 26 counties between April 19 and 28, according to the study. The researchers also found that more than 1 in 5 people in New York City likely had COVID-19 by the end of March.
— More than 200 schools in South Korea closed days after reopening because of a spike in COVID-19 cases in the country, according to the BBC. On Thursday, South Korea reported 79 new cases, the highest daily case count in two months. Most of the cases were traced back to a distribution center in Bucheon, outside of Seoul. The warehouse wasn’t complying with measures set in place to make sure the virus doesn’t spread, the BBC reported.
— There are now more than 5.8 million COVID-19 cases worldwide and more than 361,000 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins dashboard. There are now more than 1.7 million people who have had COVID-19 in the U.S. and more than 101,000 have died.
The Boston Marathon has officially been canceled
— The Boston Marathon has officially been canceled, Mayor Marty Walsh announced at a news conference today, CNN reported. Originally, the April 20 event had been postponed to September 14. "There's no way to hold this usual race format without bringing large numbers of people into close proximity," Walsh said during the news conference, according to CNN. "This kind of event would not be responsible or realistic on September 14th or anytime this year." Registered runners will receive their entry fee back and will still be able to run virtually, according to CNN. They can get a finisher's medal if they can show that they ran 26.2 miles within 6 hours, according to CNN.
— The city of Wuhan, China, recently launched a campaign to test every one of its 11 million residents for the virus. In less than two weeks, the city has tested about 6.5 million residents, The New York Times reported on May 26. U.S. cities could similarly conduct "pooled testing" to screen many residents at once and help stop new waves of infection, but this strategy would only work if the overall prevalence of COVID-19 remains low, according to a Live Science report.
— COVID-19 cases have exceeded 5.7 million worldwide, according to the Johns Hopkins dashboard. More than 358,300 people have died from this virus across the globe. The U.S. has reported more than 1.7 million cases of COVID-19 and more than 101,000 deaths; Brazil has reported more than 411,800 cases and more than 25,500 deaths; Russia has reported more than 379,000 cases and 4,000 deaths. Case counts continue to increase rapidly across the globe and the pandemic is growing at a faster pace, especially as the coronavirus has now taken hold of countries in Latin America and the Gulf States, according to The New York Times. Last week, there were nearly 700,000 new infections reported worldwide, according to the Times.
One in every four U.S. workers have filed for unemployment since mid-March, South Korea reports big jump in cases
— More than 40 million people, or one in every four U.S. workers have filed for unemployment since the middle of March, according to The New York Times. That's after 2.1 million people who filed for unemployment claims last week, which might include both new layoffs and backlogged claims, according to the Times. The federal virus relief package that gives eligible workers $600 a week on top of state benefits, is set to expire on July 31, according to the Times.
— There were 163 new COVID-19 patients hospitalized yesterday in New York, the lowest daily hospitalization rate recorded since March, Governor Andrew Cuomo said during his daily briefing. Yesterday, 74 people died from COVID-19 in New York, 52 of those people were in hospitals and 22 in nursing homes, he said. Cuomo is signing an Executive Order today that authorizes businesses in New York to deny entry to people who are not wearing masks or face coverings. Mayor Bill De Blasio said today that 200,000 to 400,000 unemployed people could return to work in New York City once reopening begins as soon as early June, according to NBC News. Phase 1 of reopening in the city includes construction, manufacturing, wholesale and nonessential retail, he said.
— Today, South Korea reported 79 new COVID-19 cases, the biggest jump in cases in nearly two months, according to AP News. According to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 67 of the 79 new cases were from the Seoul metropolitan area, AP News reported. In response, South Korea shut down public facilities such as parks, museums and state-run theaters in the area for the next two weeks to slow the spread. In total, South Korea has reported more than 11,300 COVID-19 cases and 269 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins dashboard. The country has been praised for their handling of the pandemic including widespread testing, isolation and contact tracing, according to an NPR report from April. This recent spike shows the risks of easing social distancing rules, according to The Guardian. “The next two weeks are crucial to prevent the spread of the infection in the metropolitan area,” said South Korea's Health Minister Park Neung-hoo. “We will have to return to social distancing if we fail.”
Coronavirus may not have started at a seafood market in Wuhan, Africa is seeing "rapid increases" in cases, U.K. starts mass testing and contract tracing
— Reports have suggested that SARS-CoV-2 jumped from animals to humans in Wuhan's Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market. Now, experts at the Wuhan Institute of Virology have claimed that this theory is wrong, and that the virus must have originated elsewhere, according to a Wall Street Journal report. Instead, a superspreader at the live animal market may have spread the virus to many people, according to a Live Science report.
— Africa is seeing "rapid increases" in COVID-19 cases, according to the World Health Organization's Regional Office for Africa, CNN reported. “Compared to two weeks ago, reported cases have tripled in five countries and doubled in 10 countries, noting that most countries still have fewer than 1,000 reported cases," Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO Regional Director for Africa said during a press briefing today, as CNN reported. “With strong country leadership and implementation of public and social health measures, cases in Africa remain lower than in some other parts of the world. However, we are not letting our guard down and we cannot be complacent."
— Today, the U.K. is starting an effort to mass test and contact trace, according to The New York Times. People with symptoms of COVID-19 will be tested and those who turn up positive for the virus will be asked to list people they've recently been in contact with for at least 15 minutes. These people will then be called up and asked to isolate for 14 days. A day earlier, France's parliament approved a contact tracing app, the Times reported.
US hits grim milestone: 100,000 COVID-19 deaths
U.S. deaths from coronavirus have now reached 100,000, the most of any country in the world, according to The New York Times. The somber milestone comes as all states are beginning to take steps to reopen parts of their economies. Overall death rates in the U.S. have dropped in recent weeks, from a high of more than 2,000 deaths a day in April and May, to about 750 deaths related to the coronavirus reported on Tuesday (May 26), according to the Times; however, reporting of deaths may have been delayed due to the holiday weekend. In addition, deaths from the coronavirus are likely underreported in general due to challenges with how deaths are counted, Live Science previously reported.
Walt Disney plans to reopen in July with restrictions, Denmark allows cross-border couples to meet again
— Walt Disney World is planning to reopen its Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom on July 11 and Epcot and Hollywood Studios on July 15, according to the Orlando Sentinel. Seaworld is planning to reopen three of its parks in Orlando on June 11. Both companies plan to make changes to encourage social distancing and hand washing and will also require people to wear masks and get temperature checks, the Sentinel reported. Universal is planning to reopen on June 5, according to the Sentinel.
— Denmark is now allowing significant others to cross the border into Denmark, which has been closed to other countries since March, according to the BBC. As of Monday, significant others who live in Germany, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden are allowed to cross into Denmark as long as they can prove that they are in a serious relationship with someone in Denmark (defined as about six months of face-to-face meetings not just online dating) with photos, text messages and emails, the BBC reported. In a couple of days, even these regulations will ease and couples will just need to sign a letter, Justice minister Nick Hækkerup said. "If you say you are a boyfriend and sign [the letter], we will assume it [is true]," Justice minister Nick Hækkerup told broadcaster TV2.
— The European Union is proposing a 750 billion euro ($860 billion) stimulus package to help the economies of its member countries, especially those hardest hit by the coronavirus, according to The New York Times. This will involve giving billions of euros worth of grants to all member states with Italy getting the most and Spain getting the second most, the Times reported.
France bans use of hydroxychloroquine on COVID-19 patients
— France has banned the use of hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19 patients, according to CNN. The French Health Ministry said there wasn't enough data to suggest that the drug provides sufficient evidence of a benefit for use on COVID-19 patients, and some data suggests there's a link between using this drug and cardiac toxicity, CNN reported. This comes after the World Health Organization stopped a study of hydroxychloroquine being conducted on COVID-19 patients because of safety concerns. A new study published in the journal The Lancet on Friday suggested that severe COVID-19 patients who took the drug were more likely to die or develop irregular heart rhythms, CNN reported.
— More than 5.6 million people have now been reported to have COVID-19 worldwide, and more than 351,000 have died, according to the Johns Hopkins dashboard. In the U.S., more than 1.6 million people have had COVID-19 and more than 98,900 have died; In Brazil more than 391,200 have had COVID-19 and more than 24,500 have died; in Russia more than 370,600 have had COVID-19 and more than 3,900 have died.
— Across the U.S. states that had shut down amid the pandemic are undergoing various reopening phases, but the virus is still circulating and thousands of people are still being infected every day, according to The New York Times. New cases are increasing in some states (in part because of increased testing): California, Florida, Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Alabama, Mississippi, South Carolina, Nevada, Arkansas, Puerto Rico, North Dakota, Maine and West Virginia, according to The Times.
A third of Americans are showing signs of clinical anxiety or depression amid the pandemic, survey finds
— About a dozen states are reporting an increase in the number of infections even as levels nationwide are staying steady or decreasing, according to The New York Times. Half of those states had started to reopen in late April and early May, according to the Times. Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee, for example, have had increases several weeks after easing restrictions. Arkansas, North Dakota and Oklahoma — states that didn't have state-wide stay-at-home orders — but began to reopen businesses also had an increase in cases, as did Washington D.C. which is still under lockdown but will start reopening on Friday, according to the Times.
— A new study that analyzed 16 women who tested positive for COVID-19 while pregnant found that their placentas showed evidence of injury that might cause abnormal blood flow between the mothers and their babies in utero, according to a statement from Northwestern University. “Most of these babies were delivered full-term after otherwise normal pregnancies, so you wouldn’t expect to find anything wrong with the placentas, but this virus appears to be inducing some injury in the placenta,” senior author Dr. Jeffrey Goldstein, assistant professor of pathology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and a Northwestern Medicine pathologist said in the statement. “It doesn’t appear to be inducing negative outcomes in live-born infants, based on our limited data, but it does validate the idea that women with COVID should be monitored more closely.” The study was published last week (May 22) in the journal American Journal of Clinical Pathology.
— Amid the pandemic, a third of Americans are showing signs of clinical anxiety or depression, according to a new nationwide survey, as reported by The Washington Post. This 20-minute online "Household Pulse Survey," conducted by The National Center for Health Statistics and the Census Bureau, found that 24% of people showed clinically significant symptoms of major depressive disorder and 30% showed symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder, the Post reported.
New York sees lowest daily death toll since the outbreak began, More than 7,000 Tyson Foods employees have tested positive for the coronavirus
— Yesterday, an additional 73 people died from COVID-19 in New York, the lowest death toll the state has seen since this outbreak began, Governor Andrew Cuomo said today during his daily briefing. "In this absurd new reality, that is good news," he said. The number of new daily COVID-19 hospitalizations in New York is about 200, also the lowest it has been since this started, he said.
— There are more than 7,000 employees working for Tyson Foods, the largest meat processor in the U.S., who have tested positive for the coronavirus, according to a Washington Post analysis. That's despite efforts made by the company to stop the spread among its employees through installing plastic dividers, requiring face masks or coverings and setting up on-site medical clinics and screenings, according to the Post. With thousands of employees coming down with COVID-19 and only some of the workforce having been able to go back to work, meat supplies remain strained, according to the Post.
— The New York Stock Exchange reopened for in-person trading for the first time today, according to The New York Times. Governor Andrew Cuomo rang the opening bell this morning at 9:30 a.m. There are restrictions put in place for those who will work in-person at the stock exchange — namely floor brokers and trading floor officials — including mandatory temperature checks and face masks, the Times reported. People will also need to avoid taking public transportation.
People crowded Missouri's Lake of the Ozarks over the weekend, ignoring social distancing guidelines, The city of Wuhan tested 6.5 million people for the coronavirus in just two weeks
— People ignored social distancing guidelines and hung out in dense crowds at Missouri’s Lake of the Ozarks this past weekend, according to The Washington Post. These videos of Ozark vacationers — which circulated over social media over the weekend and was met with criticism — is an example of how some people took easing restrictions to mean life would return back to a pre-pandemic normal, according to The Post.
— The Wuhan government has tested 6.5 million people for the coronavirus in two weeks, according to The New York Times. The city is conducting a campaign to test all 11 million of its residents for free in order to prevent a second wave of infections and increase people’s confidence in getting back to work and normal life, according to the Times. Medical workers have gone to construction sites and markets, have made house calls to older residents and those with disabilities and made announcements over loudspeakers to sign up for the swab testing, according to The Times. Samples taken are still being analyzed, but so far, 200 people — most without any symptoms — have turned up positive for the coronavirus, according to The Times.
— More than 5.5 million people have now had COVID-19 worldwide, according to the latest numbers from the Johns Hopkins dashboard. More than 346,800 people have died across the globe. In the U.S., 1.6 million people have now had COVID-19 and more than 98,000 have died; in Brazil more than 374,800 have had COVID-19 and more than 23,400 have died; in Russia more than 362,300 people have had COVID-19 and more than 3,800 have died.
WHO stops hydroxychloroquine trial & warns of 'immediate second peak'
—The World Health Organization has stopped its arm of a global study into the use of the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19 due to safety concerns, The Guardian reported. The WHO announcement today was spurred by research results published in the journal The Lancet showing that COVID-19 patients taking the drug had a higher risk of death and heart problems than those not taking the drug. Hydroxychloroquine is the drug that U.S. president Donald Trump has promoted and has said he was taking prophylactically.
—The chief of staff to UK prime minister Boris Johnson released a statement today confirming that he had indeed traveled about 250 miles (400 kilometers) during the lockdown, despite his wife showing coronavirus symptoms. He did so, he said, to visit family who could help with childcare. Even so, David Cummings said he acted reasonably, The Guardian said.
—Italy reported its lowest daily deaths from COVID-19 since early March, with 92 deaths related to the virus, The Guardian reported. The country recorded 300 new cases Monday, down from 531 on Sunday. They had zero new cases in five regions — Bolzano, Umbria, Calabria, Molise and Basilicata, according to The Guardian. To date, the country has logged 230,158 COVID-19 cases and 32,877 related deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins virus dashboard.
—Countries where COVID-19 cases are on the decline could experience an "immediate second peak" if they loosen lockdown measures too soon, the WHO said today, Channel News Asia reported. Dr. Mike Ryan, head of WHO emergencies, said during an online briefing that though some countries are on the decline, others — such as Central and South America, South Asia and Africa — are experiencing an increase in cases. "When we speak about a second wave classically what we often mean is there will be a first wave of the disease by itself, and then it recurs months later. And that may be a reality for many countries in a number of months' time," Ryan said. "But we need also to be cognizant of the fact that the disease can jump up at any time. We cannot make assumptions that just because the disease is on the way down now it is going to keep going down and we are get [sic] a number of months to get ready for a second wave. We may get a second peak in this wave."
Japan lifts lockdown measures, Advisor to UK prime minister sparks furor over travel while sick
—Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced he is lifting the country's state of emergency, since the virus spread seems to be under control, loosening the once-strict lockdown measures for the last five of the country's 47 prefectures, NPR reported. "Recently, new infection cases have fallen below 50 for the entire nation," Abe said at a news conference, as reported by NPR, "and what was once nearly 10,000 hospitalized cases — that has now fallen below 2,000." Japan has confirmed a total of 16,550 COVID-19 cases and 820 related deaths to date.
—Dominic Cummings, the chief adviser to the U.K. prime minister Boris Johnson is facing pressure to resign after he the government confirmed that in March Cummings made a 260-mile trip from London to County Durham in northern England with his wife who was showing symptoms of the coronavirus in order to be closer to family, according to reports by BBC News and The Wall Street Journal. "Critics including lawmakers from Mr. Johnson's ruling Conservative Party say the move contravened strict government instructions for families to isolate when sick with Covid-19 and appeared to show the rules don't apply to Westminster's political elite," the Journal reported. The U.K. is the worst-hit by the coronavirus in all of Europe, with a total of 260,916 COVID-19 cases and 36,875 related deaths to date, according to the Johns Hopkins virus dashboard. Cummings is expected to give a statement and take questions from the press today.
—A city in New Jersey is leading the way in contact-tracing to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus. Paterson, New Jersey, with a population of 150,000, "has been tracing the virus at a level that could be the envy of larger cities. The team has been able to successfully investigate and trace about 90 percent of the more than 5,900 positive virus cases in Paterson, said the city's top health officer, Dr. Paul Persaud," The New York Times reported. Once contacts with sick individuals are traced, those individuals can self-isolate so they don't unknowingly infect others. As a testament to the city's efforts, the city is now logging about 50 to 70 new cases a day, down from a high of about 260 per day on April 15, the Times said.
2nd Missouri stylist exposes clients to COVID-19, Trump bans travel from Brazil
—A second hairstylist at Great Clips salon in Springfield, Missouri, may have exposed clients to COVID-19. The stylist had worked for a week at the salon earlier this month while she was experiencing mild symptoms; during that time, she may have exposed more than 50 clients, The Hill reported. Another hairstylist at that salon who tested positive for COVID-19 possibly exposed nearly 100 clients and employees, health officials announced Friday (May 22). Many businesses, including hair salons, were allowed to reopen beginning May 4 in Missouri.
—President Donald Trump announced Sunday (May 24) that he was banning travelers from Brazil from entering the United States, the Associated Press reported. With 363,211 COVID-19 cases and 22,666 related deaths, Brazil has become the world's second worst hotspot for the virus behind the U.S. Trump had already implemented travel bans from certain areas in China and Europe (including the United Kingdom), the AP reported. "Today's action will help ensure foreign nationals who have been in Brazil do not become a source of additional infections in our country," said White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, the AP reported.
—Veteran Iditarod musher Thomas Waerner of Torpa, Norway, won the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Alaska on March 18; however, because of travel restrictions related to COVID-19, the 47-year-old and his 16 sled dogs have been stranded in Alaska, the Anchorage Daily News reported. Waiting for him at home in Torpa are his five children and 35 other sled dogs. Now, he is expected to hitch a ride aboard a DC-6 aircraft bound for the Air History Museum in Sola, Norway, in early June. Before boarding, Waerner will be tested for COVID-19 and will retrieve his dogs from a kennel owned by another musher. "We are hitchhiking," Waerner said, according to the Daily News. "The plane is going to Norway, and we are going with them. We are so lucky."
Grocery workers face risky conditions, Virus spreading at epidemic levels in 24 states
—Chile has experienced a surge in new COVID-19 infections recently, with 3,709 new cases recorded in the last day. The surge has pushed the country's health-care system "very close to the limit," President Sebastian Pinera said, The Guardian reported. To date, Chile has logged 69,102 cases and 718 related deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins virus dashboard.
—An investigative report by The Washington Post has revealed the risky conditions for workers at various grocery stores. The Post investigation involved the following stores: Walmart, Trader Joe's, Whole Foods Market, Target, Kroger, BJ's Wholesale Club and Lidl. They found that since late-March, at least 100 grocery workers have died from COVID-19, while another 5,500 have been infected with the virus causing COVID-19. In addition, during interviews with 40 employees from 30 supermarkets, individuals claimed "the companies had not disclosed cases of infected or dead workers, retaliated against employees who raised safety concerns and used faulty equipment to implement coronavirus mitigation measures," the Post said.
—A model created by researchers at the Imperial College London suggests that the coronavirus is spreading at epidemic rates in 24 U.S. states, The Hour reported. That means in those states the so-called reproduction number — the average number of people who catch the virus from a single infected person — is still above 1. In general, the R0 (R-nought) needs to be below 1 to reduce disease transmission. The highest R0 was found in Texas, followed by Arizona, Illinois, Colorado, Ohio, Minnesota, Indiana, Iowa, Alabama and Wisconsin, Mississippi, Tennessee, Florida, Virginia, New Mexico, Missouri, Delaware, South Carolina, Massachusetts, North Carolina, California, Pennsylvania, Louisiana and Maryland, according to the report. "Higher reproduction numbers are geographically clustered in the South and Midwest, where epidemics are still developing, while we estimate lower reproduction numbers in states that have already suffered high COVID-19 mortality (such as the Northeast). These estimates suggest that caution must be taken in loosening current restrictions if effective additional measures are not put in place," the researchers write in their report, which has not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal.
Mass testing in Wuhan, COVID outbreak in German church, the latest in Africa
—After a cluster of COVID-19 surfaced in Wuhan, China, where the outbreak of the novel coronavirus began in December 2019, the city has instituted a mass testing initiative. Yesterday, the city conducted 1.1 million diagnostic tests for the disease, BBC News reported. The day before, the city conducted 1.4 million nucleic acid tests for the coronavirus.
—To date, the African Union's 55 member states have logged 104,279 COVID-19 cases and 3,185 related deaths, according to BBC News. South Africa, which has recorded 21,343 cases and 407 related deaths, is expected to ease some of its lockdown restrictions beginning June 1; if so, schools would reopen for seventh through 12th grades, and some parts of the economy would also reopen. In Nigeria, a country with 7,526 cases and 221 deaths, the Muslim Public Affairs Center has advised Muslims to celebrate Eid at home or with just family members, BBC News said.
—During a service at a Baptist church in Frankfurt, Germany, 40 church members have become infected with COVID-19, just weeks after the country allowed such services to resume, The New York Times reported. "We followed all the rules," leader of the church Wladimir Pritzkau told the German news agency DPA, as reported by the Times. For instance, churches are required to ask members to stay 5 feet apart and to have disinfectant readily available, according to the Times. Meanwhile, U.S. president Donald Trump is designating religious institutions as "essential," and pushing officials to reopen such houses of worship, the Times reported.
NY has single-day death toll below 100, Remdesivir shows promise in clinical trial
—New York's single-day death toll linked to COVID-19 dropped below 100 to 84 yesterday for the first time in weeks, the state's governor, Andrew Cuomo announced today. "Eighty-four is still a tragedy, no doubt," he said. "But the fact that it's down as low as it is is really, overall, good news," Cuomo said, as reported by CBS News. During the peak of deaths in the state, New York was logging close to 800 daily COVID-19 deaths for days.
—In more of such hopeful news, the antiviral drug called remdesivir, which is the only COVID-19 drug approved by the FDA, showed some success in treating patients with less severe cases of the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, according to results from a clinical trial just published in the New England Journal of Medicine on Friday (May 22). In the study of just over 1,000 patients, half were randomly assigned to the medicine and the others took a placebo. The researchers found that those on remdesivir had a median recovery time of 11 days, compared with 15 days in the placebo group. Estimates of mortality by day 14 were 7.1% for the remdesivir group and 11.9% for the placebo patients. That result wasn't statistically significant. In terms of adverse effects from taking the drug, 114 patients out of 541 taking remdesivir had serious adverse effects, compared with 141 of 522 patients in the placebo group, according to the journal article. The drug showed much less to no benefit in patients who began the trial with a severe case of COVID-19, STAT News reported.
The researchers rated the patients' illness severity on a scale of 1 (not hospitalized) to 8 (dead), according to The severity of patients' illness was rated on a scale of 1 to 8: 1 (not hospitalized) to 5 (hospitalized, requiring any supplemental oxygen) to to 7 (hospitalized, receiving invasive mechanical ventilation or so-called extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, or ECMO) to 8 (dead). Most of the patients in the study rated 5, with the lowest score being a 4. In the group who scored 4, the study showed a 38% benefit in the speed of recovery, STAT reported, whereas those in the "5" group showed a 47% benefit in speed of recovery. However, in those who scored 6, that number fell to 20%; it fell even further to 0.05% in the group who scored 7, STAT said. "We need to get something that works for these patients who have a high mortality rate," said Eric Topol, founder and director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute, as reported by STAT.
Missouri hairstylist exposes at least 91 to virus, US nears 100K deaths
—A hairstylist in Springfield, Missouri, may have exposed 84 clients and seven co-workers to COVID-19, after working eight shifts at Great Clips hair salon while she was sick (and symptomatic) with the coronavirus, The New York Times reported. While working between May 12 and May 20, she wore a face mask, as did her clients. Over the last 10 days, the stylist also visited a fitness center, a Dairy Queen and a Walmart, the Times said. Many businesses, including hair salons, were allowed to reopen beginning May 4.
—The U.S. is nearing the 100,000-deaths mark related to COVID-19. The country has to date logged more than 1.57 million cases of the virus and 94,729 related deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins virus dashboard.
—Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak has said that casinos could reopen June 4, after closing for the first time ever in mid-March in order to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus, the Associated Press reported. Even so, the casinos will look much different than they did pre-pandemic. For instance, there will be no valet parking; bartenders, blackjack dealers and waiters will don face masks; and hand sanitizer will be available throughout the floors. And then there will be social distancing. "You're going to see a lot of social distancing," said Sean McBurney, general manager at Caesars Palace, the AP reported. "If there's crowding, it's every employee's responsibility to ensure there's social distancing."
Burial site of Jesus reopens, NY allows small gatherings, Spain soccer to resume
—The Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, said to have been built over the original tomb of Jesus and considered one of the holiest sites of Christianity, will again open its doors beginning Sunday (May 24). The church was closed for two months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. When the doors open, patrons will be required to wear masks, stand at least 6 feet (nearly 2 meters) apart and to avoid practices that would require close contact, "touching and kissing the stones, icons, vestments and the personnel in the Basilica," BBC News reported. (Here's a gallery of images of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.)
—Spain Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said the country will reopen to foreign visitors beginning in July, BBC News reported. "I am announcing to you that from the month of July, entry for foreign tourists into Spain will resume in secure conditions," Sánchez said, according to the BBC. The prime minister extended the state of emergency until June 6. He also announced that soccer matches would resume for the professional soccer league, La Liga, the week of June 8. Spain has recorded 234,824 cases of COVID-19 and 28,628 related deaths to date, according to the Johns Hopkins virus dashboard.
—New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Friday night (May 22) that he had issued an executive order to allow gatherings of up to 10 people in the state (including in the hardest-hit New York City), as long as social-distancing measures were followed, The New York Times reported. The announcement was met with outcry from some who say the risks are too great.
In a tweet, Councilman Mark D. Levine, who represents Upper Manhattan and is the chair of the City Council's health committee, said: "This shocking order, forced by a lawsuit, changes nothing about the risks associated with group gatherings — especially those held indoors." Reportedly, the governor's order comes on the heels of a lawsuit from the New York Civil Liberties Union, which objected to a tighter version of this order.
More than 5.2 million people worldwide have now had COVID-19
— An early trial in more than 100 people found that a candidate coronavirus vaccine developed in China appeared safe and able to generate an immune response, according to a Live Science report. The vaccine, called Ad5-nCoV, is being developed by the Chinese company CanSino Biologics, and was one of the first coronavirus vaccines to enter early human trials back in March. Now, there are more than 100 different coronavirus vaccines in development worldwide, with at least eight of those in the process of human trials, according to the report.
— More than 5.2 million people worldwide have now had COVID-19, and more than 337,500 have died, according to the Johns Hopkins dashboard. More than 1.6 million people in the U.S. have now had COVID-19 and more than 95,900 have died, according to the dashboard.
— Brazil has reported more than 20,800 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, the Brazilian health ministry said today. The country now has a total of 330,890 cases, which is slightly higher than Russia's cases, making Brazil the country with the second highest number of cases in the world, according to CNN's calculations.
It's "conceivable" that the U.S. could have a coronavirus vaccine by December, Fauci says and large study finds that use of hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine increased the risk of death in hospitalized COVID-19 patients
— Based on surveys given to 2,500 adults in England, about 1 in 5 believe that the coronavirus is a hoax "to some extent", according to NPR and a new study published in the journal Psychological Medicine. About 3 in 5 adults believe to some extent that the government is misleading the public about how the virus came to be and 2 in 5 adults believe to some extent that powerful people are deliberately spreading the virus to gain control, according to a statement from The University of Oxford.
— It's "conceivable" that the U.S. could have a coronavirus vaccine by December, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said in an interview with NPR. "I think it is conceivable if we don't run into things that are, as they say, unanticipated setbacks, that we could have a vaccine that we could be beginning to deploy at the end of this calendar year — December 2020 or into January 2021," he said.
— A large international retrospective study of more than 96,000 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 found that those who were treated with chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine, the drug touted by Trump as a "game changer," had a significantly higher risk of death compared to those who weren't. The patients treated with these drugs were also more likely to develop arrhythmias, or abnormal heart rates, the authors found. "We were unable to confirm a benefit of hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine, when used alone or with a macrolide, on in-hospital outcomes for COVID-19. Each of these drug regimens was associated with decreased in-hospital survival and an increased frequency of ventricular arrhythmias when used for treatment of COVID-19," the authors wrote in the study published today in the journal The Lancet.
President Trump says he won't close the country if another wave of coronavirus hits
— The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now says that the virus "does not spread easily" from touching surfaces or objects. This worries some public health experts that it could encourage people not to wash their hands so often, according to The Washington Post. The CDC updated this on their website earlier this month, without making a formal announcement, according to the Post.
— President Donald Trump said yesterday that he won't close the country if another wave of coronavirus infections hits, according to CNBC. “We are going to put out the fires. We’re not going to close the country,” Trump said. “We can put out the fires. Whether it is an ember or a flame, we are going to put it out. But we are not closing our country.”
— More than 1.58 million people in the U.S. have now been infected with COVID-19, and more than 94,700 people have died and 298,400 have recovered so far, according to the Johns Hopkins dashboard. More than 356,400 people in New York, more than 151,500 people in New Jersey, more than 102,600 people in Illinois, more than 90,000 in Massachusetts and more than 88.400 people in California have now been infected with the coronavirus, according to the dashboard.
Nearly half of COVID-19 deaths in Sweden are care home residents
— Nearly half of the COVID-19 deaths in Sweden are care home residents, according to the BBC. Some healthcare workers are pinning the high death counts in the elderly population on a protocol-dictated institutional unwillingness to admit them to the hospital. Some workers have criticized these protocols given to them by healthcare authorities, which they say discourage them from sending care home residents to the hospital and prevent them from giving people oxygen without approval, according to the BBC.
Sweden has reported 3,698 deaths associated with COVID-19, almost all of them in people over the age of 70. The country, which has largely stayed open compared with the rest of Europe, has reported more than 32,100 cases of COVID-19, according to the Johns Hopkins dashboard.
— The mysterious inflammatory syndrome tied to COVID-19 and reported in children, is now being diagnosed in young adults in their early 20s, according to a Live Science report. Doctors have reported the syndrome in a 20-year-old in San Diego and a 25-year-old in Long Island, New York, according to The Washington Post. Several additional cases have been reported in patients in their early 20s who are hospitalized in New York City, the Post reported.
— The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and several state health departments have been reporting results from COVID-19 diagnostic tests and antibody tests together, The Atlantic reported. Reporting these numbers together, rather than differentiating them, presents several major issues, according to a Live Science report. Namely, combining the numbers could make America's diagnostic testing capabilities and testing rates appear higher than they actually are, according to The Atlantic.
Downstate beaches in New York will open with restrictions tomorrow
— Yesterday, there were 246 new COVID-19 hospitalizations in New York, lower than what the number of hospitalizations were at the start of the incline on March 20, Governor Andrew Cuomo said today during his news briefing. An additional 105 people died from COVID-19 in New York yesterday, which is relatively better than what it has been, Cuomo said.
— Downstate beaches in New York (Jones Beach, Sunken Meadow, Hither Hills, Robert Moses, Lake Welch Beach in Harriman State Park) will open tomorrow, May 22, Cuomo said. "There are certain rules on braces that are operating," he said. The beaches will open at 50% capacity, people won't be allowed to partake in group contact activities, there will be no concessions, areas of social gathering will be closed, social distancing will be enforced and masks will be required when social distancing is not possible, he said. It's expected that the 50% capacity of the beaches will be reached by 10 a.m.
— Wilson Roosevelt Jerman, a former White House butler who served 11 presidents and retired in 2012, died of the coronavirus, according to NBC News. He was 91. “I want the world to remember my grandfather as someone who was really authentic,” Jamila Garrett, his granddaughter told WTTG. “Always being yourself. That’s what he taught our family, that’s what thrives throughout our family. And that’s what we’ll continue to carry on, his legacy.”
“He was a lovely man,” former President George W. Bush and former first lady Laura Bush said in a statement to NBC News. “He was the first person we saw in the morning when we left the residence and the last person we saw each night when we returned.”
COVID-19 case count reaches 5 million worldwide
— Last week an additional 2.4 million workers filed claims for unemployment, according to The New York Times. There are now more than 38 million people who have filed for unemployment in the past 9 weeks.
— There have now been 5 million reported cases of COVID-19 worldwide, and more than 328,600 of those people have died, according to the Johns Hopkins dashboard. In the U.S., there are more than 1.5 million cases reported and more than 93,400 deaths. In Russia, the country with the second-most cases, there are more than 317,500 reported cases and more than 3,000 deaths. Brazil ranks third with more than 291,500 cases and more than 18,800 deaths.
— Columbia University researchers found that if the U.S. had enacted social distancing rules a week earlier, it could have saved 36,000 lives, according to The Washington Post. The week of March 8 when the country had a reported 500 cases of COVID-19, everything went on as normal: crowds gathered and parties happened, according to the Post. Modeling found that had social distancing begun that week, tens of thousands of people could have been saved. If the U.S. had enacted such measures even earlier, on March 1, it could have saved 54,000 lives, the researchers reported in their not-yet peer-reviewed study published in medRxiv as a pre-print.
Less than a month after relaxing restrictions, some Gulf Arab countries are reimposing them after seeing a surge in cases
— A new study published Tuesday (May 19) in the European Journal of Epidemiology, suggests that alternating between 50 days of strict lockdown and 30 days of relaxation could control the outbreak, according to a Live Science report. "This intermittent combination of strict social distancing, and a relatively relaxed period ... may allow populations and their national economies to 'breathe' at intervals — a potential that might make this solution more sustainable, especially in resource-poor regions," study lead author Dr. Rajiv Chowdhury, a global health epidemiologist at the University of Cambridge in England, said in a statement.
— A couple of Gulf Arab countries are seeing a surge in COVID-19 cases, less than a month after easing restrictions, according to The Washington Post. The number of cases quadrupled in Saudi Arabia and increased sevenfold in Kuwait, according to the Post. Some of these Gulf Arab countries are now reimposing strict restrictions.
— The Smithsonian museums are collecting or planning to collect artifacts related to the pandemic in order to document it, according to NPR. These include objects, but also digital objects and oral histories, they reported. Many of the physical objects won't be collected until after the pandemic ends, according to NPR. The National Museum of American History and the Anacostia Community Museum have already started their collection projects and the National Museum of African American History and Culture will start their project in June, according to NPR.
There were 106,000 COVID-19 cases reported to the WHO in the past 24 hours, the largest single day increase in cases since the start of the outbreak
— There were 106,000 COVID-19 cases reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) in the past 24 hours, the largest daily number of cases reported since the outbreak first began, WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said at a news briefing today. "We still have a long way to go in this pandemic," he said.
Two-thirds of those cases were reported in four countries, Ghebreyesus said, though he didn't specify which ones, according to NBC News. The countries that currently have the most reported cases are the U.S., Brazil, Russia and the U.K., according to the Johns Hopkins dashboard. But "We are very concerned about rising cases in low and middle income countries," he said.
There have been nearly 5 million cases of COVID-19 reported worldwide and more than 325,700 deaths, according to the dashboard.
— Religious gatherings of up to 10 people will now be allowed in New York State starting Thursday, if people wear masks and practice social distancing, Governor Andrew Cuomo said today. “I think that even at this time of stress and when people are so anxious and so confused, I think those religious ceremonies can be very comforting,” he said, The New York Times reported. “But we need to find out how to do it, and do it safely and do it smartly.”
All 50 states have now at least partially reopened, but many don't meet federal benchmarks
— All 50 states have now at least partially reopened, according to The Washington Post. But many of them don’t meet federal benchmarks on when it’s safe to reopen, sparking fears of new surges of infection, according to the Post. There have now been 1.5 million COVID-19 cases reported in the U.S. and nearly 92,000 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins dashboard.
— Brazil, with more than 271,800 cases, has the third-most reported COVID-19 cases in the world, according to the Johns Hopkins dashboard. The country has reported nearly 18,000 deaths. Yesterday, Brazil had its deadliest COVID-19 day yet with 1,179 deaths from the coronavirus, according to CNBC. President Donald Trump said he was considering a travel ban on the country.
— Offices in Boston will start reopening on June 1 with regulations to prevent spikes in the outbreak, Mayor Marty Walsh said on CNN this morning. “I don’t think we can afford to shut back down, so I think we have to get this right the first time,” he said. Elsewhere in Massachusetts, Governor Charlie Baker said offices may open up on May 25.
Dozens of people in South Korea were infected with the coronavirus from fitness dance classes
— Dozens of people in South Korea were infected with the coronavirus after going to fitness dance classes at the beginning of the pandemic, according to a new report, published May 15 in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases. A cluster of COVID-19 cases were traced back to a workshop for fitness dance instructors held on Feb. 15 that involved four hours of intense training, according to a Live Science report.
Eight of the 27 instructors at that workshop, though none showing symptoms at the time, later tested positive for COVID-19. By March 9, researchers traced 112 COVID-19 cases tied to fitness dance classes taught by those instructors at 12 different sports facilities, according to the report. "The moist, warm atmosphere in a sports facility coupled with turbulent air flow generated by intense physical exercise can cause more dense transmission of isolated droplets," the authors said. Also, the classes with a higher number of people resulted in disease spread, while smaller classes and those that were lower intensity classes such as yoga and pilates did not, according to the report.
— The head of Florida's coronavirus dashboard claims she was removed from her position of managing the dashboard after she refused to censor and change the information to increase support for reopening the state, according to NBC News. "As a word of caution, I would not expect the new team to continue the same level of accessibility and transparency that I made central to the process during the first two months. After all, my commitment to both is largely (arguably entirely) the reason I am no longer managing it,” Rebekah Jones said in an email to the team, according to Florida Today .
"I don't know who she is," Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said during his press briefing today after being asked about Jones' claims, according to WFLA News. DeSantis said that he was given an email that she reportedly sent to her supervisor saying she might have said something that was misrepresented. "Our dashboard has been recognized nationally," he said. "It's a non-issue."
Carbon emissions fell by 17% worldwide amid the coronavirus pandemic, Trump threatens to permanently stop funding the World Health Organization
— In a letter to the World Health Organization (WHO), President Trump wrote that if the organization doesn't "commit to major substantive improvements" to their response to the pandemic, the U.S. will make their freeze on funding to the organization, permanent. "The only way forward for the World Health Organization is if it can actually demonstrate independence from China," Trump wrote in the letter. But Trump himself has been majorly criticized for his response to the pandemic, such as in an editorial published last week in the journal The Lancet that tells U.S. voters to replace Trump with someone who will support the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and public health experts, NPR reported.
— "An important lesson" that can be seen in every state and almost every country is that the incline in the COVID-19 curves (such as in the number of hospitalizations) is very steep and the decline is slow, Governor Andrew Cuomo said today during his daily news briefing. "It takes you a longer time to turn that curve and to turn that infection rate, so don't let a spike happen in the first place." The number of hospitalizations in New York are declining. There were 335 new COVID-19 hospitalizations yesterday and an additional 105 deaths. The number of daily deaths is "down dramatically from where it was in the first place, but it's still painfully high," Cuomo said. "We are basically back to where we started before this tragedy."
— Carbon emissions dropped by 17% across the globe during the pandemic, according to NBC News. Under quarantines and lockdowns, with limited economic activities and travel, daily global carbon dioxide emissions decreased by 18.7 million tons compared to the average daily emissions last year, according to a new study published in the journal Nature Climate Change. The biggest decline in carbon dioxide emissions came from decreased traffic from cars, buses and trucks, NBC News reported.
COVID-19 cases reach 4.8 million worldwide, cases are trending down in the U.S. but there are still tens of thousands of people infected a day
— There have now been 4.8 million reported cases of COVID-19 worldwide, according to the Johns Hopkins dashboard. More than 319,000 people have died from the coronavirus worldwide. There have now been 1.5 million cases in the U.S. and more than 90,300 deaths. In Russia, there have been nearly 300,000 cases and more than 2,800 deaths; in Brazil there have been more than 255,300 cases and more than 16,800 deaths; and in the United Kingdom there have been more than 247,700 cases and more than 34,800 deaths.
—COVID-19 cases are trending down in the U.S. but there are still more than 20,000 people who are infected with the virus every day, according to The New York Times. Yesterday, there were 21,760 new cases of COVID-19, whereas on April 24, there were more than 36,000 daily cases, according to the Times. New cases are increasing in Texas, North Carolina, Minnesota, Arizona, Alabama, Delaware, Arkansas, North Dakota, Maine and Wyoming; new cases are staying around the same in Illinois, California, Florida, Maryland, Connecticut, Louisiana, Virginia, Ohio, Wisconsin, Mississippi, South Carolina, Kentucky, Utah, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Oregon, Puerto Rico, Idaho, West Virginia, Guam, Hawaii, Montana and Alaska; New cases are decreasing in New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Georgia, Indiana, Colorado, Washington, Tennessee, Iowa, Rhode Island, Missouri, Nebraska, Kansas, Washington D.C. , New Hampshire and Vermont.
— A person who had severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) 17 years ago had antibodies in their blood that appeared to inhibit SARS-CoV-2, according to a Live Science report. This antibody, so-called S309, could bind and disable the coronavirus' spike protein, which it uses to enter human cells, according to a statement from the University of Washington School of Medicine, which was involved in the research. Multiple authors on the study work for Vir Biotechnology, a company that's developing a therapeutic based on the study findings (and have fast-tracked the development and testing of the antibody in hopes of starting a clinical trial in people). But these findings were conducted in a lab dish and much more research is needed to see whether or not the antibody could be effective against the new coronavirus in humans, according to the report.
Trump says he's taking hydroxychloroquine to prevent the coronavirus, despite warnings from experts
— President Donald Trump said today that he's taking hydroxychloroquine — an anti-malarial drug he's been promoting for some time now despite warnings from medical experts that it wasn't helpful and could cause severe side effects — to prevent the coronavirus, according to Reuters. "I’ve been taking it for the last week and a half. A pill every day,” Trump told reporters during a meeting with restaurant executives. He said he asked his doctor if he could take the drug and the doctor said "well, if you’d like it." The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has previously cautioned against using hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine for COVID-19 outside of the hospital or clinical trial "due to risk of heart rhythm problems."
— More than 90,000 people have now died in the U.S. from the coronavirus, according to the Johns Hopkins dashboard. There are now more than 1.5 million cases across the country. The IHME model, often cited by the White House, now projects that there will be 147,040 deaths by August 4. In April, the model projected around 60,300-60,400 deaths.
— France and Germany are proposing a European recovery fund of $545 billion to help countries in European Union that were most impacted by the pandemic, according to the BBC. French president Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel agreed today that the recovery fun should be given as grants, the BBC reported.
There are now 4.7 million cases of COVID-19 worldwide, Massachusetts Governor Baker releases reopening plan
— There are now 4.7 million cases of COVID-19 worldwide and more than 316,800 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins dashboard. In the U.S. cases have reached nearly 1.5 million and deaths are nearing 90,000. In Russia, there are now more than 290,600 cases, in the United Kingdom there are more than 247,700 cases and in Brazil there are more than 245,500 cases.
— Students took more than 2.2 million Advanced Placement tests last week, and thousands of them experienced technical problems taking them digitally, according to The New York Times. The College Board, a nonprofit organization which gives these exams, said that less than 1% of the tests taken had these problems, but those who experienced such issues can retake the tests in June, the Times reported.
— States are continuing to reveal phased reopening plans. Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker released a 28-page plan today that details the phased reopening of the state. Manufacturing, construction and places of worship can reopen immediately and retail and office spaces, beaches, parks and some athletic fields can reopen on May 25, according to NBC Boston.
Moderna releases early promising results for its candidate vaccine
— Early results from Moderna's phase 1 clinical trial study suggests that their candidate coronavirus vaccine is "generally safe" and prompts the body to create antibodies at levels comparable, and sometimes even exceeding, the levels found in those who were naturally infected, according to a press release. These antibody results come from data collected on only 8 participants who received the vaccine. The vaccine, called mRNA-1273, "was generally safe and well tolerated," the company wrote. In a study they conducted on mice, they found that the vaccine prevented viral replication in the lungs of the animals who were given their experimental vaccine.
“These interim Phase 1 data, while early, demonstrate that vaccination with mRNA-1273 elicits an immune response of the magnitude caused by natural infection starting with a dose as low as 25 µg,” said Dr. Tal Zaks, the Chief Medical Officer at Moderna. When combined with results from the mouse studies, the findings “substantiate our belief that mRNA-1273 has the potential to prevent COVID-19 disease and advance our ability to select a dose for pivotal trials.”
— COVID-19 deaths across the U.S. are probably being undercounted, according to a Live Science report. Many states are being challenged for misrepresenting the actual death counts. In Colorado, for example, a Republican state legislator accused the state's public health department of falsely inflating COVID-19 deaths and in Florida, local media has suggested that the state may be underreporting deaths, according to the report. But assigning a cause of death to people is not always simple, and local rules and regulations make it difficult to get valid national data, according to the report.
180 from California church under quarantine, Regions open as infections climb
—More than 180 individuals in northern California who attended a Mother's Day church service are now under quarantine, after one parishioner tested positive for COVID-19, The Hill reported. Palermo Bible Family Church pastor Michael Jacobsen told The Washington Post that the incident occurred at his church, and that he held the service because his county had so few cases at the time. As of Saturday (May 16), Butte County (where the church is located) had recorded just 22 COVID-19 cases and no related deaths, the Hill said. The service was in direct violation of the ban on public gatherings put into place in March by the state's Gov. Gavin Newsom. "At this time, organizations that hold in-person services or gatherings are putting the health and safety of their congregations, the general public and our local ability to open up at great risk," Danette York, director of Butte County Public Health said in a statement.
—Some local governments in the U.S. are opening up their regions despite not meeting federal guidelines for doing so. For instance, Palm Beach County in Florida opened up beginning Monday (May 11), regardless of the fact that the prior two weeks didn't show the number of coronavirus infections or positive tests going down, The Sun Sentinel in South Florida reported, adding that some of the numbers are now trending upward. The county's commissioner Hal R. Valeche, an investment banker, said that he prefers to look at hospital capacity rather than new infections to determine the outbreak severity. His argument was that test results can take days to process, The Sun Sentinel reported. (You can see the guidelines for reopening the U.S. on a White House webpage.)
—Meanwhile, New York and New Jersey are still under lockdown. But reportedly, you wouldn't notice if you were to step onto a beach or into a bar this weekend: Crowds of people flocked to a Belmar, New Jersey beach that's popular with people from Staten Island and Brooklyn, the New York Post reported. Outside of bars on the Upper East Side, the Upper West Side, the East and West Villages and in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, people crowded the sidewalks to pick up cocktails and then decided to stay and drink, the Post reported. Masks? "How are you going to drink with a mask on?" one reveler, hairdresser Akeem Kelley, told The Post.
UK has lowest single-day deaths, Investigation reveals violations at nursing homes
—The United Kingdom had the lowest daily deaths from COVID-19 since March 24, when 149 such deaths were reported the day after lockdown measures were put into place, BBC News reported. The U.K. reported 170 deaths today, a week after the country eased social-distancing restrictions. Numbers are typically lower on Sundays and Mondays, BBC News reported, because of the speed with which hospitals and care homes report deaths on those days. Even so, today's figure is nearly 100 fewer deaths than the 268 that were reported a week ago. The country has recorded 244,603 COVID-19 cases and 34,716 related deaths.
—At least 10 nursing homes run by Life Care Centers of America violated federal standards for infection control and prevention, government inspectors have found, The Washington Post reported. These violations were found in nursing centers from the Pacific Northwest to New England. In a case in Michigan, a health care worker moved a blood pressure machine from an isolation room into a non-COVID-19 patient's room without sanitizing the machine, the Post said. And in another Michigan home, government inspectors said residents were not wearing masks in a hallway and an aide delivering meals wasn't wearing gloves or a gown. In a home in Denver, the Post reported, the door of an isolation room was left open and the infected patient walked into the hall, not wearing a face mask, and sat next to a room holding healthy patients. These reports don't include deficiencies found at the Life Care Center of Kirkland in Washington state, where the first reported COVID-19 cases in the U.S. were found in February.
The Post reports, however, that there isn't any national data to show whether the Life Care Centers have higher COVID-19 infections and deaths relative to other nursing home chains. In fact, even those homes with strong track records are reporting such cases.
"We have a virus that has attacked our vulnerable populations who have comorbidities, and that has made this extremely difficult to manage," said Tim Killian, public information liaison for Life Care Centers of America, as reported by the Post. "We need help. We need hands on the ground. We need money. We need equipment. We need doctors. And none of that is happening in a significant way anywhere in the country." (Read more about the investigation at The Washington Post.)
1st COVID-19 death in Madagascar, China quarantines 8,000, Brazil spike in cases
—The city of Wuhan, China, where the coronavirus outbreak originated, completed 222,675 COVID-19 tests yesterday (May 16), nearly double the number of tests conducted the day before in this city of 11 million, The Guardian reported. These PCR tests look for bits of sequences of SARS-CoV-2 genetic material, revealing if someone is actively infected with the virus causing COVID-19. The testing comes a week after Wuhan recorded its first cluster of COVID-19 since the city reopened April 8, The Guardian reported. No symptomatic cases were found, though the recently tested revealed 28 asymptomatic cases.
—A 57-year-old health care worker in Madagascar has died from COVID-19, the first such death in the island country, Reuters reported. The man also had diabetes and high blood pressure, the Madagascar COVID-19 task force said. "A man died from Covid-19 in Madagascar ... he is 57 years old and a member of the medical staff," said Hanta Danielle Vololontiana, spokesperson for the task force, as reported by Reuters. Madagascar has confirmed at least 283 COVID-19 cases, according to the Johns Hopkins virus dashboard.
—Brazil has become the fourth largest outbreak of COVID-19 after its health ministry reported 14,919 new cases, The Guardian reported. The country now has more cases — 233,511 — than either Spain (230,698 cases) or Italy (224,760).
—Officials in northeastern China have quarantined at least 8,000 individuals, after clusters of COVID-19 were found in three cities in two provinces: Jilin city and Shulan in Jilin province, and Shenyang city in Liaoning province, The New York Times and other news agencies reported. While Jilin has traced nearly 700 people exposed to coronavirus patients, Liaoning province has found more than 1,000 such contacts and some 6,500 people who are now considered at high risk of infection, the Times reported.
FDA approves at-home test, New Yorker arrested in Hawaii, Texas has spike in cases
—The Food and Drug Administration has approved an at-home nasal swab test for COVID-19. Made by Everlywell, the swab tests should be available later in the month for $135 per test, The New York Times reported. Some public health scientists have said such at-home tests are not as accurate as the ones completed in a health-care setting, where the swab is pushed through the nose to the base of the throat, the Times said. To receive a test, individuals will need to complete a survey to make sure they meet federal guidelines for a test, according to Everlywell. But the entire process from that survey to getting results should be 3 to 5 days, the Times said. In such an at-home test, the sample will be taken from the nostrils; the swab is then placed into a saline solution that comes with the kit and mailed to a lab. Other at-home tests that have been FDA-approved for COVID-19 include: A LabCorp nasal swab test and a spit test developed by RUCDR Infinite Biologics, a biorepository based at Rutgers University in New Jersey, Live Science previously reported.
—A Bronx, New York resident who traveled to Hawaii has been arrested for not following the state's 14-day quarantine rule. The 23-year-old man apparently posted photos on Instagram showing himself on a Honolulu beach, The Guardian reported. "He allegedly left his hotel room the day he arrived and traveled many places using public transportation," according to a statement from the Hawaii Covid-19 Joint Information Center. "Authorities became aware of his social media posts from citizens who saw posts of him — on the beach with a surfboard, sunbathing, and walking around Waikiki at night." Travelers entering Hawaii from another state — both residents and visitors — must comply with a mandatory 14-day quarantine in which they can't leave their hotel room or residences for anything except medical emergencies.
—Iceland announced it will open its borders to tourists beginning June 15, The Washington Post reported. To date, Iceland has confirmed at least 1,802 COVID-19 cases and 10 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins virus dashboard. So far in May, however, there have been just four new cases, the Post said. They have controlled the outbreak, according to the Post, through testing and contact tracing.
—Texas reported 1,801 new COVID-19 cases Saturday, which is the state's highest single-day increase in cases since the beginning of the pandemic, The Washington Post reported. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said increased testing explains the spike today. "As Texas continues ramping up its testing capabilities, there will be an increase in positive cases as the state targets the most high-risk areas: nursing homes, meat packing plants and jails," Abbott said in a statement, the Post reported. To date, Texas has recorded 47,669 COVID-19 cases and 1,340 related deaths.
9-year-old boy in France dies of rare inflammatory syndrome
A 9-year-old boy in Marseille, France, has died from a rare inflammatory syndrome that seems to be linked to COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, The Washington Post reported. His symptoms at first appeared to be those of scarlet fever, and after a doctor visit on May 2 the boy returned home. However, that night he suffered from a heart attack and was admitted to the intensive care unit at La Timone hospital. Blood tests showed he had been infected with COVID-19 in previous weeks. On May 8, the boy died. Doctors say some of his symptoms resembled those of Kawasaki disease, a rare illness that causes inflammation in the blood vessels and can lead to heart damage. This is the first death from the syndrome in France.
However, these Kawasaki-like symptoms have been popping up in children, many of whom have COVID-19, in several regions now. For instance, in the journal The Lancet, doctors described a group of 10 kids with Kawasaki-like symptoms who were hospitalized in Bergamo, Italy; eight of those children tested positive for COVID-19. The kids had an average age of 7.5, and seven were boys, the researchers said in a statement. Five of the children also showed signs of toxic shock syndrome and required "fluid resuscitation" due to low blood pressure. Though all of the patients survived, six had heart complications.
This mysterious inflammatory syndrome seems to present with some Kawasaki-like symptoms — including high fever, skin rashes, and in some cases, heart inflammation — as well as some symptoms common in toxic shock syndrome, a life-threatening illness caused by some types of bacteria, Live Science previously reported.
New York is investigating 110 cases that could be categorized as having this syndrome. The cases involve predominantly school-age children, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo. To date, three children in New York have died from it: a 5-year-old in New York City; a 7-year-old in Westchester County (just north of the city); and a teenager in Suffolk County (on Long Island). Cases have also been reported in Massachusetts and New Jersey, as well as outside the U.S. in the United Kingdom. (Read more about this syndrome and its possible ties to COVID-19 on Live Science.)
Russia records highest daily deaths; Afghanistan could face 'big catastrophe'
—Russia logged its deadliest day regarding coronavirus deaths on Saturday, with 119 deaths in 24 hours and 9,200 new cases in that time period, The Guardian reported. To date, Russia has recorded 272,043 COVID-19 cases and 2,537 related deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins dashboard.
—Spain has experienced the opposite — over the past 24 hours, the country had its lowest rise in deaths related to COVID-19 since mid-March. Over that time, Spain recorded 102 COVID-19 deaths. The country to date has confirmed 230,698 COVID-19 cases and 27,563 related deaths.
—As war rages across Afghanistan, the country's health ministry is warning a "big catastrophe" could lie ahead if lockdown measures aren't heeded. Overnight, 15 COVID-19 deaths were recorded, and out of 1,113 tests conducted in the last 24 hours, 349 came back positive, The Guardian reported. Though a lockdown is in place, the streets are still crowded with people. "If people continue to not heed, we will witness a big catastrophe among families," the country's deputy health minister Wahid Majroh said during a press conference in Kabul. He added that the country has a three-phase plan to ease the measures, according to The Guardian. "According to our plan, the lockdown should be in place for one year so we can get back to normal life," he said.
Two residents of Snohomish County, Washington who had COVID-19-like symptoms in December have now tested positive for antibodies against the new coronavirus
— Two residents of Snohomish County, Washington, who had COVID-19-like symptoms in December have now tested positive for antibodies against the new coronavirus, suggesting that the virus might have arrived in the U.S. earlier than thought, according to a new Live Science report.
— COVID-19 kills 20 times more people per week than the flu does, according to a study published yesterday (May 14) in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine. Based on death certificate data, the average number of flu deaths during the deadliest week of each flu season between 2013 and 2020 was 752 deaths, according to a Live Science report. The deadliest week of flu season in the past couple of years ranged from 351 during the 2015 to 2016 flu season to 1,626 during the 2017 to 2018 flu season. By comparison, in the deadliest week of COVID-19 so far, the week ending April 21, there were 15,455 deaths reported, according to the study.
— There have been more than 345,800 COVID-19 cases reported in New York and more than 27,800 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins dashboard. The total number of hospitalizations and daily deaths are on the decline. Yesterday, there were another 132 lives lost to the coronavirus in New York. The "number of deaths is down but still painful," Governor Andrew Cuomo said today during his daily news briefing. "We are right about where we were when we started this." The number of lives lost in New York today is right around the number of lives lost on March 27 "when we really first started this miserable journey," he said.
COVID-19 cases in Texas have increased between 20% to 30% after stay-at-home measures were lifted
— Experts are considering doing "human challenge studies" that would deliberately expose volunteers to the coronavirus to quickly understand whether or not candidate vaccines work and if they are safe, according to a Live Science report. More than 20,000 people around the world have already expressed interest in participating in such a challenge, if it were ever to be brought to light. But such trials raise major ethical questions, according to the report.
— There are now 4.5 million COVID-19 cases worldwide and more than 305,300 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins dashboard. There are more than 1.4 million cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. and more than 86,700 deaths.
— In Texas, COVID-19 cases have been up between 20% and 30% since stay-at-home measures were lifted on May 1, according to CNN. On Thursday, there were 58 new deaths in Texas, the state's highest one-day increase in deaths since the beginning of the pandemic, according to CNN. There have been more than 45,200 cases of COVID-19 in Texas and 1,256 deaths, according to The New York Times.
Widely-used rapid coronavirus test may be delivering false negative results, parts of New York start reopening today but NYC remains shut down
— A widely-used rapid coronavirus test may deliver false-negative results, the Food and Drug Administration warned, according to NPR. The test, made by Abbott Laboratories, is used for daily testing in the White House and has been promoted by the Trump Administration, NPR reported. “This test can still be used and can correctly identify many positive cases in minutes," Dr. Tim Stenzel, the director of the Office of In Vitro Diagnostics and Radiological Health in the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health said in a statement. "Negative results may need to be confirmed with a high-sensitivity authorized molecular test."
— Disney's "Frozen" the Broadway musical is the first major broadway show that announced it will not return to stage after the New York shutdown ends, according to The Washington Post. The show began on March 2018 and went on for 851 performances, the Post reported.
— Parts of New York will begin a phased reopening today, including The Finger Lakes, Southern Tier, Mohawk Valley, North Country and Central New York, according to a tweet from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. He extended the shutdown until May 28 for other parts of the state, including New York City, that have not met key criteria to open, according to a new executive order.
'Herd immunity' isn't likely anytime soon in England, Spain and France
— Studies in England, Spain and France show that only a small proportions of the population has been infected by the coronavirus, which likely means herd immunity isn't in the near future, according to The New York Times. Experts are warning that easing social distancing might cause new waves of the pandemic.
— A COVID-19 superspreader unknowingly infected 52 people with the coronavirus at a choir practice in Mount Vernon, Washington in early March, and two people died, according to a Live Science report. The choir practice, mostly attended by older women, lasted for about 2.5 hours and within a couple of days, some people began to show symptoms of COVID-19. The coronavirus could have spread in a number of different ways from the superspreader, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)'s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report published on May 12. "Transmission was likely facilitated by close proximity (within 6 feet) during practice and augmented by the act of singing," according to the report.
— There are now 4.4 million COVID-19 cases worldwide and more than 300,000 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins dashboard. There are 1.4 million cases in the U.S., more than 252,000 in Russia, more than 234,000 in the U.K. and more than 229,500 in Spain.
Without better planning 2020 could be 'the darkest winter in modern history,' Whistleblower Dr. Rick Bright says before congress today
— "Our window of opportunity is closing. If we fail to improve our response now, based on science, I fear the pandemic will get worse and be prolonged, there will be likely a resurgence of COVID-19 this fall and it will be greatly compounded by the challenges of seasonal influenza," Dr. Rick Bright, the former director of the Department of Health and Human Services’ Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, said in his testimony before Congress today. "Without better planning 2020 could be the darkest winter in modern history."
"Initially our nation was not as prepared as we should have been, as we could have been. Some scientists raised early warning signals that were overlooked and pages from our pandemic playbook were ignored by some in leadership," Bright said today. "There will be plenty of time to look back to assess what has happened so we can improve but right now we need to focus on getting things right going forward."
This testimony follows his filing of a whistleblower complaint that his dismissal was in response to his limiting the use of coronavirus drugs that Trump was promoting. At the time, he had told The New York Times: “I believe this transfer was in response to my insistence that the government invest the billions of dollars allocated by Congress to address the Covid-19 pandemic into safe and scientifically vetted solutions, and not in drugs, vaccines and other technologies that lack scientific merit."
A 113-year-old woman, thought to be the oldest woman in Spain, recovers from the coronavirus
— Almost 3 million people filed for unemployment benefits last week, the U.S. government said today, according to The New York Times. In the past eight weeks, the total number of claims have reached more than 36 million. Still, the number of new claims has been declining since late March, the Times reported.
— A 113-year-old woman in Spain survived the coronavirus, according to the BBC. Maria Branyas, thought to be the oldest woman in Spain, was diagnosed in March and only had mild symptoms, the BBC reported. "Now that she is well, she is wonderful, she wants to speak, to explain, to make her reflections, it is her again," her daughter tweeted.
— Japan lifted its state of emergency for most of its prefectures, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced in a press briefing, according to CNN. But Tokyo, Osaka and 6 other prefectures (of its 47) remain under the state of emergency until reassessed on May 21.
Yellowstone National Park to begin reopening on Monday
— The new coronavirus "may never go away," a top official with the World Health Organization (WHO) said in a news briefing, according to The Washington Post. The official, Michael Ryan, head of WHO's health emergencies program, noted that HIV has never gone away since it emerged several decades ago. "I'm not comparing the two diseases but I think it is important that we're realistic. I don't think anyone can predict when or if this disease will disappear," Ryan said. He also urged caution about a coronavirus vaccine, saying that it would be "a massive moonshot” to find a vaccine and "give that to everyone who needs it and stop this disease in its tracks." But such an achievement would "turn maybe what has been a tragic pandemic into a beacon of hope to the future of our planet," he said.
— Yellowstone National Park will begin reopening on Monday (May 18), after being closed since March 24, according to a statement from the National Park Service. The park has released a three-phased plan for reopening that starts with opening of Wyoming's south and east entrances to the park, and will limit travel to the lower loop of the park, which includes access to the Old Faithful geyser, the statement said. The park also has entrances in Montana and Idaho, but officials are still in discussions with those states about when to reopen those remaining entrances. The park is also taking several steps to mitigate the risk of COVID-19, including encouraging the use of facial coverings in high-density areas of the park and metering visitor access to certain park locations.
NYC frontline workers are testing positive for coronavirus antibodies at lower rates than the general population
— Frontline workers in New York City are testing positive for coronavirus antibodies at lower rates than the general population, Governor Andrew Cuomo said today during his daily briefing. Around 19.9% of tested people in the general New York City population tested positive for coronavirus antibodies. That's compared to 14.2% of downstate transit workers, 10.5% of NYPD, 17.1% of FDNY/EMT that tested positive and 12.2% of downstate healthcare workers that tested positive for the antibodies. That means personal protective equipment, gloves, masks and hand sanitizing works, Cuomo said. "How do healthcare workers have a lower percentage of infection than the general population? Because people don't wear these at home and they don't take the same precautions but this works."
— House Democrats are pushing for legislation that would give another round of stimulus checks up to $1,200 to people in the U.S., according to NBC News. The new relief legislation will be voted on on Friday.
— There are now 4.3 million COVID-19 cases worldwide and more than 294,000 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins dashboard. There are 1.38 million cases in the U.S. and more than 82,800 deaths; around 242,200 cases in Russia and more than 2,200 deaths; more than 228,000 in Spain and more than 26,900 deaths; more than 143,100 cases in Turkey and more than 3,950 deaths.
The coronavirus can affect children in different ways than adults, Twitter employees can work from home forever
— Since children make up only a sliver of known cases of the coronavirus causing COVID-19, not as much is known about the effects of the virus on this population. But more and more data, such as a new case report describing five children hospitalized with COVID-19 with non-respiratory symptoms, suggests that the virus can affect children in unexpected ways, according to a Live Science report. "I think we better be careful [that] we are not cavalier in thinking that children are completely immune of the deleterious effects,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said yesterday (May 12) during the question-and-answer portion of his testimony to the U.S. Senate Health Committee.
— Twitter employees will not be expected to go back to the office, according to The New York Times. Jack Dorsey, the chief executive of Twitter, told the company’s employees they could work from home forever if they wanted to. Many companies are also pondering remote work and whether renting out office spaces, especially in Manhattan, will still be worth it after the pandemic, according to the Times.
California State University system will not have in-person classes in the fall, stay-at-home order in Los Angeles will likely be extended for the next three months
— All 23 campuses of the California State University system will have mostly online instruction in the fall, and will not have in-person classes, according to The New York Times. There could be exemptions to this, such as in-person clinical classes in the nursing program or science labs if health and safety precautions allow, Timothy White, the chancellor said during a meeting of the system's board of trustees. “Our university, when open without restrictions and fully in person, as is the traditional norm of the past, is a place where over 500,000 people come together in close and vibrant proximity with each other on a daily basis,” White said. “That approach, sadly, just isn’t in the cards now as I have described.”
— The stay-at-home order in Los Angeles will likely be extended for the next three months, LA County Public Health director Barbara Ferrer said during a Board of Supervisors meeting today. Without widespread testing or rapid home testing kits, it's unlikely that stay-at-home orders and social distancing will ease in that timeframe, the Los Angeles Times reported. But the county hasn't yet officially extended the order.
— A video released by the Los Angeles County sheriff Alex Villanueva, shows inmates at the North County Correctional Facility in Los Angeles County drinking from the same bottle of hot water and breathing into the same mask, trying to infect themselves with the coronavirus or trying to raise their oral temperatures in the hopes they would be released if they got sick or faked sick, according to a statement. "As a direct result of the behavior seen in the video, 21 men tested positive for COVID-19 within a week," according to the statement. "A gross misunderstanding among the inmate population led many to believe that those diagnosed with COVID-19 may be released, which is untrue."
Dr. Fauci warns that reopening states prematurely can have "really serious" consequences
— Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, warned today that reopening states prematurely could have "really serious" consequences, according to a Live Science report. Fauci along with several other government health officials, testified remotely before the U.S. Senate Health Committee today (May 12) on the reopening of the country. If communities, cities, states or regions, "prematurely open up without having the capability of being able to respond effectively and efficiently, my concern is that we will start to see little spikes that might turn into outbreaks," Fauci said.
— There are now 1.3 million COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and more than 81,600 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins dashboard. Russia, now ranking second in the world for number of COVID-19 cases, has more than 232,200 COVID-19 cases and more than 2,000 deaths. The United Kingdom has more than 227,700 cases and 32,700 deaths; Spain has more than 227,400 cases and more than 26,700 deaths; and Italy has more than 221,200 cases and more than 30,900 deaths.
— Today, a fire in Russian hospital that was treating coronavirus patients killed five patients and evacuated 150 people, according to CNN. The fire started at an intensive care unit at St. George Hospital in St. Petersburg and could have been caused by a malfunction or short circuit in a ventilator, according to local reports. On Saturday, another fire had started in the intensive care unit of a coronavirus hospital in Moscow, killing one person, according to CNN.
Wuhan plans to test all 11 million of its residents for the coronavirus after 6 new cases were identified
— India’s carbon dioxide emissions have fallen for the first time in four decades amid the country’s lockdown, according to The New York Times. In March, carbon emissions dropped around 15% and in April, they likely dropped another 30%, according to an analysis conducted by researchers at Carbon Brief, an environmental website.
— The city of Wuhan, where the outbreak first began but has largely been contained, has reported 6 new cases of the coronavirus over the weekend. Now, the city plans to test all 11 million of its residents for the virus by the end of next week, according to The Washington Post.
— New coronavirus cases emerge in countries that have recently eased their lockdowns and reopened including South Korea, China and Germany, according to CNN. “Fortunately, all three countries have systems in place to detect and respond to a resurgence in cases,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, World Health Organization Director-General said during a news briefing on Monday, CNN reported.
COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. now exceed 80,000, Louisiana will begin to partially reopen and White House staff are now required to wear masks in the West Wing
— COVID-19 Deaths have now exceeded 80,000 in the U.S., according to the Johns Hopkins dashboard. There are more than 1.3 million cases across the country. The IHME model, often cited by the White House, now projects that there will be 137,184 deaths by August 4 in the U.S., up from the around 60,300 deaths it predicted in April and slightly down from the 134,475 deaths it predicted last week.
— Restaurants in Louisiana will be allowed to serve customers at tables starting on Friday, Governor John Bel Edwards announced today, according to The Washington Post. Under this reopening plan, that follows recommendations by the White House, restaurants will be allowed to seat customers at 25% of normal capacity at tables separated by 10 feet (3 meters), according to the Post. But people will not be allowed to stand at bars for a drink and bars that don't serve food will remain closed. Other places including nail and hair salons, gyms and museums will also open under similar restrictions that will remain in place until June 5, according to The Post.
— White House staff are now required to wear masks in the West Wing and avoid going there unless absolutely necessary, according to a memo sent to White House staff, NBC News reported. But they aren't required to wear masks if they are at their desks and can socially distance, according to the memo. This comes after President Trump's personal valet and Vice President Pence's spokesperson both tested positive for the virus.
FDA approves first antigen tests for emergency use, mask-less people crowd a Colorado restaurant that reopened on Sunday, defying safer at home orders
— On May 15, some low-risk businesses and recreational activities will open in New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced today. These activities include landscaping and gardening, outdoor, low-risk recreational activities like tennis and drive-in movie theaters, he wrote on Twitter.
— The Food and Drug Administration granted emergency use authorization to the first antigen test to detect the coronavirus, according to a May 9 statement. This test, created by Quidel Corporation, detects viral protein fragments in samples collected using nasal swabs, according to the statement. Compared to polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests, antigen tests are typically cheaper to make and can potentially be scaled up to test millions of Americans per day, according to the statement.
While PCR tests are "incredibly accurate," running the tests and analyzing results can take time, according to the statement. "One of the main advantages of an antigen test is the speed of the test, which can provide results in minutes."
However, antigen tests are not as sensitive as PCR tests and may not be able to detect all active infections, according to a statement. "This means that positive results from antigen tests are highly accurate, but there is a higher chance of false negatives, so negative results do not rule out infection." If someone gets a negative antigen test result, it may need to be confirmed with a PCR test, according to the statement.
— On Sunday, people crowded a restaurant in Castle Rock, Colorado that reopened, defying the state's Safer at Home order which still prohibits dine-in service, according to The Washington Post. On its Twitter page, the C&C Coffee and Kitchen tagged President Trump and wrote, “We are standing for America, small businesses, the Constitution and against the overreach of our governor in Colorado!!”
A reporter took a video, which he posted on Twitter, of the scene unfolding inside the restaurant, with customers — only one wearing a mask — crowding the counter and tables and people lining up outside to be seated.
There are now 38 children in New York who have fallen ill with a mysterious inflammatory syndrome that might be linked to COVID-19, more than 80,000 middle school students went back to school in Beijing
— There are now more than 4.1 million cases of COVID-19 worldwide and 283,120 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins dashboard. In the U.S., there are more than 1.3 million cases and 79,528 deaths.
— There are now 38 children in New York who have fallen ill with the mysterious inflammatory syndrome that might be linked to COVID-19, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Sunday. That’s more than twice the number announced last Monday by New York’s health department, according to The New York Times. Three children have died from the illness, known as pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome.
— As China continues to ease its lockdown measures, on Monday, more than 80,000 middle school students went back to school in Beijing, according to NBC News. In each classroom, two stewards are now responsible for temperature detection, disinfection and ventilation. These people will also be responsible for the student’s security during lunch time, self-study and recess, NBC News reported. The teachers were told to prepare material and equipment for epidemic prevention.
COVID-19 model projects 137,000 U.S. deaths, Schumer calls on VA to explain use of unproven drug
—A model being used to project the death toll from COVID-19 now suggests the virus could take 137,000 lives in the U.S. by Aug. 4, Christopher Murray, director of the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, said Sunday on CBS show "Face the Nation," the LA Times reported. Nearly 80,000 coronavirus-related deaths in the U.S. have now been logged by the Johns Hopkins virus dashboard. Some states, Murray said, are showing an unexpected rise in cases. "Some good-ish news coming out of New York and New Jersey and Michigan, where the death cases and death numbers are coming down faster than expected," he said, according to the LAT. "Some other states where cases and deaths are going up more than we expected — Illinois and then Arizona, Florida, California as examples of that." The model is now forecasting more than 6,000 COVID-19 deaths in California by the end of August; that's an increase of 1,420 from the death projection on Monday (May 4). California has confirmed 67,533 COVID-19 cases and 2,715 related deaths.
—The Department of Veterans Affairs reportedly ordered $208,000 worth of hydroxychloroquine, a drug highly promoted by President Donald Trump and one that hasn't been approved for use to treat the novel coronavirus. Now, New York Sen. Charles Schumer is calling on the VA to provide information on why they are using an unproven drug on veterans with COVID-19, the Associated Press reported. "There are concerns that they are using this drug when the medical evidence says it doesn't help and could hurt," Schumer said in an interview with the Associated Press. In one recent study of the drug, patients on a high dose experienced dangerous heart rhythm problems, Live Science previously reported.
Schumer also said the VA should explain a recent investigation finding there were more deaths at the VA hospital in COVID-19 patients receiving hydroxychloroquine compared with those receiving standard care, the AP reported.
Belgium 'corona bubble' plan starts today, Florida nursing home deaths spike
—Belgium's "corona bubbles" plan went into effect today; under this new plan, each household can invite up to four guests to their home, meaning a bubble would comprise two sets of up to four people each. "The physical separation from those whom we love has in some cases become unbearable," said Belgium's prime minister Sophie Wilmès. Even though these visits are allowed, the government is asking guests to stay 6 feet (1.5 meters) apart and is recommending such meet-ups happen in gardens or on terraces where possible, The Guardian reported.
—Despite the ban on air travel between Greece and the U.K., a rescue flight is set to leave Athens, Greece, to reunite refugees from Syria, Somalia and Afghanistan with family members on Monday (May 11), The Guardian reported. "Many of the individuals on the flight have been living for months in overcrowded and unsanitary refugee camps on the Greek islands," The Guardian said. The reunification resulted from a collaboration between refugee families in the U.K., former Parliament member Alf Dubs and Safe Passage, a campaign that aims to bring child refugees to safety.
—COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities have spiked in Florida, accounting for 60% of the coronavirus deaths in the state over the past week, The Miami Herald reported. Over last week, 242 new COVID-19 deaths were reported from such facilities, while the state's overall death toll increased by 401 during that same period. Florida has confirmed 40,596 cases to date and 1,715 related deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins dashboard.
New clusters of COVID-19 in South Korea, France opening schools, Boris Johnson announces threat levels
—New clusters and outbreaks of the novel coronavirus are popping up in countries that have tiptoed back to reopening. For instance, a new cluster of COVID-19 in South Korea led the country to close more than 2,100 bars and nightspots on Saturday (May 9), the Associated Press reported. Germany, days after restrictions were loosened, is reporting new outbreaks of the coronavirus at slaughterhouses. Researchers and doctors are looking at the reproduction rate of the virus — the average number of people each infected person transmits the virus to — and finding it is now above 1, at 1.1. In a tweet, Karl Lauterbach, a Social Democrat lawmaker and professor of epidemiology, said: "It has to be expected that the R rate will go over 1 and we will return to exponential growth. The loosening measures were far too poorly prepared," Reuters reported.
—After 8 weeks in lockdown, France is also beginning to reopen. And parents are worried, as some schools are opening their doors on Monday (May 11), the AP reported. Preschools and elementary schools will be allowed to reopen, with limits of 10 students per class at the preschools and 15 in elementary. French parents who spoke to the AP aired their concerns about these openings. Cecile Bardin, with two sons who are 2 and 6, said she thinks it is "too soon" to send them back to their schools in Paris. "I am not reassured at the moment, because it will be very difficult to keep safe distance at school, especially for the little ones, who will want to play together," Bardin said.
—Britain Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to announce an alert system to communicate the coronavirus threat level (from a low of Level 1 to a high of Level 5) in different areas, BBC News reported. England is currently at a Level 4, Johnson is expected to say, but is moving toward a Level 3. You can watch the address shortly at BBC One.
UK plans to gradually reopen, China offers coronavirus help to North Korea
—The globe has now logged more than 4 million cases of COVID-19, with by far the highest case count in the United States (1.3 million), according to the Johns Hopkins virus dashboard. The virus has killed at least 278,135 people worldwide, with 78,693 of those deaths in the U.S.
—The U.K. transport secretary Grant Shapps said today that Britain would move with "extreme caution" as the country eases up lockdown measures in what is being called "get Britain moving again," BBC News reported. He added that many people have been walking and biking rather than taking public transportation, something he said should continue even as the country gradually reopens. "Whilst it's crucial that we stay at home, when the country does get back to work we need to ask those people to carry on cycling or walking and for them to be joined by many others as well," he said, according to BBC News. The U.K. has confirmed about 216,525 cases of COVID-19, with at least 31,662 related deaths.
—After receiving a message from the North Korean leader, China's president Xi Jinping expressed concern about the threat of coronavirus to the country, offering to help. China state media said Kim Jong-un congratulated China for their successful response to the coronavirus pandemic. Jinping then said that China is "willing to continue to provide assistance within its own capacity for [North Korea] in the fight against COVID-19," BBC News reported. North Korea has stood by their claim that just a single COVID-19 case has been found in the country. There were concerns at the end of April that Jong-un was gravely ill, as he hadn't made a public appearance for a span of 20 days, even missing one of the year's biggest events — celebration of his grandfather's birthday. However, those concerns were dismissed when the leader made an appearance at a fertilizer plant on May 2, according to BBC News.
Ivanka Trump's personal assistant has COVID-19, White House buried pandemic documents
—Personal assistant to Ivanka Trump, the president's daughter, has tested positive for COVID-19, the New York Post reported. The assistant has been teleworking and hasn't been in the presence of Ivanka Trump for a week, news outlets have reported. Presidential advisor Stephen Miller also recently tested positive for the coronavirus; His wife, Katie Miller, who is press secretary for Vice President Mike Pence, also tested positive. And because she had contact with the FDA commissioner Stephen Hahn, he is self-isolating for two weeks, the Post reported. During this past week, the first White House staffer, a personal valet to President Trump, tested positive for the coronavirus.
—Emails and files obtained by the Associated Press reveal that top public health experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention spent weeks crafting a plan for reopening communities amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Called "Guidance for Implementing the Opening Up America Again Framework," the document was shelved by the Trump administration, the AP reported. On Friday (May 8), the White House spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany said the document hadn't been released b/c CDC director Robert Redfield had yet to approve it. That isn't true, the AP learned from emails showing he had cleared the guidance for release. In one of those emails, dated April 24, Redfield sent the guidance documents to Dr. Deborah Birx, head of the White House coronavirus task force, and Joseph Grogan, assistant to the president for domestic policy. In that email, according to the AP, Redfield asked Birx and Grogan to review the documents so the CDC could post them publicly.
After an AP story on May 7 indicated the guidance had been buried, the White House ordered the CDC to refile those documents. The White House ordered parts of the guidance to be fast-tracked for approval, the AP reported. (Read the AP story about the evidence and actions taken by the CDC and the White House regarding the "Guidance" documents.)
Pet cat in Spain contracts COVID-19, is euthanized
A 4-year-old domestic cat named Negrito belonging to a family in Catalonia in Spain has been euthanized and found to have contracted the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, Reuters reported. The cat did not die from COVID-19, but rather had an underlying heart condition. The cat's body was sent to the Animal Health Research Center (Cresa) in Barcelona for an autopsy, which found SARS-CoV-2 in the nasal cavities and a lymph node near the intestine, El Pais reported. "This only shows that cats in very isolated occasions can be collateral victims of the pandemic, but there is very little chance of them infecting people," said Nàtalia Majò, the head of Cresa, as reported by El Pais.
"We intend to publish this data in a scientific journal, but before that we want to try to sequence the genome of the virus and see if the animal had antibodies," said Cresa researcher Joaquim Segalés.
Negrito is one of just a handful of feline cases of SARS-CoV-2. The others include: at least one tiger (a 4-year-old named Nadia) at the Bronx Zoo in New York; two cats in Hong Kong, one in Belgium; two pet cats in New York state; and one in France. Cats seem to be able to contract the virus from their owners because they have a receptor protein on the outsides of respiratory cells that is similar to the human counterpart involved in SARS-CoV-2 infections. Called ACE2 in humans, this receptor protein allows the coronavirus to break into these cells and multiply. "The feline ACE2 protein resembles the human ACE2 homologue, which is most likely the cellular receptor which is being used by Sars-CoV-2 for cell entry," Steven Van Gucht, virologist and federal spokesperson for the coronavirus epidemic in Belgium, told Live Science previously.
Even so, there haven't been any reports of cats transmitting the novel coronavirus to humans. "We think the cat is a side victim of the ongoing epidemic in humans and does not play a significant role in the propagation of the virus," Van Gucht said previously.
Millions of students in poor countries may not return to school once the pandemic is over, experts fear and Vice President Pence's press secretary tests positive for the coronavirus
— Vice President Mike Pence's press secretary, Katie Miller, tested positive for the coronavirus, according to CNN. This follows news that one of Trump's personal valets tested positive on Thursday.
— Experts fear that tens of millions of students in poor countries who are out of school now due to the coronavirus pandemic, may never go back to school, according to The Washington Post. The coronavirus crisis, worsening economy and unrest in some areas could affect millions of students, many who will probably not go back to school because of the costs and pressure to work, Alice Albright, chief executive of the Global Partnership for Education, told the Post.
Girls in the most rural and poorest areas are likely to be more severely impacted by school closures, as they are more likely to become victims of domestic violence and sexual harassment and be deprived of education and social and health services than boys, she said.
FDA gives approval to Moderna to begin phase 2 trials of its coronavirus vaccine, also approves first at-home saliva collection test for COVID-19
— The Food and Drug administration (FDA) has given approval to biotech company Moderna to begin the next phase of testing on its coronavirus vaccine candidate, the company announced Thursday (May 7). The purpose of phase 1 trials such as the one Moderna just completed, is to understand the safety and dosage of the candidate drug or vaccine, according to the FDA. Now, the testing will move to phase 2, in which the researchers will test the efficacy and side effects of the vaccine on about 600 people, according to a Live Science report.
— The FDA has also given approval to the first at-home saliva collection test for COVID-19, developed by RUCDR Infinite Biologics, which people could use to sample their own saliva and send it to a lab for analysis, according to another Live Science report. "Collecting a saliva sample at home mitigates the risk of exposure needed to travel to a facility or drive-through and is less invasive and more comfortable and reliable than sticking a swab up your nose or down your throat," Andrew Brooks, chief operating officer and director of technology development at RUCDR, said in a statement. The only other at-home coronavirus test on the market requires users to collect samples using a nose swab, The New York Times reported May 7.
There are more than 3.8 million COVID-19 cases worldwide
— India is working to bring home about 15,000 stranded Indians around the world by air and ship, according to The New York Times. Air India and navy ships are being sent abroad to bring back citizens who are struggling amid the pandemic. On Friday, two naval ships carrying around 1,000 people arrived from the Maldives and on Thursday, the first rescued citizens flew from Dubai. But while bringing people home, India is trying to avoid bringing more of the virus into the country that has reported 60,000 infections and about 2,000 deaths, relatively low for the more than 1 billion people that live there, according to the Times. Passengers will be quarantined for 14 days in facilities after arriving.
— There are more than 3.8 million COVID-19 cases worldwide and more than 270,000 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins dashboard. Here are some other numbers from around the world: Russia has reported 187,859 cases and 1,723 deaths; Brazil has reported 136,519 cases and 9,265 deaths; Turkey has reported 133,721 cases and 3,641 deaths; Iran has reported 104,691 cases and 6,541 deaths; Germany has reported 169,430 cases and 7,392 deaths; the United Kingdom has reported 207,977 cases and 30,689 deaths; and Canada has reported 66,201 cases and 4,541 deaths.
Researchers detect coronavirus in semen but it's unclear if the particles are viable
— Researchers detected the new coronavirus in semen, according to a small study. The findings, published Thursday (May 7) in the journal JAMA Network Open, doesn't mean that the virus was necessarily sexually transmitted through contact with semen, according to a Live Science report. The researchers analyzed semen samples from 38 men in Shangqiu, China who had tested positive for COVID-19 and were still experiencing symptoms or had recently recovered. They found coronavirus in the semen of 6 of these participants — four who were currently experiencing symptoms and two who had recently recovered, according to the report. But it's not clear if the virus particles are "viable."
— Researchers at the Johns Hopkins school of public health are starting a clinical trial to test whether convalescent plasma, or plasma taken from patients who have recovered from COVID-19, could help prevent infections in health care workers, according to CNN. Another group will test whether the convalescent plasma will be effective in keeping people who are not sick enough to be hospitalized out of the hospital, CNN reported.
— Amtrak now requires passengers to cover their faces with masks or other coverings while in stations, on trains, and on buses, starting on Monday, NPR reported. "Facial coverings can be removed when customers are eating in designated areas, in their private rooms, or seated alone or with a travel companion in their own pair of seats. Small children who are not able to maintain a facial covering are exempt from this requirement," according to a statement. Many other airlines and public transit systems in the U.S. also require face coverings or masks, according to NPR.
Trump administration doesn't release a CDC report providing detailed guidance on how to reopen the country
— One of President Trump's personal valets, a U.S. Navy member, has tested positive for the coronavirus, according to CNN. "We were recently notified by the White House Medical Unit that a member of the United States Military, who works on the White House campus, has tested positive for Coronavirus," deputy White House press secretary Hogan Gidley said in a statement. "The President and the Vice President have since tested negative for the virus and they remain in great health."
— A report created by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that provides step-by-step guidance on how to open up the country, was stopped from being released by the Trump administration, according to AP News, who got their hands on a copy of the report from a federal official. The Trump administration rejected the guidelines, calling them too prescriptive, and asked the CDC for revisions, according to The New York Times.
— Counties across the country that are disproportionately black, make up more than half of coronavirus cases and 60% of deaths, according to a new study conducted by an AIDS research group, The Washington Post reported. The authors also found that factors such as employment and access to health care impacted infection and death rates from the coronavirus more than underlying health conditions did, the Post reported.
New York City may have fueled coronavirus outbreaks across the country
— Travelers from New York City may have fueled many of the coronavirus outbreaks across the country, according to The New York Times. To figure this out, a group of researchers tracked the mutations in the virus and examined travel histories of those infected and models of the outbreak. They found that people who left New York City before social distancing measures took hold, could have infected people in other states including Louisiana, Texas, Arizona and even some states on the West Coast, fueling outbreaks across the country, the Times reported.
— The World Health Organization (WHO) said domestic violence reports in Europe are still increasing amid lockdowns and urged countries to increase measures to address the problem, according to The Washington Post. Governments and local authorities have a “moral obligation to make sure services to address violence are available and resourced,” Hans Kluge, the WHO’s top official for Europe said during a virtual news briefing, the Post reported.
— There are now 3.77 million cases of COVID-19 worldwide and more than 264,400 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins dashboard. The U.S. has 1.2 million cases and more than 73,400 deaths. Spain has more than 220,300 cases, Italy has more than 214,400 cases and the United Kingdom has more than 202,300 cases, according to the dashboard.
Trump says coronavirus task force will continue 'indefinitely,' medications that prevent blood clots show promise in treating severe cases
— Today, Trump tweeted that the coronavirus task force will "continue on indefinitely," contradicting comments made yesterday by Vice President Mike Pence who leads the task force. Pence had said the task force will likely wind down by the end of the month and later on that day, Trump told reporter that the task force will take on a different form, according to The New York Times. “I thought we could wind it down sooner,” Trump told reporters about why he changed his mind. “But I had no idea how popular the task force is until actually yesterday, when I started talking about winding it down. I get calls from very respected people saying, ‘I think it would be better to keep it going. It’s done such a good job.’”
— Giving COVID-19 patients who are on ventilators medications that prevent blood clots might help to reduce deaths, according to STAT News. A group of doctors at Mount Sinai in New York found that patients who received such medication had better outcomes than those who didn't. The data, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, is preliminary and needs to be confirmed in larger studies, STAT reported. It's not clear how many COVID-19 patients develop blood clotting, but there are reports of people getting very small clots on their lungs or people — some unexpectedly young patients in their 30s and 40s — having strokes, STAT reported.
New COVID-19 cases in New York are mostly people who are staying home
— New York is still seeing on average around 600 new COVID-19 cases a day, despite all the closures and social distancing, Governor Andrew Cuomo said during his news briefing today. To figure out where all the new cases are coming from, the state asked hospitals to provide information about new COVID-19 patients. Three days of data analyzing around 1,000 patients showed that 66% of patients were those who were staying home, "which is shocking to us," Cuomo said. Only a sliver of the newly hospitalized were taking public transportation and most of them were not working. "Much of this comes down to what you do to protect yourself," Cuomo said. "Now it's up to you." They also found that most of those hospitalized were African Americans and Latinos.
— Nearly 1 in 5 young children in the U.S. aren't getting enough food to eat amid the coronavirus crisis, according to new research released today based on surveys conducted by the Brookings Institute, The New York Times reported. This rate, as families skip meals and decrease portions, is three times higher than the rate in 2008 during the worst of the Great Recession, according to The Times. Part of the problem could be disruption to school meal programs, the Times reported.
More than 71,000 people have died in the U.S. from COVID-19
— The European Union’s economy could shrink by 7.4% this year, the European Commission said today. Italy and Spain, the two European Union countries hit hardest by the virus, will see a 9% shrink of each of their economies, according to The New York Times. Unemployment rates will average around 9% across the European Union nations but will reach 19,9% in Greece, the Commission said.
— There are now more than 71,000 people who have died from COVID-19 in the U.S., according to the Johns Hopkins dashboard. There are a total of 1.2 million cases of COVID-19 across the country, with more than 321,000 of those cases in New York, around 130,500 of cases in New Jersey and more than 70,000 of cases in Massachusetts.
— New York City subways were deliberately shut down for the first time early this morning for a deep clean, according to CNN. Previously, the subways had been shut down because of extreme weather, but though passengers couldn’t ride on the subway, the trains kept running. Now, the subways will be shut down every night from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. for a deep clean.
Trump administration's coronavirus task force considers winding down, even though cases remain at high levels
— The Trump administration's coronavirus task force is considering winding down its work in the coming weeks, even though cases remain at high levels around the country, according to The New York Times. Vice President Mike Pence told reporters today that the task force could finish up its work by early June, the Times reported.
— California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that some businesses can reopen in a limited capacity starting Friday (May 8), according to The Washington Post. At that time, low-risk businesses, such as bookstores, florists and clothing stores, can reopen for pickup services, Newsom said. The governor also said that he had reached an agreement to reopen three beaches in Orange County.
— A COVID-19 mass testing effort within San Francisco's Mission District found stark inequalities in how the virus is affecting different groups. About 95% of the people who tested positive were Latino, and the vast majority could not work from home, Live Science reported. The findings highlight just how hard it is to avoid the virus if you cannot shelter in place or work from home.
15 children in New York hospitalized with rare inflammatory condition, the coronavirus could have reached France as early as December
— The coronavirus may have reached France as early as December, according to The Guardian. By retesting old samples of pneumonia patients who had tested negative for the flu, a French hospital discovered that a patient treated on December 27 had been infected with the coronavirus. That’s nearly a month before France confirmed is first couple of cases of COVID-19. The patient, who survived the coronavirus, was sick for around two weeks and infected his two children but not his wife, according to The Guardian. But it’s not clear how he was infected as the only contact he had was with his wife.
— “The faster we reopen, the lower the economic cost but the higher the human cost,” New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said today during his daily briefing. “That my friends, is the decision we are really making.” Projection models have doubled the number of expected deaths from COVID-19 because “now they’re factoring in the reopening plans and the reopening schedules that states are announcing,” Cuomo said. In April, the IHME model, often cited by the White House, projected around 60,300-60,400 deaths. The model’s new projection is 134,475 deaths.
— 15 children in New York were hospitalized from a mysterious inflammatory condition that could be tied to COVID-19, according to The New York Times. Doctors in the U.K. previously warned of a possible connection between COVID-19 and an unusual inflammatory syndrome which causes symptoms similar to toxic shock syndrome, a life-threatening condition caused by bacterial toxins, and Kawasaki disease, a childhood illness that causes inflammation in blood vessel walls, according to a previous Live Science report. Similar to cases in Europe, some children in New York who were hospitalized with this illness tested positive for COVID-19 while others didn’t.
Pfizer and BioNTech start clinical trial of experimental coronavirus vaccine
— Pfizer and BioNTech have started testing an experimental coronavirus vaccine on people in the U.S., and last week in Germany, according to CNN. The mRNA vaccine could teach the cells to make the spike protein of the virus, but not make the person sick, according to The New York Times. This kind of vaccine is faster to produce and can be more stable than traditional vaccines, but no vaccines made from this technology have ever become available worldwide, according to the Times. If this vaccine proves safe and effective, the companies say they hope to have several million doses by September.
— There are now 3.6 million cases of COVID-19 worldwide and more than 251,000 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins dashboard. The U.S. now has around 1.18 million cases, followed by Spain with 218,000 cases and Italy with nearly 212,000 cases; the U.K. has more than 191,800 cases and France has more than 169,500 cases.
New Zealand and Australia discuss a possible 'travel bubble,' the FDA issues new rules for antibody tests
— New Zealand and Australia, countries that both seemed to have gotten the coronavirus outbreak under control, are discussing the possibility of forming a "travel bubble" that would allow people to travel between them without restrictions, according to The Washington Post. If the two countries decide to go ahead with this move, it would still be weeks or months away, The Post reported.
— The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued new rules that companies must follow before their COVID-19 antibody tests can be sold, according to a Live Science report. This comes after a number of antibody tests hit the market without adequate proof that they actually worked, according to the report. The new rules dictate that the companies already selling these tests must send the FDA an application for "emergency-use authorization" and data showing that the tests are accurate within 10 business days, according to a statement.
— The National Institutes of Health (NIH) started a new study to understand the rate of COVID-19 infection among children in the U.S., according to a Live Science report. The study will recruit 6,000 people from 2,000 families living in 11 U.S. cities, according to a statement from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). The researchers will track each child and their family for 6 months to determine how many children catch COVID-19 and whether they transmit the virus to family members and which family members end u