The COVID-19 Pandemic: Over 4 Million Infections Worldwide; Projected Death Toll Continues to Rise; and More

World News:

The world has now surpassed another grim milestone in exceeding 4 million confirmed cases of COVID-19. Statistics aggregator Worldometer now reports over 4.2 million infections worldwide and over 284,000 deaths from the novel coronavirus.

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

  • Spain: 268,143 confirmed cases; 26,744 deaths.
  • UK: 223,060 confirmed cases; 32,065 deaths.
  • Russia: 221,344 confirmed cases; 2,009 deaths.
  • Italy: 219,070 confirmed cases; 30,560 deaths.
  • France: 176,970 confirmed cases; 26,380 deaths.

World Health Organization Warns that People Don’t Easily “Bounce Back” From COVID-19

Because SARS-CoV-2 is a novel virus, research is still ongoing regarding the recovery period. World Health Organization (WHO) is warning that recovery might be a prolonged process.”Many are experiencing longer-term issues with energy… some have had impacts on their respiratory system, their cardiovascular system, their liver, their kidney function and others,” Dr. Mike Ryan, WHO’s executive director of health emergencies program, said during a media briefing in Geneva on Monday. “It is taking many people a very long time to recover in a hospital environment and we should expect when people are discharged that recovery continues,” Ryan said. “People don’t just bounce back.”

UK Unveils Three-Phase Recovery Plan

The United Kingdom government released a three-step COVID-19 recovery plan on Monday. The first phase starts on Wednesday, when the British public will be permitted to spend more time outdoors. The detailed announcement comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnson was criticized for being too vague in his initial reporting of the plan. “You can now walk, sit and rest in parks, you can play sports and exercise and you can do all these things with members of your own household or with one other person from another household provided you observe social distancing and remain two meters apart,” Johnson said.

In phase two, beginning on June 1, the UK will allow “non-essential retail” businesses to reopen if its safe for them to follow social distancing guidelines. Also, some schools should be prepared to reopen at that time. In phase three, depending on how the initial phases of reopening go, the British government may allow more businesses to reopen in early July.

“The precise timetable for these adjustments will depend on the infection risk at each point, and the effectiveness of the Government’s mitigation measures like contact tracing,” said the government document. “Initially, the gap between steps will need to be several weeks, to allow sufficient time for monitoring.”

Spain Reports Lowest Deaths in Almost Two Months

Spain reported only 123 COVID-19 deaths on Monday, the lowest total number of fatalities since March 19. As of today, over half of Spain’s population received increased freedom from the COVID-19 lockdown as territories move from to Phase 1 of de-escalation, that, according to a CNN report, “allows meetings of up to 10 people who don’t live together, or the opening only of 50% of the normal outdoor seating at restaurants.”

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

National News

Monday, May 11, 2020

US Death Toll Hits 81,000; New York to Begin Phased Reopening

As of Monday, May 11, there are now over 1.3 million confirmed infections of COVID-19 in the US, and 81,000 deaths – both figures lead the world by a wide margin. New York, the nation’s epicenter, has 345,817 cases and 26,874 deaths. New York will begin reopening in phases beginning on May 15, according to governor Andrew Cuomo. “Some regions are ready to go today, they just need to get some logistical pieces in order by the end of the week. Some places are very close … just one or two criteria that haven’t been met yet,” Cuomo said.

Outside of New York, the US states with the most confirmed COVID-19 infections are:

  • New Jersey: 140,008 confirmed cases; 9,264 deaths.
  • Massachusetts: 77,793 confirmed cases; 4,979 deaths.
  • Illinois: 77,741 confirmed cases; 3,406 deaths.
  • California: 67,986 confirmed cases; 2,719 deaths.
  • Pennsylvania: 60,056 confirmed cases; 3,823 deaths.

Model Shows Increased US Deaths as Restrictions Continue to Lift

A key model used to project COVID-19 deaths in the US is now predicting more than 137,000 people in the US could die by August from the novel coronavirus. Researchers claim the augmented death toll is due to more people leaving their homes as governors relax social distancing restrictions. IHME Director Dr. Christopher Murray said in a press release that: “Unless and until we see accelerated testing, contact tracing, isolating people who test positive, and widespread use of masks in public, there is a significant likelihood of new infections.”

Most Americans Feel a Vaccine is Needed Before Resuming Normal Life

A new Gallup survey shows that 68% of Americans rate the availability of a COVID-19 vaccine as very important, and nearly three-quarters consider it “very important” for there to be a significant reduction in the number of new cases or deaths before normal life can continue.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Dr. Fauci Begins ‘Modified Quarantine’

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and member of the White House’s coronavirus task force, will begin “modified quarantine” after being exposed to the White House staffer who tested positive for COVID-19, according to a report. This is a “low risk” step taken because Dr. Fauci was not in close proximity with the infected staffer.

Saturday, May 9, 2020

FDA Chief in Self-Quarantine After Having Contact with COVID-Positive Person

Dr. Stephen Hahn, the head of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will self-quarantine for 14 days after coming in contact with a person who tested positive for the novel coronavirus. “As Dr. Hahn wrote in a note to staff today, he recently came into contact with an individual who has tested positive for COVID-19. Per (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) guidelines, he is now in self-quarantine for the next two weeks. He immediately took a diagnostic test and tested negative for the virus,” FDA spokesman Michael Felberbaum said in a statement on Friday.

Friday, May 8, 2020

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.”
  • 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.

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.”

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