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Coronavirus 2020 Outbreak: Latest Updates

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This article was updated on Aug. 8, 2020, at 4:05 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.

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Sturgis Bike Rally Draws Thousands

August 8, 4:05 p.m.

The 80th Sturgis Motorcycle Rally could draw as many as 250,000 people for the 10-day event in South Dakota, prompting worries about a “superspreader” event for coronavirus outbreaks, according to The Associated Press.

Thousands of bikers arrived in Sturgis on Friday, the news service reported. The rally could become one of the largest crowd gatherings so far during the pandemic.

South Dakota doesn’t have limits on indoor crowds or a mask mandate. In crowds of people who traveled from states across the country, few were wearing masks, the AP reported.

“Screw COVID. I went to Sturgis,” reads a T-shirt design being sold at the rally.

Some attendees are reveling in the freedom of being out of their homes and not wearing masks. Others who are concerned about contracting COVID-19 told the AP that they’re avoiding indoor venues and bars where the risk of infection is greater.

In a survey taken by the city in May, 60% of Sturgis residents said they would prefer to cancel the event, according to ABC News. However, local business owners said they rely on the annual gathering, and city officials realized that bikers would travel to the area anyway, so they allowed the event.

“We spend the whole year getting ready to host the motorcycle rally and music festival,” Rod Woodruff, owner of a campground and concert venue where bikers stay, told the news outlet. “Without it, we wouldn’t have a business.”

Some bars and restaurants have spaced out their indoor tables and stocked up on hand sanitizer and cleaning supplies. Employees are wearing masks, the news station reported, but some have said they’ve been harassed for wearing them.

The town has taken some measures to reduce the spread of the coronavirus by canceling parades, events and contests. The event typically draws 500,000 people each year.

Residents who don’t want to leave their homes next week can call city volunteers to deliver food and supplies, the news station reported. The town also has plans to offer mass testing to its 7,000 residents after the event wraps next weekend.

“South Dakota is fairly conservative, very independent,” Christine Paige Diers, former director of the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum, told ABC. “The same could be said for the motorcyclists. They’re an independent lot. They don’t want you telling them what you can and can’t do.”

South Dakota has reported 9,477 coronavirus cases and 146 deaths, according to the South Dakota Department of Health. Meade County, where Sturgis is located, has reported 91 cases and one death.

South Carolina’s Southern 500 to Allow Some NASCAR Fans

August 8, 11:20 a.m.

As South Carolina struggles to contain the coronavirus pandemic, the state Department of Commerce has granted an exemption allowing Darlington Raceway to admit 8,000 fans in the stands for the Southern 500 over Labor Day weekend, The State newspaper reported.

Last week, Gov. Henry McMaster placed new restrictions on venues that attract large crowds, saying they can only admit 250 people or 50% of the posted occupancy, whichever is less, according to the governor’s website. But exceptions are allowed through an approval process.

The Darlington track can accommodate up to 47,000 fans.

It’s not clear if fans will be required to wear face masks or if tailgating will be allowed, according to the track website. “Right now, we are working with state and local public health officials to evaluate all options for a safe and fun race-day experience,” the website said.

South Carolina is cooling down as a coronavirus hot spot but still has major problems. The state has reported more than 96,000 cases and 1,800 deaths, with the testing positivity rate currently at 12.3%, according to Johns Hopkins University

The South Carolina Department of Commerce has approved exemptions for about 70 large-crowd events besides the race, The State reported. The events include youth baseball and softball tournaments, a drag race, the Columbia Food and Wine Festival, graduations, the Myrtle Beach Jeep Jam, and a martial arts tournament.

The governor said the crowd size limits and the extension of other restrictions, such as 50% occupancy at restaurants, “give South Carolina the best chance to slow the spread of the virus without shutting down the state’s economy -- which we cannot and will not do -- as many continue to call for.”

NASCAR says it will determine if fans are allowed entrance to races on a market-by-market basis, in accordance with local and state guidelines.

About 20,000 fans attended the NASCAR All-Star Weekend on July 15 at Bristol Motor Speedway in Tennessee in a venue that can hold around 150,000 people. That was the largest sporting event crowd since the coronavirus pandemic began, Reuters reported.

Smaller crowds were allowed at the June 21 race at Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama and other races, NASCAR said. Masks, social distancing, and other safety measures were required. Some races were run with no fans in the stands.

“We believe implementing this methodical process is an important step forward for the sport and the future of live sporting events,” said Daryl Wolfe, executive vice president, and chief operations and sales officer for NASCAR. “The passion and unwavering support of our industry and fans is the reason we race each weekend, and we look forward to slowly and responsibly welcoming them back at select events.”


Most People Who Catch COVID-19 Don’t Pass It On

August 7, 7:12 p.m.

Only 10% to 20% of people infected with COVID-19 will pass it on to others, but when they do, it is usually through a superspreading event, according to a new study.

“Superspreading events are a huge driver of the pandemic,” says study author Joshua Schiffer, MD, associate professor in the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Division at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Institute in Seattle. “If we could eliminate superspreading events, we would likely have cases go down,” he says, and the pandemic would be under control.

The preprint study, which hasn’t yet been critiqued by outside experts, paired two kinds of models that are important to understanding how a virus moves through a population. The first model estimates how the virus spills from the bodies of infected people. The second looks at ways it then ripples from person to person through the community.

Schiffer says his study lends support to the idea that the virus can be transmitted person-to-person through tiny floating aerosols. It’s also another feature of the infection that makes it different from the flu.

With the flu, everyone who is infected has a roughly equal chance of passing it to others. The new model estimates that in COVID-19, 80% to 90% of those who are infected don’t pass it to others.

The model shows that COVID-19 spread is more like Russian roulette. In order to catch the virus, you have to be around someone in the early days of their infection, maybe even before they show symptoms, since that is when a person is shedding the most virus. Then the circumstances have to be right, say a crowded, poorly ventilated room. In those wrong place, wrong time events, one contagious person appears to spread the disease to at least five others.

The model is based on viral shedding patterns measured in 25 patients from four countries -- Germany, France, South Korea, and Singapore. Doctors diagnosed most of those patients early in their infections, and they agreed to let researchers swab the insides of their noses daily to measure how much virus was present.

Schiffer says most people were truly contagious for less than a day. Within that small window of time, his model showed that people who ended up passing the virus to others did it in grand fashion, broadcasting their infections to several others at the same time.

“There’s a very small percentage of people that transmit the virus to a lot of people. Sometimes it’s 10, sometimes a dozen, sometimes even over a hundred,” he says.

The period of time when people are infectious ends quickly, Schiffer says, but they will continue to shed virus for a long time. That’s one reason the CDC has changed its guidance to say that people infected with COVID-19 are no longer contagious after 10 days and don’t need a negative test to prove it.

Schiffer says it’s still not clear why so many people with COVID-19 probably never infect anyone else.

“That is strange and unexplained to me, and I don’t quite get it,” he says.

He says we probably all have the potential to infect many others. The idea that some people transmit the virus more readily than others is probably a myth.

“I’m trying to personally get out of the habit of referring to anybody as a supe spreader and rather calling them superspreading events,” he says.

Health Care Workers of Color More Likely to Contract COVID-19

August 7, 6:46 p.m. 

Health care workers of color are twice as likely as their white peers and five times as likely as the general public to test positive for the coronavirus, according to a new study published in the journal The Lancet.

They’re also more likely to care for patients with COVID-19 and more likely to report inadequate protective gear, said the researchers from Harvard Medical School and King’s College London.

“If you think to yourself, ‘Health care workers should be on equal footing in the workplace,’ our study really showed that’s definitely not the case,” Andrew Chan, MD, the senior study author and an epidemiologist at Harvard and Massachusetts General Hospital, told The Guardian.

Chan and colleagues analyzed data from the COVID Symptom Study app. They looked at 2 million users from the U.S. and U.K. from March 24 through April 23, including nearly 100,000 frontline health care workers, to understand the risks for those who are treating patients.

They found that the prevalence of COVID-19 was 2,747 cases per 100,000 health care workers, as compared with 242 cases among 100,000 people in the overall community. At that time, the highest infection rates were in New York, New Jersey, Louisiana, and London. About 20% of health care workers reported at least one symptom associated with COVID-19, such as fatigue, loss of smell or taste, and a hoarse voice.

Black, Asian, and other minority health care workers faced “substantially greater” risks for contracting COVID-19, the authors wrote. Those who reported inadequate protective gear faced an even higher risk.

“Ensuring the adequate allocation of PPE is important to alleviate structural inequities in COVID-19 risk,” the authors wrote.

The findings are similar to previous studies that indicate minority health care workers are more likely to care for minority patients in their communities, potentially in facilities that may also have fewer resources.

“I’m not surprised by these findings, but I’m disappointed by the result,” Utibe Essien, MD, a doctor who studies health equities in the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System, told the news outlet.

Chronic Fatigue May Be Long-Term Effect of COVID-19

August 7, 5:55 p.m.

A large number of people who contract the coronavirus don’t fully recover in a few weeks, and many of them have chronic fatigue.

More than a third of those who have tested positive for COVID-19 and have symptoms don’t feel like they’re back to normal, even weeks later, according to a new CDC report.

“COVID-19 can result in prolonged illness, even among young adults without underlying chronic medical conditions,” the CDC COVID-19 Response Team wrote.

About 35% of people surveyed for the study said they weren’t back to their “usual state of health,” according to the report. Among those ages 18-34 without prior chronic medical conditions, one in five said they hadn’t completely recovered.

Scientists are beginning to study whether the coronavirus may create post-viral issues such as myalgic encephalomyelitis, which is also known as chronic fatigue syndrome. Common symptoms include brain fog, fatigue, pain, immune issues, and malaise after exercise.

Those who are experiencing long-term symptoms after contracting the coronavirus -- called the “COVID long-haulers” -- are beginning to talk about the months-long issues they’ve had, according to CNN.

Tens of thousands of people have joined online support groups on social media, private chat channels, and special interest websites, where they can talk about their symptoms and what to do as they recover.

Several lawmakers are paying attention, too, and created a bill called the “Understanding COVID-19 Subsets and ME/CFS Act.” The proposal would pour $60 million of federal funding into research projects that would help scientists understand the long-term effects of the coronavirus.

“COVID-19 gives us an unprecedented opportunity to advance our understanding of post-viral disease,” Ami Mac, MD, director of translational medicine at Stanford University’s Genome Technology Center, told CNN. Mac has chronic fatigue syndrome and researches neuroinflammatory conditions that arise after someone has contracted a virus.

“This could result in a longstanding public health disaster leaving in its wake untold numbers of new sufferers of a condition that feels like a ‘living death’ for those of us afflicted,” she said.

56 NFL Players Have Tested Positive, Players Association Says

Aug. 7, 1:05 p.m.

The impact of the coronavirus pandemic on pro football is growing.

Fifty-six players have tested positive for coronavirus since training camps began July 21, the NFL Players Association reported. During the off-season, 107 players tested positive, the NFLPA website says.

At least 67 NFL players have decided to skip playing the season because of coronavirus concerns, ESPN reported, with many of them citing cited the health of their families, especially young children.

Allen Hurns, a wide receiver for the Miami Dolphins, was worried because his wife was expected to deliver a baby soon, ESPN said. Ju’Wan James, a tackle for the Denver Broncos, didn’t want to endanger his baby son and had also seen a relative deal with the virus, ESPN said.

Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, a guard for the Kansas City Chiefs, was the first player to opt out. A medical school graduate from McGill University in Canada, he’s been assisting as an orderly in a long-term care facility in the Montreal area during the pandemic. 

"I cannot allow myself to potentially transmit the virus in our communities simply to play the sport that I love," he said on Twitter. "If I am to take risks, I will do it caring for patients."

The deadline for players to opt out of the 2020-21season because of coronavirus concerns was 4 p.m. Thursday, but those players can still get paid.

Any player drafted in 2020 or who played in 2019 who opts out can receive a $150,000 stipend, the players association said on Twitter. Players with a “high risk condition” such as diabetes or COPD who opt out can receive a $350,000 stipend.

Bill Belichick, 68, the head coach for the New England Patriots, said starting training camp during the COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t been overwhelming, NFL.com reported.

"We wear masks, there's not a buffet line for food, the food's ordered, it's boxed and packaged,” he said. “The dining staff has done a great job. The meetings are in bigger rooms, we're more spread out. But essentially, it's the same meeting, we're just distanced and wearing masks. I think everybody's just a little more conscious of the hand-washing, the sanitizing, the distancing, you know we wear monitors and all that.”

It’s not known if any coaches opted out.

The season starts Sept. 10 with the Houston Texans playing the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs in Kansas City. Games will be played without fans and no preseason games will be played.

More than 100 Students Under Quarantine in Mississippi School District

Aug. 7, 11:59 a.m.

More than 100 students in a small Mississippi school district are under quarantine after a handful of positive coronavirus cases turned up, State Health Officer Thomas Dobbs, MD, said, according to The Associated Press.

The 2,700-student Corinth School District in the north part of Mississippi reopened July 27 with parents being able to choose virtual learning or traditional in-class education. It was the first district in the state to resume classes.

According to information on the school district website, six students tested positive at the high school, one person tested positive at the middle school and one employee tested positive at the elementary school.

Anybody who had “close contact” with those infected people -- defined as being within 6 feet of them for 15 minutes or more -- was notified and urged to quarantine for at least 14 days, the school system said.

During a news conference, Dobbs and Gov. Tate Reeves praised the Corinth School District for making information about the COVID-19 cases public. However, there’s no state law requiring them to do so, they said.

“I commend Corinth and their leadership for doing that. They aren’t trying to hide anything. They’re being very transparent,” Reeves said.

The coronavirus is surging in Mississippi, which has reported more than 63,000 cases and over 1,770 deaths.

The state now has the nation's highest test positivity rate, at a weekly average of 20.9% as of Friday, according to Johns Hopkins University and the Covid Tracking Project.

 Last Monday, Reeves signed executive orders mandating face masks statewide and delaying the school opening in the upper grades of eight counties in an attempt to curb the spread of the virus.

NYC, LA Increase Coronavirus Restrictions

Aug. 6, 5:01 p.m.

Officials in New York City and Los Angeles have stepped up their restrictions to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.

New York City is setting up COVID-19 “checkpoints” to enforce the state’s quarantine orders, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Wednesday during a press conference.

Travelers from the 35 states with high coronavirus transmission rates are required to complete the New York State Department of Health traveler form and quarantine for 14 days after entering the city, he said.

Law enforcement agencies will be stationed at traveler registration checkpoints at the city’s major bridges and tunnel crossings, de Blasio said. Starting Thursday, public engagement personnel will also be at Penn Station to inform travelers about the quarantine orders. The city has posted digital signs at points of entry and will work with transportation and tourism companies to inform travelers about the health form and quarantine order.

“New York City is holding the line against COVID-19, and New Yorkers have shown tremendous discipline,” de Blasio said. “We’re not going to let our hard work slip away and will continue to do everything we can to keep New Yorkers safe and healthy.”

People who don’t quarantine could face a $10,000 fine, according to the announcement. Those who don’t fill out a travel form could receive a $2,000 fine.

“I understand the absolute serious nature of this pandemic as well as this decided course of action,” Sheriff Joseph Fucito said during the briefing. “The entire team will strive to ensure the deployment balances the critical public health and welfare needs of the residents of the city with the legal protections entitled to all people.”

On the West Coast, Los Angeles is cutting power and water to homes, businesses and venues that host large parties and gatherings, Mayor Eric Garcetti announced Wednesday. The change will start on Friday evening and could mean fines for both the party host and the homeowner.

“By turning off that power, shutting down that water, we feel we can close these places down, which usually are not one-time offenders, but multiple offenders,” Garcetti said.

The announcement came after the Los Angeles health department banned gatherings on Tuesday and a large house party on Sunday hosted hundreds of people who didn’t wear face masks or follow social distancing guidelines.

Poll Shows Only 42% of Americans Would Get Vaccinated for COVID-19

August 6, 4:45 p.m.

Only 42% of Americans questioned in a new poll say they’d get vaccinated for the coronavirus when and if a vaccine is made available.

The Yahoo News/YouGov poll was conducted July 28-30 among 1,506 adults and provided the lowest percentage of “yes” answers since the poll started asking this question: “If and when a coronavirus vaccine becomes available, will you get vaccinated?”

The “yes” percentages have gone from 55% in early May to 50% in late May and 46% in early July.

But there are a lot of people on the fence. The Yahoo News/YouGov polls have shown 26-33% saying they’re not sure, with 19-25% saying they won’t get vaccinated. 

Political affiliations make a difference. About 55% of Democrats most recently said they plan to get vaccinated, compared to 70% in early May. Among Republicans, 37% most recently said “yes,” compared to 47% in early May.

The poll also showed the percentage of people who’d get vaccinated drops under certain conditions.

When asked if they’d take the vaccine if it caused side effects such as fever or headaches in a third of those who receive it, the “yes” answers fell from 42% to 35%. The “no” answers went from 27% to 40% and the “not-sure” answers went from 32% to 25%.

When asked if they’d take the vaccine if it required multiple doses over several weeks -- a very possible scenario -- 39% said “yes” and 38% said “no.” That’s an 11-point increase in “no” answers.

Yahoo News said the dropping numbers of people who’d say they’d get tested puts doubt into how much good a vaccine will do. 

“Vaccines against different diseases vary in their effectiveness,” Yahoo News said. “The efficacy of the measles vaccine is 95 percent to 98 percent, which means that If 100 people who haven’t been exposed to the measles were given that vaccine, 95 to 98 of them wouldn’t get infected (on average). The efficacy of the flu vaccine generally ranges from 40 percent to 60 percent. The more effective a vaccine is, the fewer vaccinated people it takes to stop a pandemic. The reverse is also true — as efficacy falls, coverage must rise.

“Last month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said it would be willing to approve a COVID-19 candidate vaccine with an efficacy of 50 percent. Such a vaccine would help slow the virus’s spread, but it probably wouldn’t extinguish the U.S. epidemic — even if all Americans got vaccinated."

Ohio Governor Tests Positive for Coronavirus

August 6, 2:50 p.m.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced Thursday that he’d tested positive for coronavirus not long before his scheduled meeting with President Donald Trump. Later that same day, however, the governor reported a more comprehensive test came back negative. 

DeWine said earlier Thursday on Twitter that he took the test “as part of the standard procedure to greet President Donald Trump on the tarmac at Burke Lakefront Airport in Cleveland.”

DeWine said he wasn't showing no symptoms. He did not meet Trump and returned to Columbus to self-quarantine. Lt. Gov. John Husted tested negative, DeWine said. 

Later that evening, DeWine's office issued a statement that results of a nasal swab test, which is more accurate and comprehensive, was negative. 

Trump was scheduled to land at the airport on Thursday before visiting a Whirlpool factory in Clyde, Ohio; talking about the economy at several locations; and attending a fundraising reception in Bratenahl, Ohio.

Presidential spokesperson Judd Deere tweeted that “The President wishes Governor DeWine a speedy and full recovery and commends the job he’s doing for the great state of Ohio.”

DeWine, a Republican, has taken aggressive measures to battle coronavirus by issuing a stay-at-home order, a mask mandate, closing schools, and postponing the state primary, CNN reported. 

The state has reported 95,107 confirmed cases and more than 3,500 deaths.

DeWine is the second governor known to test positive for the virus. Kevin Stitt of Oklahoma tested positive last month after attending a Trump campaign rally in Tulsa.

Other politicians who’ve tested positive include these members of Congress: Reps. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), Mario Diaz Balart (R-Fla.), Neal Dunn (R-Fla.), Morgan Griffith (R-Va.), Mike Kelly (R-Pa.), Ben McAdams (D-Utah), Tom Rice (R-S.C.), and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.).


Joe Biden Won’t Travel to Democratic National Convention

Aug. 6, 12:20 p.m.

Former Vice President Joe Biden won’t travel to Milwaukee to accept the Democratic presidential nomination this month, and the convention will now be completely virtual, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Biden’s campaign organizers made the announcement on Wednesday, and the full convention has shifted online due to concerns about the coronavirus pandemic. Biden will speak from Delaware, his home state, the newspaper reported.

Other speakers will address the convention, slated for Aug. 17-20, virtually as well, according to a news release from the convention.

The decision was made to “prevent risking the health of our host community as well as the convention’s production teams, security officials, community partners, media and others necessary to orchestrate the event,” according to the statement.

The convention reduced the size of the in-person meeting in June, when campaign officials said most of the event would be online, and state delegates were later instructed not to travel, according to CBS News.

The committee has been working on virtual plans for months, and many speeches had already been scheduled online. The 4-day event will include pre-recorded videos and live broadcasts from across the country between 9-11 p.m. each night.

“While we wish we could move forward with welcoming the world to beautiful Milwaukee in 2 weeks, we recognize protecting the health of our host community and everyone involved with this convention must be paramount,” Joe Solmonese, CEO of the 2020 convention, said in the statement.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett learned about the decision on Wednesday morning during a phone call with the convention’s leadership team, according to The Associated Press.

“I would be lying if I didn’t tell you that I’m very, very disappointed in this, professionally and personally, because I think we all have had so much pride in having Milwaukee chosen to host the 2020 Democrat National Convention,” he told reporters.

At the same time, public health is a higher priority, he added.

“I think all of us have to keep this in perspective,” Barrett said.

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

According to Johns Hopkins University, there are more than 19.26 million cases and more than 716,700 deaths worldwide. More than 11.64 million people have recovered.

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

There are more than 4.92 million cases in the U.S. of COVID-19, and more than 160,700 deaths. More than 1.59 million 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 Hansa D. Bhargava, MD on August 08, 2020



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