- The outbreak, initially identified in China, is continuing to grow.
- The disease is called COVID-19. It’s caused by an infection from the new coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, which is one of multiple coronaviruses that can be transmitted to humans.
- Other examples include SARS, MERS, and even the common cold.
- Globally, more than 1.2 million people have contracted the virus in 183 countries and regions.
- More than 69,000 deaths have occurred.
- Reported U.S. cases are over 330,000 with more than 9,000 deaths. Cases have been found in all 50 states. Due to limited testing supplies, health experts believe the number of U.S. people with the disease is likely much higher.
Riverside County in Southern California is requiring everyone to wear some sort of face covering while in public.
While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other local municipalities have recommended face coverings to stop COVID-19, this is the first time a county has mandated masks.
Additionally, all gatherings of any size may not take place, except for people who already live in the same home.
As of Saturday, April 4, there have been 665 confirmed cases and 18 deaths related to COVID-19, including two sheriff deputies, in Riverside County.
“While more and more Riverside County residents are getting COVID-19, not everybody’s getting the message,” Dr. Cameron Kaiser, Riverside County public health officer, said in a statement. “It started with staying home, social distance, and covering your face. But now we change from saying that you should to saying that you must.”
Religious gatherings are also banned before the start of the Easter and Passover holidays.
“Palm Sunday, Passover, and Easter are sacred days. The best way to practice our love for God is loving our fellow neighbor. That means staying home and observing the holidays at home,” Board Chair V. Manuel Perez, 4th District Supervisor, said in a statement.
In an appearance on the CBS show “Face the Nation,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said that experts expect an increasing number of deaths from COVID-19, with daily totals rising for at least the next week.
“This is going to be a bad week… unfortunately, if you look at the project of the curves… we’re going to continue to see an escalation,” he said.
Fauci said that within a week, hopefully the curve of new cases will flatten out, meaning there will be few hospitalized cases and ultimately fewer deaths from the disease.
Fauci said that social distancing remains the best tool in fighting back against COVID-19. But, he explained, before people see the effects of social distancing, deaths and severe COVID-19 cases are expected to rise.
“I will not say we have it under control,” Fauci said. “That would be a false statement… We are struggling to get it under control, and that’s the issue that’s at hand right now.”
Capt. Brett Crozier, a Navy captain who was removed from command, has now tested positive for the virus, according to a report from the San Francisco Chronicle.
Crozier had drawn attention after writing a memo asking for help for his sailors, as they were unable to disembark and the virus was quickly spreading throughout the ship.
The captain was removed from command earlier this week after his ship landed in Guam. After his removal, at least 155 sailors on board the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt were diagnosed with the virus.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo warned that the peak of the COVID-19 outbreak in New York might hit the state this week, potentially overwhelming already strained hospitals.
“I call it the battle of the mountaintop because that’s what it’s going to be… by the numbers we’re not yet at the apex, we’re getting closer,” Cuomo told reporters today. He said that according to projections, he expects the state will hit the peak in the next week.
He also warned that the state isn’t yet ready and lacks enough medical staff, ventilators, and other supplies to keep patients alive.
“The more time we have to improve the capacity of the system, the better,” he said.
New York is currently the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States with more than 113,000 reported cases and more than 3,600 deaths.
Cuomo also announced that Oregon state is sending 140 ventilators and groups in China are donating another 1,000.
To prevent the spread of COVID-19, the CDC is recommending all Americans wear nonmedical face masks.
“We now know a significant portion of individuals with coronavirus lack symptoms… even those who eventually become presymptomatic… can transmit the virus before they show symptoms,” said U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams.
As a result, the CDC “task force recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings.”
The mayors of Los Angeles and New York have already recommended citizens wear face masks to decrease the likelihood of transmitting the virus.
Officials are recommending people wear cloth masks since medical-grade N95 masks should still be reserved for healthcare providers.
Henan, a midsized city in central China, has been placed in lockdown as authorities contend with a second wave of the COVID-19 outbreak, according to a report in Politico.
Restrictions on movement came into effect March 31 when approximately 600,000 residents in Jia County, near the city of Pingdingshan, were warned to remain at home, according to the South China Morning Post (SCMP).
A Jia County official told the Post that the county has been isolated from the rest of the country. “It’s better not to come to Jia county now,” the official told SCMP. “Nobody can enter or leave.”
Also, everyone entering or leaving residential compounds is required to wear a face mask, have their temperature taken, and show a certificate proving they’re healthy, according to the Express.
A report from Nippon.com said that the number of cases in Japan has increased more rapidly since late March. They emphasized that although it took 65 days for the island nation to reach 1,000 confirmed cases, only 11 days passed before that figure doubled.
In Europe, Spain announced 932 more deaths, bringing the total to almost 11,000, reported Aljazeera. The country currently has the second most fatalities in the world behind Italy, according to Bloomberg.
A new test that’s supposed to give results in just minutes may not be nearly as available as officials have stated.
Kaiser Health News reported today that only about 5,500 tests made by Abbott Labs would be available in the United States in the near future. The test was presented by President Donald Trump at a press briefing earlier this week.
As of April 5, there are at least 1.2 million reported cases of COVID-19 across the globe, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. There’s no sign that the worldwide pandemic is going to end soon.
Now months after the virus was first detected in China, the epicenter of the outbreak has shifted first to Europe and now to the United States, which currently has the most reported cases of the disease.
The disease, COVID-19, is caused by the new coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced April 2 that they’re relaxing restrictions that prohibit many gay and bisexual men from donating blood or plasma.
The FDA will now allow gay and bisexual men to donate blood if they haven’t had sex with a man in the last 3 months. Previously, there was a ban on giving blood for men if they had sex with another man within the previous year.
Prior to 2015, any man who had ever had sex with another man was banned from donating blood or plasma.
Industry experts warn that key medications used for patients who are ventilated are running low.
According to STAT News, a variety of medications including sedatives, anesthetics, pain medications, and muscle relaxers may soon be in short supply due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
While there has been an increase in the need for these drugs as more people are put on ventilators to help them breathe, manufacturers are struggling to meet the demand.
Nurses in seven states are protesting a lack of protective equipment as they treat people with COVID-19.
The National Nurses United said in a statement that nurses are protesting at 15 hospitals due to a lack of proper protective equipment (PPE) including N95 facial masks and protective-powered air purifying respirators.
“Protecting our patients is our highest priority, but it becomes much harder when we don’t have the safe protections which puts us in danger of becoming infected,” Angela Davis, RN, medical intensive care unit at Research Medical Center Kansas City, Missouri, said in a statement.
“If we are no longer able to be at the bedside, who will be there to care for our patients?” she asked.
A shortage of medical supplies has been a problem across the country, as reported COVID-19 cases have surged to over 200,000 in just the last month.
Some hospitals and medical staff have resorted to trying to make their own equipment, or reusing masks or other medical supplies. One nurse in New York died after contracting COVID-19. He was photographed wearing a trash bag over his scrubs instead of proper protective equipment
“When we are infected no one is safe,” said Kim Smith, RN, intensive care unit at Doctors Regional Hospital/Corpus Christi Medical Center in Corpus Christi, Texas. “When we are infected, we become a real danger of infecting everyone else around us, patients, hospital staff, and a risk to our own families.”
The protests come as the number of deaths in the United States is rising drastically. In a single day, over 1,000 people reportedly died from COVID-19.
U.S. intelligence believes that China may have downplayed the extent of the COVID-19 outbreak, according to Bloomberg News.
According to the report, China “intentionally” reported false numbers about the extent of the COVID-19 outbreak.
While the intelligence report itself hasn’t been revealed, certain government officials and experts say a lack of transparency about the actual data may have impacted how countries prepared for the COVID-19 outbreak.
“The medical community made — interpreted the Chinese data as: This was serious, but smaller than anyone expected,” said Dr. Deborah Birx, who’s coordinating the White House response to the outbreak, according to Bloomberg News.
“Because I think probably we were missing a significant amount of the data, now that what we see happened to Italy and see what happened to Spain,” she said.
This comes one day after China reported that an additional 1,500 asymptomatic cases of COVID-19 hadn’t been counted in national totals.
Currently, the United States, Italy, and Spain have reported more cases of COVID-19 than China. Today, the United States reported more than 220,000 cases of the virus.
After weeks of criticism, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis ordered state citizens to stay at home except for essential services. As of April 1, the state had over 6,000 COVID-19 cases and 87 deaths.
DeSantis had resisted issuing a stay-at-home order and faced criticism for not closing down beaches in the state earlier, when thousands of people arrived for spring break.
The state reported a significant increase in cases in recent days rising over 3,000 in just 4 days.
The stay-at-home order will last for at least 30 days. Residents will be able to leave to run essential errands.
In a recent poll, most Americans say they’re avoiding public places, mass transit, and both large and small social gatherings.
In the Gallup poll released March 31, the vast majority of Americans appear to be taking action to reduce the risk of contracting or transmitting COVID-19.
While there’s still no national stay-at-home order, many states have issued some stay at home or shelter in place orders to try to stop the spread of the virus.
At least 92 percent of Americans said they were avoiding crowds, 90 percent said they were avoiding mass transit, and 78 percent said they were avoiding public places such as stores or restaurants in the poll.
The poll also found that 83 percent of Americans say they’re avoiding even small gatherings like dinner with family and friends. This is dramatically higher compared to the middle of this month when just 23 percent of Americans said they were avoiding these gatherings.
In a press conference on March 30, Dr. Anthony Fauci said that it’s likely that the new coronavirus could return this fall even if cases start to go down over the summer.
“In fact I would anticipate that would happen [due to the transmission rate],” Fauci told reporters.
He said that hopefully better testing in addition to potential treatment options could mean the fall outbreak would not be as severe.
The COVID-19 outbreak continues to spread across the United States and there’s still no cure for the disease.
In an effort to find new treatments, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the use of drugs primarily used as anti-malaria treatments in the hopes they may help people with COVID-19.
The FDA announced March 29 that they’re accepting donations of “30 million doses of hydroxychloroquine sulfate donated by Sandoz, the Novartis generics and biosimilars division, and one million doses of chloroquine phosphate donated by Bayer Pharmaceuticals.”
The FDA had allowed the use of the drugs under an Emergency Use Authorization. This means physicians are allowed to give this drug to people with COVID-19 even though there hasn’t been extensive clinical testing on its effectiveness as a COVID-19 treatment.
These drugs remain experimental as a treatment for COVID-19, meaning it’s still unclear if they’ll actually help fight the disease. No one should take them without talking to their physician first.
During the COVID-19 outbreak, even heads of state are not safe. On March 27, the prime minister of the United Kingdom, Boris Johnson, announced he had tested positive for the virus.
In a video posted on Twitter, Johnson said, “I’ve developed mild symptoms… a temperature and a persistent cough.”
Johnson said on the advice of his physician he took a COVID-19 test and was positive.
“I am working from home, I’m self-isolating, and that’s entirely the right thing to do,” he said.
Contracting COVID-19 is an overriding worry for just about everyone, and we’re all doing our best to avoid it.
But there’s an important question that must be answered before we can declare victory over this virus. Can we become immune?
“Coronaviruses aren’t new, they’ve been around for a long, long time and many species — not just humans — get them. So we know a fair amount about coronaviruses in general,” Dr. Stephen Gluckman, an infectious diseases physician at Penn Medicine and the medical director of Penn Global Medicine told the Huffington Post.
“For the most part, the feeling is once you’ve had a specific coronavirus, you are immune. We don’t have enough data to say that with this coronavirus, but it is likely,” he said.
However, according to the CDC, the immune response to COVID-19 is “poorly understood,” and although people with MERS-CoV aren’t expected to become reinfected after recovery, “it is not yet known whether similar immune protection will be observed for patients with COVID-19.”
In New York City, a Mount Sinai West nurse who had been treating COVID-19 patients died March 24, 1 week after being admitted to hospital with COVID-19, reported NBC New York.
This news highlights the danger of protective gear shortages in hospitals as the crisis continues.
On March 24, the FDA announced that a process known as plasma-derived therapy or “convalescent plasma,” would be expedited as a potential treatment for people with COVID-19.
The idea is that blood plasma from people who have beaten the infection contains antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 — the virus that causes COVID-19 — that may be effective against it.
New York plans to be the first state to treat critically ill patients using these antibodies as another weapon against the ongoing pandemic.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced March 16 that a phase I clinical trial evaluating an investigational vaccine to protect against COVID-19 has begun at Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute in Seattle.
“Finding a safe and effective vaccine to prevent infection with SARS-CoV-2 is an urgent public health priority,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, in a statement. “This phase I study, launched in record speed, is an important first step toward achieving that goal.”
The 2020 Summer Olympic Games have officially been postponed.
In a statement on March 24, the International Olympic Committee president and Japanese prime minister said the games would need to be moved due to the ongoing outbreak of COVID-19.
While the new date was not specified, officials said it wouldn’t be later than summer 2021.
Experts had been alarmed at the idea of tens of thousands of athletes and spectators congregating from all over the world for the athletic event.
As the new coronavirus disease outbreak continues to put countries into lockdown, experts said holding the games could result in a jump in cases.
On March 20, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced a global “megatrial,” called SOLIDARITY. The trial will discover if any of four existing drugs can treat the new coronavirus.
According to Science, the four drugs include:
- remdesivir, an experimental antiviral compound
- chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, malaria medications
- lopinavir and ritonavir, a combination of HIV drugs
- lopinavir and ritonavir, plus interferon-beta, an immune system messenger that can cripple viruses
“It will be important to get answers quickly, to try to find out what works and what doesn’t work. We think that randomized evidence is the best way to do that,” said Dr. Ana Maria Henao-Restrepo, medical officer at the WHO’s Department of Immunization Vaccines and Biologicals, in a statement.
The American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery (AAO-HNS) recently proposed that a loss of smell should be added to the list of screening tools for COVID-19 due to “evidence accumulating from cases worldwide.”
Absent of other respiratory diseases such as allergic rhinitis (hayfever) or acute or chronic sinus inflammation, this symptom “should alert physicians to the possibility of COVID-19 and warrant serious consideration for self-isolation and testing of these individuals,” the AAO-HNS said in a statement.
No, the new coronavirus is not the flu. In fact, it can present very differently from that seasonal virus.
We spoke to experts about how you can identify the different symptoms for COVID-19, the flu, and spring allergies.
President Trump declared a national emergency on March 13 in response to the ongoing outbreak of COVID-19.
The declaration will allow the government to use $50 billion earmarked for disaster relief to combat the crisis.
Additionally, the Federal Emergency Management Agency will be able to coordinate with local and state leaders to help better manage the outbreak.
He emphasized that the emergency orders he’s issuing will confer broad new authority to the secretary of Health and Human Services, Alex Azar, allowing him to “immediately waive provisions of applicable laws and regulations to give doctors, hospitals, all hospitals, and healthcare providers maximum flexibility to respond to the virus and care for patients.”
He stated that the administration has been in discussions with pharmacies and retailers to make “drive-thru” testing available in critical locations identified by public health professionals. “The goal is for individuals to be able to drive up and be swabbed without having to leave your car.”
South Korea, widely praised for its testing measures, has been using drive-thru sites to great effect, according to CNN, and New York State is one of the first states to introduce the practice so far.
Trump announced the creation of a screening website, to be designed by Google, that will enable visitors to fill out a screening questionnaire, check symptoms and risk factors, and if found necessary — be informed where the nearest drive-thru facility is located for them to receive the test.
The WHO officially declared COVID-19 a worldwide pandemic on March 11.
Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus, the director-general of the WHO, pointed out that cases outside of China have increased “13-fold” in just 2 weeks.
A new study examined nine people with the new coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2. The researchers wanted to understand virus shedding (when the virus leaves its host) during illness to determine how infectious the disease may be.
Conducted by German researchers, though not yet peer-reviewed, the findings suggest that viral shedding occurred in high levels from the throat during early phases of illness for the patients studied.
However, the rate of shedding dropped after the fifth day in all patients except for two experiencing signs of pneumonia. They continued to shed COVID-19 at high levels until the 10th or 11th day, according to researchers.
“The present study shows that COVID-19 can often present as a common cold-like illness. SARS-CoV-2 can actively replicate in the upper respiratory tract, and is shed for a prolonged time after symptoms end, including in stool,” the study authors wrote.
Scientists also found that people with COVID-19 may shed over 1,000 times more virus than emitted during peak shedding of the 2003 SARS infection. They say this could explain why COVID-19 has spread so rapidly.
Researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health analyzed publicly available data to find COVID-19 has roughly a 5-day incubation period from exposure to onset of symptoms.
Researchers said this average time from exposure to onset of symptoms suggests that the CDC’s 14-day quarantine period for people who were likely exposed to the virus is reasonable.
“Based on our analysis of publicly available data, the current recommendation of 14 days for active monitoring or quarantine is reasonable, although with that period some cases would be missed over the long-term,” said senior study author Justin Lessler, PhD, associate professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, in a statement.
Another recent study from Sun Yat-sen University in China has discovered that SARS-CoV-2 may have an ideal temperature at which it spreads most easily.
Researchers analyzed the cumulative number of all confirmed cases in all affected cities and regions from Jan. 20 to Feb. 4, 2020. Their findings suggest it spreads most easily at about 48°F (8.89°C).
“The study found that, to certain extent, temperature could significant[ly] change COVID-19 transmission, and there might be a best temperature for the viral transmission, which may partly explain why it first broke out in Wuhan,” wrote the study authors. “It is suggested that countries and regions with a lower temperature in the world adopt the strictest control measures to prevent future reversal.”
Public health experts have advised people to stop touching their face to cut down on your risk of contracting the new coronavirus. But that’s easier said than done.
We talked to experts who told us how we can train ourselves to avoid touching our face constantly. More information can be found here.
Health officials have been trying to stop the virus from spreading widely in the United States, but multiple cases of unknown origin have been detected across the country.
The federal government recently passed an $8.3 billion aid bill to provide funds to help fight the outbreak.
A new summary found that one way to slow the disease may be by simply getting a thorough travel history from patients.
In a press briefing on March 3, officials from the WHO said the fatality rate for COVID-19 may be higher than previously realized.
Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus, the director-general of the WHO, said in a statement that SARS-CoV-2 doesn’t appear to spread as efficiently as the flu.
“This virus is not SARS, it’s not MERS, and it’s not influenza. It is a unique virus with unique characteristics,” he said.
But it may be more deadly.
“Globally, about 3.4 percent of reported COVID-19 cases have died,” he said. “By comparison, seasonal flu generally kills far fewer than 1 percent of those infected.”
He pointed out one reason for those different fatality rates is that there are vaccines and antiviral medications to help treat flu symptoms. But nothing yet for COVID-19.
Additionally, he said that according to evidence from China, only 1 percent of COVID-19 cases have no symptoms, and many people develop symptoms later on.
As the outbreak continues to spread, there are ways you can prepare. Among them is simply stocking up your medicine cabinet with over-the-counter cold and flu medications.
While they can’t cure the virus, they can help relieve symptoms of mild cases.
Researchers are studying how people with the virus shed it and what impact it’s having on affected populations.
One new study has found answers that many won’t find comforting.
Testing and confirmation of SARS-CoV-2 infection is currently carried out by oral swabs. But research published Feb. 17 in Emerging Microbes & Infections finds evidence that there’s an oral-fecal transmission route.
The scientists reported that viruses’ genetic material can be detected in both anal swabs and blood samples. Crucially, evidence of the new coronavirus was found in anal swabs and blood — even when it wasn’t detected using oral swabs.
According to the study, this was particularly true for those patients receiving supportive care for several days.
Although medical staff, people with illnesses, and older adults are most at risk, more than 80 percent of COVID-19 cases have been mild, according to a new report from the Chinese CDC.
Hubei province in China, where the infection is believed to have originated, is the hardest hit, according to the report.
One of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of illnesses like COVID-19 or the flu is simple: Encourage employees to stay home when they’re sick.
But since the United States doesn’t have a national paid sick leave policy, taking a sick day remains a financial sacrifice for 32 million workers who lack paid sick leave benefits.
Without paid sick leave, workers are more likely to come into work sick, exposing their co-workers to an illness. This means if SARS-CoV-2 starts spreading widely in the United States, it could be difficult to stop.
The WHO announced Feb. 11 in a tweet that the disease from this new coronavirus will now be called COVID-19. The virus itself is called SARS-CoV-2.
Previously, it had been called 2019nCoV, although many media outlets referred to the virus simply as coronavirus — even though that refers to a larger family of viruses.
Experts are still learning a lot about this new virus. But some have hoped that warmer weather will mean a drop in cases, similar to how flu season ends in the spring.
But medical experts warn it’s too soon to tell whether the SARS-CoV-2 outbreak will diminish this summer.
Because it’s a totally new virus, people lack immunity, so even in warm weather months it may still spread across the globe.
Multiple organizations are already working on a vaccine for the new coronavirus, but it’s unlikely to be widely released within the year.
That’s because rigorous testing is needed to ensure that the vaccine is both safe and effective.
Experts are still investigating, but early research suggests the virus originated in bats and then was transmitted to humans via an intermediary animal.
What’s the intermediary animal? Potentially a snake or type of anteater called a pangolin.
A global outbreak is frightening enough for adults. For kids, it can be overwhelming.
We talked to experts about the best way for parents to talk to their kids about what’s going on and how to reassure them.
Parents should also check in with themselves and consider how their fears may be influencing their children.