The COVID-19 Pandemic: US Unemployment Rate Soars to Almost 15%, Worst Since Great Depression; Is Coronavirus Sexually Transmitted?; and More

World News:

As of Friday, May 8, the world is verging on another grim milestone of 4 million confirmed COVID-19 infections.  Worldometer now reports 3,949,240 cases along with 271,785 deaths.

Outside of the US, the countries with the most confirmed cases are:

  • Spain: 256,855 confirmed cases; 26,070 deaths.
  • Italy: 215,858 confirmed cases; 29,958 deaths.
  • UK: 206,715 confirmed cases; 30,615 deaths.
  • Russia: 187,859 confirmed cases; 1,723 deaths.
  • France: 174,791 confirmed cases; 25,987 deaths.

Deaths Spike in Brazil

The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Brazil have spiked to 135,106, along with 9,146 deaths, according to the Brazilian Health Ministry. Despite the surge in cases, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who confirmed he tested positive for the virus, has downplayed the pandemic and believes “the worst has passed”. However, many health experts fears that the worst is yet to come for Brazil.

The Pandemic is Creating a “Tsunami of Hate and Xenophobia,” According to UN Secretary General

The COVID-19 pandemic is causing “a tsunami of hate and xenophobia, scapegoating and scare-mongering,” the United Nations Secretary General António Guterres said. As such, the UN chief is imploring political leaders to help enhance social relations in their communities. “I’m appealing today for an all-out effort to end hate speech globally,” he said.”I call on the media — especially social media companies — to do much more to flag … and remove racist, misogynist, and other harmful content. “And I ask everyone, everywhere, to stand up against hate.”

Boris Johnson Says Coronavirus Fight Requires Same Spirit as WWII

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a speech marking the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe that fighting COVID-19 “demands the same spirit of national endeavor” as the fight against Hitler and Nazi Germany. “We survived and eventually triumphed thanks to the heroism of countless ordinary people who may be elderly today, but once carried the fate of freedom itself on their shoulders,” he said.
“All of us who were born since 1945 are acutely conscious that we owe everything we most value to the generation who won the second world war.”

For more on the Covid-19 Crisis check out MashupMD for headlines from every major medical journal, news outlet, MD and Scientist.

National News

Friday, May 8, 2020

Death Toll Exceeds 77,000; New York Update

The novel coronavirus has now killed over 77,000 people in the US and there are 1,298,369 confirmed cases as this article goes to publish. The US epicenter, New York, has 337,421 confirmed cases and 26,365 deaths. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said that at least 216 died from COVID-19 yesterday, which is down from 231 people on Wednesday and 232 people on Tuesday. Cuomo added that the number of fatalities isn’t dropping as quickly as he’d like. Also, hospitalization rates are “just about flat,” but Cuomo hopes for a “steady, sharp decline in those numbers.”

Outside of NY, the US states with the most confirmed infections are:

  • New Jersey: 135,106 confirmed cases; 8,834 deaths.
  • Massachusetts: 73,721 confirmed cases; 4,552 deaths.
  • Illinois: 70,873 confirmed cases; 3,111 deaths.
  • California: 62,477 confirmed cases; 2,545 deaths.
  • Pennsylvania: 56,002 confirmed cases; 3,592 deaths.

Employment Hits Great Depression Levels

A record 20.5 million Americans lost their jobs in April, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on Friday – by far the sharpest decline since the government began tracking data in 1939. The US employment rate is now 14.7% – the highest its been since The Great Depression – further evidence that the COVID-19 pandemic has devastated America unlike any other event in the nation’s history. The rate of unemployment for adult women is slightly higher than adult men (15.5% vs. 13%, respectively) while Hispanics (18.9%), blacks (16.7%), Asians (14.5%), and whites (14.2%) have all suffered a record high employment rate in their groups, with the exception of black people.

The numbers paint “a pretty dismal picture, but April may be it for job losses going forward with the country starting to reopen,” Chris Rupkey, chief financial economist at MUFG Union Bank, told CNBC. “If there is a silver lining in today’s dismal jobs report, it is in the realization that the economy cannot possibly get any worse than it is right now.”

Is COVID-19 Sexually Transmitted?

Researchers found traces of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, in the semen of some severely infected men, according to a study which appeared in the journal JAMA Network Open. However, it remains unclear if this finding proves that the virus is transmitted through sex. “I think that’s premature,” said Dr. Ryan Berglund, a urologist with the Cleveland Clinic’s Glickman Urological and Kidney Institute in a CBS News report. “You have to look at this as a sign that semen, as along with a number of other body fluids, can contain the virus.”

However, Dr. Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar with the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security in Baltimore, said “the fact that the novel coronavirus’ genetic material is found in the semen of male patients is an important finding that will need follow-up study.”

Some Restrictions Lift in California

Some California retailers were allowed to reopen their businesses today, by authorization of California Governor Gavin Newsom. The easing of restrictions occurs after groups of protesters gathered across the state in defiance of lockdown orders last week. However, Gov. Newsom stated that the reason California is able to ease some restrictions is because “the data says it can happen.”

VP Pence Staffer Tests Positive

A now second member of Vice President Mike Pence’s staff tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday, one day after a personal valet of President Donald Trump tested positive for the novel virus. The positive result caused a one hour delay of Air Force Two for a flight to Iowa. The plane idled at Andrews Air Force Base with Vice President Pence aboard. Although the infected staff member was not on the plane, out of what a senior administrator called “an abundance of caution,” six aides who had been in recent contact with the COVID-positive staffer were asked to deplane and remain in Washington.

Thursday, May 7, 2020

  • The New York Department of Health issued an alert that said 64 children and teens in New York State are suspected of having a mysterious inflammatory disease linked to COVID-19. Similar cases – including one death – have been reported in other US states and Europe, though the syndrome remains largely a mystery.
  • One of President Donald Trump’s personal valets tested positive for COVID-19, marking the the closest known exposure of the president to the virus. After being made aware of the positive test, both President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence were both tested, and came back with negative results.
  • Neiman Marcus declared for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Thursday, making it the largest retailer to do so amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Company CEO Geoffroy van Raemdonck said in a state that (Neiman Marcus) and other retailers are facing “unprecedented disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has placed inexorable pressure on our business.”

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

  • President Donald Trump said on Wednesday that the White House coronavirus task force will continue working “indefinitely,” reversing an initial decision he made on Tuesday to phase out the team in the coming weeks.
  • A new genetic analysis of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the disease COVID-19, shows that coronavirus started circulating in people late last year, and spread extremely quickly after the first infection, according to a CNN report.
  • The US Center for Disease Control and Prevention says that at least 4,893 incarcerated or detained people have been infected with COVID-19. Moreover, the CDC reports that at least 2,778 staff members have tested positive for the respiratory disease, resulting in 15 deaths.
Tuesday, May 5, 2020
  • The projected US death toll from COVID-19 has hit an upward trajectory. Researchers who developed the model that has been cited by the White House nearly doubled their estimated death toll to 134,475 deaths through August.
  • US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer is underway with human testing for an experimental coronavirus vaccine in the US, the company announced on Tuesday. Pfizer, working in conjunction with German drugmaker BioNTech, said the first human participants have been dosed with the potential vaccine, BNT162. Human trials for the experimental vaccine initiated last month in Germany. “With our unique and robust clinical study program underway, starting in Europe and now the U.S., we look forward to advancing quickly and collaboratively with our partners at BioNTech and regulatory authorities to bring a safe and efficacious vaccine to the patients who need it most,” Pfizer Chairman and CEO Albert Bourla said in a statement.
  • Officials in 46 US states, as well as Washington DC, have ordered or recommended that schools remain closed for the duration of this academic school year to prevent the further spread of COVID-19, according to CNN data. Moreover, schools in five US territories – America Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico and US Virgin Islands – will also keep schools closed for the remainder of the academic year.

Monday, May 4, 2020

  • Scientists working on the White House’s “Operation Warp Speed” to develop a vaccine for COVID-19 have honed in on 14 vaccines to focus on, a Trump administration official told CNN. President Donald Trump said Sunday night at a Fox News town hall, “We are very confident we are going to have a vaccine by the end of the year.”
  • A Trump administration model is now predicting a rise in the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in the coming weeks as most states begin easing lockdown restrictions that were put in place to mitigate the spread of the virus. The model is projecting up to 3,000 daily deaths in the US by June, according to an internal document procured by the New York Times. However, the White House said in a statement that the document obtained by the Times has not undergone review by the White House’s coronavirus task force.
  • New Jersey schools will remain closed for the duration of the 2019-2020 academic year, by order of New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy. Murphy made the announcement at his daily news briefing. “This is a difficult decision and I know that many students, parents, and staff would like to be able to return to school,” Murphy said in the statement. “However, I have been unwavering on the message that we need to make decisions based on science, not emotion. And while New Jersey is making great strides in mitigating the spread of COVID-19, science tells us that at this point, we can’t safely re-open our schools.”
  • J.Crew Group, the parent company of J.Crew ad Madewell Brands, became the first national US retailer to file for bankruptcy due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a CNN report. The popular clothing retailer announced on Monday that it began the process of filing for Chapter 11 proceedings in federal bankruptcy court in the Eastern District of Virginia. “We will continue all day-to-day operations,” J.Crew Group CEO Jan Singer said in a statement.

Friday, May 1, 2020

National News:

  • Dr. Anthony Fauci said the Trump administration is ramping up efforts for developing a coronavirus vaccine, and one could be available by January, the NY Post reports. “We want to go quickly, but we want to make sure it’s safe and it’s effective,” Fauci said on NBC’s “Today” show on Thursday. “I think that is doable if things fall in the right place.”
  • The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention how the US deals with the COVID-19 pandemic in the coming weeks will be “critical” to how the virus will evolve come the fall season. “I do think that what we do this summer is going to be critical,” said Dr. Ann Schuchat, CDC principal deputy director in an interview with JAMA Network. “The more we intensify the testing and expand the public health capacity and assure that our hospital capacity and material to support the hospitals is adequate or has excess, the better we’re going to be in the fall.”

The COVID-19 Pandemic: April Round-up

Here’s a full wrap-up of COVID-19 happenings from the month of March.

The COVID-19 Pandemic March Round-up: Coronavirus Declared a Pandemic; People, Businesses and Economies Devastated

 

DocWire News will provide breaking updates on the COVID-19 pandemic as they become available.