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Coronavirus 2020 Outbreak: Latest Updates

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This article was updated on June 1, 2020 at 11:38 a.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?

Poll: Majority Favor Curbing Virus Over Reopening Economy

June 1, 11:37 a.m.

A majority of Americans questioned in a recent poll said that curbing the coronavirus is more important than trying to restart the economy.

The Washington Post-ABC News poll of 1,001 people broke down 57% to 37% on that question. 

Differences of opinion emerged based on race and gender. The poll found 77% of blacks and also Hispanics said stopping the spread of the virus was more important, compared to 49% of whites. Sixty-six percent of women favor curbing the virus, compared to 48% of men. 

The poll found a partisan divide, with 81% of Democrats saying curbing the coronavirus is more important than restarting the economy and 59% of independents saying the same. Among people identifying as Republican, 66% favored trying to restart the economy.

When asked a related question – if they’re willing to go to stores, restaurants and public places -- 58% of all respondents said it’s too early. Forty percent said they’re willing to go.

“Impacts of the pandemic are vast,” said a summary of the poll. “Seventy-nine percent in this national survey say their lives have been disrupted. Fifty-nine percent report severe economic impacts in their community – up from 43% 2 months ago. Among those employed before the pandemic began, 24% have been laid off or furloughed.”

Economic problems were found across the board. Reporting severe economic impact were 61% of blacks, 60% of whites and 54% of Hispanics.

The spread of the coronavirus is apparent in the findings. The poll found 42% of people now personally know someone diagnosed with the virus, up from 11% in March.

More than 1.74 million cases of COVID-19 have been reported in the United States, and more than 104,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.

The poll found widespread personal anxiety, with almost 70% saying they fear a second wave of the coronavirus.

Governors got better grades than President Donald Trump for how they’re handling the response to the coronavirus. Forty-six percent said they approved of Trump’s responses, and 66% said they approved of their governor’s job.

Langer Research conducted the poll by landline and cellular telephone May 25-28 in English and Spanish among a random national sample of 1,001 adults. The results have a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

Mass Protests Could Cause COVID-19 Outbreaks, Officials Say

May 31, 5:20 p.m. 

As mass protests continued in large and small cities across the country, officials expressed concerns on Sunday news shows about a potential spike in coronavirus cases in coming days.

“There's going to be a lot of issues coming out of what's happened in the last week, but one of them is going to be that chains of transmission will have become lit from these gatherings,” said Scott Gottlieb, former FDA commissioner, on the CBS News showFace the Nation.

In Minnesota, he noted, COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations increased in recent days -- even before the protests started.

“We still have pockets of spread in communities that aren't under good control,” he said.

The protests generally have started peacefully with some demonstrators following physical distancing rules. But they have evolved into sometimes violent gatherings of hundreds or thousands of people where standing 6 feet apart is impossible.

Chanting, singing, and shouting may spread the virus through respiratory droplets. In addition, people who have the virus but don't show symptoms may infect others without knowing it.

“If you were out protesting last night, you probably need to go get a COVID test this week,” Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said Saturday, according to The Associated Press.

Gottlieb and Bottoms also spoke Sunday about the disproportionate effect of the coronavirus on African American and Hispanic people, who are getting and dying from the virus at higher rates. Factors such as low incomes, limited health care access, underlying conditions, and overcrowded housing play a role in the greater risk, Gottlieb said.

“It's a symptom of broader racial inequities in our country that we need to work to resolve,” he said.

Protests against racial injustice, sparked by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis last week, could harm those communities experiencing the most severe outcomes of the coronavirus, Bottoms added.

“We know what's already happening in our community with this virus. We're going to see the other side of this in a couple of weeks,” Bottoms said on CNN's State of the Union.

The protests may affect the pandemic in other ways. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said the city's coronavirus testing centers were closed on Saturday because of “safety worries across the city,” according to KTLA.

“We need to make sure, especially in communities that have less power, that we are able to make sure people don't disproportionately die because of the color of their skin,” he said. “We can't do that when the city breaks down.”

States Adjust Their Hurricane Plans for COVID-19

May 31, 11:35 a.m. 

Officials in many states are quickly trying to update their hurricane plans to address coronavirus concerns, especially for potential evacuations and social distancing in hurricane shelters, according to The Associated Press (AP).

Hurricane season officially starts Monday, and two tropical storms, Arthur and Bertha, arrived early. Forecasters are expecting a busy season, especially in the South where the ocean and atmosphere look favorable for hurricane activity, forecasters told the news wire.

“Everything that we do will be affected in one way or another, big and/or small, by COVID-19,” said Jared Moskowitz, director of Florida's Division of Emergency Management.

The AP surveyed 70 counties across Texas to Virginia, and 60% of coastal counties said in late May that they're still updating their plans for public hurricane shelters. They're also making COVID-19 adjustments for sick people, older adults, protective gear, and the costs of cleanup after a storm.

Emergency management directors are concerned about evacuation plans during a pandemic, as well as social distancing in shelters or on transportation needed for an evacuation. Shelters would need to screen evacuees and provide face masks, they said.

“I'd love to be able to tell you we've got that answered right now,” said Ty Poppell, director of the Emergency Management Agency in McIntosh County, GA, which includes coastal areas south of Savannah.

Many counties plan to use hotels as small shelters. Some counties plan to use parts of schools that don't include large school gyms, and others plan to use big shelters with social distancing. Even still, shelters are as a “last resort,” and officials are telling people to stay with friends or hotels, if possible, though that could be difficult financially or logistically.

Mississippi used hotels as shelters for tornadoes in April, for instance.

“How are we going to shelter those that have to evacuate? How are we going to shelter those that are positive COVID patients? There are multiple ideas that we are considering right now,” said Greg Michel, director of Mississippi's Emergency Management Agency.

Emergency management personnel are also worried about nursing homes, hospitals, and their own staff. Recovery after a hurricane could be slower as well since utility workers who restore power, search and rescue teams, and volunteers who help clean up may not be able to respond as quickly due to COVID-19 concerns.

The toughest part about making plans, the officials told the AP, is that the pandemic may have changed by August or September, when the height of hurricane season hits different states such as Texas and Louisiana.

“It's hard to pin down what those changes will be,” said Mike Steele, a spokesman for Louisiana's emergency preparedness office.

No matter the plan, though, residents must evacuate if ordered to do so, several officials told the AP. A storm surge would be more dangerous than virus exposure, they said.

“We can't have mixed messages,” said Craig Fugate, former director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). “If you live in an evacuation zone, your plan is to evacuate if ordered to do so by local officials. This message will not change, COVID or no COVID.”

U.S. Spread of COVID-19 Likely Began in January, CDC Says

May 30, 3:05 p.m. 

Community transmission of the coronavirus in the U.S. probably began in late January or early February, according to a new CDC report released Friday.

Until late February, COVID-19 case numbers were too low to be detected by the CDC's surveillance system that looks for flu-like illnesses based on emergency department records across the country.

“Enhanced syndromic and virus surveillance will be needed to monitor COVID-19 trends for the duration of the pandemic,” the CDC COVID-19 Response Team wrote in the report.

Between Jan. 21 and Feb. 23, the U.S. had 14 COVID-19 cases that were related to travel from China. The first nontravel case was confirmed on Feb. 26 in a California resident who became ill on Feb. 13, according to the report. Two days later, a second nontravel case was confirmed in Washington. That means that the virus was spreading in communities by late February, the team concluded, and the first cases came weeks before that.

The team looked at four lines of evidence — syndromic surveillance, virus surveillance, retrospectively identified cases, and virus genome analysis — to understand when and where community transmission began.

Syndromic surveillance in counties that were affected early in the pandemic didn't show an increase in emergency room visits for COVID-19 before Feb. 28, they wrote. Retrospective testing of 11,000 samples didn't find positive samples before Feb. 20.

In Santa Clara County, CA, two people had COVID-19 earlier than that, and they didn't travel internationally. One woman became ill on Jan. 31 and died on Feb. 6. An unrelated man died at home between Feb. 13 and 17. Their tissues were tested postmortem and confirmed for COVID-19.

“Investigation of these cases is ongoing,” the CDC team wrote.

The team also analyzed the virus RNA from early cases and concluded that a single lineage of the virus was imported from China into Seattle and began circulating in the U.S. between Jan. 18 and Feb. 9, followed by several other lineages that were imported from Europe into California and the Northeast in February and March.

“Given the probability that most of the U.S. population is still susceptible, sustained efforts to slow the spread of the virus are crucial,” they wrote in the paper's conclusion, including contact tracing, physical distancing, and cloth face coverings.

Lake of the Ozarks Partier Tests Positive for Coronavirus

May 30, 12:18 p.m. 

One of the people who partied over Memorial Day at the Lake of the Ozarks has tested positive for the coronavirus, said the health department in Camden County, MO.

The unnamed person visited the resort area on Saturday, May 23, and Sunday, May 24, and “developed illness on Sunday, so was likely incubating illness and possibly infectious at the time of the visit,” the health department reported in a message on Facebook.

The health department said other people who were there should monitor for symptoms and contact a doctor if they start to feel sick. The Camden County Health Department is working with the health department in Boone County, where the person lives.

Widely circulated pictures from Memorial Day weekend showed hundreds of tightly packed people drinking and partying without masks in and around a swimming pool at Backwater Jack's Bar and Grill. Officials have urged anybody who was there to self-quarantine.

To help people know if they were exposed, the CCHD provided a timeline of the sick person's movements.

On May 23, he or she visited Backwater Jacks from 1-5 p.m., Shady Gators and Lazy Gators Pool from 5:40-9 p.m., and Backwater Jacks from 9:40-10 p.m.

On Sunday, he or she visited Buffalo Wild Wings from 1-2 p.m. and Shady Gators from 2:30 to 6:30-7 p.m. They took a taxi from Shady Gators to a private residence around 7 p.m.

Blackwater Jack's issued a statement on Facebook pointing out that it took steps to ensure the safety of guests, such as administering noncontact thermal checks at entrances. Anybody with a temperature over 100.4 was not admitted. Hand sanitizer was made available, the company said.

Blackwater Jack's said it stood by its decision to go forward with its Memorial Day plans.

“Unfortunately, our business is seasonal and nearly a third of our season has already been lost,” the company said. “The initial shutdown has already had a tremendous impact on many of our staff and their families. All staff were given a choice of whether they wanted to work without any negative consequences if they chose not to.”

Moderna Launches Phase II of COVID-19 Vaccine Study

May 30, 11:15 a.m. 

The drug company Moderna has entered phase II in its search for a coronavirus vaccine by giving the vaccine to the first of 600 participants, the company said Friday in a news release.

Participants will receive two vaccinations 28 days apart of a placebo, a 50-microgram dose or a 100-microgram dose, the news release said. The Massachusetts-based company will enroll about 300 people 18-55 years old and 300 people aged 55 and above for phase II.

If all goes well, the company said it expects to start phase III in July, with dosages between 25 and 100 micrograms. 

Moderna and other companies are racing to develop a vaccine to battle COVID-19, which has killed more than 100,000 people in the United States alone.

The results of phase I in the Moderna study, which involved a much smaller number of people, were encouraging.

The company said three different dosage levels – 25, 100, and 250 micrograms -- were given to 45 participants and all of them developed detectable antibodies. The eight people who received doses of 25 and 100 micrograms responded best, developing antibodies that were just as high or higher than the antibodies found in people who had gotten coronavirus and then recovered, the company said.

The testing is being done in coordination with the National Institutes of Health and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. It has not been peer-reviewed or published in a medical journal.

 

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

According to Johns Hopkins University, there are more than 6.20 million cases and more than 372,600 deaths worldwide. Over 2.66 million people have recovered.

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

There are more than 1.79 million cases in the U.S. of COVID-19, and more than 104,400 deaths. More than 444,700 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 Brunilda Nazario, MD on May 30, 2020

Sources

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