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Coronavirus 2020 Outbreak: Latest Updates

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This article was updated on June 5, 2020, at 4:32 p.m. ET.

The United States leads the world in cases of COVID-19. We'll provide the latest updates on coronavirus cases, government response, impacts to our daily life, and more.

What is the latest news?

CDC Worries Americans Aren’t Following COVID-19 Guidelines

June 5, 4:32 p.m. 

As the number of COVID-19 cases continues to increase in many states, CDC Director Robert Redfield is concerned that people aren’t wearing masks or distancing from others.

Crowds have gathered at businesses, celebrated Memorial Day weekend, watched the SpaceX launch, and joined protests as states begin to reopen. In Baltimore, MD, Redfield’s hometown, he sees many people wear masks, but in Washington, DC, where he works, few people wear masks.

“We’re very concerned that our public health message isn’t resonating,” he said Thursday while testifying before the House Appropriations Committee.

The U.S. still registers about 20,000 new coronaviruses cases each day. Even though the number of new cases has slowed in hot spots such as New York, other states are seeing increases.

The CDC guidelines about handwashing, wearing masks, social distancing, testing, and contact tracing will make the difference, he added.

“We will continue to try to message as well as we can,” he said. “We do think this is an important public health message.”

He also spoke about vulnerable groups who will continue to be harmed more by the spread of the virus, including racial and ethnic minorities.

“This nation is not only hearing a wake-up call,” he said. “Rather, we’re hearing a clamoring for equity and healing, for positive and permanent change to health and social disparities that persist in our nation.”

Redfield said the coronavirus hasn’t become less contagious or less likely to spread. On Thursday, he encouraged people who have been in crowds to get tested, especially if they’ve been in large gatherings such as protests.

He also said the U.S. could have a “difficult time” in the fall as the coronavirus and flu spread at the same time, especially if the number of COVID-19 cases continues to be steady this summer.

“These social distancing strategies that we’ve learned are something we need to perfect because we’re going to need them to be our major defense again in October, November, and December,” he said.

The U.S. has recorded 1.8 million coronavirus cases and more than 108,000 deaths as of Friday afternoon, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

COVID-19 Vaccine Could Be Ready by Fall, CEO Says

June 5, 1:45 p.m.

The leader of pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca says a coronavirus vaccine could be ready for limited use by the end of 2020, the BBC reported.

The company would manufacture and distribute the vaccine being developed by scientists at Oxford University in England, assuming the vaccine works.

“We should be able to start vaccinating people by the end of the year,” AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot told the BBC. “This an ambitious goal, but it’s what we’re working toward very, very rapidly.”

He said that if tests show the vaccine to be effective, he hopes to submit it for fast track regulatory approval in the fourth quarter of 2020. The company is planning to start manufacturing the vaccine soon in factories so that it can be distributed immediately after governmental approval.

"We are starting to manufacture this vaccine right now -- and we have to have it ready to be used by the time we have the results," he said.

The firm has struck agreements with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Gavi the Vaccine Alliance, and the Serum Institute of India to produce 2 billion doses of the vaccine, PhilStar Global reported.

Soriot told the BBC he’s confident in Oxford scientists because they have successfully developed vaccines for SARS and MERS in the past. Tests on monkeys showed the vaccine was not harmful, he said.

Oxford started human clinical trials on about 1,1000 people in early May. Researchers should know those test results by June or July, Soriot said.

Oxford is one of a number of companies and institutions racing to create a vaccine for the virus that has killed more than 390,000 people around the world.

High Blood Pressure Doubles the Chance of Death in Coronavirus Patients, Study Says

June 5, 11:39 a.m.

Chinese coronavirus patients with high blood pressure had twice the risk of dying as patients who didn’t have hypertension, according to a study published in the European Heart Journal.

Researchers from Xijing Hospital in Xian, China, examined records of 2,877 coronavirus patients in the Wuhan area between February 5 and March 15. Almost 30% of those patients had a history of hypertension, or high blood pressure, the study says.

The study found that 4% of patients with high blood pressure died, but only 1% of other patients did.

After adjustments for patient variables such as age and other medical conditions, the study concluded that “patients with hypertension had a two-fold increase in the relative risk of mortality as compared with patients without hypertension.”

“It is important that patients with high blood pressure realize that they are at increased risk of dying from COVID-19,” lead researcher Fei Li, a professor in the Department of Cardiology at Xijing Hospital, said in a statement. “They should take good care of themselves during this pandemic, and they need more attention if they are infected with the coronavirus.”

Among patients with high blood pressure who weren’t taking their medication, 8% died, compared to 3% who were taking their medication, the study says. 

The study says people who are taking heart medication should continue to do so, unless their doctor tells them otherwise.

That finding was significant because researchers have worried the blood pressure drugs known as ACE-2 inhibitors and ARBs might make people more vulnerable to COVID-19. 

"We were quite surprised that these results did not support our initial hypothesis; in fact, the results were in the opposite direction, with a trend in favor of ACE inhibitors and ARBs,” Ling Tao, one of the research leaders, said in a statement. “We think this is exactly why practice based on clinical evidence is more vital than ever."

Scientists have said for months that having other medical conditions increases a person’s chance of dying from the coronavirus.

The Lancet Retracts Study That Questioned Safety of Hydroxychloroquine to Treat COVID-19

June 4, 6:47 p.m. 

The online medical journal The Lancet has apologized to readers after retracting a study that said the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine did not help to curb COVID-19 and might cause death in patients.

The study was withdrawn because the company that provided data would not provide full access to the information for a third-party peer review, saying to do so would violate client agreements and confidentiality requirements, The Lancet said in a statement.

“Based on this development, we can no longer vouch for the veracity of the primary data sources. Due to this unfortunate development, the authors request that the paper be retracted,” the statement says.

The study was published May 22, with researchers from Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston using data and analysis provided by Surgisphere Corporation. The study was massive, with information coming from 671 hospitals around the world and the medical records of 96,000 patients.

In the study, researchers concluded the drug didn’t help curb COVID-19, caused heart problems, and appeared to increase the risk of death. The study had immediate impact, with the World Health Organization and other groups stopping research into hydroxychloroquine.

But questions about the research methods rose immediately. The Lancet launched a third-party peer review.

“Our independent peer reviewers informed us that Surgisphere would not transfer the full dataset, client contracts, and the full ISO audit report to their servers for analysis as such transfer would violate client agreements and confidentiality requirements,” the Lancet statement says.

The reviewers were unable to conduct “an independent and private peer review” and withdrew from the process, it says.

“We deeply apologise to you, the editors, and the journal readership for any embarrassment or inconvenience that this may have caused.”

Surgisphere issued a statement saying it provides a “real-time database of over 240 million anonymized patient encounters from over 1,200 health care organizations in 45 countries.”

The company says its data was solid and the firm “clearly outlined the limitations of an observational study” to researchers.

COVID-19 Vaccine Will Probably Require Two Doses, Health Officials Say

June 4, 5:22 pm.

When and if the world gets a coronavirus vaccine, it will probably require two vaccinations given about a month apart, health officials said.

Francis Collins, MD, director of the National Institutes of Health, told CNN on Thursday that a one-dose vaccine would be ideal because of the cost and also because some people wouldn’t show up for the second shot.

“There is certainly a chance that one or more of these vaccines might turn out to require two shots in order to get full immune response,” he said. “That’s one of the reasons to do the experiments and the research trials to find that out. If what it takes to provide full protection for any of these is two doses, we want to know that.”

The first shot would prime the immune system, helping it recognize the virus, and the second shot would strengthen the immune response, USA Today reported Thursday.

Barry Bloom, PhD, an immunologist and professor of public health at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, said about 100 vaccines are in various stages of testing.

“As far as I am aware, with one set of exceptions, all the frontline vaccine developers are contemplating two shots," Bloom said. "The one exception is Merck, which last week pushed forward on two vaccines, each of which they hoped would be one-shot vaccines.”

L.J. Tan, PhD, chief strategy officer for the Immunization Action Coalition, told USA Today the two doses would be given about a month apart. Scientists also said the coronavirus vaccine might require booster shots in later years.

Of the drug companies racing to develop a coronavirus vaccine, scientists with Moderna in the U.S. and Oxford University in England have started clinical trials in humans.

Sex Partners Who Aren't Quarantining Together Should Wear Facial Coverings, Guidelines Say

June 4, 4:32 p.m. 

Safe sex during the COVID-19 pandemic means a lot more than using a condom.

People having sex with somebody they haven't been quarantining with should take other precautions, including wearing face masks while doing the deed, according to a study from Harvard University published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. 

Other recommended safety measures include: avoiding kissing; showering before and after sex; using soap or alcohol wipes to clean the physical spaces; minimizing the number of partners; and avoiding partners who display COVID-19 symptoms.

The study presents guidelines for health care professionals who are counseling patients on having sex during the pandemic.

“On the basis of existing data, it appears all forms of in-person sexual contact carry risk for viral transmission, because the virus is readily transmitted by aerosols and fomites,” the study said.  “This has resulted in broad guidance regarding physical distancing, with substantial implications for sexual well-being.”

People having sex with somebody they're quarantining with also face a risk if they've been exposed to the virus outside the home, the study says, but using face masks is not recommended for them.

The range of sex practices with low risk of inflection includes abstinence and masturbation. People having sexual relationships using digital platforms such as video chats should be counseled about the risk of screenshots being used for extortion, the study says.

It's not been proven that the coronavirus can be spread through semen, the study says.

“Until this is better understood, it would be prudent to consider semen potentially infectious,” the study says.

COVID-19 Cases Rise in U.S. South and West Amid Protests

June 4, 3:05 p.m.

New cases of coronavirus have popped up in southern and western states during the past week, which could be partially due to recent racial injustice protests, according to CNN.

As of Thursday morning, the U.S. has confirmed more than 1.8 million cases and recorded more than 107,000 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

The coronavirus pandemic in the U.S. first hit cities on the coasts but has now spread to inland states such as Arkansas and Arizona, the news outlet reported. On Tuesday, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson reported 375 new cases, which is the highest single-day number for the state. More people are hospitalized with COVID-19 than at any other point, he added.

“We continue to trend upward,” Hutchinson said during the press briefing.

Part of this upward climb could be related to nationwide protests about the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Public health officials have encouraged marchers to wear face masks and follow social distancing practices.

“It is a contagious virus. People being outside, people wearing masks, people moving by each other more quickly may reduce the likelihood of significant exponential growth. But that's still the concern,” CNN's chief medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta said Wednesday.

At the beginning of the pandemic, some officials questioned whether coronavirus cases would decline during summertime months. But warmer weather won't likely stop the spread, National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins, MD, PhD, said in a blog post on Tuesday.

“Climate only would become an important seasonal factor in controlling COVID-19 once a large proportion of people within a given community are immune or resistant to infection,” Collins wrote.

Collins discussed recent research about seasonal change and the trajectory of COVID-19. He reminded readers to continue following mitigation measures while treatments and vaccines are developed.

“It's a reminder that physical distancing will remain our best weapon into the summer to slow or prevent the spread of COVID-19,” he wrote. “So keep wearing those masks and staying 6 feet or more apart!”

George Floyd Tested Positive for COVID-19, Autopsy Shows

June 4, 11:09 a.m.

George Floyd, who died while being restrained by Minneapolis police on May 25, tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, according to the medical examiner's report released on Wednesday. The coronavirus didn't affect his death, according to the report.

The autopsy concludes that the cause of death was “cardiopulmonary arrest complicating law enforcement subdual, restraint and neck compression.” Video from bystanders showed that Floyd repeatedly said he couldn't breathe as former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin held Floyd down with a knee on the man's neck.

The “46-year-old man … became unresponsive while being restrained by law enforcement officers,” according to the autopsy, which was released by the Hennepin County Medical Examiner's Office.

The report also says that Floyd tested positive for the coronavirus on April 3. A nasal swab taken on May 26, after his death, confirmed the result. Since positive results can last for weeks, according to the report, “the autopsy result most likely reflects asymptomatic but persistent ... positivity from previous infection.”

Floyd had other health conditions, including heart disease, hypertension, and the sickle cell trait, which is typically a symptom-free form of the serious sickle cell disease that primarily affects African Americans, according to NPR.

In the United States, more African Americans than whites have died from the coronavirus, according to CNN, and counties with higher black populations make up more than 50% of coronavirus cases and 60% of deaths.

As protesters have marched in Floyd's memory since his death, public health officials have urged social distancing practices and face masks to stop the spread of the coronavirus. Public officials have also encouraged people to get tested if they've joined a large gathering in the past 2 weeks.

 

How many people have been diagnosed with the virus, and how many have died?

According to Johns Hopkins University, there are more than 6.71 million cases and more than 393,600 deaths worldwide. More than 2.98 million people have recovered.

How many cases of COVID-19 are in the United States?

There are more than 1.88 million cases in the U.S. of COVID-19, and more than 108,800 deaths. More than 485,000 Americans have recovered from the disease, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. See a map of cases and deaths by state here

What travel restrictions are there?

The State Department has urged all U.S. citizens to avoid any international travel due to the global impact of the new coronavirus.

If you are currently overseas, the department wants you to come home, “unless [you] are prepared to remain abroad for an indefinite period,” according to a statement.

“Many countries are experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks and implementing travel restrictions and mandatory quarantines, closing borders and prohibiting non-citizens from entry with little advance notice,” the agency says.

In addition, the State Department says it will not issue any new passports except for people with a “qualified life-or-death emergency and who need a passport for immediate international travel within 72 hours.” The U.S. is banning all foreign travel to the United States from most of Europe for 30 days beginning midnight Friday, March 13.  American citizens are not included in the ban. 

The U.S. has also temporarily suspended nonessential travel to Mexico and Canada.

 Carolyn Crist and Ralph Ellis contributed to this report.

 

WebMD Health News Reviewed by Michael W. Smith, MD on June 04, 2020

Sources

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MyNorthwest.com: "Snohomish County coronavirus patient discharged from hospital."

CNN: "Deadliest day for coronavirus as mainland China records 86 fatalities, while US announces first American death."

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