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A new study finds hydroxychloroquine does not prevent COVID-19. Getty Images
  • The outbreak, initially identified in China, is continuing to grow.
  • The disease is called COVID-19. It’s caused by an infection with the new coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, which is one of multiple coronaviruses that can be transmitted to humans.
  • Other examples of coronaviruses include SARS, MERS, and even the common cold.

  • Globally, there have been more than 6.7 million confirmed cases and more than 393,000 associated deaths, according to Johns Hopkins.
  • The United States currently has the highest reported number of confirmed cases, with more than 1.8 million. However, due to a lack of testing, the number of actual cases may be far higher.
  • More than 108,000 people in the United States have died from the disease.

Healthline will update this page every weekday. For more information about the virus, go here.

Brazil currently has over 614,000 reported cases of COVID-19, second only to the United States in total cases.

There have been 34,000 deaths in the country. This week there were over 1,300 deaths in a single day, according to NBC News.

Only the United States and the United Kingdom have reported higher daily death rates.

President Jair Bolonsaro has been criticized for downplaying the pandemic. One health advisor was fired after disagreeing with Bolonsaro about how to respond to the disease.

In a survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), at least 39 percent of respondents said they had misused cleaning supplies during the pandemic, according to STAT News.

The misuse of cleaning supplies is likely among people trying to avoid contracting the virus during the pandemic. Experts say that physical distancing, wearing a mask, and regular handwashing are all key to avoid spreading the virus.

In the survey of 502 people, nearly 20 percent said they had put bleach on food, 18 percent said they had used household cleaners on their skin, and 10 percent said they had misted themselves with disinfectant.

Additionally, 6 percent said they had inhaled cleaners and 4 percent said they had ingested or gargled cleaners like bleach.

This exposure to household cleaners led to a quarter of respondents saying they had negative health effects.

The Lancet medical journal has retracted a study on hydroxychloroquine that made headlines last week.

Researchers, who published the study looked at more than 96,000 people hospitalized with COVID-19.

The study was retracted due to data used in the study that had not been directly obtained by the researchers themselves. In their retraction letter the researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston said they worked with the company Surgisphere Corporation to obtain data. After other medical experts raised concerns about the company, the researchers conducted a review of the data. However, the Surgisphere Corporation would not give the full dataset to the reviewers meaning they could not do a full independent analysis of the data leading them to retract their study.

In the now-retracted study, the drug had been found not to improve people with COVID-19 and more people died after taking the drug.

Additionally, the New England Journal of Medicine also reacted a study on COVID-19 and cardiovascular health since it also used data from the company.

Unlike the studies mentioned above, a new study released today has not been retracted.

The large study found that taking hydroxychloroquine wasn’t effective as a prophylactic treatment against COVID-19.

Researchers looked at 821 people with no symptoms of COVID-19. Over 87 percent had close contact with someone with the disease.

About half of the people — 414 — were given hydroxychloroquine and the other participants were given a placebo.

Researchers found the infection rate among the two groups was statistically similar, meaning hydroxychloroquine didn’t show any ability to protect people from contracting the virus that causes COVID-19.

They found side effects were more common in people taking hydroxychloroquine but there was no major reactions reported.

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A new study finds plasma may help treat symptoms of COVID-19. Getty Images

A new study found that plasma from people who recovered from COVID-19 may be an effective treatment for the disease.

The small study published on June 2 in The American Journal of Pathology examined 25 patients with severe or life-threatening symptoms of COVID-19. The patients were given plasma infusions from 9 donors who had already recovered from the illness.

The primary goal of the study was to see if plasma transfusions were safe. The researchers found no adverse events from the transfusion in 24 hours after it was administered.

Additionally, the researchers reported that 19 of the 25 patients improved after being given the plasma infusions. Three deteriorated and one patient died from causes unrelated to plasma infusion.

“While physician scientists around the world scrambled to test new drugs and treatments against COVID-19, convalescent serum therapy emerged as potentially one of the most promising strategies,” Dr. James M. Musser, PhD, chair of the department of pathology and genomic medicine at Houston Methodist and corresponding author for the study, said in a statement.

“With no proven treatments or cures for COVID-19 patients, now was the time in our history to move ahead rapidly,” he said.

A vaccine for COVID-19 is still months to years away, but a new poll finds that a significant number of Americans aren’t planning on getting the vaccine if it’s made available.

A new poll from ABC News and the Washington Post found that 27 percent of Americans said they would definitely or probably not get the vaccine when it’s made available.

For people who aren’t inclined to get the vaccine, about 50 percent said they don’t believe in vaccines and another 27 percent said they don’t believe a vaccine is necessary in this case.

People in areas like the northeast that were hard hit by the pandemic were much more likely to say they would get vaccinated.

The poll found that 78 percent of people in the northeast and in urban areas were likely to get the vaccine. Comparatively, about 65 percent of people in the south and 63 percent of people in rural areas said they would definitely or probably get the vaccine.

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A new poll found many Americans are skeptical of a potential COVID-19 vaccine. Getty Images

Officials in Russia have reportedly approved a flu drug to treat the novel coronavirus after early tests found it may be an effective treatment.

Russia is preparing to ship the anti-flu drug called Avifavir to hospitals, according to Bloomberg News. The drug is a generic version of a Japanese drug already approved in that country to treat the flu.

However, tests looking at the drug’s effectiveness in fighting COVID-19 are still ongoing. This includes a final stage trial with 330 patients.

Earlier trials reportedly showed signs the drug could help decrease the amount of time a person was hospitalized or had a high fever. However, these findings haven’t been verified in large studies or printed in a peer-reviewed journal.

Other treatments, notably the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine, haven’t proven to be an effective treatment against COVID-19 in early studies.

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More states in the U.S. are allowing businesses to reopen. Getty Images

A major study published Thursday, May 28 found a 13 percent fatality rate for people with cancer who contract COVID-19.

The study published in the medical journal The Lancet found people with advanced cancer were nearly 5 times as likely to die after contracting COVID-19 than people without cancer, according to CNN.

Even for people whose cancer was relatively stable had double the risk of death if they contracted the disease.

“The death rate for this group of patients as a whole was 13 [percent] more than twice that reported for all patients with COVID-19… Certain subgroups, such as patients with active (measurable) cancer and those with an impaired performance status, fared much, much worse,” said Dr. Jeremy Warner, MS, associate professor of medicine and biomedical informatics at Vanderbilt University, the study’s corresponding author in a statement.

However, the team didn’t find that undergoing treatment for cancer, including chemotherapy or having surgery, impacted the risk of dying by COVID-19.

They advised that these treatments shouldn’t be delayed due to the pandemic since it can cause worse outcomes for patients.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released new guidelines on how to safely reopen offices amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Among their recommendations, the CDC advises companies to assess the building itself to make sure it has enough ventilation to prevent the virus from recirculating. Additionally, they advise separating workspaces and desks so people can maintain 6 feet of separation at all times.

They point out that staggered start times, temperature checks, and disinfecting common space areas can also cut down on risk of transmission.

Even with all these safeguards, the CDC recommends all workers wear face masks to protect themselves and others from aerosolized viral particles.

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People hug through a plastic sheet to stay safe during the pandemic. Getty Images

A new report finds that COVID-19 was not being sustainably transmitted in the United States until weeks after the first case was detected. This means that cases weren’t spreading widely until mid-February.

The report was released in a pre-print article and hasn’t been peer reviewed. But it shows how delayed action by government officials may have worsened the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States.

The first known U.S. case of COVID-19 was found to have occurred on Jan. 15. But that person was quarantined and their contacts also asked to quarantine.

The study authors found that the start of sustained transmission of COVID-19 started in Washington state in mid-February after President Donald Trump had issued the travel ban for China.

In less than 4 months, COVID-19-related deaths went from the single digits in the United States to over 100,000.

The first known COVID-19-related death occurred on February 6 in northern California. By mid-April daily deaths peaked at over 2,300.

While deaths have slowly been decreasing, there are over 1,000 deaths a day from COVID-19, according to a model from the University of Washington.

The United States stands out globally for having the most number of reported cases and deaths related to the virus. U.S. fatalities account for nearly a third of global deaths from COVID-19.

While infections and deaths from COVID-19 have been trending downward, experts worry that there could be a second peak of infections and deaths as states reopen.

The news of over 100,000 deaths from COVID-19 comes as virtually all states are loosening restrictions around shelter-in-place orders.

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People in San Francisco sit 6 feet apart in Dolores Park. Getty Images

The COVID-19 pandemic is taking a serious toll on American’s mental health, according to a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau.

People were screened with questions usually used by medical providers to identify signs of depression or anxiety. They found over 24 percent of people had symptoms of a depressive disorder.

Over 30 percent of people had symptoms of an anxiety disorder. Over 42,000 households responded to researcher’s requests for information.

According to the Washington Post, these rates have increased greatly in the United States from 2014 when people reported half the rate of depression and anxiety symptoms.

President Donald Trump said he has stopped taking the drug hydroxychloroquine, which he had touted as a potential game-changer in the fight against COVID-19.

He said in an interview that he finished a two-week course of the drug, although it has not been proven to help treat or prevent COVID-19.

The news came after the World Health Organization (WHO) temporarily paused a study of hydroxychloroquine as a COVID-19 treatment over health concerns.

Multiple studies have found no sign that the drug can help treat COVID-19. And research from last week found people on the drug were more likely to have abnormal heart rhythms and even die.

The drug was originally designed as an antimalarial drug and has also been approved for use for autoimmune conditions such as lupus.

The drug has made headlines as researchers investigated whether it could help treat people with COVID-19, and after President Donald Trump said he was taking the drug — even though experts cautioned there was no proof it would decrease the risk of COVID-19.

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Global cases of COVID-19 have topped 5 million. Roy Rochlin/Getty Images

While many countries are tentatively starting to reopen businesses and allow gatherings, the WHO warned that the “first wave” of the virus is ongoing, which increases the risk of a “second peak” of cases.

“We’re right in the middle of the first wave globally, if we look at the data from Central and South America… we’re still in the phase where the disease is on the way up,” said Mike Ryan, executive director, WHO Health Emergencies Programme.

Ryan said that the number of people in each country who have contracted the virus is relatively low which means the virus could easily come back for a “second peak” if physical distancing, testing, and contact tracing measures aren’t implemented.

This is different from a second wave which would mean the virus drops to very low levels for a number of months before returning with another surge later in the year.

“We need to be cognizant that the disease could jump up at any time,” Ryan said. “We may get a second peak in this wave. This happened in pandemics in the past, it certainly happened in the pandemic of 1919.”

In many countries, such as the United States, cases are declining but still at relatively high numbers, so there could be a second peak.

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New York has been especially hard hit by COVID-19. Stephanie Keith/Getty Images

Health officials are reporting that young adults, including people in their 20s, have developed symptoms of a rare syndrome now linked to COVID-19.

Officials had initially only seen this rare syndrome called pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome (PMIS) in children. It appears to be similar to Kawasaki disease, which is characterized by inflamed blood vessels.

Experts believe this new rare syndrome, where inflamed blood vessels cause symptoms including severe abdominal pain, rash, and difficulty breathing is related to COVID-19.

One physician told the Washington Post that young adults with the syndrome appear to have more severe cases than children.

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In Brooklyn, circles denote areas that are appropriately physically distanced from each other. Noam Galai/Getty Images

As the United States starts to reopen, new research looks into the devastating impact of waiting to implement lockdowns when the virus first started to spread.

Researchers from Columbia University looked at lockdown measures in the United States and the spread of the virus. While the nation was never completely locked down, widespread shelter-in-place orders started in mid-March.

The preprint of the research reports that if wider lockdown measures had been implemented 2 weeks earlier on March 1 over 53,000 lives could have been saved.

A new poll finds that two thirds of healthcare workers still lack enough N95 respirator masks to effectively do their jobs.

The poll conducted by the Washington Post and Ipsos surveyed healthcare workers across the country.

Despite a major push to get personal protective equipment to doctors, nurses, and other key healthcare workers, many report a lack of basic equipment like face masks, hand sanitizer, and gloves.

According to the poll, 8 in 10 workers had just one N95 mask for the entire shift. Additionally, over one third said they were running short of hand sanitizer and 40 percent said they were also running short on surgical masks that aren’t as protective as N95 masks.

The poll was conducted from April 27 to May 4. Over 8,000 adults, 278 of whom worked in healthcare, were surveyed.

Months after the COVID-19 pandemic led most U.S. states to issue some sort of shelter-in-place order, state governments are now loosening these restrictions.

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All 50 states are moving toward relaxing stay-at-home orders. Getty Images

Connecticut was the last holdout to loosen orders. The state government said that the first phase of reopening the economy will allow restaurants to have outdoor seating and will allow some retail stores to let customers inside.

While the COVID-19 pandemic has not ended in the United States, health experts including former FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb said they’ve seen encouraging signs that infection rates are falling nationwide.

Pharmaceutical company Moderna reported positive results on phase 1 testing of a potential vaccine for COVID-19.

Phase 1 testing is designed to look at the safety of the vaccine. The company reported that they’ve seen evidence that people developed antibodies to COVID-19 and that early results show the vaccine is likely safe.

However, this is just a phase 1 trial and in order for the vaccine to be approved for use, it will need to be successful in phase 2 trials that look for efficacy and phase 3 trials that look at the appropriate dosage.

Additionally, another pharmaceutical company, AstraZeneca, said they would start to produce vaccines even before they’re proven successful so that there won’t be a shortage of the product if it is approved for use.

The company is currently working with Oxford University and investigating an experimental vaccine that’s still being tested for safety and efficacy.

AstraZeneca said they’ll produce and earmark at least 70 million doses of a potential vaccine for the United States in case it’s approved for use.

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Some states are allowing stores and restaurants to reopen. Brett Carlson/Getty Images

The FDA is warning that widely available rapid tests may miss COVID-19 cases.

The test made by Abbott Labratories may lead to 15–20 false negatives out of every 100 tests according to NPR.

The FDA has received 15 adverse event reports of people receiving false-negative tests.

The rapid tests have been used by the White House, raising concerns that positive COVID-19 cases may have been missed.

Officials from the WHO said that the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 may never go away.

During a briefing on May 13, WHO emergencies expert Dr. Mike Ryan warned reporters that the public needs to be ready to deal with the virus for the long term.

“I think it is important we are realistic and I don’t think anyone can predict when this disease will disappear,” he said. “I think there are no promises in this and there are no dates. This disease may settle into a long problem, or it may not be.”

While dozens of potential vaccines are being studied, there’s no guarantee they’ll work effectively enough to eliminate the virus.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said May 8 that a 5-year-old child died from symptoms similar to a rare syndrome linked to COVID-19.

On May 4, officials in New York issued a health bulletin after 15 children were hospitalized for a “multi-system inflammatory syndrome,” linked to COVID-19.

The symptoms included abdominal pain, gastrointestinal issues, cardiac inflammation, and signs of toxic shock syndrome and Kawasaki disease, which is characterized by an inflammation of blood vessels. Those affected ranged in age from 2 to 15.

The FDA has given approval for a biotech company to start phase 2 trials for a potential SARS-CoV-2 vaccine.

Moderna is expected to start a 600-person phase 2 study of its experimental vaccine shortly. A phase 2 trial will look for signs of the effectiveness of the vaccine.

Should the trial prove successful, the company said they plan on starting a phase 3 trial this summer.

If the experimental vaccine is found safe and effective, it may be available as soon as 2021. The CEO also said that they’ll start to manufacture the vaccine this year and stockpile doses so that there won’t be a shortage in 2021 if it is approved.

While the news means we’re one step closer to a vaccine for the virus that causes COVID-19, many drugs or experimental vaccines fail in phase 2 tests and are never made widely available.

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Researchers think antibodies from llamas may help them fight COVID-19.

Early research finds that certain antibodies in llamas may help combat the virus that causes COVID-19.

A study published this week in the journal Cell found that antibodies taken from a llama were engineered to fight the new coronavirus. These special antibodies were effective in a lab setting at neutralizing the virus.

The research is still in the early phases, but if successful it could mean that llama antibodies could help protect people from developing a severe case of COVID-19.

New studies find children are just as likely as adults to spread the new coronavirus. These early findings could make potential school openings especially fraught.

A German study, which is not yet published in a peer-reviewed journal, looked at 60,000 people with COVID-19 in addition to 47 children with the disease. The team found that children had just as much viral load or even higher amounts of viral load than some adults.

This early research focusing on how children can spread the virus could be pivotal in helping officials combat a second wave as some states weigh loosening shelter-in-place orders.

Another study out of China found that school closures drastically helped lower transmission of the virus and lessen the severity of the outbreak.

“While proactive school closures cannot interrupt transmission on their own, they can reduce peak incidence by 40-60 percent and delay the epidemic,” the authors said.

Experts point out this is early research and more information is needed.

“Are any of these studies definitive? The answer is ‘No, of course not,’” said Jeffrey Shaman, an epidemiologist at Columbia University. But, he said, “to open schools because of some uninvestigated notion that children aren’t really involved in this, that would be a very foolish thing.”

A new study finds that the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 was spreading around the world shortly after jumping from animal to humans in the last few months of 2019.

The study looked at genetic data from 7,666 samples taken from people with COVID-19. By reviewing the genetic differences in the samples, the study authors concluded that the virus was able to spread quickly around the world at the end of 2019.

Potentially it may have occurred in humans as early as October 2019.

The “COVID pandemic started sometime around 6 October 2019 – 11 December 2019, which corresponds to the time of the host-jump into humans,” the authors wrote.

The authors also found evidence that the virus is mutating, which is expected. But it wasn’t clear if those mutations were making the virus more contagious or deadly.

On May 1, the FDA issued an Emergency Use Authorization for the emergency use of remdesivir to treat people hospitalized with COVID-19.

On April 23, STAT News reported that a Chinese study failed to find any benefit using the drug. The Chinese study included 237 people. Researchers administered the drug to 158 and compared their progress with the 79 who received a placebo.

After a month, almost 14 percent of the people taking the drug had died compared with almost 13 percent of those receiving the placebo.

The trial was stopped early partly because of side effects, which included “gastrointestinal symptoms (anorexia, nausea, and vomiting)” and worsened cardiopulmonary condition.

“No statistically significant benefits were observed for remdesivir treatment beyond those of standard of care treatment,” study authors wrote.

Experts say “COVID toe” is a condition similar to skin damage from exposure to low temperatures.

Northwestern Medicine dermatologist Dr. Amy Paller said in a statement that she had seen images of about 30 cases of the condition. She emphasized that it’s still unknown whether this is related to COVID-19 and more testing is needed.

“We’re seeing this inflammatory response that we would normally see when someone was exposed to the cold temperature… like someone who has been playing outside with wet socks,” Dr. Esther Freeman, a dermatologist at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, told CBS News. “However, in this setting, we’re seeing it in warm climates and we’re seeing it in patients who have been indoors and sheltering in place.”

Beginning as a “pinkish-reddish rash,” it can turn purple over time and causes a burning sensation in some people, Freeman told The Washington Post.

However, the inflammation typically disappears without treatment in 2 to 3 weeks, she added.

A new study in Nature found that the virus that causes COVID-19 was detected in the air in certain areas of two hospitals.

The two hospitals in Wuhan, China are at the center of the outbreak in that country. Researchers found evidence of aerosolized SARS-CoV-2 in the toilet area and in areas prone to crowding.

The study has given more information about whether the virus is easily transmitted through the air. Researchers said proper ventilation and disinfection may help stop the virus from spreading in other similar areas.

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Free meals are donated to medical workers in New York City. Michael Nagle/Xinhua via Getty Images

Quest Diagnostic has released the first at-home test to detect COVID-19 antibodies.

People who have COVID-19 antibodies have likely already had the disease and may have immunity against the virus in the future. Although it’s still too early to tell for certain.

“Antibodies are only a part of the immune response to a virus. There are other viruses where antibody responses are clearly not associated with protection,” Dr. Otto Yang, a virologist at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA told Healthline in an earlier interview.

The test will cost $119 and people can order it without visiting a doctor. After ordering the test, you’ll have to go to a site in order to have your blood drawn.

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First responders are disinfected in personal protective gear. John Moore/Getty Images

The WHO stated, “There is currently no evidence that people who have recovered from COVID-19 and have antibodies are protected from a second infection,” in an April 24 scientific brief.

However, health experts disagree.

They emphasize that the presence of antibodies indicates protection from future infection by the virus that causes COVID-19, but what’s unknown is how long that protection will last.

Dr. Paul Hunter, a professor in medicine at the University of East Anglia, told The Guardian that everyone, or almost everyone, who recovers from COVID-19 “will have developed immunity, otherwise they would not have recovered.”

He added, “What we do not know is how long that immunity will last. It almost certainly will not last for life.”

The WHO walked back the controversial statement in a social media post on April 25, admitting, “We expect that most people who are infected with #COVID19 will develop an antibody response that will provide some level of protection.”

So far, the virus has spread to nearly 3 million people worldwide. However, many people don’t show symptoms, and recent studies suggest up to 80 percent of people with SARS-CoV-2 are “silent carriers.”

Testing of pregnant women in New York City revealed that “at this point in the pandemic in New York City, most of the patients who were positive for SARS-CoV-2 at delivery were asymptomatic.”

Testing also revealed that “the true prevalence of infection may be underreported because of false-negative results of tests to detect SARS-CoV-2.”

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The CDC recommends all adults wear face masks to cut down on developing COVID-19. Getty Images

In late March, doctors at Mount Sinai Hospital noticed something strange happening to patients’ blood, reported Reuters.

“Across New York City, we were seeing a large number of strokes and that these strokes were extremely concerning, and they were blocking big vessels to the brain,” Dr. J. Mocco, a Mount Sinai neurosurgeon, said in an interview.

Reuters also reported that under a new protocol, higher doses of a blood thinner normally used to dissolve clots will be given to COVID-19 patients at Mount Sinai before any clots are detected.

“We’re seeing clots everywhere, high rates of clots in veins of the legs. So, across the board, for sure, we all believe that — and there’s objective evidence that this disease increases clot formation,” Mocco said.

The American Society of Hematology has noted COVID-19-associated clotting.

Its guidance to physicians states the benefits of blood-thinning therapy for those patients not already showing signs of clotting are “currently unknown.”

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New studies find many more people than previously thought have had COVID-19. Antonio Masiello/Getty Images

The FDA is reiterating its warning that people shouldn’t take hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine unless they’re under careful supervision from a physician.

The warning comes as serious side effects were noted during medical studies of the drug on people with COVID-19.

Some of the patients had serious side effects including abnormal heart rhythms and some even died.

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Experts warn that a second wave of COVID-19 could appear this fall. Getty Images

The deaths of two people with COVID-19 in California has shed new light on when SARS-CoV-2 was first circulating.

The Santa Clara County Medical Examiner reported Tuesday, April 21, that two people who died at home in early February had the virus. The cases were identified after the medical examiner tested samples from the patients for COVID-19 due to their flu symptoms.

Both of these people likely developed the disease via community spread and not from travel.

The first death occurred on Feb. 6 and the second on Feb. 17. Previously, the first known U.S. death from COVID-19 was said to occur in Washington state in late February.

“What these deaths tell us is that we had community transmission probably to a significant degree far earlier than we had known and that indicates that the virus was introduced and circulating in our community far earlier than we had known,” Santa Clara Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody told reporters.

New research finds that blood clots may be a major problem for hospitalized people with COVID-19.

A study published earlier this month in Thrombosis Research looked at results for 184 patients with COVID-19 being treated in an ICU. Researchers found that 31 percent developed blood clots, a percentage they called “remarkably high.”

The researchers theorized that patients are at high risk for these blood clots due to being immobilized in the ICU, a lack of oxygen, and high amounts of inflammation stemming from the infection.

In an article in the Washington Post, Dr. Harlan Krumholz, a cardiac specialist at the Yale-New Haven Hospital Center, said it’s unclear if the virus causes the blood clots by attacking the blood vessels, or if the immune system’s inflammatory response leads to the condition.

“One of the theories is that once the body is so engaged in a fight against an invader, the body starts consuming the clotting factors, which can result in either blood clots or bleeding,” Krumholz told the Washington Post.

“In Ebola, the balance was more toward bleeding. In COVID-19, it’s more blood clots,” he said.

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The New York Governor is set to issue an executive order that says the Department of Health will coordinate all labs in order to speed up testing for COVID-19. Getty Images

To protect themselves from COVID-19, healthcare workers have to wear protective gear that shields nearly their entire face. It may be the safest option, but it can result in patients feeling unable to connect to their care team.

To combat that separation between medical staff and patient, respiratory therapist Robertino Rodriguez taped a picture on top of his personal protective gear.

“A reassuring smile makes a big difference,” he wrote on Instagram. “Today I made a giant laminated badge for my PPE. So my patients can see a reassuring and comforting smile.”

Other healthcare providers took a page from Rodriguez and also started to print pictures of themselves so they can better connect with their patients.

The FDA is giving emergency use authorization to a company in order to allow for the sterilization of millions of N95 masks used by healthcare workers.

“Our nation’s healthcare workers are among the many heroes of this pandemic and we need to do everything we can to increase the availability of the critical medical devices they need, like N95 respirators,” said FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen M. Hahn, in a statement.

Advanced Sterilization Products Inc., will now be allowed to use vaporized hydrogen peroxide gas plasma sterilization in order to decontaminate N95 face masks.

This is the second company to get emergency authorization to sterilize masks.

N95 masks are critical for healthcare workers treating people with COVID-19, but they’re in short supply. The new emergency use authorization could help protect healthcare workers that have been forced to ration or reuse masks.

Fast, accurate blood tests could play a critical role in getting people safely back to work or school.

However, public health officials caution that a broad range of “unregulated tests” are creating confusion that could significantly slow the path to recovery.

The Associated Press reports that governments worldwide are hoping the rapid tests — typically using a finger-prick of blood on a test strip — could soon “ease public restrictions by identifying people who have previously had the virus and have developed some immunity to it.”

These tests are different from the nasal swab tests used to detect whether someone actually has the virus in their body. Instead, they’re used to detect antibodies in the blood, which indicate whether someone has successfully beaten the infection.

Government researchers studying how the virus has spread through the U.S. population are using antibody tests to guide pandemic response efforts.

“This study will give us a clearer picture of the true magnitude of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States by telling us how many people in different communities have been infected without knowing it, because they had a very mild, undocumented illness, or did not access testing while they were sick,” said Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, in a statement.

“These crucial data will help us measure the impact of our public health efforts now and guide our COVID-19 response moving forward,” he said.

A study published April 7 found that the arrival of spring and summer weather likely won’t stop the spread of the virus.

The study was published after a panel from the National Academies of Sciences reviewed data from around the world about the spread of SARS-CoV-2.

Past pandemics such as the 1918 influenza outbreak have often waned dramatically in the summer with warmer temperatures and higher humidity helping to stop the spread of the virus, at least temporarily.

However, officials say in this new report there’s no sign that changes in temperature nor humidity will have a big effect on COVID-19.

In part, the panel found that because the virus is new and people don’t have natural immunity, they’ll be more susceptible to contracting the virus throughout the year.

The panel did say more research would be needed and there’s a chance the viral spread may slow somewhat during the summer months even if it doesn’t stop.

“There is some evidence to suggest that SARS-CoV-2 may transmit less efficiently in environments with higher ambient temperature and humidity,” the panel wrote, according to the Washington Post. “However, given the lack of host immunity globally, this reduction in transmission efficiency may not lead to a significant reduction in disease spread.”

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Hospitals in New York report few beds amid growing COVID-19 outbreak. Bryan R. Smith/AFP via Getty Images

The 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.

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.

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.

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The area near Grand Central Terminal in New York City is nearly empty amid the COVID-19 outbreak. Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images Getty Images

A study examined 9 people with 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.

Public health experts have advised people to stop touching their faces to cut down on the 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.

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“Corona” in coronavirus refers to the shape that can resemble a crown. Getty Images

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.

Testing and confirmation of SARS-CoV-2 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.

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.

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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.