The COVID-19 Pandemic: US Leads the World in Deaths; Spain & Italy Easing Restrictions; and More

Foreign News:

Although the COVID-19 pandemic ripping through the world is far from over, certain countries are beginning to see signs of reprieve, even those with the most cases of deaths and infections. Mitigation efforts in the form of social distancing, and draconian-like lockdowns have shown success in reducing, if not thwarting, the rate of infections. But the war on the novel coronavirus is far from over…

Worldometer now reports over 1.8 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 115,278 deaths as this article goes to publish.

The foreign countries most affected include:

  • Spain: 169,496 confirmed cases; 17,489 deaths.
  • Italy: 156,363 confirmed cases; 19,899 deaths.
  • France: 132,591 confirmed cases; 14,393 deaths.
  • Germany: 127,854 confirmed cases; 3,033 deaths.
  • UK: 84,279 confirmed cases; 10,612 confirmed deaths.

Restrictions Lifting in Spain/Italy

Approximately 300,000 non-essential workers returned to work on Monday in the Madrid region of Spain, according to Madrid’s regional government. Today, Spain recorded 517 deaths, the second-lowest daily rise in deaths for three weeks. The Spanish government has decided to ease some of its stringent lockdown restrictions despite the fact that the country is still reporting several hundred new infections each day. Non-essential workers unable to work from home, such as construction workers, were permitted to return to work. However, non-essential businesses such as shops, bars, and restaurants remain closed for the time being. Also, Italy plans to re-open some shops, but the Italian government announced last week that current lockdown measures will remain in place until May 3.

Boris Johnson Discharged from Hospital

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson was discharged from the hospital on Sunday, a week after being admitted for persistent coronavirus symptoms. Despite leaving the hospital, the PM could be on the mend for several weeks. One source at Johnson’s official residence and office told The Sun that Johnson is “only just beginning his post-hospital recovery.”

Canada Passes Law to Benefit Businesses and Employees

Canadian lawmakers passed legislation on Saturday that will subsidize up to 75% of workers salaries to prevent further mass layoffs amid the COVID-19 outbreak in Canada. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attended the rare Saturday session with a “quorum” of around 20 lawmakers.

National News:

Monday, April 13, 2020

US Has Most Deaths, but Cases Might be ‘Leveling Off’

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.

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

  • New Jersey: 61,850 confirmed cases; 2,350 deaths.
  • Massachusetts: 25,475 confirmed cases; 756 deaths.
  • Michigan: 24,638 confirmed cases; 1,487 deaths.
  • California: 23,300 confirmed cases; 681 deaths.
  • Pennsylvania: 22,920 confirmed cases; 561 deaths.

Sailor Aboard USS Theodore Roosevelt Dies

Tragically, a sailor assigned to the COVID-stricken air carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt died of coronavirus complications today. The sailor had been admitted to the intensive care unit last week. This death marks the first virus-related fatality among members of Roosevelt crew, which was forced to dock in Guam last month after the COVID-19 outbreak started.

South Korea Sending Testing Kits

South Korea will send 600,000 testing kits to the US, according to South Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The testing kits could be sent out as soon as tomorrow, although it’s unclear how many will be sent at first. Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha said the tests received preliminary FDA approval “as a result of conversation between my president and President Trump last month. I think the contracts have been signed and they should be ready for shipment anytime soon.”

Rutgers University Saliva Test Receives FDA Approval

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. “Saliva testing will help with the global shortage of swabs for sampling and increase testing of patients, and it will not require health care professionals to be put at risk to collect samples,” Andrew Brooks, chief operating officer and director of technology development at RUCDR, said. “Saliva testing will also be important for people who are in quarantine because they don’t know how long it will be until they are no longer infectious. This will allow health care workers to release themselves from quarantine and safely come back to work.”

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.