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Coronavirus 2020 Outbreak: Latest Updates

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This article was updated on April 2, 2020, at 10:55 a.m. ET.

The United States now 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?

NYC Ambulances Won't Take Cardiac Arrest Patients to Hospitals

Update April 2, 10:55 a.m. 

Medical first responders in New York City have been ordered not to take patients in cardiac arrest to a hospital if they are unable to restart the patient’s heart in the field, according to the New York Post.  

The newspaper says a letter from the Regional Emergency Medical Services Council of New York explains that the city’s hospitals are already strained from coronavirus patients.

EMTs and paramedics should still provide artificial ventilation and compressions, the memo says.

The New York ABC affiliate also reported that paramedics are not to perform CPR if they cannot resuscitate a patient otherwise.

A memo on the Medical Services Council website does say that no cardiac arrest patient may be transported to a hospital while “manual or mechanical compressions” are happening if the paramedics were not already able to regain a pulse.

“In the event a resuscitation is terminated, and the body is in public view, the body can be left in the custody of the NYPD,” the memo says.

38 States Have Issued Stay-at-Home Orders

Update April 2, 11:06 a.m. 

Pennsylvania, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi and Texas became the latest states to issue stay-at-home orders as the coronavirus pandemic shows no signs of slowing. 

In Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis said his statewide order takes effect at midnight Thursday. The order requires "all persons in Florida to limit their movements and personal interactions outside of their home" to essential services or activities for the next 30 days.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf announced a stay-at-home order for his state beginning at 8 tonight that lasts through April. 

“This is the most prudent option to stop the spread of COVID-19 across our commonwealth, where cases continue to grow daily,” Wolf said.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp on Wednesday announced that all public schools will remain closed for the rest of the academic year and that a stay-at-home order takes effect Friday night. 

“I want to encourage my fellow Georgians to hang in there. I know you're tired of this,” Kemp said at a news conference, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “But we must first overcome the obstacles in our path.”

Gov. Tate Reeves of Mississippi followed suit later Wednesday, as did Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey and Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam issued statewide stay-at-home orders on Monday.

“We are in a public health crisis, and we need everyone to take this seriously and act responsibly,” Northam said in his order. “Our message to Virginians is clear: Stay home.”

Statewide orders have now been issued in:

Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Trump: People might ‘wear scarves’ to fend off COVID-19

Update, April 1, 8:38 p.m.

While shopping for groceries or carrying out essential duties in public, people could wear scarves if they’re concerned about contracting COVID-19, President Donald Trump said Wednesday

The CDC and the White House Coronavirus Task Force haven’t yet said whether everyone should wear masks in public.

The question of whether the public should don masks has gained more attention of late, after Chinese officials said they were surprised Americans weren’t wearing them. But the CDC, and the World Health Organization, have said only first-responders and health care workers should regularly wear masks.

During the White House briefing on Wednesday, a reporter asked whether all Americans should.

“I don’t see where it hurts if you want to do it,” Trump responded. “We don’t want to do anything that would take masks away from medical professionals, but I don’t see it hurting.”

Those who are sick should, he said, but those who aren’t symptomatic could as well. In lieu of a mask, people could wear a scarf, saying it was “highly recommended.”

“What I do see people doing is using scarfs,” he said. “In a certain way, it’s better.”

During the briefing, Trump also responded to a question about social distancing and religious ceremonies and whether churches should continue to hold public services. He responded that the “biggest disappointment” is that congregations can’t meet in a time of need.

“Yet if you do that, then you’re giving this invisible enemy a big advantage,” he said. “It’s disappointing, but again, if you get too close to someone, you’re probably going to catch it.”

During Tuesday’s briefing, officials showed models for the “Stop the Spread” effort and the decision to extend social distancing for another 30 days until April 30.

During the current “mitigation” phase, people are encouraged to “flatten the curve” by following shelter-in-place guidelines to remain at home and only perform essential duties such as buying groceries and medications. If mitigation succeeds and the U.S. moves to the “other side of the curve” with no new cases, summertime activities with groups may be able to resume.

“It makes sense” to relax social distancing by then and focus on contact tracing, Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Wednesday. However, that will happen when the country ends the mitigation phase and reaches the “containment” phase.

“The ultimate solution to a virus that might keep coming back would be a vaccine,” he said.

Also during the news briefing, reporters asked about those who don’t have insurance and what they can do during the COVID-19 pandemic. Vice President Mike Pence said that health insurance companies have expanded coverage for COVID-19 tests and treatment, and uninsured Americans can turn to Medicaid, suggesting the program should be “flexible to meet this moment.”

For those who don’t qualify for Medicaid coverage or live in a state that has not expanded the program through the Affordable Care Act? They’ll have to wait and see.

Still, Trump acknowledged that lack of insurance coverage for so many is a problem.

“It doesn’t seem fair,” Trump added. “It’s a big group, and we’re looking at it.”

Frieden Calls Pandemic Battle 'World War C'

April 1, 2020; 3:02 p.m.

Countries must unite to win “World War C” against the COVID-19 pandemic, said Tom Frieden, MD, former CDC director.

“This is a world war, and the enemy is not people, states, or countries but a dangerous microbe. It's us against the microbes,” Frieden told reporters during a Wednesday news briefing. He led the response to the Ebola outbreak in 2014.

Now president and CEO of Resolve to Save Lives, an initiative of the global health organization Vital Strategies, Frieden outlined a three-phase “adaptive response” to control SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The group released guidance on when to loosen restrictions and when to tighten social distancing. Importantly, he said, current stay-in-place restrictions are only the beginning of the fight. He echoes other researchers who say we will need waves of distancing to end the pandemic.

“Everyone wants to know when they can go out again,” he said. “The right question to ask is, 'What do we have to do right now so we can reopen as soon and as safely as possible?'”

When the number of new cases declines, which Frieden expects to see in coming weeks and months, the U.S. will need to meet three criteria before opening again: know where the virus is and how it is spreading, strengthen health care capacity in hospitals, and ramp up public health capacity through testing and contact tracing. Tracking the virus, he said, is the main factor in preventing reemergence, and it should be ramped up immediately.

“COVID-19 is spreading like super-SARS ... and we can only stop it if we get all of the details right,” Frieden said. “Finding and quarantining contacts may seem impossible, but it is necessary.”

When stay-at-home restrictions are loosened, public spaces should “reopen the faucet gradually” and “not open the floodgates,” he said. Hand sanitizer stations and temperature checks should be at the entrance of every building, and workplaces should implement staggered hours and physical distancing for employees at first. Still, a full reopening is likely months down the road.

“Aggressive and proactive testing and contact tracing are essential to get back to a new normal,” he said. “We're not going to get back to an old normal ... but we need to have tracking and health care systems ready for the new normal to keep cases down.”

photo of graphDiabetes and Other Conditions Raise COVID-19 Risk

April 1, 2:45 p.m. 

The CDC says your chances of getting severe COVID-19 are higher if you have diabetes, chronic lung disease, heart disease, or other health problems.

Experts already know that people 65 and older have greater odds of getting severe COVID-19. But today's CDC report is the first to reveal the hard data on the risks for people in the U.S. with underlying conditions.

CDC researchers combed through case studies of more than 122,000 Americans with confirmed COVID-19 through March 28. Information on who had underlying conditions was only available for about 7,000 of those cases. But that was enough for researchers to make some early estimates.

Diabetes, chronic lung disease, and heart disease were the most frequently reported problems of those with severe COVID-19. People with these conditions were also more likely to end up in the hospital.

CDC researchers found that more than 70% of those who had COVID-19 and at least one underlying condition went to intensive care units (ICUs) or regular hospital rooms.

The CDC findings are important because underlying conditions are common in the U.S. About 10.1% of adults in the U.S. have diabetes. About 10.6% of Americans have heart disease. And 5.9% have a lung condition called chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

The CDC says people with diabetes, chronic lung disease, or heart disease should take the same precautions as everyone to prevent COVID-19. Wash hands, practice social distancing, and follow the stay-at-home directions of government authorities.

 

FDA OKs Anti-Malaria Drugs for COVID-19

March 31, 10:51 a.m. 

The FDA gave doctors the go-ahead to try two anti-malaria drugs to treat people with COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.

The drugs are called chloroquine phosphate and hydroxychloroquine sulfate. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) says drugmakers have donated 30 million doses of hydroxychloroquine sulfate and 1 million doses of chloroquine phosphate to the strategic national stockpile.

HHS says the government will start shipping the drugs to states that need them.

So far, there aren't many studies about using the anti-malaria medications as a treatment for COVID-19. But HHS says there are anecdotal reports that the drugs are helpful.

Denise Hinton, chief scientist for the FDA, says based on the scientific evidence available, it's "reasonable to believe that chloroquine phosphate and hydroxychloroquine sulfate may be effective for the treatment of COVID-19."

Clinical trials are underway to see if the drugs can safely treat COVID-19. The FDA says it's OK for hospitals to use them for people with COVID-19 if they aren't able to join a clinical trial.

The FDA also put out a warning about the danger of using a version of chloroquine phosphate that is an ingredient in fish tank water. The FDA says one person in the U.S. died and another became seriously ill after using the fish-tank version in an effort to prevent COVID-19.

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

According to Johns Hopkins University, there are more than 962,000 cases and 49,000 deaths worldwide. More than 202,000 people have also recovered. 

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

There are more than 212,000 cases in the U.S. of COVID-19 and more than 4,700 deaths, according to data complied by Johns Hopkins University and The COVID Tracking Project. 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 and Carolyn Crist contributed to this report.

 

WebMD Health News Reviewed by Neha Pathak, MD on January 24, 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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