The COVID-19 Pandemic: Almost 2.5 Million Confirmed Cases; New York to Begin Aggressive Antibody Testing; and More

World News:

Despite the fact that lockdowns and social distancing measures are working to curb the spread of COVID-19, the virus persists in infecting and killing people, and upending daily life as we as humans know it. Worldometer now reports there are now over 2.4 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 worldwide and 167,278 deaths.

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

  • Spain: 184,94 confirmed cases; 19,315 deaths.
  • Italy: 178,972 confirmed cases; 23,660 deaths.
  • France: 152,894 confirmed cases; 19,718 deaths.
  • Germany: 146,200 confirmed cases; 4,669 deaths.
  • UK: 124,743 confirmed cases; 16,509 deaths.

Italy’s Health Minister Warns that “Battle is Not Won.”

Italy is planning on rolling out a “Phase 2” stage to its mitigation process as their curve begins to flatten. The Italian government plans to gradually reopen government following the advice of its scientific committee. However, Italy’s Health Minister Roberto Speranza told Italian radio on Monday “May 4 is a date around which we have to build Phase 2. I hope that there will be a meeting between the key figures as soon as possible … but I want to be clear on one point: The battle is not won.”

National News:

Monday, April 20, 2020

BREAKING: American Oil Crashes

US oil prices plunged today to below $0 to $-37.63 a barrel. The crash occurs as COVID-19 destroys demand and producers have run out of places for storing excess barrels of crude. “No one in America wants oil in the short term,” Jeffrey Halley of Oanda told clients on Monday.

US Death Toll Exceeds 41,000; NY to Begin Aggressive Antibody Testing

As of today, there are now almost 771,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the US, and the virus has taken the lives of 41,349 US citizens. In response to the virus’ spread, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Monday that the state will begin conducting antibody tests to determine how many New Yorkers were infected with the virus and recovered. A sample of 3,000 state will start receiving tests from the state Department of Health to detect the presence of antibodies produced by people infected with COVID-19, Gov. Cuomo said.

New York still has a commanding lead on every other state in both confirmed cases (247,215) and deaths. Outside of NY, the states with the most confirmed infections are:

  • New Jersey: 85,301 confirmed cases; 4,202 deaths.
  • Massachusetts: 38,077 confirmed cases; 1,706 deaths.
  • Pennsylvania: 33,232 confirmed cases; 1,238 deaths.
  • California: 31,675 confirmed cases; 1,178 deaths
  • Michigan: 31,424 confirmed cases; 2,391 deaths.

Facebook Releases Symptom Tracking Map

Facebook today released a map that tracks COVID-19 symptoms county by county. The company plans to release the map while providing daily updates. Facebook partnered with Carnegie Mallon University to create an opt-in survey to help better identify coronavirus hotspots before infections are confirmed.

Dow Drops More than 400 Points

The combination of recent COVID-19 news and a steep decline in US crude prices has stocks falling. The Dow Jones Industrial Average futures dropped 531 points, pointing to a Monday opening drop of about 500 points. S&P 500 futures dropped 1.8% while Nasdaq 100 futures lost 1.2%.

Friday, April 17, 2020

US Deaths Surge to New Record High

The US recorded a grim new record high in COVID-19 deaths on Thursday. Tragically, over 4,500 Americans died in a 24-hour period from the respiratory disease. The US still leads the world in both confirmed cases (685,845) and deaths (35,521). New York, the US’s coronavirus epicenter, now has 226,198 confirmed cases and 16,736 deaths, after reporting 630 deaths on Thursday alone. However, encouragingly New York Governor Andrew Cuomo reported that hospitalizations across New York are in decline. “Net change in total hospitalizations is undeniably on the decline. The three-day average, which is more accurate than any one-day number, also says the same thing. That’s not that telling to me because, as I said, the entire hospital is now basically an ICU ward,” Cuomo said as a news conference Friday.

Outside of New York, the US states with the most confirmed cases remain:

  • New Jersey: 75,317 confirmed cases; 3,518 deaths.
  • Massachusetts: 32,181 confirmed cases; 1,245 deaths.
  • Pennsylvania: 29,441 confirmed cases; 837 deaths.
  • Michigan: 29,263 confirmed cases; 2,093 deaths.
  • California: 28,156 confirmed cases; 973 deaths.

Trump Reveals Federal Guidelines to Reopen US

President Trump has revealed federal guidelines to gradually reopen the US. Three-phase plan would be led by the discretion of state governors. Trump is calling the recommendations “the next front in our war, which is called opening up America again.” The president said the strategy is based on “hard verifiable data” and that “benchmarks must be met at each phase.”

“Now that we have passed the peak in new cases, we are starting our life again. We are starting rejuvenation of our economy again, in a safe and structured and a very responsible fashion,” Trump said. “We are not opening all at once, but one careful step at a time.”

COVID-19 Patients Responding to Experimental Drug Remdesivir

COVID-19 patients seem to be recovering quickly after being administered Gilead Sciences’ antiviral medicine remdesivir, according to STAT News. A Chicago hospital treating severe coronavirus patients with remdesivir in a closely observed clinical trial is seeing rapid recoveries in fever and respiratory symptoms, with nearly all patients discharged in under a week. To conduct this study, the University of Chicago Medicine recruited 125 people with COVID-19, of which 113 had severe disease. “The best news is that most of our patients have already been discharged, which is great. We’ve only had two patients perish,” said Kathleen Mullane, the University of Chicago infectious disease specialist overseeing the remdesivir studies for the hospital.

Florida Governor Authorizes Some Beaches to Open; Ramps Up Testing

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis gave the green light for some beaches and parks to reopen if it can be done safely after being closed to the COVID-19 outbreak. At news conference, DeSantis said that some municipalities should feel free to start opening up parks and beaches, if that can be done safely with distancing guidelines remaining in place. The governor feels its important for people to have outlets for getting exercise, sunshine and fresh air. “Do it in a good way. Do it in a safe way,” DeSantis said.

Also, Gov. DeSantis announced the opening of two walk-up testing centers in Broward County, and says that Florida is almost “neck and neck” with California in terms of coronavirus testing.

US Could Face “New Normal” Without Vaccine

Former US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Dr. Tom Frieden says Americans will have to maintain social distancing measures until a vaccine is developed. He told MSNBC on Friday “We don’t know when a vaccine will come.” Dr. Frieden added that, “Anyone who is not afraid of the devastation this virus causes is not taking it seriously enough and that can be a deadly error. This is a highly infectious virus. It’s spreading like a super SARS — all of the way SARS spread and more.”

Thursday, April 16, 2020

  • COVID-19 continues to have a calamitous effect on the nation’s workforce. Americans filed 5.2 million jobless claims in the last week, the Labor Department reported Thursday, hiking the four-week total to over 22 million.
  • The $349 billion emergency small business lending program officially tapped on Thursday, according to a CNN report. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Democrats will now reconvene to attempt and reach an agree on a package that will immediately increasing funding.
  • The US Food and Drug Administration is calling on all people who have recovered from COVID-19 to donate blood plasma. The reason for the request is that convalescent plasma, the liquid part of the blood, contains antibodies which can be used to boost the immune response of people still fighting the virus.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

  • President Trump announced on Tuesday that the US is halting funding to the World Health Organization (WHO) pending a review into handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
  • The US Food and Drug Administration issued emergency use authorizations for two new COVID-19 antibody tests on Wednesday.
  • New York Governor Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order that mandates anyone outside in the state will be required to wear a mask or some type of protective face wear.
  • COVID-19 patients might be most infectious before showing symptoms, according to the findings of a new study published today in the journal Nature Medicine.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

US Death Toll Surpasses 24,000; New York Facing its Peak

On Tuesday the US death toll from COVID-19 climbed to over 24,000, the most of any nation. The US remains the world epicenter of the novel respiratory disease as it nears close to surpassing 600,000 cases (currently 591,064). New York, the nation’s leading hot spot, has 195,655 confirmed cases and over 10,000 deaths. While New York Governor Andrew Cuomo commented that the three-day average for COVID-19 hospitalizations is down slightly, he warned that the volume of patients coming in still high, adding that officials believe NY is experiencing its apex. “We still had 1,600 new people come in yesterday,” Gov. Cuomo said. “The volume is still high.”

To aid New York City in combating the virus, Mayor Bill de Blasio said that NYC will purchase 50,000 coronavirus testing kits each week from Aria Diagnostics, a biotech firm based out of India. “The No. 1 issue from day one has been testing. When we started fighting the coronavirus here in the city, I said we needed the federal help with testing — it never came. We have scoured the world looking for test kits on the open market. It’s been extraordinarily frustrating,” Mayor de Blasio said.

Behind NY, the US states with the most confirmed infections are:

  • New Jersey: 64,584 confirmed cases; 2,443 deaths.
  • Massachusetts: 26,867 confirmed cases; 844 deaths.
  • Michigan: 25,635 confirmed cases; 1,602 deaths.
  • Pennsylvania: 25,345 confirmed cases; 590 deaths.
  • California: 24,371 confirmed cases; 731 deaths.

FDA Authorizes Coronavirus Saliva Test

The US Food and Drug Administration has authorized the emergency use of a diagnostic test can detect COVID-19 in saliva. The test was developed by Rutgers University in collaboration with other groups. This is big, considering that COVID-19 testing has usually involved collecting nose or throat swabs. “It means we no longer have to put health care professionals at risk for infection by performing nasopharyngeal or oropharyngeal collections,” Andrew Brooks, chief operating officer and director of technology development at the university’s RUCDR Infinite Biologics lab, said in a press release.

South Korea to Send 750,000 Testing Kits

South Korea will ship a total of 750,000 COVID-19 testing kits to the US, according to a public health official. About 150,000 kits were shipped last week while another order of 600,000 will be sent Wednesday, according to Yoon Tae Ho, an official at South Korea’s Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasure Headquarters. “I expect another 600,000 test kits to be exported tomorrow,” Yoon said.

Boston University Prepared to Cancel in-Person Classes Until 2021

Boston University may cancel all in-person classes until 2021. “The Recovery Plan recognizes that if, in the unlikely event that public health officials deem it unsafe to open in the fall of 2020, then the University’s contingency plan envisions the need to consider a later in-person return, perhaps in January 2021,” the university said in a statement.

Oprah Speaks on Seriousness of COVID-19 in Black Community

Oprah is using her platform to sound the alarm about the disproportionate effect COVID-19 is having on the African American community. “It’s not only ravaging our community, but people who have preexisting conditions, which I think people didn’t hear that,” Winfrey said in the latest installment of her “Oprah Talks COVID-19” series.. “So if you are taking medication for your diabetes, if you’re taking medication because of hypertension, if you need an asthma inhaler for asthma, if you have any kind of lung disorder.”

Monday, April 13, 2020

  • Over the weekend the US became the world-leader in COVID-19 deaths, surpassing Italy. The US now has a death toll of 22,115, and overall 560,433 confirmed cases. New York remains the hardest hit state, and has more confirmed cases than any foreign country. New York governor Andrew Cuomo said on Sunday that 758 more people died in New York – the state currently has 189,415 confirmed cases and 9,385 deaths. However, Cumo encouraged that the rate of hospitalizations is decreasing, and that statement appears supported by US Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams, who said some US hot spots, including NY, appear to be “leveling off” or reducing.
  • Tragically, a sailor assigned to the COVID-stricken air carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt died of coronavirus complications Monday.
  • South Korea will send 600,000 testing kits to the US, according to South Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
  • The US Food and Drug Administration approved a new method that uses saliva to test for COVID-19. The test was developed by researchers at Rutgers University’s RUCDR Infinite Biologics and Spectrum Solutions and Accurate Diagnostic Labs.

Sunday, April 12, 2020

FDA Green-Lights System of Cleaning N95 Masks

The US Food and Drug Administration announced a plan on Sunday to decontaminate millions of N95 respirators per day. The system, called the STERRAD Sterilization System, uses “vaporized hydrogen peroxide gas plasma sterilization”, according to the FDA. The system is installed in thousands of hospitals, and can now be used on the N95 protective masks, which are in short supply.

Saturday, April 11, 2020

IRS Deposits First Wave of Stimulus Checks

The Internal Revenue Service sent out the first wave of stimulus checks to Americans on Saturday, according to a tweet they posted. The deposits will continue in the days ahead, with people who have filed tax returns for 2018 and 2019 and authorized for direct deposit being the first to receive their money.

 

Friday, April 10, 2020

  • Dr. Anthony Fauci said officials are seeing “some favorable signs” that coronavirus curve may be flattening in the US. Dr. Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert said during an appearance on CNN’s “New Day” that: “What we’re seeing right now are some favorable signs as I’ve discussed with you a few times on this show,” Fauci explained. “It’s looking like that in many cases, particularly in New York. We’re starting to see a flattening and a turning around.”
  • Some Americans who lost their jobs due to COVID-19 will start seeing more money in their pockets soon. States are beginning to implement historic enhancements to unemployment benefits, a feature that Congress included in its 2.2 trillion relief package. It includes a $600 weekly increase for up to four months, coupled with state benefits.
  • Dr. Anthony Fauci says the idea of Americans carrying certificates of immunity to prove they tested positive for the antibodies to COVID-19 might “have some merit under certain circumstances.”
  • The Spanish government is working on introducing a preliminary version of universal income to assist Spaniards facing the economic blows of COVID-19, CNN reports. “This [health] crisis has placed on the table the urgency of a universal basic income, that it is essential and fundamental to guarantee dignity and a minimum purchase power for many Spanish families that are in a desperate situation,” the second deputy Spanish Prime Minister, Pablo Iglesias, said in an interview with national broadcaster TVE on Friday.

Thursday, April 9, 2020

  • The coronavirus pandemic continues to have an unprecedented affect on the job market as another 6.6 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week, the Labor Department reported Thursday. In total, over 16 millions Americans have made jobless claims in the last three weeks, and when compared to the 151 million people on payroll in the last monthly payroll report, it means that country has lost 10% of its workforce in just three weeks.
  • COVID-19 might have been circulating in New York longer than originally thought and the earliest cases likely stem from travelers coming from Europe and the other parts of the US, according to the findings of two separate research projects.
  • Antibody tests, which can reveal whether someone have had COVID-19 without being diagnosed, either before the outbreak started or during the test day, will soon be readily available, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci.
  • The number of people traveling via plane had decreased by approximately 96%, according to a CNN report.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

  • The US recorded its highest number of deaths in a single-day with more than 1,800 fatalities reported on Tuesday. That exceeds the previous record of 1,344 deaths which was recorded on April 4. The US currently has 406,697 confirmed cases and 13,868 deaths.New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo made the grim announcement today that NY also set a single-day record in deaths with 779 on Tuesday, up from Monday’s total of 731. COVID-19 has now claimed the lives of more New Yorkers than the September 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center.
  • Major city mayors are now looking to address the disproportionate death rate affecting minorities with the novel coronavirus, especially African Americans.
  • New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy imposed more restrictions to mitigate the effect of COVID-19 community spread in the state. Murphy ordered all non-essential construction sites to shut down indefinitely, effective at 8 p.m. ET on Friday.
  • US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has started the process for quick passage of a $251 billion stimulus bill for additional small businesses loans, CNN reports.
  • Dick’s Sporting Goods will furlough a “significant number” of its roughly 40,000 employees beginning Sunday.
  • UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson remains in intensive care on Wednesday, but is “improving” and “sitting up in bed” talking to physicians, according to Chancellor Rishi Sunak.
  • Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on Wednesday that Canada’s national lockdown will continue “for many more weeks” as the nation makes assessments on when to resume some economic activity.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

  • Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell said he hopes to approve further funding to help small businesses affected by the pandemic.
  • Investors are feeling better about a recent decline in COVID cases. Stocks surged on Monday with The Dow up 1,600 points, its third highest point gain ever. The S&P 500 went up 7% to its highest level since March 13. The S&P rebounded by around 20% from its 52-week low on March 23. Today, the Dow is trading 846 points higher at the open, or more than 3%. The S&P is up 3.2% while the Nasdaq Composite surged 2.8%.
  • President Trump announced a tough negotiation between his administration and 3M has ended with a deal which will see 3M delivering an addition 5.5 million “high-quality face masks” each month.
  • Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ space venture Blue Origin has joined other rocket companies in the fight against COVID-19 by volunteering to make products needed by front-line health care workers. Blue Origin workers are offering to make plastic pieces needed for face shields, the company said in a video released on Tuesday.
  • Major League Baseball (MLB) and its players are focused on a plan that could allow them to start the season as early as May, ESPN reports. The plan, should it come to fruition, would dicate that all 30 teams play games in the Phoenix area in stadiums with no fans.
  • British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was transferred to intensive care on Monday, after his persistent coronavirus symptoms worsened.
  • China reported no new COVID-19 deaths for the first time since January, the National Health Commission said.

Monday, April 6, 2020

  • Encouragingly, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a video briefing on Monday that the death toll in the state has been “effectively flat” for the past two days, adding that: “If we are plateauing, we are plateauing at a high level.”
  • Stocks are rising, and rebounded from sharp losses over the previous week with the Dow Jones Industrial Average trading at 1,200 points higher, or up more than 5%. The S&P 500 gained 5.5% while the Nasdaq Composite jumped by 5.4%.
  • World Health Organization (WHO) officials are now warning that COVID-19 can spread in asymptomatic patients one to three days before the onset of symptoms. “It’s very important to note that even if you are pre-symptomatic, you still have to transmit through droplets.
  • Boris Johnson admitted to hospital.
  • Spain’s death toll has reportedly dropped for the fourth consecutive day on Monday, with 637 confirmed deaths today. Spain’s number of mortalities from the novel virus have been steadily falling since they hit a peak of 905 last Thursday, according to a Reuters report.
  • Tiger at the Bronx Zoo tests positive for coronavirus.
  • Spain’s death toll has reportedly dropped for the fourth consecutive day on Monday, with 637 confirmed deaths today. Spain’s number of mortalities from the novel virus have been steadily falling since they hit a peak of 905 last Thursday, according to a Reuters report.

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Third Coral Princess Passenger Dies

A third passenger aboard the Coral Princess cruise ship died on Sunday after being transported by a plane ambulance to a Florida hospital, CNN reports. The Coral Princess departed Santiago, Chile on March 5, and announced operations were halting one week later. Two passengers perished on board the ship before it docked and six others were transported from the ship to local hospitals on Saturday.

Hydroxychloroquine Trial Underway in Detroit Hospital

Vice President Mike Pence announced on Sunday that hydroxychloroquine will be used in a trial of 3,000 patients at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, and the results will be tracked in a formal study. Pence added that they are “more than prepared” to make hydroxychloroquine available to doctor’s offices and pharmacies in the Detroit area “as they deem appropriate.”

Saturday, April 4, 2020

‘This the Moment to Not be Going to the Grocery’

Coronavirus Response Coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx emphasized on Saturday that the next weeks will be pivotal in flattening the curve. She stated: “This is a very important — the next two weeks are extraordinarily important, and that’s why I think you’ve heard from Dr. (Anthony) Fauci, from myself, from the President and the Vice President that this is the moment to do everything that you can on the presidential guidelines,” Birx said. “This is the moment to not be going to the grocery store, not going to the pharmacy, but doing everything you can to keep your family and your friends safe, and that means everybody doing the 6 feet distancing, washing your hands.”

Friday, April 3, 2020

  • The United States became the epicenter for COVID-19 cases less than a week ago, and since has seen its numbers surge to over 258,000 cases and 6,572 deaths. Dr. Anthony Fauci explained in a CNN interview that even with mitigation efforts in place in the form of social distancing, the amount of US deaths has yet to reach its apex. “Even when you suppress or stabilize the number of new infections, its still going to take awhile before you see a decrease in hospitalizations, a decrease in intensive care, and a decrease in deaths.” Adding that: “In fact, deaths are the last thing that lag. So you could be doing well, and having a good effect on mitigation, and still see the deaths go up.”
  • The USNS Comfort, the Navy hospital vessel deployed to NYC to treat non-COVID patients, is only currently treating 20 patients, according to a Navy spokesperson. However, the Navy expects that number to rise appreciably as the referral process is refined. New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio said in a CNN interview that: “There’s no question in my mind that will get resolved quickly. You’ll see that number grow.”
  • US Government Will Only Issue New Passports in ‘Life-or-Death’ Emergencies

Thursday, April 2, 2020

  • The spread of COVID-19 has had an astronomically dire effect on the US job market as 6.6 million US workers filed for unemployment benefits in the week ending on March 28, meaning that nearly 10 million jobless claims have been made in the last two weeks.
  • Amid the pandemic, the Democratic National Committee decided to postpone the party’s presidential convention in Milwaukee from July 13 to August 17, one week before the Republican Party’s convention.
  • A venerable panel of scientific experts informed the White House that research shows COVID-19 can spread not just through sneezing and coughing, but also by just talk, or possibly even just breathing.
  • Out of 70 students who boarded a plane from Austin, Texas to Mexico for spring break two weeks ago, more than 40 have now tested positive for COVID-19 – all of them University of Texas at Austin students.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

  • New York Governor Andrew Cuomo ordered the closure of all New York City playgrounds on Wednesday to mitigate the virus’ spread.
  • Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced a stay-at-home order for all Floridians to impede COVID’s spread.
  • Stocks fell by 4% on Wednesday following President Trump’s aforementioned warning of deadly days to come. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 909 points, or 4.1% in midday trading, while the S&P 500 fell by 4.4% and the Nasdaq Composite dropped by 3.9%. This comes one day after the Dow closed out their worst quarter since 1987.
  • President Trump warns of a ‘painful’ next weeks as the virus’ peak nears closer.
  • New data from Iceland reveals that 50% of patients who tested positive for COVID-19 said they did not present with any symptoms.
  • The COVID-19 death toll in the United Kingdom rose by a record 563 in the last 24 hours, and now Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative government is under fire for failing to keep its promise to ramp up testing.

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.