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Coronavirus 2020 Outbreak: Latest Updates

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This article was updated on April 8, 2020, at 1:31 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?

Chicago Jail Has Highest Source of COVID-19 Cases

April 8, 1:31 p.m. 

Cook County Jail in Chicago is the top coronavirus hotspot in the country, according to data from TheNew York Times. The newspaper launched a nationwide data-tracking project to report on every confirmed COVID-19 case in the U.S. based on federal, state and local data.

Early Tuesday afternoon, the jail was identified as a key hotspot for the spread of the coronavirus, the Chicago Sun-Times reported. According to the data, 387 cases of coronavirus have been traced back to the jail, followed by 230 cases from the USS Theodore Roosevelt, 188 cases from travel within the U.S., and 178 cases from travel overseas.

As of Monday evening, 230 of 4,567 detainees at the jail tested positive for COVID-19, the Chicago newspaper said, as well as 92 staff. The first detainee died from complications related to the coronavirus, the newspaper reported in a separate story, on Monday.

Also on Monday, several attorneys and civil rights groups filed a class-action lawsuit against Chicago Sheriff Thomas Dart to release or transfer detainees who are older or have underlying medical conditions since they’re at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19, the newspaper reported in another story.

On Tuesday evening, in an emergency hearing, U.S. District Judge Matthew Kennelly delayed a ruling on the lawsuit, the newspaper reported. After a 3-hour hearing via conference call, he asked for a “fresh round of briefs,” the newspaper said.

The lawsuit claims that the jail has not done enough to provide adequate testing and protective gear, but the sherriff’s attorney said that the jail has instituted most of the requested policies to stop the spread of the virus. The MacArthur Justice Center disagreed, saying social distancing isn’t in place, for example, the newspaper reported.

It wasn’t clear when the judge would make a ruling.

CVS, Walgreens Launch Drive-Thru Rapid Testing in 10 States

April 8, 11:15 a.m. 

Free drive-thru testing will soon be available in several states, which could provide results in as little as 5 to 15 minutes. On Tuesday, CVS Health announced new testing sites in Georgia, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, while Walgreens announced 15 new sites in seven states: Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Tennessee and Texas.

The locations are being prepared now and should be active later this week, Walgreens said in a statement. Limited appointments are available to those who meet CDC criteria for testing, such as high-risk patients. Results are typically ready in less than 15 minutes, Walgreens said, though the wait time may be longer, depending on the number of people on site, CVS said.

Patients can now register on the CVS website to see if they qualify, select a test site, and reserve an appointment time. A Walgreens portal will be available soon.

Using Abbott Laboratories’ rapid COVID-19 test, Walgreens plans to test up to 3,000 people per day across the new sites, and CVS plans to test up to 1,000, according to CNBC.

While patients remain in their cars, CVS or Walgreens workers will insert a swab up the nose to collect nasal secretions. Sometimes the patient may be asked to swab their own noses, CVS said.

On its registration site, CVS posted a list of frequently asked questions to help patients. Testing is only available as a drive-thru, and for the safety of the workers, patients can’t walk in for a test. Since tests are limited, those from other states can’t visit the testing sites, even if they're high-risk. A government-issued ID will be checked at the site before testing. At this time, all appointments are same-day time slots only.

CVS launched a pilot site in Shrewsbury, MA, on March 19.

“Our initial experience in Massachusetts has enabled us to expand testing into other states while maximizing efficiency and safety,” Troyen Brennan, MD, chief medical officer and executive vice president of CVS Health, said in the announcement.

The other CVS sites will be at Georgia Tech in Atlanta and at Twin River Casino in Lincoln, RI. The 15 Walgreens locations are being finalized with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and will be in “hot spot markets” with increasing rates of COVID-19 cases.

During a White House news conference in March, CSV, Walgreens, Walmart, and Target pledged to provide space for drive-thru sites in their parking lots, according to Reuters. Walmart has one testing site in Chicago and is opening another pilot site in Bentonville, AR, the news service said.

Tylenol Shortages in the U.S.

April 7, 8:22 p.m.

Tylenol is becoming hard to find at some pharmacies because people are buying it in the belief that it can help fight COVID-19.

"We are experiencing record high demand for Tylenol, and despite our producing and shipping product at historic highs, we are experiencing a temporary shortage in some regions in the U.S.," said Kim Montagnino, global corporate media relations senior director at Johnson & Johnson, the maker of Tylenol, CBS News reported.

"We are committed to maintaining our increased production, including running lines up to 24/7 to maximize supply," she said.

The company is also encouraging stores to limit how much Tylenol people can buy, CBS News reported.

Despite the demand for Tylenol, some medical experts say there's no proof that it or acetaminophen (Tylenol's main ingredient) is better or safer than ibuprofen for people with COVID-19. The CDC says using over-the-counter medications may help treat symptoms.

The FDA says it is not aware of evidence linking ibuprofen to worsening COVID symptoms but is continuing to investigate.

Trump Won't Socially Distance Himself From Pence

April 6, 7:53 p.m.

President Donald Trump said he doesn't plan to socially distance himself from the vice president just because British Prime Minister Boris Johnson went into ICU with coronavirus.  

Speaking Monday at the daily White House Coronavirus Task Force briefing, Trump said he will probably increase testing of people who work around him because of the ease and speed of testing. Trump said he's been tested twice, with negative results both times.

Standing beside Trump, Vice President Mike Pence said he was tested Monday for the coronavirus and the result came back negative. 

Nobody on the podium at the briefing Monday wore a mask or other facial covering, despite the CDC's recent recommendation that Americans do so when they're close to other people.

In other news out of the briefing:

  • Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said some governors who haven't issued statewide stay-at-home orders have “functionally” accomplished that with a wide range of restrictions. The majority of states do have restrictions in place.
  • Pence confirmed that the USNS Comfort, a hospital ship docked in New York, will start treating COVID-19 patients, rather than non-COVID-19 patients. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo had requested the change. The Javits Center in New York has also been converted into a specialized COVID-19 hospital.
  • The coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force said she stayed away from her sick granddaughter this weekend because she practices social distancing. Deborah Birx, MD, said the 10-month-old child had a fever of 105. “I'm the doctor. And I couldn't get there,” Birx said. She said her granddaughter is recovering and she's certain the child doesn't have COVID-19.
  • Trump said at least 1.79 million coronavirus tests have been done in the United States.

U.S. Passes Another Gruesome Milestone

April 6, 4:12 p.m.

Sometime Monday afternoon, the grim tally of American dead from the new coronavirus ticked past 10,000.

According to Johns Hopkins University, nearly half -- 4,843 -- are in New York state and 3,048 are in New York City itself.

The United States now has more deaths than any other country from coronavirus other than Italy, with 16,523, and Spain, with 13,169.

Across the country, there are more than 399,000 confirmed cases, and only 22,500 people have recovered. That's a recovery rate of just 5.6%. It's well below the rate of other hard-hit countries including Spain (30% recovery), Italy (17% recovery), Germany (28%), and France (19%).

WHO: Use Masks Safely and Properly for COVID-19

April 6, 2:55 p.m. 

Medical masks must be prioritized for health care workers in the effort to stop the spread of COVID-19, the World Health Organization announced during a news briefing on Monday.

Different countries have recommended different guidelines for using medical or non-medical face coverings. On April 3, the CDC said people can wear cloth face coverings in public, especially in high-traffic areas such as grocery stores and pharmacies. The CDC also provides advice about how to wear a cloth face covering and how to make one at home but says medical and surgical masks, including N95 respirators, should be saved for health professionals.

“We are concerned that the mass use of medical masks could exacerbate the shortage for people who need them most,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the World Health Organization (WHO), said during the briefing. “In some places, this shortage is putting health workers in real danger.”

The WHO recommends the use of medical masks for people who are sick and those who are caring for sick people at home. The WHO will soon issue more guidance to help countries decide what to recommend, Tedros said. In poor countries, for instance, medical masks may be helpful where measures such as physical distancing are difficult or clean water is scarce.

At the same time, Tedros said more research needs to be done about masks and COVID-19. Countries must use a comprehensive approach to find, test, isolate, and treat cases and trace contacts to make a difference, he said.

“Masks alone cannot stop the pandemic,” he said. “There is no black or white answer and no silver bullet.”

Tedros emphasized the importance of equality as the COVID-19 outbreak progresses and said the “hangover from colonial mentality has to stop.” Responses to the COVID-19 pandemic -- whether masks, shelter-at-home orders, treatments, or vaccines -- should be distributed with a plan to help those without access, he said.

This week, the WHO will announce an initiative to accelerate the development and production of vaccines, as well as a mechanism for equitable distribution, Tedros said.

“Human beings will be treated as human beings,” he said. “There should not be a divide between the haves and have-nots.”

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

According to Johns Hopkins University, there are more than 1.45 million cases and more than 83,500 deaths worldwide. More than 308,000 people have also recovered. 

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

There are more than 399,000 cases in the U.S. of COVID-19 and almost 13,000 deaths, 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.

Kathleen Doheny, Ralph Ellis, Jonathan Mintz, Carolyn Crist and HealthDay News contributed to this report.


WebMD Health News Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD on April 03, 2020



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