COVID-19: Snapshot of the Week
This week, as of 1:00 PM EDT (17:00 GMT), May 20, 2020, the reported worldwide numbers were 5,036,520 cases and 326,242 deaths in 213 countries and territories. There were 1,990,057 recoveries reported worldwide. The US had 1,576,950 reported cases and 93,858 deaths.
New York accounted for 362,630 of those cases and 28,648 of those deaths. New Jersey, Illinois, Massachusetts, California, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Texas, Florida and Maryland were the states with the next highest numbers of reported cases (all above 42,000).
The US Military reported 8,764 cases and 29 deaths while the Veterans Affairs reported 12,616 cases and 1,082 deaths. The Navajo Nation reported 4,153 cases and 144 deaths. Federal Prisons reported 3,629 cases and 57 deaths.
Last week, as of 1:00 PM EDT (17:00 GMT), May 13, 2020, the reported worldwide numbers were 4,393,193 cases and 295,450 deaths in 213 countries and territories. There were 1,634,483 recoveries reported worldwide. The US had 1,417,398 reported cases and 83,980 deaths.
New York accounted for 350,582 of those cases and 27,282 of those deaths. New Jersey, Illinois, Massachusetts, California, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Florida, Texas, Georgia and Maryland were the states with the next highest numbers of reported cases (all above 35,000).
The US Military reported 8,210 cases and 27 deaths while the Veterans Affairs reported 11,573 cases and 953 deaths. The Navajo Nation reported 3,204 cases and 102 deaths. Federal Prisons reported 3,629 cases and 50 deaths.
National and State Reopenings
As of this week, 44 states have reopened to varying degrees. States that have begun to reopen include:
- California (regional)
- Maine (regional)
- Nebraska (never issued a stay-at-home order, but closed businesses; regional reopenings)
- New Hampshire
- New Mexico (regional)
- New York (regional)
- North Carolina
- North Dakota (never issued a stay-at-home order, but closed businesses; allowed businesses to reopen May 1)
- Oregon (regional)
- Pennsylvania (regional)
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- Tennessee (regional)
- Virginia (state stay-at-home order in place until May 28, but regional reopenings authorized)
- Washington (regional)
- West Virginia
- Wyoming (never issued a stay-at-home order, but closed businesses; allowed businesses to reopen May 1).
Some restrictions remain in place in most areas, but they vary according to state. Retail, restaurants, personal care businesses, and outdoor recreation are open in most of the states that have reopened with restrictions unique to each and, in some cases, each city.
States and territories that will be opening next week include Connecticut, Kentucky and Puerto Rico. Restrictions vary widely among these three locations. Puerto Rico is still the most restricted but the stay-at-home curfew is set to expire on May 25.
States and districts which remain shut down or restricted include Delaware, District of Columbia, Illinois, Michigan and New Jersey. Note that even these states and districts have eased restrictions.
Elective medical and dental procedures in most states were postponed but most states have resumed regular medical care. Dental services have resumed in most states with prior qualified testing and new safety requirements in place. Check with your healthcare provider to be sure about status and scheduling.
All states except Montana have closed schools for extended periods of time, with many shut down until the end of the academic year or until further notice. Most schools and colleges conducted online learning. Many districts have now dismissed students for the summer break. Commencements have been delayed or postponed for most high schools, colleges and universities. Some institutions found unique ways to celebrate their graduates at a distance, including car parades and online ceremonies. Many institutions are making arrangements for graduates to walk with future graduating classes. Decisions about fall classes will be made at a later time in most cases.
A total of 25 states and one territory have imposed self-quarantines upon individuals entering from specific “hot” infection zones in an attempt to keep citizens of their states safer. These states include Alaska, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin. Most states are requiring entrants to undergo a 14-day self-quarantine. Puerto Rico also imposed a 14-day self-quarantine on anyone traveling to the island.
Resurgence of Cases In Some Reopened States
There has been a resurgence in the number of reported cases in eight of the states that have reopened. The states, in order by descending number of active reported cases, are Texas (20,893), Arizona (14,080), North Carolina (7,488), Minnesota (4,657), Arkansas (1,044), North Dakota (744), Maine (636) and Wyoming (238). Delaware is also showing a resurgence of cases (4,188) but is still under stay-at-home orders.
In the case of Texas, for example, the stay-at-home order ended April 30. There has been a 27.51% increase in the number of active reported cases as of May 20, going from 15,146 cases as of April 30 to 20,893 cases as of May 20. But if we go strictly by the percentage of increase, then places like Arkansas look alarmingly worse with an increase of nearly 50%. Overall trends might be more important as signals than absolute numbers.
Many states and territories, 25, in fact, are remaining roughly steady on the number of cases they are reporting, neither increasing or declining. The remaining 19 states and the District of Columbia are seeing decreases.
Two new antibodies have been discovered by researchers. One was laboratory-developed while the other came from a SARS survivor. While both antibodies were successful against the SARS-COV-2 virus in the laboratory, more testing will be required to see how they would perform in living beings.
CDC Guideline Updates
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued comprehensive new guidance late last week for reopening and for contact tracing. The guidelines on social distancing are no longer being maintained by the CDC, but many states are continuing to follow past guidance. Other guidelines are in effect, including the hand hygiene guidelines. It is still advisable to:
- Stay at least 6 feet (2 meters) from other people.
- Avoid group and mass gatherings, as well as crowded spaces.
- Use a cloth face covering to cover your mouth and nose when you’re in public places, such as the grocery store.
- Work from home, if you’re able.
- Avoid using any kind of public transportation, ride-sharing, or taxis, if possible. If you must use these modes of transport, be sure to wear a cloth face cover.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water. When hand-washing isn’t an option, use a hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol (but the higher the percent, the better).
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces using an EPA-registered household disinfectant. Spots to watch out for include doorknobs, light switches, toilets and other objects in shared spaces.
Financial Assistance Updates
Another 2.4 million people filed for unemployment claims last week, joining more than 34 million already unemployed in the US — suggesting a current unemployment rate of over 20% and an estimated total of over 36.5 million job losses. While additional claims may continue to be filed, experts believe the majority of claims have been made.
While additional funding had been set aside by the federal government to assist state governments in meeting unemployment insurance payments, many state systems were overwhelmed by the sheer volume of claims and some are still struggling to catch up. Nine states are seeking $36 billion in federal advances from the Department of Labor to cover the astronomical unemployment claims. Illinois ($11B), California ($8B), Texas ($6.4B) and New York ($4.4B) top the list, but Connecticut, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Ohio and West Virginia have also signaled an intent to borrow to cover their claims between May and July.
Government and private businesses are striving to meet the unprecedented economic needs in several ways:
- Unemployment benefits are available; the waiting period has been waived.
- The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has a foreclosure and eviction moratorium in place. Most states have also placed a moratorium on foreclosures and evictions.
- An economic relief bill made paid sick leave and paid time off available to most employees impacted by the virus. Most states have also implemented additional emergency leave and benefits for first responders who may fall ill.
- The U.S. Small Business Administration has pledged up to $2 million in low-interest loans. That funding has been completely used up, and Congress passed a $484 billion interim bill funding on Thursday, April 23, and the President signed it on Friday, April 24. The bill allocates $310 billion to replenish the SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), $75 billion for hospitals and $25 billion for COVID-19 testing. The bill also includes additional funds for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program.
- The deadline for filing federal taxes has been pushed to July 15. Most states have also delayed their filing deadlines to July 15 without penalty.
- The $2.2 trillion stimulus package passed on March 27 providing economic stimulus incentives to taxpayers, increased and expanded unemployment benefits for laid-off employees and limited payroll assistance for small businesses.
- A phase 4 stimulus package (CARES2) has been proposed, which would further aid small businesses, as well as individuals, states and hospitals.
- Although the House passed the $3 trillion HEROES Act on May 15 for coronavirus relief and stimulus, Senate majority leaders indicated they had no intention of passing the bill in its current form. Some aspects of the act may reappear in new legislation as yet unwritten. That may not be good news in the face of questionable economic indicators.
As of May 20 at 1 pm Eastern time (1700 GMT), the US has officially run more than 12,788,525 tests for COVID-19. It has run approximately 2.76 million of those tests since last week (May 13). President Trump had said his goal was to increase testing to 2 million tests per week by the end of the month. Some leading researchers have estimated that a capacity of 3-4 million tests per week would be needed for the economy to fully reopen safely. Admiral Brett Giroir, the Health and Human Services (HHS) Testing Czar said that they were working to provide the ability to test up to 50 million people per month by September. That number may still be a bit low based on recommendations by the Rockefeller Foundation which call for testing capability to be ramped to 30 million tests per week by October.
New Antibodies Might Assist in Treatment/Prevention
In the last week, two different research teams came forward with two different antibodies that look promising in the laboratory. Sorrento, a therapeutics company, came forward with an antibody developed and tested against the SARS-COV-2 virus in the laboratory successfully. They’ve labeled the proprietary antibody STI-1499 and intend to make it part of a cocktail of antibodies designed to combat the effects of viral mutation. They intend to call the resulting cocktail COVID-SHIELD and hope to begin animal studies and then human studies.
A 2003 survivor of SARS was host to the other antibody, dubbed S309. The research was a collaboration between the University of Washington and Humabs Biomed, SA in Switzerland. What they found was an antibody already hosted by a human who had survived a different variant of coronavirus that seems to be effective against both SARS and COVID-19. The plan is to fast track development and testing at Humab’s parent company, Vir Biotechnology, as a next step toward possible clinical trials. Clinical trials are expected to begin this summer.
What to Do if You Get Sick
Call your healthcare provider or reach out to a telehealth provider if you believe you have COVID-19. Do not go to a medical facility without calling ahead. It may be possible to treat symptoms of the virus at home with over-the-counter medications. When you speak to your doctor or telehealth provider, they will be able to evaluate your symptoms and their severity and will direct you to go to a testing center or hospital, if necessary.
If you have a medical emergency, call 911; tell them if you or anyone else in the home might have COVID-19. If you have questions or aren’t sure what to do, call your local health department. Many states have hotlines set up for this purpose. Some states have 211 service lines that you can call for help and resources.
~Here’s to Your Healthy Pursuits!
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