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Coronavirus Daily Digest: May 19, 2020

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All 50 states will have begun reopening by the upcoming holiday weekend. The President says he’s taking an unproven malaria drug to protect against COVID-19 infection. And the CDC is launching a nationwide antibody study. Here’s the latest news on coronavirus:

  • More than 4.8 million cases have been confirmed worldwide, with over 319,000 deaths and around 1.8 million recoveries. In the U.S. we now have more than 1.5 million confirmed cases. Over 90,000 people have died here, and another 283,000 have recovered.
  • A COVID-19 vaccine candidate has shown it can prompt an immune response in the human body, and was also found to be safe and well-tolerated in a small group of patients.
  • Growing evidence suggests that COVID-19 infection, like with other illnesses, is related to prolonged time exposed to the virus. The longer you stay in an environment that may contain the virus, the higher the risk of getting sick. The same expert who offered that advice also says to stop worrying about runners and cyclists without a mask -- worry instead about the loud talkers in crowded indoor spaces.
  • Chinese President Xi Jinping has pledged an additional $2 billion to battle the novel coronavirus over the next two years. Meanwhile, President Trump said he would permanently end all funding to the World Health Organization if it did not “commit to substantive improvements within the next 30 days,” according to a copy of a letter he posted to Twitter late Monday night.
  • President Trump announced Monday that he is taking the drug hydroxychloroquine as protection against the novel coronavirus, despite the lack of evidence that it prevents individuals from contracting the illness and warnings from physicians that it can have deadly side effects. 
  • As efforts to test for the coronavirus and trace cases continue, medical examiners and coroners play a vital -- if often unsung -- role. These "last responders" may be able to fill in answers about how people died and if those deaths were related to the coronavirus.
  • Even before COVID-19, access to mental health services in the U.S. could be difficult, including for people who have insurance. Now experts fear the virus will make the situation worse, putting the patients most in need at risk of falling through the cracks and inflicting on countless others newfound grief, anxiety, and depression.
  • New coronavirus cases have been spiking from India to South Africa to Mexico in a clear indication that the pandemic is far from over, while Russia and Brazil now sit behind only the United States in the number of reported infections.
  • Bangladeshi officials are planning to evacuate some 2 million people along coastal areas as the country braces for Super Cyclone Amphan. In India, officials said up to 300,000 people in the coastal areas of West Bengal and Odisha are in immediate danger from the storm and may also need to be evacuated. Emergency services have to balance saving lives from the cyclone with saving lives from the coronavirus.
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