Coronavirus Breaking News

The coronavirus disease COVID-19 is currently reaching pandemic levels in various countries.

Mar 31, 2020 • 8:00 am CDT

Malaria Drug 'Needlessly' Became a Political Football

According to the largest pharmacists association in the USA, pharmacists overwhelmingly disagree with recent actions by some states to limit the dispensing of a well-established malaria drug as a possible treatment for COVID-19 disease. According to a survey, about 83% of independent pharmacists say they should be able to dispense a limited supply of the drugs, as long the patient has tested positive ..... and is under a doctor's care.

Douglas Hoey, CEO of the National Community Pharmacists Association, said on March 30, 2020, "This a well-established drug that has been in use for decades for malaria as well as other conditions. We know it can be used safely with the proper oversight of a physician and pharmacist."

"There is limited data indicating that it may be effective against COVID-19, but Americans who are infected and their doctors have a right to try."

Mar 31, 2020 • 6:42 am CDT

China's Coronavirus Case Fatality Rate = 1.3%

The Lancet published a new study on March 30, 2020, based on data from China, that offers an indication of the fatality ratio across the spectrum of COVID-19 disease and show a strong age gradient in risk of death, as well as the impact of co-mobilities.

From extensive analysis of data from different regions of the world, at the current time, this study estimates for the case fatality ratio of COVID-19 in China is 1.38% (95% CrI 1·23–1·53).

This value remains much lower than estimates for other coronaviruses, including the SARS outbreak, about 30% in 2003.

However, COVID-19 is very fatal for patients 80 years and older, with an estimated 13.4%.

Mar 31, 2020 • 6:12 am CDT

71% Says 'Strict Limitations' Are Necessary

Pew Research published a new survey on March 26, 2020, conducted March 19-24 among 11,537 U.S. adults, which indicates most Americans are concerned about the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus outbreak, with about 66% of residents saying COVID-19 disease is a “significant crisis.” Less than 2-weeks ago, only 47% of people express those views.

This new national survey finds that despite the partisan differences in views on several aspects of the outbreak, there also are important areas of agreement. Notably, majorities (71%) in both parties say it is necessary to impose strict limitations on commerce, travel, and entertainment in order to address the outbreak.

An even larger majority (85%) thinks it is necessary to limit restaurants to carry-out only.

COVID-19 DISEASE RELATED FATALITIES
Mar 31, 2020 • 5:53 am CDT

SARS-CoV-2 Related Fatalities = 38,721

As of March 31, 2020, as of 10:44 GMT, COVID-19 disease cases were reported by 200 countries/territories around the world. The leading countries reporting coronavirus-related fatalities are as follows:

  • Italy = 11,591
  • Spain = 8,189
  • China = 3,305
  • USA = 3,173
  • France = 3,024
  • Iran = 2,898
  • UK = 1,408
  • Netherlands = 864
  • Belgium = 705
Mar 30, 2020 • 9:44 pm CDT

What About Caring for a Newborn?

More than 200 million pregnant women around the world are potentially at risk of infection with the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. Data from recent studies appear to be cautiously reassuring, with researchers racing to collect clear data that would offer more informed guidance.

But, what about caring for a newborn?

Chinese CDC guidelines recommend newborns are isolated from infected mothers for at least 2-weeks or until the mother is no longer considered infectious. They also recommend against infected mothers breastfeeding.

The U.S. CDC took a more cautious stance on February 18, 2020, recommending that “facilities should consider temporarily separating the mother who has COVID-19 … from her baby until the mother’s transmission-based precautions are discontinued. A separate isolation room should be available for the infant while the mother remains a PUI."

However, the CDC adds that “risks and benefits of temporary separation of the mother from her baby should be discussed with the mother by the health care team. The decision should take into account disease severity, illness signs and symptoms, and results of laboratory testing for the virus that causes COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2."

Mar 30, 2020 • 9:18 pm CDT

30 Million Hydroxychloroquine Sulfate Doses Donated by Novartis

The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) today announced it accepted 30 million doses of hydroxychloroquine sulfate donated by Sandoz, the Novartis generics and biosimilars division to use as treatments on hospitalized COVID-19 disease patients or in related clinical trials. Hydroxychloroquine is an antimalarial with anti-inflammatory benefits, that may be useful in treating COVID-19

HHS Secretary Alex Azar said in a statement, “Scientists in America and around the world have identified multiple potential therapeutics for COVID-19, including chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine. We’ll continue working around the clock to get American patients access to therapeutics that may help them battle COVID-19 disease while building the evidence to evaluate which options are effective.”

Mar 30, 2020 • 9:11 pm CDT

Washington DC Beltway Under Stay-at-Home Orders

 On March 30, 2020, the states of Virginia and Maryland joined the District of Columbia as new additions to the list of US states to have issue 'self-isolation' orders relating to the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. As of Monday afternoon, these 3 jurisdictions had reported almost 2,900 coronavirus cases.

  • Maryland:  Governor Larry Hogan states that no Maryland resident should leave their home unless it is for an essential job or for an essential reason, such as obtaining food or medicine, seeking urgent medical attention, or for other necessary purposes. Hogan also announced the opening of 4 drive-thru COVID-19 disease screening and testing sites. There is no charge at any of these sites.
  • Virginia:  Governor Ralph Northam today issued a statewide Stay at Home order that will remain in place until June 10, 2020, unless amended or rescinded by a further executive order. Individuals may leave their residence for allowable travel, including to seek medical attention, work, care for family or household members, obtain goods and services like groceries, prescriptions, and engage in outdoor activity with strict social distancing requirements.
  • Washington DC:  Mayor Muriel Bowser issued a stay-at-home order for the District of Columbia. Any individual who willfully violates the stay-at-home order may be guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, subject to a fine not exceeding $5,000, imprisonment for not more than 90 days, or both.

Furthermore, the National Institutes of Health confirmed that 28 of its staffers have tested positive for coronavirus as of March 27th.

Mar 30, 2020 • 8:48 pm CDT

63 Doctors in Italy Have Died During the Coronavirus Outbreak

As of March 30, 2020, Italy's National Federation of Orders of Surgeons and Dentists update the list of healthcare providers who have passed away during the COVID-19 disease outbreak.  This expanding list now includes 63 names during 2020.

Mar 30, 2020 • 5:08 pm CDT

Coronavirus Can Persist For 8-Days

A new study published on March 23, 2020, provides initial insights into the viral clearance kinetics and the ability of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus to persist even after the resolution, of the for as long as 8 days, which may pose a significant challenge in controlling the spread of the COVID-19 disease.

However, these researchers suggest additional studies are needed to investigate if the real-time PCR-detected virus is capable of transmission at the later stage of the disease.

Mar 30, 2020 • 4:57 pm CDT

The 1st Peptide Binder to the SARS-CoV-2 Spike Protein

On March 20, 2020, a non-peer-reviewed study reported the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus initiates entry into human cells by binding to angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) via the receptor-binding domain (RBD) of its spike protein (S).

These researchers said 'Disrupting the SARS-CoV-2-RBD binding to ACE2 with designer drugs has the potential to inhibit the virus from entering human cells, presenting a new modality for therapeutic intervention.'

This means, 'Peptide-based binders are an attractive solution to inhibit the RBD-ACE2 interaction by adequately covering the extended protein contact interface.'

'This peptide binder to SARS-CoV-2-RBD provides new avenues for COVID-19 treatment and diagnostic modalities by blocking the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein interaction with ACE2 and thus precluding virus entry into human cells.'

Mar 30, 2020 • 4:36 pm CDT

Are AI System Comparable to Radiologists Diagnosis of COVID-19?

The current coronavirus outbreak around the world is presenting an opportunity for application developers to test the feasibility of creating innovative algorithms to expedite the diagnosis process. On March 27, 2020, researchers proposed an artificial intelligence (AI) system for fast COVID-19 disease diagnosis with an accuracy comparable to experienced radiologists.

This study, and another published on March 19, 2020, describe AI systems that could free-up physicians who are needed during this pandemic.

However, a radiological society recommended against using such systems on March 22, 2020, whether supported by AI or not, for COVID-19 patient screening.

Mar 30, 2020 • 3:50 pm CDT

USNS Mercy Accepts 1st Patient in LA

On March 30, 2020, the Navy hospital ship USNS Mercy has accepted its initial patients from the greater Los Angeles area during its support of the nation's COVID-19 disease response efforts.

''I couldn’t be more proud of our crew for all the hard work they did to get us here and ready in such a short time,'' said Navy Capt. (Dr.) John Rotruck, the Mercy Military Treatment Facility commanding officer.

''Being able to accept our first patients is a true testament of the teamwork between Mercy, the Navy, the State of California, the county of Los Angeles, and the city and Port of L.A.''

Mar 30, 2020 • 2:06 pm CDT

Alaskans Ordered to Stay Home; In-State Travel Prohibited

Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy issued State Health Mandates that became effective on March 28, 2020, which 1.) require Alaskans to remain home, and, 2). ban non-essential travel within the state.

All in-state travel between communities, whether resident, worker, or visitor, is prohibited unless travel is to support critical infrastructure, or for critical personal needs. Certain Small Alaskan communities may implement further travel restrictions.

These mandates supersede any local government or tribal mandate, directive, or order restricting intrastate travel, and will be revisited on April 11th.

Mar 30, 2020 • 1:10 pm CDT

Cardiac Complications Reported in Most Coronavirus Patients

A non-peer-reviewed study published on March 8, 2020, reported cardiac complications were common in about 79% of COVID-19 disease patients in China, who participated in this study during February - March 2020.

Elevated CRP levels, underlying comorbidities, and NCP severity were the main risk factors for cardiac complications in COVID-19 patients in this study. The study participants were 53 consecutive laboratory-confirmed and hospitalized COVID-19 patients (28 men, 25 women; age, 19-81 years).

Separately, the Journal of the American College of Cardiology recently published a study concluded saying 'A number of theories exist regarding the elevated risk for adverse events for patients with cardiac disease (CVD) who develop COVID-19. In particular, a better understanding of the relationship between the ACE2 protein, antihypertensive agent use, and COVID-19 prognosis will have important implications for patients with both COVID-19 and CVD.

In this regard, an ongoing randomized clinical trial evaluating recombinant ACE2 in the setting of COVID-19 may help provide mechanistic information in patients infected with this virus.

 

Mar 30, 2020 • 12:37 pm CDT

Houston Methodist Hospital Transfused Plasma From Recovered COVID-19 Patient

Houston Methodist Hospital announced it will be the 1st academic medical center in the USA to transfuse donated plasma from a recovered COVID-19 disease patient to a critically-ill COVID-19 patient, reported local media on March 29, 2020.

The idea is that the donated plasma may have lifesaving antibodies made by the recovered person's immune system, which could help an individual fight off the disease. "What we did is transfused COVID-19 convalescent plasma to critically ill patients," said Dr. Eric Salazar, the principal investigator at Houston Methodist.

"It's plasma that's been collected from donors that previously had COVID-19 and have successfully recovered."

Mar 30, 2020 • 10:38 am CDT

'Hydroxychloroquine is Novartis's Biggest Hope Against Coronavirus'

On March 29, 2020 - Novartis Chief Executive Vas Narasimhan said his Sandoz generics unit's malaria, lupus and arthritis drug hydroxychloroquine, is the company's biggest hope against the coronavirus, reported newspaper SonntagsZeitung.

Previously, Novartis has pledged on March 20th to donate up to 130 million 200 mg doses by the end of May, including its current stock of 50 million 200 mg doses, and is supporting clinical trials needed before the medicine can be approved for use against the coronavirus. 

Hydroxychloroquine and a related drug, chloroquine, are currently under evaluation in clinical trials for the treatment of COVID-19 disease.

Mar 30, 2020 • 7:15 am CDT

National Coronavirus Response: A Road-Map to Reopening the USA

Dr. Scott Gottlieb and the AEI team published on March 29, 2020, the National Coronavirus Response: A Road-Map to Reopening the USA. This report outlines specific directions for adapting the US public-health strategy to limit the epidemic spread of COVID-19 disease and is able to transition to new tools and approaches to prevent further spread of the disease.

They also suggest measurable milestones for identifying when we can make these transitions and start reopening America for businesses and families.

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Mar 30, 2020 • 6:35 am CDT

J&J Announces Vaccine Candidate For COVID-19 Disease

On March 30, 2020, Johnson & Johnson announced the selection of a lead COVID-19 vaccine candidate and expects to initiate human clinical studies by September 2020 and anticipates the first batches of a COVID-19 vaccine could be available for Emergency Use Authorization in early 2021.

J&J expects to rapidly scale the manufacturing capacity with the goal of providing more than 1 billion doses of a coronavirus vaccine.

Additionally, J&J and BARDA have committed more than $1 Billion to the Novel Coronavirus Vaccine Research and Development program.

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Mar 30, 2020 • 6:04 am CDT

Coronavirus Cases Reach 2,486 in the USA During 2020

As of early on March 30, 2020, at least 141,995 people across every state, plus Washington, D.C., and four U.S. territories, have tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, according to a New York Times database, and at least 2,486 fatalities related to the COVID-19 disease during 2020.

Though the state of New York has confirmed the most cases in the USA, other Northeastern states have also seen their case totals increase rapidly. New Jersey now has the 2nd-highest number of known cases in the country.

Mar 30, 2020 • 5:56 am CDT

USNS Comfort Joins NYC's COVID-19 Response

The US Navy's USNS Comfort will join the tens of thousands of doctors, nurses and medical professionals in New York who are battling to save American lives, President Trump said on March 27, 2020. "This great ship behind me is a 70,000-ton message of hope and solidarity to the incredible people of New York," he added.

The USNS Comfort is fully equipped with 12 operating rooms, with hospital beds, a medical laboratory, a pharmacy, an optometry lab, digital radiology, a CAT scan, two oxygen-producing plants and a helicopter deck, the president noted.

"It also bears our military's greatest weapon, … a crew of nearly 1,200 outstanding members of the U.S. Navy, and I thank them very much," President Trump said.

"Among the sailors departing today are some of the finest doctors, nurses, technicians, orderlies and medical staff anywhere in the world. These are true professionals, and no one performs better under pressure when lives are on the line."

Mar 30, 2020 • 5:48 am CDT

COVID-19 Solidarity Fund Raises $108 Million

The World Health Organization (WHO) is leading and coordinating the global effort, supporting countries to prevent, detect, and respond to the pandemic. Everyone can now support directly to the response coordinated by WHO.

The COVID-19 Solidarity Fund has now received donations of more than US$108 million, from 203,000 individuals and organizations.

COVID-19 DISEASE RELATED FATALITIES
Mar 30, 2020 • 5:42 am CDT

SARS-CoV-2 Related Fatalities = 34,804

As of March 30, 2020, as of 10:38 GMT, COVID-19 disease cases were reported by 199 countries/territories around the world. The leading countries reporting coronavirus-related fatalities are as follows:

  • Italy = 10,779
  • Spain = 7,340
  • China = 3,304
  • Iran = 2,757
  • France = 2,606
  • USA = 2,489
  • UK = 1,228
  • Netherlands = 771
  • Germany = 541
Mar 30, 2020 • 5:26 am CDT

CDC: Use Face-Masks Whenever Caring for COVID-19 Patients

The WHO issued a new statement regarding COVID-19 disease transmissions on March 29, 2020, which says ' Based on the available evidence, the WHO continues to recommend droplet and contact precautions for those people caring for COVID-19 patients.

The WHO continues to recommend airborne precautions for circumstances and settings in which aerosol-generating procedures and support treatment are performed, according to risk assessment.

At the same time, the US CDC and the European CDC, recommend airborne precautions ..... for any situation .... involving the care of COVID-19 patients and consider the use of medical masks as an acceptable option in case of shortages of respirators (N95, FFP2 or FFP3).

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Mar 29, 2020 • 8:48 pm CDT

Coronavirus Antibody Certificates to Allow Those Quarantined to Re-Enter Society

German researchers plan to introduce coronavirus ‘immunity certificates’ to facilitate a proper transition into post-lockdown life, reports The Telegraph on March 29, 2020. The antibodies will indicate that the test participants have had the virus, have healed and are thereby ready to re-enter society and the workforce.

The researchers plan to test 100,000 members of the public at a time, issuing documentation to those who have overcome the virus. The researchers will use the information to determine how to properly end Germany's lockdown, including re-opening schools and allowing mass gatherings.

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Mar 29, 2020 • 7:16 pm CDT

NYC Treating 1,100 Patients With Hydroxychloroquine

On March 29, 2020, President Trump said during an afternoon press briefing 1,100 patients in New York City are getting treatment using hydroxychloroquine, a malaria treatment he earlier touted as a potential remedy for Covid-19 disease.

“Let’s see how it works. It may, it may not,” Trump said during this briefing.

President Trump also reported there is an ongoing experiment in which blood plasma is taken from people who recovered from Covid-19 and then transfused into sick patients to boost their immune system.

Mar 29, 2020 • 6:29 pm CDT

Texas Expands Quarantine Requirements to Visitors From Coronavirus Hot-Spots

On March 29, 2020, Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced during a press briefing the extension of the prior Executive Order mandating self-quarantine for those arriving from the New York Tri-State Area and New Orleans to include air travelers from California, Louisiana, Washington, Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit, and Miami.

Specifically, the Governor mandated a 14-day quarantine for road travelers arriving in Texas from any location in Louisiana, which is an adjoining state. This mandated quarantine will not apply to travel related to commercial activity, military service, emergency response, health response, or critical infrastructure functions.

The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) shall enforce this executive order along the Texas-Louisiana border. Using a form to be prescribed by DPS, each covered person shall designate a quarantine location in Texas. DPS Special Agents will conduct unannounced visits to designated quarantine locations to verify compliance by confirming the physical presence of covered persons.

Any failure to comply with this order to self-quarantine shall be a criminal offense punishable by a fine not to exceed $1,000, confinement in jail for a term not to exceed 180 days or both.

The EO-GA-12 shall remain in effect and in full force until modified, amended, rescinded, or superseded by the governor.

 

Mar 29, 2020 • 1:25 pm CDT

Questions About Aspirin and Advil Usage? Ask Your Healthcare Provider

On March 27, 2020, the BMJ published a summary of recent studies focused on the use of current evidence is not strong enough to support advising against all use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID).

NSAIDs cause nephrotoxicity, which is more likely among the patient groups most likely to be seriously affected by COVID-19 disease and is exacerbated by fever and dehydration.

A recent review of case-control studies suggests that NSAIDs are associated with higher rates of complications after respiratory tract infections, including complicated pneumonia.

This BMJ article says 'The evidence to date is not strong enough to support advising against all use of NSAIDs.'

Also, 'people taking low-dose aspirin for secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease should continue their treatment. Aspirin has anti-inflammatory effects only at much higher doses (eg, 1-4 g per day).'

In summary, 'reasonable evidence exists of a link between NSAIDs and both respiratory and cardiovascular adverse effects, but so far, we have no evidence relating specifically to people with COVID-19.'

This means..... patients should always speak with their healthcare provider prior to changing medication regimens.

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Mar 29, 2020 • 1:07 pm CDT

UK Reports 1,228 Coronavirus Fatalities

As of 5 pm on 28 March 2020, the NHS reported 1,228 patients in the UK who tested positive for COVID-19 disease have died during 2020.

Within England, the NHS confirmed the following number of coronavirus cases:

  • London = 5,957
  • Midland = 2,824
  • South East = 1,887
  • North East = 1,792
Mar 29, 2020 • 12:42 pm CDT

Moscow Requires Home-Isolation Starting March 30th

On March 29, 2020, Moscow's mayor Sergei Sobyanin announced home self-isolation for all residents of the city, regardless of age, beginning March 30th, reported Interfax.

Sobyanin said it will be possible to seek emergency medical care and in case of another direct threat to life and health, compulsory travel, shopping at the nearest working store or pharmacy, walking pets at a distance of no more than one hundred meters from the house, and taking out household garbage.

The mayor's statement indicated that a “smart” system of control over self-isolation and established rules for citizens will soon work in the capital.

"Gradually, but steadily, we will tighten the control necessary in this situation," the mayor promised.

This decree is related to the Russian Federation's capital city confirming its 1,014 coronavirus case.

Mar 29, 2020 • 11:49 am CDT

N95 Availability Increases = Cleaning & Reusing Authorized by the FDA

On March 29, 2020, Dr. Stephen M. Hahn posted a tweet announcing the FDA has issued an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for the Battelle CCDS Critical Care Decontamination System for use in decontaminating compatible single-use N95 respirators .....

.... so they can be reused by healthcare personnel during COVID-19 disease pandemic.

Recently, the FDA issued an EUA to help increase the supply of filtering facepiece respirators by authorizing the use of certain imported disposable respirators that are not National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health approved for use by healthcare professionals. 

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Mar 29, 2020 • 9:53 am CDT

Fishing & Camping Banned, But Not Hunting, During Outbreak

When Washington Governor Jay Inslee issued 'Proclamation 20-05, proclaiming the State of Emergency for all counties' as a result of the COVID-19 disease outbreak on March 23, 2020, most outdoorsmen did not know that all types of fishing were also banned.

On March 26, 2020, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) closed all recreational fishing and shellfishing in response to the governor’s order to ‘Stay Home, Stay Healthy.' This notice also included clam digs until further notice.

This means every lake, stream, ocean, and pond in Washington is off-limits to recreational food-production during the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus outbreak.

And, it appears this odd restriction has been embraced by another northwestern state.

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife announced that it would close recreational salmon and steelhead fishing in the Columbia River, beginning March 27th. Since Oregon and Washington jointly manage fisheries in the mainstem Columbia River, as with the Washington closure, Oregon anticipates the Columbia River salmon and steelhead fishing closure lasting until April 8, 2020. 

However, there is some good news for hunters in Washington.

The local hunting season currently underway is not impacted by the COVID-19 restrictions at this time. However, please be aware that significant travel is not advised, says WDFW. 

But, all camping on state lands, including dispersed camping, is closed until April 30th.

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Mar 29, 2020 • 8:07 am CDT

Do Hospital Staff Infections Reflect Hospital-Based Outbreak?

In Boston, more than 160 hospital workers have tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. When working with patients who may have coronavirus, hospital workers wear gowns, gloves, masks, and eye or face shields to protect themselves.

In Italy, where hospitals are overwhelmed with coronavirus patients, about 9 percent of all cases were among healthcare workers.

Just how strained the state’s existing hospitals are is not entirely clear. When asked by the Globe on March 26, 2020, not all hospitals have released data on their coronavirus-related admissions or staff infections.

If a hospital staff member is infected, it has a ripple effect on close colleagues, who must be quarantined, and could spread the virus to others within the institutions.

“My hope is that we’re going to have fewer health care workers infected in the US, at least than Italy," said Dr. Davidson Hamer, professor of global health at Boston University.

Mar 29, 2020 • 7:45 am CDT

Researchers Identify 69 Potential Drugs That May Treat SARS-CoV-2 Infections

On March 27, 2020, a very large team of researchers published a non-peer-reviewed study that identified 69 different drugs and compounds for their potential effectiveness in preventing and/or treating SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus infections. Unfortunately, the scientific community has little knowledge of the molecular details of SARS-CoV-2.

Please note, that there are currently no antiviral drugs with proven efficacy approved by the US Food and Drug Administration.

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COVID-19 DISEASE RELATED FATALITIES
Mar 29, 2020 • 7:15 am CDT

SARS-CoV-2 Related Fatalities = 31,771

As of March 29, 2020, as of 12:08 GMT, COVID-19 disease cases were reported by 199 countries/territories around the globe. The leading countries reporting coronavirus-related fatalities are as follows:

  • Italy = 10,023
  • Spain = 6,528
  • China = 3,300
  • Iran = 2,640
  • France = 2,314
  • USA = 2,229
  • UK = 1,019
  • Netherlands = 639
Mar 28, 2020 • 9:48 pm CDT

CDC: Travel Advisory Issued for NY, NJ, and CT

Late on March 28, 2020, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) urges residents of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut to refrain from non-essential domestic travel for 14 days effective immediately. This Travel Advisory is related to the expanding outbreak of the COVID-19 disease in the NYC metro area.

The Governors of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut will have full discretion to implement this Domestic CDC Travel Advisory, which does not apply to employees of critical infrastructure industries.

Previously, on March 26th, the CDC issued guidance that residents who were recently in the affected areas of New York should self-quarantine for 14 days.

Actually, the state of Hawaii was the 1st to quarantine visitors from the NYC metro area, beginning March 26th.

Announced by Governor David Y. Ige in an emergency proclamation, all individuals, both residents, and visitors, arriving or returning to Hawaiʻi, will be subject to a mandatory 14-day self-quarantine.

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Mar 28, 2020 • 6:00 pm CDT

Texas Quickly Expands Healthcare Workforce

On March 28, 2020, Texas Governor Greg Abbott waived certain regulations allowing for an expedited licensing activation process for pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, pharmacy technician trainees, and Advanced Practice Registered Nurses. "Our frontline healthcare workers play a crucial role in Texas' response to COVID-19, and we are working to reduce barriers for former nurses who are ready and willing to serve in our communities," said Governor Abbott.

"By expediting the process for activating their license, Texas is allowing more healthcare professionals to reenter the workforce and assist in our effort to combat COVID-19 disease."

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Mar 28, 2020 • 5:51 pm CDT

Rhode Island Says New York'ers Must Self-Quarantine

Late on March 26, 2020, the governor of Rhode Island issued an executive order indicating visitors from the state of New York will need to self-quarantine themselves. According to Bloomberg News on March 28th, Rhode Island authorities began searching for New Yorkers defying mandated self-quarantine.

The state’s National Guard said it was working with the police and health agencies to go door-to-door in coastal communities to identify New York residents and collect information on them. Those who defy the self-quarantine order face fines or jail said, Governor Gina Raimondo.

In reaction, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said he strongly opposed Rhode Island’s actions as “reactionary” and an “absurdity. If they don’t roll back that policy I’m going to sue them,” he said on CNN Saturday. “Because that’s clearly unconstitutional.”

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Mar 28, 2020 • 2:10 pm CDT

China Suspends Entry By Certain Foreign Nationals

Effective March 28, 2020, China suspended the entry into China by foreign nationals holding valid visas or residence permits because of the rapid global spread of COVID-19, according to an announcement by the Foreign Ministry and the National Immigration Administration.

Entry with diplomatic, service, courtesy, or C visas will not be affected and foreign nationals coming to China for necessary economic, trade, scientific or technological activities or out of emergency humanitarian needs may apply for visas at Chinese embassies or consulates, the announcement said.

Entry by foreign nationals with visas issued after this announcement will not be affected.

In China's capital city Beijing, the New China International Exhibition Center has been converted into a transit center for inbound passengers from countries with high-risks of COVID-19 disease.

The Center is now divided into different zones according to the destinations of passengers, is used for people showing no fever, cough and other symptoms in the health quarantine at the airport.

Inbound passengers need to undergo temperature screening and fill in a health declaration before leaving the airport customs, and a 2nd temperature detection is required before they enter the transit center.

Mar 28, 2020 • 1:39 pm CDT

Zaandam Cruise Passengers Remain Isolated Near Panama

According to media reports on March 28, 2020, passengers on Holland America cruise ship Zaandam remain stranded off the coast of Panama and are not allowed to dock after 4 passengers died during a COVID-19 disease outbreak on board. Hundreds of North American, Australian and British citizens are reported in isolation in their staterooms.

An apparent boat-to-boat transfer operation is underway to move healthy travelers to a sister ship, the Rotterdam.

'While the onward plan for both ships is still being finalized, we continue to work with the Panamanian authorities on approval to transit the Panama Canal for sailing to Fort Lauderdale, Florida.'

Holland America Line last published an update on March 27th.

Mar 28, 2020 • 1:26 pm CDT

Syria is Unprepared for Coronavirus Outbreak

On March 27, 2020, the WHO's Eastern Mediterranean regional Director Dr. Ahmed Al-Mandhari raised concerns about new reports of COVID-19 disease cases in Syria, which has five. In a statement, he said that though many developed countries are struggling with their coronavirus responses, outbreaks in countries with fragile health systems are especially worrisome.

As an example, Syria has endured 9 years of civil conflicts, only about half of the hospitals were operating by the end of 2019, and thousands of healthcare workers have fled the country.

Dr. Al-Mandhari said, 'Within the Whole-of-Syria approach, we are working from both inside the country and cross-border from Gaziantep in Turkey to accelerate preparedness and response for the first COVID-19 cases. We are working with partners to prepare the health system, the community and the leaders to respond quickly when the disease arrives." 

"We are prioritizing prevention, preparedness, and risk communication, with a focus on supporting health responders to detect, diagnose and prevent spread, surveillance of entry-points, provision of protective equipment and training of health workers."

"Together with the National Centre for Disease Control and Ministry of Health, WHO and health sector partners have prioritized six technical areas for urgent support to enable the country to better detect and respond to COVID-19." concluded Dr. Al-Mandhari.

Mar 28, 2020 • 10:53 am CDT

WHO Situation Report #67

As of March 27, 2020, the WHO reported 2new countries/territories/areas from the Region of the Americas [2] have reported cases of COVID-19 disease. This news indicates the total number of areas reporting coronavirus cases in 2020 has reached 200.

And, the global number of COVID-19 cases has surpassed 500 000.

Furthermore, the WHO says the number of countries implementing health measures that significantly interfere with international traffic has increased since the declaration of COVID-19 as a public health emergency of international concern on January 30, 2019.

As of March 25th, 136 countries have implemented additional health measures that significantly interfere with international traffic as defined under WHO Article 43 of the International Health Regulations.

The IATA recently published it's 3rd economic analysis, providing estimates of the substantial economic impact of these travel restrictions.

Mar 28, 2020 • 7:19 am CDT

Saudi Arabia Successfully Confronted Both MERS & SARS-CoV-2

Unlike some of its western allies, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has taken the deadly SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus outbreak seriously from the very outset, reported Euonews.com on March 28, 2020.

 Further, the everyday reality for Saudis under the pandemic could not be more different from the citizens of western superpowers. As of March 28, 2020, data sources indicate the Kingdom has confirmed 1,104 coronavirus cases and just 3 fatalities related to COVID-19 disease.

Before the Kingdom had even recorded a single case of coronavirus, it banned foreign worshippers from performing pilgrimage in the holy city of Mecca, which no doubt halted the advance of the deadly disease, said Euronews.

Saudi Arabia’s version of the “lockdown” has protected the public from this type of coronavirus while preserving daily life. It has acted quickly to close markets, shopping malls, beauty salons and gatherings in public places, following its suspension of schools in previous weeks.

For several years, Saudia Arabia has been confronting a different type of coronavirus, MERS-CoV. Humans are infected with MERS-CoV from direct or indirect contact with dromedaries (camels).

From January 2020 to March 2, 2020, 35 MERS-CoV cases have been reported in Saudi Arabia.

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COVID-19 DISEASE RELATED FATALITIES
Mar 28, 2020 • 6:53 am CDT

SARS-CoV-2 Related Fatalities = 28,239

As of March 28, 2020, as of 11:47 GMT, the COVID-19 disease was reported to be impacting 199 countries/territories around the globe. The leading countries reporting coronavirus disease-related fatalities are as follows:

  • Italy = 9,134
  • Spain = 5,690
  • China = 3,295
  • Iran = 2,517
  • France = 1,995
  • USA = 1,704
  • UK = 759
  • Netherlands = 546
Mar 28, 2020 • 6:46 am CDT

India Officially Recommends Prophylactic Use of Hydroxychloroquine

On March 22, 2020, India's Secretary of Health issued a statement that the National Task Force for COVID-19 disease officially recommends prophylactic use of hydroxychloroquine for healthcare workers and families of laboratory-confirmed positive COVID-19 patients.

 

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Mar 27, 2020 • 8:25 pm CDT

Test Detects COVID-19 Disease in 5-Minutes

On March 27, 2020, Abbott announced that the FDA has issued Emergency Use Authorization for the fastest available molecular point-of-care test for the detection of COVID-19 disease, delivering positive results in as little as 5-minutes and negative results in 13-minutes.

This test will run on Abbott's ID NOW™ platform, providing rapid results in a wide range of healthcare settings such as physicians' offices, urgent care clinics, and hospital emergency departments. Abbott said it is working with the Administration to deploy tests to areas where they can have the greatest impact.

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Mar 27, 2020 • 6:21 pm CDT

24,000 Fatalities Related to the Flu Estimated by the CDC

On March 27, 2020, the CDC estimated that so far this flu season there have been at least 39 million flu illnesses, 400,000 hospitalizations and 24,000 deaths from flu.

And, pneumonia and influenza mortality levels have been low, but 155 influenza-associated deaths in children have been reported during the 2019-2020 influenza season in the USA.

Mar 27, 2020 • 6:15 pm CDT

Study: Administering Convalescent Plasma Produced Positive Results

On March 27, 2020, JAMA published the results from a small study of the preliminary, uncontrolled case series of critically ill patients with COVID-19 disease and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). Patients received transfusion with convalescent plasma with a SARS-CoV-2–specific antibody (IgG) binding titer greater than 1:1000 that had been obtained from 5 patients who recovered from COVID-19. Convalescent plasma was administered between 10 and 22 days after admission.

This study found the administration of convalescent plasma containing neutralizing antibody was followed by improvement in their clinical status.

However, the limited sample size and study design preclude a definitive statement about the potential effectiveness of this COVID-19 disease treatment, and these observations require evaluation in clinical trials.

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Mar 27, 2020 • 6:00 pm CDT

USNS Mercy Arrives at Port of Los Angeles

On March 27, 2020, California Gov. Gavin Newsom said as the Navy hospital ship USNS Mercy docked in Los Angeles to aid in treating trauma patients to allow local hospitals to more easily handle cases from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Mercy's presence will allow local hospitals in Los Angeles to concentrate on COVID-19 care while its medical crew handles cases that are not related to COVID-19.

The greater LA area has reported about 26 fatalities related to COVID-19 disease during 2020.

US Marines are also helping with logistics, Newsom noted, adding that 500 National Guardsmen are on patrol doing humanitarian work throughout the state.

Mar 27, 2020 • 2:59 pm CDT

DOD Confirms 280 Military Personnel Infected With Coronavirus

The Navy and Marine Corps are taking actions across the force to prevent the spread of COVID-19, containing outbreaks and recovering the force as quickly as possible, acting Navy Secretary Thomas B. Modly said on March 26, 2020. 

For instance, Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California, has set aside a quarantine location for citizens returning from areas affected by the coronavirus, he said.

Several sailors who have tested positive are aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, he said. Those sailors are being flown off the ship to a Defense Department facility in Guam. All who tested positive show relatively mild symptoms and are recovering.

The Roosevelt is en route to Guam and testing aboard the ship is currently being conducted, he said. None of the crew will be allowed to leave pier-side, he said.

The total number of COVID-19 cases for the entire DOD are 280 military, 134 civilians, 98 family members, and 62 contractors, according to today's Pentagon media fact sheet update.

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Mar 27, 2020 • 2:38 pm CDT

FDA Authorities Ventilators For Multiple Patient, Simultaneously Use

During the afternoon on March 27, 2020, the US FDA took immediate action to increase the ventilator inventory so that coronavirus patients have access to lifesaving devices they need, while still providing appropriate FDA oversight.

The FDA issued an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to allow for the emergency use in healthcare settings of certain ventilators, anesthesia gas machines modified for use as ventilators, and positive pressure breathing devices modified for use as ventilators (collectively referred to as “ventilators”), ventilator tubing connectors, and ventilator accessories that the FDA determines to meet specified criteria for safety, performance, and labeling.

Ventilator tubing connectors are used for multiplexing certain continuous ventilators intended for use in a healthcare facility ... which means ... one ventilator may be used for multiple patients simultaneously.

The devices that are eligible for inclusion under this EUA are those that are not currently marketed in the U.S., or that are currently marketed in the U.S. but a modification is made to the device that would trigger the requirement that a manufacturer submit a new premarket notification (510(k)) to the FDA, as discussed in the agency’s Ventilator Enforcement Policy.

The FDA issued another EUA for certain imported non-NIOSH-approved respirators in accordance with recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to prevent exposure to airborne particulates.

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Mar 27, 2020 • 2:26 pm CDT

Cruise Ship Confirms 4 Fatalities Near Panama

On March 27, 2020, Holland America Line confirmed that 4 older guests have passed away on the cruise ship Zaandam. No one has been off the ship since March 14th in Punta Arenas, Chile.

Currently, 53 guests (4%) and 85 crew (14%) have reported to Zaandam’s medical center with influenza-like illness symptoms. There are 1,243 guests and 586 crew on board. Traveling on Zaandam, are 4 doctors and 4 nurses.

Additionally, Holland announced a plan to transfer groups of healthy Zaandam guests to a sister ship, Rotterdam, with strict protocols for this process developed in conjunction with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Only those who have not been ill will be moved, and health screenings will be conducted before transferring. 

Once aboard Rotterdam, all guests will continue to remain in staterooms until disembarkation. Any guests who are currently ill, or in isolation as close contact, and all crew will remain on Zaandam, which is currently off the coast of Panama.

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Mar 27, 2020 • 11:06 am CDT

Tokyo Confirms 40 New Coronavirus Cases

The governor of Tokyo Yuriko Koike has again urged 'people to refrain from non-essential outings, warning that the capital is at a critical juncture in preventing an explosive spread of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.'

The Japanese capital has seen 40 or more new coronavirus patients for 3 straight days, reports local media.

As of 15:56 GMT on March 27, 2020, data sources indicate Japan has a total of 1,387 virus cases and 47 fatalities relate to COVID-19 disease during 2020.

Mar 27, 2020 • 9:48 am CDT

Moscow Confirms 157 Additional Coronavirus Cases

As of March 27, 2020, the Russian Federation has reported 1,036 cases of coronavirus infection during 2020, according to Interfax.

Additionally, Russia's capital city of Moscow confirmed 157 new cases of SARS-CoV-2 infection. 

Additional measures to protect citizens and police from the coronavirus involve "minimizing personal communication" with visitors, according to a new statement. Currently, the spread of infection in Russia is associated with interactions with countries in the European Region.

Mar 27, 2020 • 9:25 am CDT

UK Confirms 759 Fatalities Related to Coronavirus Outbreak

As of 9 am on March 27, 2020, the UK's NHS reported a total of 113,777 people have been tested, of which 14,579 were confirmed positive for COVID-19 disease.

The UK cities of London (3,919), and Midland (1,636) and South East (1,129) have confirmed the most coronavirus cases.

Furthermore, as of March 26, 2020, 759 patients in the UK who tested positive for COVID-19 have died during 2020.

The NHS says these data are compiled from different sources and are subject to timing differences.

Mar 27, 2020 • 9:17 am CDT

Israel Confirms 11th Coronavirus Disease Related Fatality

According to the Times of Israel on March 27, 2020, three Israelis recently died from COVID-19 disease, which increases Israel's total outbreak fatalities to 11 during 2020.

As of March 26th, 4,156 soldiers are currently in quarantine and 28 IDF soldiers have been diagnosed with COVID-19 since the beginning of the outbreak.

Moshe Bar Siman-Tov, the director-general of the Israel Health Ministry, recently told the Knesset’s coronavirus committee that he believes that in a week, Israel will have 200 people in serious condition from COVID-19.

The country of Israel has been under a lockdown-order, with Israelis permitted to leave their homes only for essential reasons, such as buying food and medicine.

Mar 27, 2020 • 8:56 am CDT

UK Professor Clarifies Confusing Fatality Forecast

Late on March 25, 2020, infectious disease modeler/epidemiologist. Director of J-IDEA and the MRC Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis, Professor Neil Ferguson issued several Tweets in response to media reports that his coronavirus outbreak model has reduced the potential severity in the UK.

"My evidence to the UK Parliament referred to the deaths we assess might occur in the UK in the presence of the ...... very intensive social distancing and other public health interventions ... now in place.'

'Without those controls, our assessment remains that the UK would see the scale of deaths reported in our study (up to approximately 500 thousand). Our lethality estimates remain unchanged.'

Mar 27, 2020 • 8:12 am CDT

Texas Quarantines Visitors From New York City Area

On March 26, 2020, Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued an Executive Order mandating a self-quarantine of 14-days for individuals traveling to Texas as their final destination through an airport from the greater New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut area.

Failure to comply with this Texas quarantine order is considered a criminal offense that is punishable by up to a $1,000 fine, up to 180 days in jail, or both.

Governor Abbott said, "The New York Tri-State Area and the City of New Orleans have become major centers of this (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic, and it is vital that we take necessary precautions to prevent additional exposure that could originate from people traveling from these areas to Texas."

This order to self-quarantine shall not apply to people traveling in connection with military service, emergency response, health response, or critical-infrastructure functions, but does include the city of New Orleans, Louisiana.

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COVID-19 DISEASE RELATED FATALITIES
Mar 27, 2020 • 6:55 am CDT

SARS-CoV-2 Related Fatalities = 24,872

As of March 27, 2020, as of 11:42 GMT, the COVID-19 disease was reported to be impacting 199 countries around the globe. The leading countries reporting coronavirus disease-related fatalities are as follows:

  • Italy = 8,215
  • Spain = 4,858
  • China = 3,292
  • Iran = 2,378
  • France = 1,696
  • USA = 1,304
  • UK = 578
Mar 26, 2020 • 9:39 pm CDT

Texas Supercomputer Joins the COVID-19 Fight

The US government enlisted some of the world’s most powerful supercomputers in the battle against COVID-19 disease, including the Frontera supercomputer (330 petaflops, 775,000 CPU cores, 34,000 GPUs) at the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) at The University of Texas at Austin. 

COVID-19 researchers have already started using Frontera, and this new designation highlights the supercomputer as a key resource within the new High-Performance Computing (HPC) Consortium, a public-private partnership that will provide researchers worldwide with massive computing resources as they combat the virus.

The COVID-19 HPC Consortium is a unique private-public effort spearheaded by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, the U.S. Department of Energy and IBM to bring together federal government, industry, and academic leaders who are volunteering free compute time and resources on their world-class machines.

Mar 26, 2020 • 9:17 pm CDT

USA Provides $274 Million in Emergency Health Funding

On March 26, 2020, US Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo announced that the United States has made available nearly $274 million in emergency health and humanitarian funding for about 60 countries. 

This response adds $64 million in humanitarian assistance for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees to assist in its pandemic response efforts for some of the world’s most vulnerable populations.

With more than $1.5 billion in donations and assistance provided by American businesses, NGOs, and charitable organizations, and the incredible ongoing work of implementing partners overseas, 'we are truly mobilizing as a nation to confront this deadly virus,' concluded Sec. Pompeo.

Since 2009, American taxpayers have generously funded more than $100 billion in health assistance and nearly $70 billion in humanitarian assistance globally. 

Mar 26, 2020 • 9:09 pm CDT

Moscow Reports 546 Coronavirus Infections

Interfax reported on March 26, 2020, that 546 people have become infected with SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus in Moscow, said the Deputy Mayor.

And, the peak incidence of coronavirus in the Moscow may occur next week, said Denis Protsenko, the head doctor of the Kommunarka hospital.  

Previously, on March 25, Russian President Vladimir Putin declared March 28 to April 5th a non-working week, to contain the spread of coronavirus.

Mar 26, 2020 • 8:55 pm CDT

CDC Confirms 994 Fatalities Related to Coronavirus Infection

As of 4 pm on March 26, 2020, the US CDC confirmed the following data:

  • Total cases: 68,440
  • Total deaths: 994
  • Jurisdictions reporting cases: 54 (50 states, District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and US Virgin Islands)
Mar 26, 2020 • 8:52 pm CDT

Study: Clinical Characteristics of Deceased COVID-19 Patients

On March 26, 2020, the UK's BMJ published a study that concluded 'SARS-CoV-2 infection can cause both pulmonary and systemic inflammation, leading to multi-organ dysfunction in patients at high risk.

The median age of deceased patients was 68 years and men were more predominant in deceased patients (73%).

Furthermore, acute respiratory distress syndrome and respiratory failure, sepsis, acute cardiac injury, and heart failure were the most common critical complications during exacerbation of COVID-19 disease.

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Mar 26, 2020 • 8:42 pm CDT

WHO Situation Report #68

On March 26, 2020, the WHO reported 3 new countries/territories/areas from the Region of the Americas [1], and the African Region [2] have reported cases of COVID-19 disease.

Reports indicate there have been over 24,000 fatalities reported by 199 countries during 2020.

The WHO Director-General added 'aggressive measures to find, isolate, test, treat and trace are not only the best and fastest way out of extreme social and economic restrictions – they’re also the best way to prevent them.'

'By taking the same aggressive actions now, these countries have the chance to prevent community transmission and avoid some of the more severe social and economic costs seen in other countries.'

Mar 26, 2020 • 12:20 pm CDT

SARS-CoV-2 Mutation (ORF3a) Appears to be Spreading Worldwide

The SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus has inevitably mutated during its pandemic to cause unpredictable effects of COVID-19 disease on patients and to complicate epidemic control efforts, such seen in France, Italy, Spain, and recently in New York City.

A new, non-peer-reviewed report published on March 17, 2020, finds various mutations of the novel SARS-CoV-2 mutation (ORF3a) that appears to be spreading worldwide.

'Very little is known about how rapidly the SARS-CoV-2 genome mutates and how this affects transmission or disease severity,' concluded these researchers.

Mar 26, 2020 • 9:39 am CDT

What is the Origin of the SARS-CoV-2 Coronavirus?

The NIH Directors blog published on March 26, 2020, addressed this question:  what is the natural origin of the novel coronavirus responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic? The researchers don’t yet have an answer. But they do offer possible scenarios which came from a March 17th study:

  1. as the new coronavirus evolved in its natural hosts, possibly bats or pangolins, its spike proteins mutated to bind to molecules similar in structure to the human ACE2 protein, thereby enabling it to infect human cells. This scenario seems to fit other recent outbreaks of coronavirus-caused disease in humans, such as SARS, which arose from cat-like civets; and MERS, which arose from camels.
  2. is that the new coronavirus crossed from animals into humans before it became capable of causing human disease. Then, as a result of gradual evolutionary changes over years or perhaps decades, the virus eventually gained the ability to spread from human-to-human and cause serious, often life-threatening disease.
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Mar 26, 2020 • 9:10 am CDT

Self-Administered Swab Tests 90% Accurate

A study led by the insurance company, UnitedHealth Group's Research & Development, and OptumCare clinicians, found using self-administered swab tests accurately detected COVID-19 in more than 90% of positive patients, which is consistent with the clinician-administered test.

“Nasal swabs are extremely easy for anyone to self-collect, in any setting, so it's an excellent way to expand screening while reducing worker exposure,” said Gerard Cangelosi, professor, University of Washington Department of Environmental & Occupational Health Sciences.

According to this statement on March 25, 2020, the FDA has updated its guidance based on UnitedHealth Group data to allow patients to self-administer swab tests for COVID-19.

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Mar 26, 2020 • 8:54 am CDT

West Texas A&M University Deploys Copper To Combat Pathogens

According to a West Texas A&M University post on March 26, 2020, Copper Clean stickers are the newest product developed by Engineering Dean Emily Hunt and a group of graduate engineering students working to commercialize patents they have obtained for West Texas A&M University and The Texas A&M University System.

Along with standard infection control practices, these stickers will help alleviate the microbial burden on these high-touch surfaces across campus. Soon, they will be tested against other pathogens, including COVID-19.

“The stickers are made with a copper-alloy that has been proven to kill 99.9 of harmful pathogens, like MSRA, Staph. auerus, and E. coli within 2-hours,” Dean Hunt said.

COVID-19 DISEASE RELATED FATALITIES
Mar 26, 2020 • 8:21 am CDT

SARS-CoV-2 Related Fatalities = 22,154

As of March 26, 2020, as of 13:17 GMT, the COVID-19 disease was reported to be impacting 198 countries around the globe. The leading countries reporting coronavirus disease-related fatalities are as follows:

  • Italy = 7,503
  • Spain = 4,089
  • China = 3,287
  • Iran = 2,234
  • France = 1,331
  • USA = 1,037
  • UK = 465
  • Netherlands = 434
Mar 26, 2020 • 8:14 am CDT

UK Model Predicts '20,000 Outbreak Fatalities'

Neil Ferguson at Imperial College London gave evidence to the UK’s parliamentary select committee on science and technology as part of an inquiry into the nation’s response to the coronavirus outbreak.

Professor Ferguson said 'that the expected increases in NHS capacity and ongoing restrictions to people’s movements make him “reasonably confident” the service can cope when the predicted peak of the coronavirus epidemic. The need for intensive care beds will get very close to capacity in some areas, but won’t be breached at a national level, reported the NewScientist on March 25, 2020.

His updated model indicates 'UK deaths from the disease are now unlikely to exceed 20,000 and could be much lower.'

The Imperial College projections are based on computer simulations of the virus spreading, which take into account the properties of the virus, the reduced transmission between people asked to stay at home and the capacity of hospitals, particularly intensive care units.

Mar 25, 2020 • 6:33 pm CDT

CDC Confirms 737 Coronavirus Related Fatalities in the USA

As of 4 pm on March 25, 2020, the CDC reported the updated COVID-19 at a Glance data:

  • Total cases: 54,453
  • Total deaths: 737
  • Jurisdictions reporting cases: 54 (50 states, District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and US Virgin Islands)

Note: this data's accuracy is subject to state-based reporting cycles during 2020.

Mar 25, 2020 • 5:55 pm CDT

Europe's Healthcare System Could Be Overwhelmed

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) warned in its March 25, 2020, COVID-19 risk assessment, that disease cases are rapidly increasing in all of Europe, and that the risk of overwhelming health systems is high. Overall, the ECDC said the risk of severe disease is moderate for the general population and very high for older people and those with underlying health conditions.

This ECDC's analysis of the case-fatality rates shows that the deaths have rapidly increased in those over 60 years of age. Of hospitalized patients, 15 percent have severe disease, and, of those, 12 percent are fatal. In the present situation where COVID-19 is rapidly spreading in Europe, the current assessment is:

  • The risk of severe disease associated with COVID-19 for people in the EU/EEA and the UK is currently considered moderate for the general population and very high for older adults and individuals with chronic underlying conditions.
  • The risk of occurrence of widespread national community transmission of COVID-19 in the EU/EEA and the UK in the coming weeks is moderate if effective mitigation measures are in place and very high if insufficient mitigation measures are in place.
  • The risk of healthcare system capacity being exceeded in the EU/EEA and the UK in the coming weeks is considered high.

Furthermore, the ECDC says 'measures taken at this stage should ultimately aim at protecting the most vulnerable population groups from severe illness and fatal outcome by reducing transmission in the general population and enabling the reinforcement of healthcare systems.'

Mar 25, 2020 • 5:19 pm CDT

Italy's Coronavirus is a 'Slow-Mutating-Pathogen

Independent research teams in Italy announced on March 25, 2020, they have sequenced multiple samples and identified the presence of gene variants when compared against the original Wuhan coronavirus reference genome. The low number of variants discovered in the Italian samples 2-months after the virus was first sequenced in China during January 2020.

‘Our initial data show that this is a very stable RNA virus, with only five novel variants,’ said these researchers.’

This data suggests that the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, which has infected more 10's of thousands of people in Italy, is a relatively slow-mutating pathogen. Viruses that mutate rapidly over short periods of time, make it challenging to develop vaccines that protect people against future infection.

Mar 25, 2020 • 3:50 pm CDT

Remdesivir No Longer An Orphan Drug

On March 25, 2020, Gilead Sciences submitted a request to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to rescind the orphan drug designation it was granted for the investigational antiviral remdesivir for the treatment of COVID-19 and is waiving all benefits that accompany the designation. Gilead recognizes the urgent public health needs posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gilead said it is confident that it can maintain an expedited timeline in seeking regulatory review of remdesivir, without the orphan drug designation. Recent engagement with regulatory agencies has demonstrated that submissions and reviews relating to remdesivir for the treatment of COVID-19 .... are being expedited.

In early March, Gilead sought and was subsequently granted an Orphan Drug Designation by the FDA, for situations where the disease affects fewer than 200,000 patients in the USA. This FDA status results in a waiver of the requirement to provide a pediatric study plan prior to the submission of a New Drug Application – a process that can take up to 210 days to review.

Furthermore, orphan drugs are among the most expensive in this country, in part because they are shielded from generic competition for longer than other prescription medicines.

Mar 25, 2020 • 2:18 pm CDT

10,000 National Guardsmen Activated in the USA

The US DOD announced nearly 10,000 National Guardsmen called up across the USA, with more expected soon, are performing a variety of missions in response to COVID-19 pandemic response efforts.

Some are even federally funded, though they remain under the control of their respective state governors, none of those Guardsmen are involved in law or quarantine enforcement, the chief of the National Guard Bureau said in a statement released on March 24, 2020.

"There's no discussion, ... there's no plan to use the National Guard in Title 32 or state active duty status or in any other status to do quarantine [enforcement] or enforce shelter-in-place operations," Air Force Gen. Joseph L. Lengyel said during a telephone news conference.

Mar 25, 2020 • 2:05 pm CDT

CDC Issues Travel Alert For Russia

On March 25, 2020, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a Level 3 Alert, Avoid Non-essential Travel, for the Russian Federation. The CDC indicates Russia is experiencing widespread ongoing transmission of a respiratory illness caused by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

As of 18:58 GMT on March 25th, data sources indicate Russia has confirmed 658 cases of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus and 3 fatalities related to COVID-19 disease.

This data compares with the USA, which is reporting about 62,000 coronavirus cases and 880 fatalities during 2020.

Mar 25, 2020 • 1:52 pm CDT

US Forces Korea Declares 'Public Health Emergency'

On March 25, 2020, the USFK commander exercised his authority to declare a Public Health Emergency (PHE), effect through April 25, unless it is renewed or terminated sooner by the USFK commander.

“The protection of the force remains our number one priority, and we continually monitor and assess the conditions of COVID-19 in South Korea and its presence near USFK installations,” said Gen. Robert B. "Abe” Abrams, USFK Commander.

“In order to ensure I possess the necessary authorities needed to enforce compliance and protect the force, I have declared a Public Health Emergency for all U.S. commands and military installations in the Republic of Korea.”

Gen. Abrams’ decision to declare a PHE does not change the current health protection condition, preventive mitigation measures being taken, or indicate an increased risk level on USFK installations, said this public affairs statement.

Separately, South Korea's government new statement says it 'will strengthen quarantine * for immigrants from the United States from 00:00 on March 27, 2020.

Previously, on March 17, 2020, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a Level 3 Travel Alert, which recommends that travelers avoid all nonessential travel to South Korea.

As of 18:41 GMT on March 25, 2020, data sources indicate South Korea has confirmed 9,137 cases of coronavirus and 126 related fatalities during 2020.

Mar 25, 2020 • 1:36 pm CDT

Germany's Chancellor Found Negative a 2nd Time

According to Reuters, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has tested negative for the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus for the 2nd time and will undergo another test next week. “The chancellor continues to work from home quarantine,” the spokesman added.

18:28 GMT on March 25, 2020, data sources indicate the Federal Republic of Germany has reported 37,098 coronavirus infections and 205 fatalities related to COVID-19 disease, during 2020.

Mar 25, 2020 • 11:48 am CDT

Israeli Travel From Home Restricted Beyond 100 Meters

On March 25, 2020, Israel's government announced new restrictions that become effective from 5 p.m. for 7-days, including a prohibition on people venturing more than 100 meters from their homes, apart from under certain circumstances, reports the Times of Israel. 

According to data sources, Israel has reported 2,170 coronavirus cases and 5 related fatalities during 2020.

Mar 25, 2020 • 11:30 am CDT

FDA Says Convalescent Plasma Effective Treating COVID-19 Patients

The FDA announced on March 24, 2020, it is facilitating access to convalescent plasma, antibody-rich blood products that are taken from blood donated by people who have recovered from the COVID-19 disease, that could shorten the length, or lessen the severity, of the illness.

Mar 25, 2020 • 11:17 am CDT

Cardiovascular Care Significantly Impacted by Coronavirus Infection

A new study published on March 17, 2020, says the COVID-19 infectious disease has significant implications for the cardiovascular care of patients.

  • First, those with COVID-19 and preexisting cardiovascular disease have an increased risk of severe disease and death.
  • Second, the infection has been associated with multiple direct and indirect cardiovascular complications including acute myocardial injury, myocarditis, arrhythmias and venous thromboembolism.
  • Third, therapies under investigation for COVID-19 may have cardiovascular side effects.
  • Fourth, the response to COVID-19 can compromise the rapid triage of non-COVID-19 patients with cardiovascular conditions.
  • Fifth, the provision of cardiovascular care may place healthcare workers in a position of vulnerability as they become host or vectors of virus transmission.
Mar 25, 2020 • 11:06 am CDT

Governor Cuomo Says Density Control Plan Shows Positive Data

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said during a telebriefing on March 25, 2020, his state has reported more cases than any other US state, and that his plan to slow rate of SARS-CoV-2 infection is beginning to produce positive results. 

Evidence suggests the NY density control plan may be working:

  • Sunday, hospitalizations doubling every 2 days,
  • Monday, hospitalizations doubling ever 3.4 days,
  • Tuesday, hospitalizations doubling every 4.7 days.

Furthermore, NY Gov. Cuomo said 'We are concerned about the mental health part of this pandemic, too. We can’t underestimate that. You can schedule a FREE appointment with a mental health professional by calling 1-844-863-9314.

Mar 25, 2020 • 10:56 am CDT

India Restricts Shipment of Coronavirus Medicine

The government of India issued a new statement on March 25, 2020, banning the export of hydroxychloroquine, a malaria drug currently being tested to treat Covid-19 disease patients.

Announced by the Department of Commerce, Directorate General of Foreign Trade, this mandate restricts this malaria medicine and any formulations, from being shipped outside of India, except for companies that must fulfill existing contracts and on humanitarian grounds.

Mar 25, 2020 • 8:12 am CDT

Japan To Quarantine USA Visitors

Japan plans to ask all visitors from the USA to self-quarantine for 2-weeks, starting on March 25, 2020. This requirement has already been applied to arrivals from 40 countries including China, South Korea, and European nations, following the rapid spread of the virus there.

All those arriving from those countries, including Japanese nationals, are asked to stay at homes, hotels and other facilities, even if they have no symptoms. The measure is due to last until the end of April, but officials say it may be extended, depending on the situation.

Mar 25, 2020 • 8:00 am CDT

England's Prince Charles Tests Positive for Coronavirus

The United Kingdom's Prince Charles has tested positive for coronavirus, Clarence House has announced. A spokesman added that the Duchess of Cornwall, 72, has been tested, but does not have the virus. "The tests were carried out by the NHS in Aberdeenshire, where they met the criteria required for testing.

A Clarence House statement read: "In accordance with government and medical advice, the prince and the duchess are now self-isolating at home in Scotland. "It is not possible to ascertain from whom the prince caught the virus owing to the high number of engagements he carried out in his public role during recent weeks," reported the BBC.

As of 9 am on March 24, 2020, the UK's National Health Service announced a total of 90,436 people have been tested for the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, of which 8,077 were confirmed positive for COVID-19 disease.

Mar 25, 2020 • 7:45 am CDT

China Doses 1st Patient in Vaccine Clinical Trial

Ren Chao, a volunteer from Wuhan, China, posted a video clip showing him being injected with the vaccine candidate on March 21, 2020, on the Chinese video-sharing platform Douyin. "It's all worth it if my participation can help people not having to wear masks and seeing each other's smile," he wrote in the post.

The study volunteers will receive a series of follow-up examinations in the 6-months after being injected to see if their bodies have generated an antibody to the virus, according to the clinical trial registry.

COVID-19 DISEASE RELATED FATALITIES
Mar 25, 2020 • 6:51 am CDT

SARS-CoV-2 Related Fatalities = 19,608

As of March 235 2020, as of 11:43 GMT, the COVID-19 disease was reported to be impacting 195 countries around the globe. The leading countries reporting coronavirus disease-related fatalities are as follows:

  • Italy = 6,820
  • China = 3,281
  • Spain = 3,434
  • Iran = 2,077
  • France = 1,100
  • USA = 784
  • UK = 422
  • Netherlands = 276
Mar 24, 2020 • 9:24 pm CDT

SARS-CoV-2 Mutates = 40 Mutations Found in Iceland

Scientists in Iceland claim they have found 40 mutations of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. The mutations were discovered by analyzing the swabs of COVID-19 patients in Iceland. A single person has been found to be infected with two variants of new coronavirus.

"We can see how viruses mutate," explains Kári Stefánsson, director of DeCode Genetics for Information. “We have genes from more than 400 infections."

"The interesting thing about that sequencing is that we can track where the virus came from. Some came from Austria. There is another type from people who were infected in Italy. And there is a third type of virus found in people infected in England. Seven people had attended a football match in England."

Using genetic sequencing, the researchers identified how many mutations the virus had accumulated. These genetic variants can act as the fingerprints of the virus to indicate where in the world it originated.

 This means that viruses can infect more because they are better adapted, but it is not the disease-causing virus variants that survive. These are the variants that cause less disease. "

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Mar 24, 2020 • 9:05 pm CDT

10 Million People Enrolled in WhatsApp Health Alert Service

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus announced on March 23, 2020, that, since its launch just four days ago, the agency’s WhatsApp Health Alert messaging service, has already attracted some 10 million users. The service delivers reliable, accurate health information directly to users’ mobile phones. Anyone who has Whatsapp on their mobile phone can subscribe by texting “hi”, to +41 22 501 76 55. 

They will then receive a message from the UN health agency, inviting them to request further information on a range of coronavirus-related topics, including how to protect yourself from infection, travel advice, and latest news.

The service can send out replies to questions about coronavirus, 24 hours a day, and is designed to service government decision-makers by providing the latest WHO numbers and situation report. Currently sending out information in English, the free service will be launched in Arabic, French and Spanish-language versions later this week. Chinese and Russian versions are also being planned. To find out how to sign up, go to whatsapp.com/coronavirus/who.

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Mar 24, 2020 • 8:56 pm CDT

FIFA Tackles Coronavirus

On March 23, 2020, FIFA, the international governing body of football, and the WHO have teamed up to combat the coronavirus disease named COVID-19, by launching a new awareness campaign led by world-renowned footballers, who are calling on all people around the world to follow five key steps to stop the spread of the disease. 

The “Pass the message to kick out coronavirus” campaign promotes five key steps for people to follow to protect their health in line with WHO guidance, focused on handwashing, coughing etiquette, not touching your face, physical distance and staying home if feeling unwell. 

FIFA President Gianni Infantino said, “FIFA has teamed up with WHO because health comes first. I call upon the football community worldwide to join us in supporting this campaign to pass the message even further."

"Some of the greatest players to have played the beautiful game have put their names to the campaign and are united in their desire to pass the message to kick out COVID-19.”

Mar 24, 2020 • 6:19 pm CDT

COVID-19 Patients Most Contagious During the Early Stages

A new study published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases on March 23, 2020, shows that unlike with SARS during 2003, the viral load in COVID-19 disease patients was highest at the beginning of their illness, which could account for the fast-spreading nature of the pandemic.

This finding emphasizes the importance of stringent infection control (social distancing) and early use of potent antiviral agents, alone or in combination, for high-risk individuals. And, a serological assay can complement RT-qPCR for a more accurate diagnosis.

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Mar 24, 2020 • 5:45 pm CDT

Texas Seeks Retired Providers & Medical Student Volunteers

The Governor of Texas issued a call on Twitter to retired medical providers or medical students on March 24, 2020, asking them to volunteer time and expertise during the coronavirus outbreak. Anyone interested should complete the respective form.

On March 19, 2020, Dr. John Hellerstedt, commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services, declared a public health disaster in Texas, because of the COVID-19 disease outbreak in the USA. As of March 24th, the state of Texas has confirmed 715 coronavirus cases and 11 fatalities related to COVID-19 disease during 2020.

Mar 24, 2020 • 1:49 pm CDT

London Reported 2,433 COVID-19 Cases

As of 9 am on March 24, 2020, the National Health Service announced a total of 90,436 people have been tested for the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, of which 8,077 were confirmed positive for COVID-19 disease.

The city of London has reported 2,433 COVID-19 cases.

Furthermore, 422 patients in the UK who tested positive for COVID-19 have died during 2020.

Mar 24, 2020 • 1:34 pm CDT

FDA Facilitating Access to COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma Treatments

On March 24, 2020, the FDA said an investigational treatment being explored for COVID-19 disease involves the use of convalescent plasma collected from recovered COVID-19 patients.

It is possible that convalescent plasma that contains antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus (the virus that causes COVID-19) might be effective against the infection.

The FDA announced 'given the public health emergency that the expanding COVID-19 outbreak presents, while clinical trials are being conducted, FDA is facilitating access to COVID-19 convalescent plasma for use in patients with serious or immediately life-threatening COVID-19 infections through the process of single patient emergency Investigational New Drug Applications (eINDs) for Individual patients under 21 CFR 312.310.

This process allows the use of an investigational drug for the treatment of an individual patient by a licensed physician upon FDA authorization. This process does not include the use of COVID-19 convalescent plasma for the prevention of infection.

For a request that is not highly time-sensitive (response from FDA provided within 4 to 8 hours), the requesting physician may contact FDA by completing Form 3926 (https://www.fda.gov/media/98616/download) and submitting the form by email to CBER_eIND_Covid-19@FDA.HHS.gov

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Mar 24, 2020 • 1:04 pm CDT

India Announces 21-Day Lock-Down

On March 24, 2020, India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a national 21-day national lockdown from midnight on March 24th. Information about how critical services were going to be maintained and essential supplies delivered and bought during this period if people are not meant to step outside the ‘Laxman rekha’ of their front door.

Mar 24, 2020 • 10:09 am CDT

Losing the Sense of Smell (Anosmia) An Indicator of COVID-19 Disease

On March 22, 2020, the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery stated that 'Anecdotal evidence is rapidly accumulating from sites around the world that anosmia and dysgeusia are significant symptoms associated with the COVID-19 disease pandemic. Furthermore, Anosmia (sense of smell) has been seen in patients ultimately testing positive for the coronavirus infection with no other symptoms.

Separately, the President of the British Rhinological Society issued a statement saying 'Given the potential for COVID-19 to present with anosmia, and the reports that corticosteroid use may increase the severity of infection, we would advise against the use of oral steroids in the treatment of new-onset anosmia, during the coronavirus pandemic, particularly if it is unrelated to head trauma or nasal pathology, such as nasal polyps.

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Mar 24, 2020 • 10:02 am CDT

People Were Infected With Coronavirus From Surfaces ... After 17 Days

The CDC published data on March 23, 2020, which says 'SARS-CoV-2 RNA was identified on a variety of surfaces in cruise ships ..... of both symptomatic and asymptomatic infected passengers ... up to 17 days .... after cabins were vacated, but before disinfection procedures had been conducted.

Although these data cannot be used to determine whether transmission occurred from contaminated surfaces, further study of fomite transmission of SARS-CoV-2 aboard cruise ships is warranted, concluded this CDC report.

Mar 24, 2020 • 8:37 am CDT

Ibuprofen Use Debate Continues

According to the BMJ on March 24, 2020, the debate over the safety of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) in treating COVID-19 disease has continued with the European Medicines Agency (EMA) saying that the drugs could be considered for treating the emerging viral illness in some cases.

The EMA's comments were prompted by claims from France’s health minister Oliver Veran that people showing COVID-19 symptoms 'should use paracetamol rather than ibuprofen because the latter might worsen the condition.' His comments seem to have stemmed in part from remarks attributed to an infectious disease doctor in France. 

In addition, Jean-Louis Montastruc, a professor of medical and clinical pharmacology at the Central University Hospital in Toulouse, said that such deleterious effects from NSAIDs would not be a surprise given that since 2019, on the advice of the National Agency for the Safety of Medicines and Health Products, French health workers have been told not to treat fever or infections with ibuprofen.

Experts in the UK have also backed this sentiment. Paul Little, a professor of primary care research at the University of Southampton, said that there was good evidence “that prolonged illness or the complications of respiratory infections may be more common when NSAIDs are used—both respiratory or septic complications and cardiovascular complications.”

He added, “The finding in two randomized trials that advice to use ibuprofen results in more severe illness or complications helps confirm that the association seen in observational studies is indeed likely to be causal. Advice to use paracetamol is also less likely to result in complications.”

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US Cities Reporting Coronavirus Fatalities
Mar 24, 2020 • 8:25 am CDT

COVID-19 Disease Cases in the USA

As of 8:00 CT on March 24, 2020, the following cities have reported the most COVID-19 disease-related fatalities during 2020:

  • New York City - 125
  • Seattle - 110
  • New Orleans - 53
  • NY State - 29
  • Atlanta - 26
  • San Francisco - 13
  • Chicago - 12
  • Denver - 7
  • Detroit - 7
  • Los Angeles - 7
  • South Florida - 6

In total, data sources indicate the USA has reported 46,481 SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus cases and 593 fatalities related to COVID-19 disease.

Note: this data is rapidly changing and encompasses the most relevant MSA.

Mar 24, 2020 • 7:37 am CDT

Tesla Supplies 1,255 Ventilators to LA

Announced in a Tweet by Testa CEO Elon Musk on March 23, 2020, Los Angeles, California has received a gift of 1,255 FDA-approved ResMed, Philips & Medtronic ventilators. These devices are needed to support Southern California's effort to treat an expanding number of COVID-19 disease patients.

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Mar 23, 2020 • 6:57 pm CDT

28% of Coronavirus Cases Hospitalized in Louisiana

The state of Louisiana released data on March 23, 2020, the share of people hospitalized in just 2-weeks related to COVID-19 disease was around 28%. Louisiana Department of Health reported a surge in new cases, with 1,172 confirmed across 41 parishes.

And, 34 people have recently died from the COVID-19 disease LDH reported. 

Mar 23, 2020 • 4:48 pm CDT

Merck Donates 500k Facemasks to NYC

On MARCH 22, 2020, in response to the calls for personal protective equipment for healthcare workers and other front-line responders battling the COVID-19 pandemic, Merck & Co., Inc. announced it has provided 500,000 personal protective masks to New York City for use as part of urgent efforts to address the outbreak. These masks were delivered this morning to New York City Emergency Management.

As of Saturday, March 21, 2020, New York State had confirmed more than 10,000 novel coronavirus cases.

UK Announces Lock-Down Policy
Mar 23, 2020 • 3:56 pm CDT

British Prime Minister Johnson Announced Extensive Restrictions to Curb Outbreak

Late on March 23, 2020, the UK's Prime Minister Johnson announced in a video message extensive efforts to tackle the spread of coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, and the disease it causes, COVID-19.

PM Johnson said 'this evening people must stay at home except for shopping for basic necessities, daily exercise, any medical need and traveling to and from essential work. And, gatherings in public of more than 2 people who do not live together prohibited. Furthermore, shops selling non-essential goods will also be closed.'

'If people do not follow these new rules police will have the powers to enforce them, including through fines and dispersing gatherings.'

As of 9 am on March 23, 2020, a total of 83,945 people have been tested for SARS-CoV-2, of which 6,650 were confirmed positive.

Furthermore, as of 1 pm on March 23rd, 335 patients in the UK who tested positive for COVID-19 disease have died during 2020.

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Mar 23, 2020 • 2:17 pm CDT

Moderna's mRNA-1273 Vaccine Could Be Available in 2020

According to The Street, Moderna said in its CEO “indicated that while a commercially available vaccine (mRNA-1273) is not likely to be available for at least 12 to 18 months, it is possible that under emergency use, a vaccine could be available to some people, possibly including healthcare professionals, in the fall of 2020.”

“As has previously been disclosed, the ability of the company to make millions of doses per month of the mRNA-1273 vaccine is contingent on investments in the scale-up and further buildout of the company’s existing manufacturing infrastructure,” the Moderna filing said.

Mar 23, 2020 • 1:45 pm CDT

Japan Olympics May Delay Start

THE EXECUTIVE BOARD OF THE INTERNATIONAL OLYMPIC COMMITTEE ANNOUNCED THEY WILL STEP UP SCENARIO-PLANNING FOR THE OLYMPIC GAMES TOKYO 2020.

This committee emphasized that a cancellation of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 would not solve any of the disease outbreak problems. Therefore, cancellation is not on the agenda. These scenarios announced on March 22, 2020, include changes to the July 2020 start date of the Games.

Mar 23, 2020 • 12:40 pm CDT

CDC Confirms 400 Fatalities Related to Coronavirus

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported on March 23, 2020, the following case totals related to the spreading of the SARS-COV-2 coronavirus and people diagnosed with the COVID-19 disease:

  • Total cases: 33,404
  • Total fatalities: 400
  • Jurisdictions reporting cases: 54 (50 states, District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and US Virgin Islands)

As of 17:36 GMT on March 23, 2020, data sources have reported 16,100 fatalities from 195 countries around the world.

Mar 23, 2020 • 12:14 pm CDT

Israel May Lock-Down Seniors During Coronavirus Outbreak

Israel's Channel 12 reported on March 23, 2020, that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is considering imposing a full lockdown on elderly Israelis. The measure would forbid all men aged 70+ and women aged 65+ from leaving their homes during the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus outbreak.

As of now, Israelis are being urged to remain home and follow strict social distancing guidelines, but enforcement is centered on shutting nonessential businesses and ensuring no groups congregate, reports the Times of Israel.

On March 23, 2020, at 17:10 GMT, data sources reported 167 coronavirus cases and 1 fatality related to COVID-19 disease.

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Mar 23, 2020 • 11:51 am CDT

US Justice Dept. Files 1st Enforcement Action Against COVID-19 Fraud

On March 22, 2020, the US Department of Justice announced that it has taken its first action in federal court to combat fraud related to the coronavirus pandemic.  The enforcement action filed today in Austin against operators of a fraudulent website follows Attorney General William Barr’s recent direction for the department to prioritize the detection, investigation, and prosecution of illegal conduct related to the pandemic.

In addition, the public is urged to report suspected fraud schemes related to COVID-19 by calling the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) hotline (1-866-720-5721).

Mar 23, 2020 • 11:04 am CDT

Home Tests Vs Commercial Labs

On March 20, 2020, Director Stephen M. Hahn M.D. said in a statement 'the FDA is actively and aggressively monitoring the market for any firms marketing products with fraudulent coronavirus (COVID-19) diagnostic, prevention and treatment claims.' Whether or not the testing companies use CLIA-certified labs to process the results is not relevant to the FDA.

'We want to alert the American public that, at this time, the FDA has not authorized any test that is available to purchase for testing yourself at home for COVID-19. disease.' This statement would mean that at-home tests being developed by startup companies may not be appropriate.

Dr. Hahn says 'if you are aware of fraudulent test kits for COVID-19, please report them to the FDA.'

Mar 23, 2020 • 10:50 am CDT

Coronavirus Treatments Should Integrate Home-Care & Mobile Clinics

A new article by doctors in Italy published on March 21, 2020, in the NEJM, warns 'hospitals located in outbreak zones might be the main COVID-19 carriers, as they are rapidly populated by infected patients, facilitating disease transmission to uninfected patients.'

Western health care systems have been built around the concept of patient-centered care, but an epidemic requires a change of perspective toward a concept of community-centered care. Pandemic solutions are required for the entire population, not only for hospitals.

These doctors suggest this disaster could be averted only by the massive deployment of outreach services, such as home care and mobile clinics, to avoid unnecessary movements and release pressure from stressed hospitals.

Mar 23, 2020 • 9:26 am CDT

Therapeutic Antibodies to Neutralize SARS-CoV-2 Under Development

On March 23, 2020, during the CNBC morning show, the CEO of Distributed Bio said he is developing a therapeutic antibody to neutralize the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. Jacob Glanville Tweeted that Jessica Salas, Dylan Domingo, and Naomi Davidson all volunteered to come into the San Francisco office during a shelter-in-place pandemic and on a weekend, to complete the optimization of the COVID-19 disease therapeutic.

'We may have an announcement this coming weekend.'

COVID-19 DISEASE RELATED FATALITIES
Mar 23, 2020 • 8:06 am CDT

SARS-CoV-2 Related Fatalities = 15,337

As of March 23, 2020, as of 12:55 GMT, the COVID-19 disease was reported to be impacting 192 countries around the globe. The leading countries reporting coronavirus disease-related fatalities are as follows:

Italy = 5,476 (+622)

China = 3,270 (+9)

Spain = 2,182 (+410)

Iran = 1,812 (+127)

France = 674 (+103)

USA = 448 (+39)

UK = 289 (+49)

Netherlands = 179 (+43)

Switerland = 118 (+20)

South Korea = 111 (+7)

Germany = 111 (+17)

Belgium = 88 (+13)

Mar 22, 2020 • 10:00 pm CDT

FDA Issues Revised REMS Drug Access Guidance

On March 22, 2020, the FDA issued new guidance to sponsors and healthcare providers regarding certain Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS)-required testing during this time. 

For drugs subject to REMS with laboratory testing or imaging requirements, healthcare providers prescribing and/or dispensing these drugs should consider whether there are compelling reasons not to complete these tests or studies during this public health emergency (PHE).

And, providers should use their best medical judgment in weighing the benefits and risks of continuing treatment in the absence of laboratory testing and imaging studies. They should also communicate with their patients regarding these judgments including their benefits and risks.

“The FDA recognizes that during the COVID-19 public health emergency, the completion of some REMS-required laboratory testing or imaging studies may be difficult because patients suspected of having COVID-19 may be self-isolating and/or subject to quarantine."

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Mar 22, 2020 • 9:43 pm CDT

Gilead's Remdesivir Transitioning Availability

On March 22, 2020, Gilead Sciences announced they are transitioning from individual compassionate use requests for remdesivir to expanded access programs. This approach will accelerate access to remdesivir for severely ill coronavirus patients. These programs are currently under rapid development in conjunction with national regulatory authorities, which may vary by region, based on local laws and regulations.

Throughout this transition period, Gilead is unable to accept new individual compassionate use requests due to overwhelming demand.

As an exception, compassionate use requests for remdesivir may still be made for pregnant women and children less than 18 years of age, with confirmed COVID-19 disease, and severe manifestations of the disease.

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Mar 22, 2020 • 9:25 pm CDT

US National Guard Activated in 3 States

During a late afternoon briefing on March 22, 2020, President Trump announced the activation of the National Guard for 3 US states reporting expanding coronavirus outbreaks. 

National Guard will be deployed to New York, California and Washington will be under local control, adding that this deployment will be funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). And, supplies, including gloves, beds, N95 respirators, and gowns will be delivered from the federal stockpile within the next 2-days.

Mar 22, 2020 • 9:16 pm CDT

WHO Situation Report #62

Early on March 22, 2020, the WHO confirmed 4 new countries/territories/areas from the African Region have reported cases of COVID-19 disease. Data indicates that over 190 separate governments have report cases this year.

As COVID-19 cases continue to increase, many countries are requesting individuals to stay at home in self-quarantine. The WHO EURO has released a guide on how to stay physically active during self-quarantine.

Mar 22, 2020 • 9:10 pm CDT

Europe's CDC Confirms 7,319 Coronavirus Related Fatalities

As of March 22, 2020, the ECDC reported 7,319 deaths related to COVID-19 disease have been reported in the EU/EEA and the UK during 2020, led by Italy (4,827), Spain (1,326), France (562), United Kingdom (233).

Mar 22, 2020 • 8:23 pm CDT

Advice for Coronavirus Patients Using CPAP Machines

On March 20, 2020, the UK issued updated guidance regarding patients diagnosed with COVID-19 disease and Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA), who routinely use continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP): 

  • People with OSA should continue to use their CPAP at home as normal, as there is no evidence that using CPAP makes you more likely to catch COVID-19 and nothing to suggest that CPAP will make you more unwell if you do catch it.
  • Patients with OSA should follow the UK's National Health Service's advice regarding COVID-19, as there is no data yet regarding the risk of OSA alone, in terms of COVID-19 susceptibility.

This information was compiled by Dr. Sonya Craig and Dr. Sophie West, with the OSA Alliance, incorporating British Thoracic Society, British Sleep Society, Association for Respiratory Technology and Physiology, Sleep Apnoea Trust Association.

 

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Mar 22, 2020 • 6:03 pm CDT

Lock-Downs Are Not Enough

Countries can’t simply lock down their societies to defeat coronavirus, the World Health Organization’s top emergency expert said on March 22, 2020. “What we really need to focus on is finding those who are sick, those who have the virus, and isolate them, find their contacts and isolate them,” Mike Ryan said in an interview on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show.

“Once we’ve suppressed the transmission, we have to go after the virus. We have to take the fight to the virus,” Ryan said. He said that the examples of China, Singapore, and South Korea, which coupled restrictions with 'rigorous measures to test every possible suspect.'

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Mar 22, 2020 • 5:41 pm CDT

US Senator Confirmed Infected With Coronavirus

Senator Rand Paul announced he was confirmed with COVID-19 disease on March 22, 2020. On Twitter, Senator Paul said 'He expects to be back in the Senate after his quarantine period ends and will continue to work for the people of Kentucky at this difficult time.'

'Ten days ago, our D.C. office began operating remotely, hence virtually no staff has had contact with Senator Rand Paul.'

Mar 22, 2020 • 2:15 pm CDT

London Confirms 2,189 Coronavirus Cases

As of 9 am on March 22, 2020, Public Health England (PHE) reported 5,683 were confirmed positive for SARS-CoV-2 infections, which is a positivity rate of 7% (5,683/ 78,340). Furthermore, PHE confirmed 281 patients in the UK who tested positive for COVID-19 disease, have since died during 2020.

In England, the city of London has reported about 30% of all cases (2,189), followed by Midland (624) and South East (536).

 

Mar 22, 2020 • 1:58 pm CDT

DoD Contractor Dies From COVID-19 Disease

The US Department of Defense (DoD) announced on March 22, 2020, that a Crystal City, Virginia, based contractor, who worked at the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA), passed away on March 21, 2020. The individual had tested positive for COVID-19 disease and had been under medical treatment at a local hospital.

The spaces in DSCA where the individual worked have been cleaned in accordance with CDC guidance when he tested positive and the person's co-workers have been teleworking. This facility is located about 1 mile east of the Pentagon, in northern Virginia. 

Mar 22, 2020 • 11:53 am CDT

Rikers Island Criminals Infected With Coronavirus

According to the AP on March 21, 2020, New York City's Rikers Island jail facilities have confirmed 19 inmates and 12 staff members are infected with COVID-19 disease and dozens more were exposed to the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. Jacqueline Sherman, the Board of Correction's interim chairwoman, disclosed the outbreak in a letter to New York’s criminal justice leaders.

Sherman indicated that people who are most vulnerable to the effects of COVID-19 disease should be considered for 'early release.' 

Previously, New York's Board of Correction published a letter calling for 'a rapid decrease in the prison population.' 

According to a 2015 study by the Vera Institute of Justice, Rikers costs NYC approximately $209,000 to detain one person for 1-year. Rikers Island is one of the world's largest correctional institutions and mental institutions with about 10,000 daily residents.

Mar 22, 2020 • 11:29 am CDT

Hawaii To Quarantine All Americans

Hawaii Governor David Y. Ige issued a proclamation announcing that every American visiting the state will be quarantined beginning March 26, 2020. This supplemental emergency proclamation specifies that all individuals, both residents, and visitors, arriving or returning to Hawaiʻi, will be subject to a mandatory 14-day self-quarantine. Failure to follow this order is punishable by a maximum fine of $5,000, or imprisonment, or both.

This is the 1st such legal action in the USA during 2020.

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Mar 22, 2020 • 9:58 am CDT

Israelis Adapting to New Shopping Restrictions

As new directives went to effect on March 22, 2020, “essential” services have remained open causing confusion among businesses regarding what is permitted, reported the Times of Israel.

A statement from the Prime Minister’s Office indicated that businesses that sell food supplies are allowed to operate, but store owners must ensure that shoppers stay 2-meters apart. The new directive empowers local police to enforce orders, without mechanisms to punish rule-breakers.

Authorities informed Tel Aviv’s Carmel Market and Jerusalem’s Mahane Yehuda market to close in accordance with new emergency regulations against the coronavirus. The Walla news site reported that police arrived at the Carmel Market and threatened to fine stalls that refused to close.

As of 14:45 GMT on March 22, 2020, reporting services indicated Israel had confirmed 945 SARS-CoV-2 cases and 1 related COVID-19 disease fatality.

Mar 22, 2020 • 9:27 am CDT

Russia Confirms 367th Coronavirus Case

On March 22, 2020, the Russian Federation reported its 367th case of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus this year. And just 1 COVID-19 disease fatality.

This new data is far below what other European countries have reported. Worldwide, this coronavirus outbreak has caused more than 13,600 fatalities during 2020.

One reason for Russia's reduced outbreak was the extensive travel restrictions with its southern neighbor, China, and other countries. 

Currently, there is a travel exception for flights from Moscow to the capitals of other states, reports local media.

And in Moscow, authorities ruled out the possibility of a citywide lockdown. Meanwhile, Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said the city's metro will not close down, reported Interfax. And, Sobyanin noted that there are no problems with food supplies in Moscow.

COVID-19 DISEASE RELATED FATALITIES
Mar 22, 2020 • 7:38 am CDT

SARS-CoV-2 Related Fatalities = 13,594

As of March 22, 2020, as of 12:16 GMT, the COVID-19 disease was reported to be impacting 188 countries around the globe. The leading countries reporting coronavirus disease-related fatalities are as follows:

  • Italy = 4,825 (+794)
  • China = 3,261 (+6)
  • Spain = 1,725 (+344)
  • Iran = 1,685 (+129)
  • France = 562 (+112)
  • USA = 348 (+46)
  • UK = 240 (+63)
  • Netherlands = 136 (+30)
  • South Korea = 104 (+2)
  • Belgium = 75 (+38)
Mar 21, 2020 • 6:58 pm CDT

WHO Situation Report #61

The WHO confirmed 6 new countries/territories/areas (African Region [2], European Region [1], Region of the Americas [1], South East Asia Region [1] and Western Pacific Region [1]) have reported cases of COVID-19 disease. The WHO has updated the case definitions. The full guidance document can be found here and in Case Definitions.

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Mar 21, 2020 • 5:03 pm CDT

45-Minute Coronavirus Test Approved

Cepheid today announced it has received Emergency Use Authorization from the U.S. FDA for Xpert® Xpress SARS-CoV-2, a rapid molecular diagnostic test for the qualitative detection of SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus causing COVID-19 disease.

This test has been designed to operate on any of Cepheid's more than 23,000 automated GeneXpert® Systems worldwide, with a detection time of approximately 45 minutes.

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Mar 21, 2020 • 3:11 pm CDT

How To Expand Nursing Teams During Virus Pandemic

The governor of Texas authorized an innovative framework to increase the number of nurses to join the expanding COVID-19 care team. On March 21, 2020,  Texas Governor Greg Abbott waived several regulations that will expand Texas’ active nursing workforce by doing the following:

  • Allowing temporary permit extensions to practice for graduate nurses and graduate vocational nurses who have yet to take the licensing exam.
  • Allowing students in their final year of nursing school to meet their clinical objectives by exceeding the 50% limit on simulated experiences.
  • Allowing nurses with inactive licenses or retired nurses to reactivate their licenses.

Governor Abbott said in a statement, "Nurses are essential to our ability to test for this coronavirus and provide care for COVID-19 patients. Suspending these regulations will allow us to bring additional skilled nurses into the workforce to assist with our efforts and enhance our COVID-19 response."

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Mar 21, 2020 • 2:30 pm CDT

Google Supercharges Coronavirus Search

Since the beginning of 2020, search interest in COVID-19 disease and the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus have continued to climb around the world. Right now this new disease is the largest topic people are looking for globally, surpassing even some of the most consistent search queries at Google.

In addition to launching new features on Google Search that provide easy access to more authoritative information, launched new a website— available at google.com/covid19 —focused on education, prevention, and local resources. People can now find state-based information, safety and prevention tips, search trends related to COVID-19, and further resources for individuals, educators, and businesses.

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Mar 21, 2020 • 2:16 pm CDT

Yes, Facemasks Can Be Reused

The CDC does say 'facemasks can be re-used, on a limited basis. As of March 17, 2020, the CDC website said 'Limited re-use of facemasks is the practice of using the same facemask by one HCP for multiple encounters with different patients but removing it after each encounter.

As it is unknown what the potential contribution of contact transmission is for SARS-CoV-2, care should be taken to ensure that HCP do not touch outer surfaces of the mask during care, and that mask removal and replacement be done in a careful and deliberate manner, says the CDC.

Furthermore, the CDC says to use facemasks according to product labeling and local, state, and federal requirements.

  • FDA-cleared surgical masks are designed to protect against splashes and sprays and are prioritized for use when such exposures are anticipated, including surgical procedures.
  • Facemasks that are not regulated by the FDA, such as some procedure masks, which are typically used for isolation purposes, may not provide protection against splashes and sprays.
  • Homemade facemasks are not considered safe since their capability to protect people is unknown.

However, facemasks should be removed and discarded if soiled, damaged, or hard to breathe through.

Regarding reusing N95 respirators, the University of Washington offered new suggestions on March 17th, which are as follows:

  • Re-use can occur,
  • N-95 respirators must only be used by a single user,
  • Use a full face shield or a surgical mask over an N95 respirator to reduce surface contamination of the respirator,
  • Keep used respirators in a clean breathable container between uses.
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Mar 21, 2020 • 12:20 pm CDT

Top US Cities Reporting Coronavirus Fatalities

As of noon on March 21, 2020, the following cities have reported the most COVID-19 disease-related fatalities during 2020:

  1. Seattle - 83
  2. New York City - 43 
  3. New Orleans - 16
  4. Atlanta - 14 
  5. Denver - 4 

Note: this data is rapidly changing and encompasses the most relevant MSA.

Mar 21, 2020 • 12:10 pm CDT

Texas Embraces Telepharmacy

On March 20, 2020, Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced that he is temporarily suspending certain regulations to ensure that Texans will have continued access to their pharmacists as the state responds to COVID-19.

The Governor’s actions allow pharmacists to conduct telephonic consultations and remove regulatory barriers so that pharmacists can operate at full strength.

Governor Abbott said, "Pharmacists are vital, and suspending these regulations will allow them to focus on serving their patients."

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Mar 21, 2020 • 11:28 am CDT

LA Reducing Coronavirus Testing

According to media reporting, Los Angeles health officials advised doctors to discontinue testing patients in the hope of containing the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus outbreak, instructing them to 'test patients only if a positive result could change how the person would be treated.'

This testing guidance, sent by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (LACDPH) to doctors on March 19, 2020, could make it difficult to know precisely how many people in L.A. County contracted the new coronavirus, said the LA Times on March 20th.

As of noon on March 20th, LA county has confirmed 292 cases and 2 fatalities related to the COVID-19 disease. 

This news article said the department “is shifting from a strategy of case containment to slowing disease transmission and averting excess morbidity and mortality,” according to the LACDPH letter. Doctors should test symptomatic patients only when “a diagnostic result will change clinical management or inform public health response.”

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Mar 21, 2020 • 11:07 am CDT

Flu Shots Empower Protection From Other Viruses

A study published by Elsevier on January 10, 2020, found an influenza vaccination was not associated with virus interference among a military population. Flu shot protection was associated not only with most influenza viruses, but also para-influenza, RSV, and non-influenza virus coinfections. However, vaccine-derived virus interference was significantly associated with coronavirus.

The current flu season in the USA continues to report differing trends in the temperate zone of the Northern Hemisphere during the 2019-2020 influenza season. Both influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 and B viruses are co-circulating. And in the USA, influenza B/Victoria viruses predominant influenza detected subtype, followed by influenza A(H1N1)pdm09.

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COVID-19 DISEASE RELATED FATALITIES
Mar 21, 2020 • 7:04 am CDT

SARS-CoV-2 Related Fatalities = 10,064

As of March 21, 2020, as of 11:47 GMT, the COVID-19 disease was reported to be impacting 186 countries around the globe. The leading countries reporting coronavirus disease-related fatalities are as follows:

  1. Italy = 4,032 (+827)
  2. China = 3,255 (+7)
  3. Iran = 1,556 (+201)
  4. Spain = 1,326 (+494)
  5. France = 450 (+83)
  6. USA = 276 (+59)
  7. UK = 177 (+33)
  8. Netherlands = 106 (+30)
  9. South Korea = 102 (+8)
  10. Belgium = 67 (+30)
Mar 20, 2020 • 9:52 pm CDT

Student Loan Payments Suspended

On March 20, 2020, the US Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has directed federal lenders to allow borrowers to suspend their student loan payments without penalty for at least the next 60-days due to the coronavirus outbreak in the USA. All borrowers with federally held student loans will automatically have their interest rates set to 0%.

"These are anxious times, particularly for students and families whose educations, careers, and lives have been disrupted," said Secretary DeVos. "Right now, everyone should be focused on staying safe and healthy, not worrying about their student loan balance growing. I hope it provides meaningful help and peace of mind to those in need."

Visit StudentAid.gov/coronavirus for details.

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Mar 20, 2020 • 9:41 pm CDT

Most New Coronavirus Patients in Moscow Returned From Europe

As of March 20, 2020, the Russian Federation's capital city of Moscow reported its 131st coronavirus cases during 2020.

Interfax reported most of the new cases in Moscow are from international travelers from Europe. Overall Moscow has confirmed 131 of the 253 reported cases in Russia this year.

Mar 20, 2020 • 9:32 pm CDT

Europe's CDC Reports 4,885 Fatalities Related to COVID-19

As of 20 March 2020, the ECDC confirmed 102,649 cases of the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 have been reported in the EU/EEA and the UK during 2020. And there have been 4,885 fatalities related to the COVID-19 disease.

Italy has reported the most cases (41,035) and fatalities (3,407) this year.

Mar 20, 2020 • 9:22 pm CDT

WHO Situation Report #60

The WHO announced Six new countries/territories/areas (African Region [2], and Region of the Americas [2], and Western Pacific Region [2]) have reported cases of COVID-19 disease, which are shown in the collar red on Table #1. 

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Mar 20, 2020 • 5:03 pm CDT

Why Close the Metro?

The London Underground and other metro systems, are reducing services to cope with all, but essential travel, to help slow the spread of COVID-19 disease in major UK centers.

In the UK, the government and Transport for London are advising against all but “absolutely essential” travel in London. Metro systems in Newcastle and Liverpool are also running a reduced service following public health advice.

But UK experts are questioning the need to shut down services completely.

Adam Kucharski, an associate professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), said on March 20, 2020, that there was no clear evidence that commuters traveling on the underground were at greater risk.

He told the Global Health Laboratory event, run by the LSHTM, that closing the tube would not be as effective as a quarantine of households.

Mar 20, 2020 • 4:52 pm CDT

U.S. European Command Confirms 35 Coronavirus Cases

In the U.S. European Command area of responsibility for 72,000 service members conformed 35 cases of COVID-19 disease, as of March 20, 2020.

"We in the military plan for tragic events like this often, and we continue to adjust not in weeks, not in months, but in days and in hours," said Air Force Gen. Tod D. Wolters, Eucom commander, during a teleconferenced at the Pentagon.

"As we currently sit, based [on] the trajectory of the virus spreading across Europe, we're in a position, based [on] the commanders in the field at all components and in all domains, to be able to sustain the current readiness posture that we have."

Mar 20, 2020 • 4:39 pm CDT

FDA Empowers Digital Health For Coronavirus Patients

As part of the US government’s efforts to address the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus outbreak, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a new policy that allows manufacturers of certain FDA-cleared non-invasive, vital sign-measuring devices, to expand their use.

Announced on March 20, 2020, the FDA says this new policy should enable healthcare providers to use digital solutions to remotely monitor COVID-19 disease patients. The solutions include those that measure body temperature, respiratory rate, heart rate, and blood pressure.

Mar 20, 2020 • 4:16 pm CDT

CDC Confirms 201 Coronavirus Related Fatalities

As of 4 pm on March 20, 2020, the CDC reported the following SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 disease data:

  • Total cases: 15,219
  • Total deaths: 201
  • Jurisdictions reporting cases: 54 (50 states, District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and US Virgin Islands)
Mar 20, 2020 • 4:09 pm CDT

Rationing Care Could Exclude Seniors in Washington

“If you are above a certain age and we have a shortage of ventilators, you don’t get one,” Cassie Sauer, CEO of the Washington State Hospital Association explained during a webinar on March 18, 2020. “This has never happened in America at this level for this sustained time. … It is unprecedented and it should not happen."

Health officials said the trigger for rationing care, known as “crisis standards,” will be when there are more COVID-19 patients than available ventilators, reported NBC News. 

On March 19th, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee sent a letter to President Donald Trump requesting that the federal government dispatch the U.S.S. Mercy hospital ship to the Puget Sound region. Washington represents 20 percent of U.S. COVID-19 infections and 61 percent of nation-wide fatalities. 

The Pentagon started the process of activating the hospital ships USNS Mercy (T-AH-19) and USNS Comfort (T-AH-20) as part of the US Defense Department’s domestic response to the spreading SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, USNI News reported on March 17, 2020.

Mar 20, 2020 • 2:58 pm CDT

New York Governor Cuomo Says 'Stay Home'

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has issued an order to all businesses on March 20, 2020, to prohibit all non-essential workers from going to work. And, these employees are now required to stay at home. This order includes those businesses located in New York City.

"What we do next will have a massive impact on the trajectory of this virus in New York,' Cuomo Tweeted.

Mar 20, 2020 • 2:49 pm CDT

London Confirms 1,221 Coronavirus Cases

As of 9 am on March 20, 2020, Public Health England (PHE) reported 66,976 people have been tested for the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus in the UK, of which 3,983 were confirmed positive.

The city of London has report about 30% of all cases (1,221).

And, PHE confirmed 177 patients in the UK who tested positive for COVID-19 disease have died during 2020.

Mar 20, 2020 • 2:39 pm CDT

How Many Coronavirus Variations Are Circulating?

A non-peer-reviewed study posted on medRxiv analyzed coronavirus samples from China to determine the SARS-CoV02 sequence variation and mutations. Based on 10 high-frequency mutations (mutant allele frequency >5%), these SARS-CoV-2 genomes were classified into 5 main groups, with sub-grouping.

These researchers concluded 'SARS-CoV-2 genome has mutated and is causing unpredictable effects on COVID-19 disease patients around the world.' And in the summary, they said 'very little is known about how rapidly the SARS-CoV-2 genome mutates, how this affects virus transmission or disease severity.'

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Mar 20, 2020 • 12:21 pm CDT

Mexico - USA Restrict Nonessential Travel

US Secretary of State Micheal Pompeo announced during a media briefing on March 20, 2020, “The United States and Mexico have [also] agreed to restrict non-essential travels across our shared borders. Both our countries know the importance of working together to limit the strength of the virus." 

Mexico confirmed 164 positive SARS-CoV-2 cases and 1 fatality related to COVID-19 disease within its borders as of March 19th.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Mexican Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard previously discussed this plan on March 19, 2020. The two leaders discussed the importance of creating a uniform North American strategy to reduce public health risks to our communities and more effectively address rising challenges jointly. 

Additionally, acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf told reporters that trade and commerce with Mexico would continue. “We want to make sure that cargo continues, trade continues, healthcare workers continue to be able to traverse that border."

"But tourism, some recreational activities and other things need to stop during this crisis."

The action on the USA's southern border is similar to the one taken last week on its northern border with Canada.

Mar 20, 2020 • 9:43 am CDT

Identify Coronavirus Carriers With Infrared AI Camera

Lisa Falzone, CEO of Athena Security, said the company's platform combines infrared cameras and an algorithm that analyzes body temperature to detect people who have a temperature higher than 100 degrees. The highly accurate infrared-thermal camera measures multiple points on the subjects’ face, near the eyes, called the inner canthus, to determine the highest temperature.

By detecting and quantifying multiple points on the inner canthus, which is constantly emitting infrared energy, Athena Security's artificial intelligence-based platform can then make necessary adjustments to improve accuracy and send pre-configured 100.4 F alarm thresholds, once the subject is emitting energy at or above this threshold temperature.

Mar 20, 2020 • 9:18 am CDT

LabCorp Preforming 20,000 COVID-19 Tests Per Day

LabCorp announced that it will be able to perform more than 20,000 COVID-19 disease tests per day, beginning March 20, 2020. LabCorp is now performing COVID-19 testing at its labs in Phoenix, Ariz., Burlington, N.C., and Raritan, N.J.

Mar 20, 2020 • 8:23 am CDT

Donation: 6 Million Doses of Hydroxychloroquine Sulfate

On March 20, 2020, Teva Pharmaceutical announced the donation of more than 6 million doses of hydroxychloroquine sulfate tablets through wholesalers to hospitals across the USA, to meet the urgent demand for the medicine as an investigational target to treat COVID-19 disease. 

Although the product is not currently approved for use in the treatment of COVID-19, it is approved by the U.S. FDA for other treatments, such as malaria, lupus erythematosus, and rheumatoid arthritis.

Mar 20, 2020 • 7:27 am CDT

Millennials At High-Risk For Hospitalization

"In contrast, persons aged [19 years and younger] appear to have milder COVID-19 illness, with almost no hospitalizations or deaths reported in the USA... patients aged 20-44 years appeared to be at higher risk for hospitalization and ICU admission, according to the data published on March 18, 2020, in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

"These preliminary data also demonstrate that severe illness from COVID-19 disease leading to hospitalization, including ICU admission and death, can occur in adults of any age with COVID-19," according to the CDC.

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Mar 20, 2020 • 6:51 am CDT

22% Fatality Rate in Hospitalized Patients Reported

A study published in the NEJM on March 18, 2020, found 'the overall mortality in this clinical trial, 22.1%, was substantially higher than the 11% to 14.5% mortality reported in initial descriptive studies of hospitalized patients with COVID-19 disease in China.'

The median age of these selected hospitalized patients was 58 years, and 60 percent were men, with confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection, and oxygen saturation of 94% or less.

The trial was initiated in rapid response to the global public health emergency, at which time, Jan. 18 through Feb. 3, 2020, there was very limited clinical outcome information about hospitalized adult patients being treated with COVID-19.

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Mar 20, 2020 • 6:00 am CDT

HIV Treatment Found Ineffective When Treating COVID-19

According to data from a study published in the NEJM on March 18, 2020, a recent clinical trial found the treatment with lopinavir-ritonavir did not significantly advance the time to clinical improvement, decrease mortality, or lower the detectable level of throat viral RNA among patients with serious cases of COVID-19 disease.

In a modified intention-to-treat analysis, lopinavir–ritonavir led to a median time to clinical improvement that was shorter by 1 day the standard care. The lopinavir–ritonavir treatment was stopped early in 13.8% of these patients because of adverse events.

And, there was no discernible effect on viral shedding. Since the drug combo is supposed to act as a direct inhibitor of viral replication, the inability to suppress the viral load and the persistent detection of viral nucleic acid, strongly suggest that it did not have the activity desired.

Mar 20, 2020 • 5:42 am CDT

250 Coronavirus Patients Testing Remdesivir

According to the FDA on March 19, 2020, 'the agency has already granted about 250 patients access to Remdesivir from the Expanded Access Program. But, controlled clinical trials are needed to determine if Remdesivir is safe and effective for the treatment of COVID-19 disease infection.'

Mar 20, 2020 • 4:56 am CDT

WHO Situation Report #59

On March 19, 2020, the WHO confirmed 7 additional countries reported COVID-19 cases during 2020. It took over 3-months to reach the first 100,00 confirmed cases, and only 12-days to reach the next 100,000.

A new WHO protocol to investigate the extent of COVID-19 infection in the population, as determined by positive antibody tests in the general population has been developed. The protocol is titled the Population-based age-stratified seroepidemiological investigation protocol for COVID-19 virus infection.

COVID-19 DISEASE RELATED FATALITIES
Mar 20, 2020 • 4:50 am CDT

SARS-CoV-2 Related Fatalities = 10,064

As of March 20, 2020, as of 09:40 GMT, the COVID-19 disease was reported to be impacting 182 countries around the globe. The leading countries reporting coronavirus disease-related fatalities are as follows:

  • Italy = 3,405 (+423)
  • China = 3,248 (+3)
  • Iran = 1,284 (+149)
  • Spain = 831 (+194)
  • France = 372 (+108)
  • USA = 217 (+62)
  • UK = 144 (+40)
  • South Korea = 94 (+3)
  • Netherlands = 76 (+18)
  • Switzerland = 43 (+8)
Mar 20, 2020 • 4:39 am CDT

Russian Scientists Expect Coronavirus Vaccine by Late 2020

In Russia, for the prevention and control of the COVID-19 disease epidemic at the State Research Center of the World Bank "Vector" of Rospotrebnadzor, vaccine prototypes based on 6 different technological platforms were developed in the shortest possible time, reported Rospotrebnadzor on March 20, 2020. 

The composition, dose, route of administration of the future vaccine will be determined and scientists expect that the introduction of the vaccine will be possible in the 4th quarter of 2020.

Mar 19, 2020 • 8:03 pm CDT

Israel's Emergency Ordinance = 'Stay Inside'

Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on March 19, 2020, that government authorities would soon begin taking legal action against Israelis who leave their homes in violation of Health Ministry directives focused on reducing the further spreading of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.

“Yesterday I asked you to listen to the Health Ministry directives and stay at home,” Netanyahu said in a televised statement. “This isn’t a request, this isn’t a recommendation, but a binding requirement that will be enforced."

Netanyahu said the mandatory regulations would come into effect after the March 20th approval and would remain in force for an initial period of 7-days.

“The purpose of these instructions — to ensure as few people will be infected and will infect [others],” Netanyahu said, according to The Times of Israel.

Mar 19, 2020 • 7:34 pm CDT

FDA: No Issues Between Ibuprofen Use and Coronavirus

As of March 19, 2020, the FDA says it 'is not aware of scientific evidence connecting the use of NSAIDs, like ibuprofen, with worsening COVID-19 symptoms. The agency is investigating this issue further and will communicate publicly when more information is available.'

'For those who wish to use treatment options other than NSAIDs, there are multiple over-the-counter and prescription medications approved for pain relief and fever reduction. The FDA suggests speaking to your healthcare professional if you are concerned about taking NSAIDs and rely on these medications to treat chronic diseases.'

Mar 19, 2020 • 3:11 pm CDT

UK Confirms 144 Fatalities Related to Coronavirus Infections

As of 9 am on March 19, 2020, Public Health England reported 64,621 people have been tested in the UK, of which 3,269 were confirmed positive. Furthermore, as of 1 pm, 144 patients in the UK who tested positive for the COVID-19 disease have died during 2020.

Within England, the cities of London (1,221) and South East (340) have reported the most cases.

Global Level 4 Travel Health Advisory Issued
Mar 19, 2020 • 2:42 pm CDT

'Come Home' Says the US Department of State

On March 19, 2020, the US Department of State advised U.S. citizens to avoid all international travel due to the global impact of COVID-19. This Global Level 4 Health Travel Advisory says, in countries where commercial departure options remain available, U.S. citizens who live in the USA should arrange for an immediate return unless they are prepared to remain abroad for an indefinite period.

Furthermore, U.S. citizens who live abroad should avoid all international travel.  Many countries are experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks and implementing travel restrictions and mandatory quarantines, closing borders, and prohibiting non-citizens from the entry with little advance notice.

As of 19:39 GMT on March 19, 2020, data sources indicate there have been 9,982 fatalities related to the COVID-19 disease during 2020.

 

Mar 19, 2020 • 2:08 pm CDT

What Are COVID-19 Treatment Best-Practices?

As reported by the BMJ on March 18, 2020, healthcare providers around the world in over 179 countries are facing a multitude of challenges at all stages of patient care. This pandemic is empowering innovative best-practices to be deployed to save lives. The BMJ link offers insights into a few examples.

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Mar 19, 2020 • 1:55 pm CDT

RA Drug Launches Trial To Treat COVID-19 Patients

On March 19, 2020, California based Genentech announced that the company is working with the U.S. FDA to initiate a Phase III clinical trial in collaboration with the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, to evaluate the safety and efficacy of Actemra® (tocilizumab) plus standard of care, in hospitalized adult patients with severe COVID-19 pneumonia.

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Mar 19, 2020 • 1:29 pm CDT

12 African Countries Confirming Local Coronavirus Transmission

As of March 19, 2020. more than 600 cases of COVID-19 disease have been confirmed in Africa, compared with 147 cases one week ago. “The rapid evolution of COVID-19 in Africa is deeply worrisome and a clear signal for action,” said Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa. “Governments must draw on all of their resources and capabilities and strengthen their response.” 

Twelve countries in the African region are now experiencing local transmission. This scenario presents major challenges to countries with weak health systems, said the WHO.

Mar 19, 2020 • 1:20 pm CDT

China Embraces Avigan, While Japan Studies

When China's health leadership announced they have found the anti-influenza drug Avigan (Favipiravir) effective in treating COVID-19 disease in adult patients, Japan was expected to follow. China’s positive reception of Avigan contrasts with Japan’s continued reservations.

On March 17, 2020,  Zhang Xinmin, China’s director of the National Center for Biotechnology Development said ‘Avigan (Favipiravir) was found to be effective in clinical trials during 2020.' Additionally, Zhang said he formally recommended the use of Avigan as a way to treat patients diagnosed with the COVID-19 disease, which is caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus.'

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Mar 19, 2020 • 12:05 pm CDT

COVID-19 Disease Incubation Period = 5.1 days

To estimate the length of the incubation period of COVID-19 disease, a study based on data from China published on March 10, 2020, found the median incubation period was estimated to be 5.1 days, and 97.5% of those who develop COVID-19 symptoms will do so within 11.5 days from SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus infection. 

Mar 19, 2020 • 11:18 am CDT

Russia Reports 199th Coronavirus Case

Over the past day, the Russian Federation reported 52 cases of coronavirus infection have been registered among citizens in 23 regions. To date, 199 cases of coronavirus infection have been registered in the Russian Federation, of which 188 are from Russian citizens, 11 from foreign citizens.

As of March 18, 2020, there were 22178 people who remain 'under control.' No deaths from coronavirus infection have been reported in Russia during 2020.

Rospotrebnadzor recommends refraining from traveling to countries with an unfavorable epidemiological situation. The Operational Headquarters is taking action to prevent the importation and spread of new coronavirus infection in the territory of the Russian Federation.

Mar 19, 2020 • 11:08 am CDT

Europe's CDC Confirms 4,049 Coronavirus Fatalities

As of March 19, 2020, the ECDC reported 4,049 fatalities have been reported in the EU/EEA and the UK, led by Italy (2,978), Spain (598), France (244), and the United Kingdom (103).

Mar 19, 2020 • 9:34 am CDT

Israel Prepares For Lock-Down, Reports 529th Coronavirus Case

The number of Israelis diagnosed with the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus rose to 529 on March 19, 2020, according to the Israeli Health Ministry. This increase is related to the number of lab tests being given. The Health Ministry reported about 2,200 coronavirus tests are conducted daily.

This rapid increase in cases has led security officials to indicated a lockdown could be imposed in the coming days. 

On March 17th, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan instructed the Israel Police to prepare for a complete lockdown of the country, calling such a move “inevitable", reported the Times of Israel. That directive has not yet been enforced by police, as of late on March 19th.

Mar 19, 2020 • 6:41 am CDT

Can 'HAT' Meet Coronavirus Testing Demand?

A study published on March 12, 2020, indicates Home Assessment Teams (HAT) may provide useful real-time clinical information about individuals who are potentially infected with the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. The HAT approach is needed as the clinical valuation for this novel pathogen is resource-intensive.

This innovative home assessment approach, in collaboration with public health leaders, enables the safe evaluation of prospective COVID-19 patients and specimen collection, outside of the healthcare setting, avoiding unnecessary risk exposures and hospital resource utilization.

This home-assessment program was developed collaboratively by Harborview Medical Center and Public Health – Seattle & King County Public Health during 2014, in response to the potential need to test minimally symptomatic patients for Ebola infection, at home quarantine locations.

Mar 19, 2020 • 6:17 am CDT

Millennials Are Not Invincible

New information from the CDC on March 18, 2020, indicates about 20% of people between the ages of 20-44 who became infected with the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus have been hospitalized in the USA. Furthermore, up to 4% of this demographic (Millennials) required further treatment in a hospital intensive care unit.

During the Coronavirus Task Force briefing on March 18, 2020, Dr. Deborah Birx, once again repeated her daily message to young adults. 'There are concerning reports coming out of France, Spain, and Italy that young people getting seriously ill, and many are admitted into the ICUs.'

Health authorities have debated young adult behaviors (Florida Spring Break) who believe they won’t be affected by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus are actually the ones spreading it and putting seniors at greater risk.

Mar 19, 2020 • 5:53 am CDT

HIV Antiviral Combo Found Ineffective Treating COVID-19 Patients

A new study published in the NEJM reported 1 antiviral-drug candidate is a combination of the HIV protease inhibitors lopinavir and ritonavir. Lopinavir, which acts against the viral 3CL protease, has modest antiviral activity against SARS-CoV-2. 

Together with ritonavir, which increases drug bioavailability, is in clinical trials, along with the immunomodulator interferon beta-1b, for the treatment of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).

Unfortunately, these researchers found this trial results disappointing. No benefit was observed in the primary endpoint of time to clinical improvement.

The results of such trials, providing either convincing positive or convincing negative findings, offer very important insights to healthcare providers as this dangerous coronavirus continues to infect populations in about 175 countries.

COVID-19 DISEASE RELATED FATALITIES
Mar 19, 2020 • 5:25 am CDT

SARS-CoV-2 Related Fatalities = 8,997

As of March 19, 2020, as of 10:16 GMT, the COVID-19 disease was reported to be impacting 176 countries around the globe. The leading countries reporting disease-related fatalities are as follows:

  • China = 3,245 (+8)
  • Italy = 2,978 (+474)
  • Iran = 1,135 (+167)
  • Spain = 638 (+103)
  • France = 264 (+89)
  • USA = 155 (+34)
  • UK = 104 (+33)
  • South Korea = 91 (+7)
  • Netherlands = 58 (+15)
  • Switzerland = 35 (+8)
  • Japan = 32 (+3)
Mar 19, 2020 • 5:16 am CDT

Coronavirus Fatality Rate in the USA

On March 18, 2020, the CDC published the preliminary description of outcomes among patients with COVID-19 disease in the USA, which indicates that fatality was highest in persons aged ≥85, ranging from 10% to 27%, followed by 3% to 11% among persons aged 65–84 years, 1% to 3% among persons aged 55-64 years, <1% among persons aged 20–54 years, and no fatalities among persons aged ≤19 years.

Furthermore, an infection from the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus can result in severe disease, including hospitalization, admission to an intensive care unit, and death, especially among older adults.

The CDC strongly suggests everyone can take preventive actions, such as social distancing, to help slow the spread of COVID-19 and protect older adults from severe illness.

Mar 18, 2020 • 10:05 pm CDT

Russia Federation Confirms 147th Coronavirus Case

On March 18, 2020, the Russian Federation reported its 147th case of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), said the Moscow Times. 

Russian health officials said various COVID-19 cases in the city of Moscow were related to international travelers returning from European countries, such as France, Italy, Spain, and Germany.

Mar 18, 2020 • 5:27 pm CDT

WHO Situation Report #58

WHO COVID-19 Situation Reports present official counts of confirmed COVID-19 disease cases, thus differences with other sources of COVID1-9 data using different inclusion criteria and different data cutoff times, are to be expected.

On March 18, 2020, the WHO confirmed one new country/territory/area (European Region [1]) has reported cases of COVID-19. In total, there have been 171 countries that have reported about 216,000 SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus cases during 2020.

And, the WHO, the International Federation of the Red Cross and UNICEF jointly released the Risk Communication and Community Engagement Action Plan Guidance for COVID-19 on March 16th.

Mar 18, 2020 • 2:14 pm CDT

Malaysia: Level 3 Travel Alert Issued

The CDC issued a Level 3 Travel Alert on March 18, 2020, regarding Malaysia's widespread, ongoing transmission of respiratory illness caused by the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Furthermore, the CDC recommends that travelers avoid all non-essential travel to Malaysia.

In addition, both the CDC and the U.S. Department of State advises travelers to not go on cruises. 

As of 19:10 GMT on March 18, 2020, data sources indicate Malaysia has reported 790 COVID-19 cases during 2020.

 

Mar 18, 2020 • 2:03 pm CDT

Digestive Symptoms (diarrhea) Are Indicative of COVID-19 Disease

 A new study published in The American Journal of Gastroenterology on March 18, 2020, found most patients with COVID-19 disease present with typical respiratory symptoms and that many (~48%) patients experienced digestive symptoms as their chief complaint.

“Clinicians must bear in mind that digestive symptoms, such as diarrhea, maybe a presenting feature of COVID-19, and that the index of suspicion may need to be raised earlier in these cases, rather than waiting for respiratory symptoms to emerge,” write the authors.

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Mar 18, 2020 • 1:39 pm CDT

CDC Confirms 7,038 Coronavirus Cases

The CDC reported on March 18, 2020, the following coronavirus outbreak metrics:

  • Total cases: 7,038
  • Total fatalities: 97
  • Jurisdictions reporting cases: 54 (50 states, District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and US Virgin Islands)
Mar 18, 2020 • 1:35 pm CDT

Italy's Coronavirus Fatalities Reach 2,978

As of 6 pm on March 18, 2020, Italy's health ministry reported 2,978 people have died from the COVID-19 disease during 2020. Furthermore, there are 2,257 patients currently in intensive care treatment.

Italy's province segmentation can be found at this link.

Mar 18, 2020 • 1:25 pm CDT

Israel Barring All Foreigners Entry

Israel's Population Immigration and Border Authority announced late on March 18, 2020, that it was barring all foreigners from entering the country to curb the spread of the COVID-19 disease, reported the Times of Israel.

As of March 12th, only non-Israeli nationals who could prove an ability to self-quarantine were allowed into the country. Under the new ban, which took effect immediately, even those able to self-quarantine will be denied entry to Israel.

This policy change came as Israelis were ordered to remain at home on March 17th, unless they need to leave for work, supplies or other essential reasons.

Mar 18, 2020 • 12:07 pm CDT

Mexico - USA Border Remains Open

On March 18, 2020, Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo announced he spoke yesterday with Mexican Foreign Secretary Marcelo Luis Ebrard Casaubon to discuss the containment and mitigation of the COVID-19 outbreak. Secretary Pompeo expressed his interest in preventing further community transmission and in developing an effective, coordinated COVID-19 response.

Mexico confirmed 82 positive cases of COVID-19 within its borders as of March 16th, reports the US State Department. Authorities continue to investigate additional suspected cases. And, as of March 18th, there are no entry or exit restrictions in place because of COVID-19.

Mar 18, 2020 • 11:51 am CDT

England Confirms 621 Coronavirus Cases

Public Health England (PHE) reported at 9 am on March 18, 2020, that 56,221 people have been tested fo the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus in the UK, of which 2,626 people were confirmed positive for the COVID-19 disease.

PHE says the latest confirmed number of deaths will be announced later. However, third-party data indicates that there were 33 additional fatalities yesterday, reaching a news total of 104 related fatalitries in the UK during 2020.

The city of London 621 coronavirus cases in 2020.

Mar 18, 2020 • 11:04 am CDT

Europe Confirms More Coronavirus Fatalities Than China

Late on March 18, 2020, the ECDC is reporting more SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus cases have been confirmed in Europe, as compared with China, where the COVID-19 disease outbreak began in December 2019.

The ECDC says 70,989 cases and 3,309 coronavirus related fatalities have been reported in the EU/EEA and the UK. China has reported 3,237 fatalities during the outbreak.

Mar 18, 2020 • 10:00 am CDT

Test Results in 30-Minutes From Oxford University

On March 18, 2020, a research team from the University of Oxford announced the developed a new coronavirus test, based on a technique that is capable of giving results in just 30-minutes, which is over 3x faster than the current testing method. 

Prof Wei Huang says: ‘The beauty of this new test lies in the design of the viral detection that can specifically recognize SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus RNA and RNA fragments. The test has built-in checks to prevent false positives or negatives and the results have been highly accurate.’ 

Additionally, the technology is very sensitive. The technology only requires a simple heat-block which maintains a constant temperature for RNA reverse transcription and DNA amplification, and the results can be read by the naked eye. This makes it potentially useful in rural area or community healthcare centers. 

The Oxford scientists are now working to develop an integrated device so that the test can be used at clinics, airports, or even for home use.

Mar 18, 2020 • 8:26 am CDT

Japan Launches Isolation Policy For 38 Countries

On March 18, 2020, Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the government will issue a "level 1" travel alert, the lowest on a four-level list, for the entire world, sending a signal to all Japanese to reconsider any overseas trips.

Japan will start asking both foreign and Japanese nationals from 38 countries to isolate themselves for 2-weeks in designated places, such as homes and hotels. Visas issued in those countries are to be invalidated.

The government also said not to use public transportation in Japan, reported local media.

Mar 18, 2020 • 6:46 am CDT

Study: Epidemiology of COVID-19 Disease Among Children in China

A pre-publication of a study made available online by the American Academy of Pediatrics on March 19, 2020, reported 'Children in China at all ages appeared susceptible to COVID-19 disease, with no significant gender difference. Although the clinical manifestations of children’s COVID-19 cases were generally less severe than those of adults’ patients, young children, particularly infants, were vulnerable to infection.

This large study (2,143) found there were 731 (34.1%) laboratory-confirmed cases and 1,412 (65.9%) suspected cases. The median age of all patients was 7 years, and 1,213 cases (56.6%) were male. Over 90% of all patients were asymptomatic, mild, or moderate cases. And, the median time from illness onset to diagnosis was 2 days.

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Mar 18, 2020 • 6:04 am CDT

Israel Begins Tracking COVID-19 Patient's Phones

According to the AP News, Israel's Cabinet approved deploying phone surveillance technology to help curb the spread of the new coronavirus in Israel. Announced by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on March 16, 2020, during an evening televised announcement, he said the technology had indeed been deployed, calling the strategy “critical” to slowing the outbreak and is part of a series of sweeping measures to stop the outbreak.

“We will approve these digital tools for a limited period of 30 days. Israel is a democracy and we have to balance individual rights with the greater needs of all," said Netanyahu.

Previously, China and South Korea implemented similar digital tracking processes in 2020.

And recently, Tweets indicate the U.S. government is in active talks with Facebook, Google and others on how to use location data gleaned from Americans' phones to combat the novel coronavirus.

Mar 18, 2020 • 5:40 am CDT

WHO Situation Report #57

On March 17, 2020, the WHO reported 8 new countries/territories/areas (African Region [3], Eastern Mediterranean Region [1], Region of the Americas [3], and Western Pacific Region [1]) in have reported cases of COVID-19 disease over the past 24 hours.

There are about 167 countries and territories reporting SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus cases during 2020. The WHO listing can be found at this link.

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Mar 18, 2020 • 5:24 am CDT

COVID-2019 Action Tracker - State Based Data

As of March 18, 2020, AEI is tracking state-level mitigation strategies for COVID-2019 disease. Please see the AEI map at this link to see individual state responses.

COVID-19 DISEASE RELATED FATALITIES
Mar 18, 2020 • 5:08 am CDT

SARS-CoV-2 Related Fatalities = 8,010

As of March 18, 2020, as of 09:58 GMT, the COVID-19 disease was reported to be impacting 167 countries and territories around the globe. The leading countries reporting disease-related fatalities are as follows:

  • China = 3,237 (+11)
  • Italy = 2,503 (+355)
  • Iran = 988
  • Spain = 533 (+37)
  • France = 175 (+27)
  • South Korea = 84 (+3)
  • USA = 116 (+23)
  • UK = 71 (+16)
  • Netherlands = 43
  • Japan = 29 (+1)
  • Switzerland = 27
Mar 17, 2020 • 10:16 pm CDT

US Navy Hospital Ships Prepare For Coronavirus Service

The Pentagon has started the process of activating the hospital ships USNS Mercy (T-AH-19) and USNS Comfort (T-AH-20) as part of the US Defense Department’s domestic response to the spreading SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, USNI News reported on March 17, 2020.

“We’ve already given orders to the Navy… to lean forward in terms of getting them ready to deploy,” US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper told reporters.

The Navy ships will now begin the several days-long processes of bringing aboard medical staff and equipment ahead of deploying along the East and West coasts, a defense official confirmed to USNI News. Mercy is homeported at Naval Station San Diego, Calif., while Comfort is at Naval Station Norfolk, Va.

Each ship has a 1,000-bed capacity and is manned by military medical personnel. Pentagon officials stressed that many of the reserve medical personnel that would be called up to staff Navy hospitals or Mercy and Comfort ships would be partially pulled from civilian medical facilities.

Mar 17, 2020 • 8:34 pm CDT

Blood Type Matters Regarding Coronavirus Infection

Non-peer-reviewed research published in China indicates patients with the A blood group had a higher rate of infection and tended to get more severe COVID-19 disease symptoms. Furthermore, those with type O ‘had a significantly lower risk for the infectious disease’ compared to others, reported SCMP on March 17, 2020.

Of the patients who had died from COVID-19 disease in China, 85 had the A blood type, which was 63 percent more than fatalities with type O. This pattern was found to exist across different age and gender groups.

While these researchers said the study was preliminary and more work is needed, they urged healthcare providers to consider blood type differences when planning SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus mitigation measures or treating patients with the COVID-19 disease.

Mar 17, 2020 • 5:58 pm CDT

IOC: No Decision Regarding Tokyo Summer Olympic Games

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) issued a statement on March 17, 2020, after its board members held an emergency meeting. The statement says that "with 4-months to go before the Summer Olympic Games, there is no need for any drastic decisions at this stage."

It also says the IOC's two overriding principles are to protect the health of everyone involved and to support the containment of the virus, and to safeguard the interests of the athletes and of Olympic sport, reported local media.

Mar 17, 2020 • 5:50 pm CDT

ECDC Publishes Updated Outbreak Guidance

The ECDC said on March 17, 2020, 'It is important that planned response strategies, including COVID-19 diagnostic testing, can be adapted according to case-finding strategies and adjusted to a surge of coronavirus cases by de-escalating procedures that might no longer be feasible and/or beneficial.

The ECDC published an updated document that aims to support public health preparedness planning and response activities when advising healthcare services on approaches on how to increase capacity for managing COVID-19 cases in the context of widespread sustained SARS-CoV-2 transmission in a particular community.

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Mar 17, 2020 • 5:44 pm CDT

Facebook Announces Good and Bad News

Facebook's COO Sheryl Sandberg said on CNBC that the company was closing all of its offices at 3 pm on March 17, 2020. However, there is some good news for Facebook's employees.

Facebook is awarding each of its 45,000 employees a $1,000 bonus in an effort to support its workforce working remotely as they wait out the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus pandemic.

Furthermore, Facebook announced a $100 million program to help small businesses impacted by COVID-19 disease. This program will provide up to 30,000 eligible small businesses with “cash grants and ad credits to help during this challenging time.”

Mar 17, 2020 • 5:14 pm CDT

NBA Superstar Confirmed With Coronavirus Infection

According to the Atlantic reporting on March 17, 2020, Kevin Durant is among the Brooklyn Nets players to test positive for coronavirus.

"Everyone be careful, take care of yourself and quarantine," Durant told The Athletic, adding that he is feeling fine and not showing any symptoms. "We're going to get through this."

As a professional, Durant has won two NBA championships, an NBA Most Valuable Player Award, two Finals MVP Awards, two NBA All-Star Game Most Valuable Player Awards, four NBA scoring titles, the NBA Rookie of the Year Award, and two Olympic gold medals.