COVID-19: Snapshot of the Week
This week, as of 1:00 PM EDT (17:00 GMT), May 6, 2020, the reported worldwide numbers were 3,778,012 cases and 261,243 deaths in 212 countries and territories. There were 1,275,296 recoveries reported worldwide.
The US had 1,244,302 reported cases and 72,867 deaths. New York accounted for 330,139 of those cases and 25,436 of those deaths. New Jersey, Massachusetts, Illinois, California, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Florida, Texas, Connecticut, Georgia and Louisiana were the states with the next highest numbers of reported cases (all above 30,000).
The US Military reported 7,604 cases and 27 deaths while the Veterans Affairs reported 9,771 cases and 771 deaths. The Navajo Nation reported 2,559 cases and 79 deaths. Federal Prisons reported 2,425 cases and 41 deaths.
Last week, as of 1:00 PM EDT (17:00 GMT), April 29, 2020, the reported worldwide numbers were 3,179,532 cases and 220,713 deaths in 210 countries and territories. There were 986,314 recoveries reported worldwide.
The US had 1,046,052 reported cases and 60,111 deaths. New York accounted for 305,086 of those cases and 23,474 of those deaths. New Jersey, Massachusetts, Illinois, California, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Florida, Louisiana, Texas, Connecticut and Georgia were the states with the next highest numbers of reported cases (all above 25,000).
The US Military reported 6,648 cases and 27 deaths while the Veterans Affairs reported 7,481 cases and 461 deaths. The Navajo Nation reported 1,769 cases and 59 deaths. Federal Prisons reported 1,648 cases and 30 deaths.
New Hope on the Horizon
A new antiviral drug was given an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on May 1. Remdesivir received the authorization after the release of favorable preliminary reports from clinical trials on April 29.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued additional guidance and training for contact tracing while pulling back on social distancing guidelines in favor of state policies.
National and State Closures and Re-open Plans
As of this week, 23 states have partially reopened. States that have begun to reopen include Alabama, Alaska, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Wyoming. Some restrictions remain in place in most states, but restrictions vary according to state.
States which could be reopening soon include Arizona, Arkansas, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island. Time frames vary from May 15 to the end of the month.
States (and districts) which remain shut down or restricted include California, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.
In the remaining 21 states which remain closed down, the situation is developing. Most states have still shut down all but essential businesses and are requesting residents to remain at home, except when participating in life-sustaining activities as defined by their state. Essential businesses and jobs are exempt.
Essential and life-sustaining businesses in all communities — grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations, medical clinics and restaurant delivery/take-out services — remain open. Elective medical and dental procedures in most states are still postponed or rescheduled, although the nine states mentioned above are reopening certain medical and dental services this week with prior qualified testing and new safety requirements in place. Check with your provider to be sure about status.
All states 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 are conducting online learning. Commencements have been delayed or postponed for most high schools, colleges and universities. Some institutions are making arrangements for graduates to walk with future graduating classes.
A total of 24 states, one territory and one county 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, Arizona, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia and Wyoming.
Most states are requiring entrants to undergo a 14-day self-quarantine. In addition, Dare County in North Carolina has restricted entry to permanent residents with identification only, stopping visitors and non-residents from entering. Puerto Rico imposed a 14-day self-quarantine on anyone traveling to the island.
CDC Guideline Updates
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued new guidance and training for contact tracing. The guidelines on social distancing are no longer being maintained by the CDC, but many states are continuing to follow the 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 3.84 million people filed for unemployment claims last week, joining more than 26.5 million already unemployed in the US — suggesting a current unemployment rate of over 20% and an estimated total of nearly 31 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.
Remdesivir, an antiviral originally formulated to combat ebola, has shown promise in the preliminary results from a clinical trial, which ended early. Based on those results, the FDA issued an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for Remdesivir to be used in the treatment of COVID-19. Additional clinical trials are on-going for Remdesivir, as well as for other antivirals and for convalescent plasma.
Results from the Adaptive COVID-19 Treatment Trial (ACTT) were released Wednesday, April 29, after being reviewed by the data and safety monitoring board overseeing the trial. The study indicated that patients who received Remdesivir had a 31% faster recovery time, recovering in an average of 11 days. Those who did not receive the drug in the double-blind study took an average of 15 days to recover.
In other medical news, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington revised its estimate for the number of casualties the US is likely to see from the pandemic. Based on previous data input, their model had predicted a death toll of as little as 60,000 or as much as 200,000. Given new data as states reopen and social distancing is eased, their prediction has risen to a range of 95,092 to 242,890 deaths with their best estimate being at about 135,000. Modeling a system so dynamic with so many independent variables is challenging, at best. Several models have been proposed, but the University of Washington model has been preferred by the White House. More time and data will be required before any model can provide more accuracy.
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.
States are doing what they can to maintain lower case numbers by encouraging social distancing where possible, strongly encouraging facial coverings where distance is not possible and maintaining hand hygiene and disinfection protocols. States will begin to use contact tracing and isolation to follow up infections. We can help by being wise about when and where we choose to be out and by continuing to practice good personal hygiene and social distancing. While we’re happy for another medicine in the arsenal, nobody wants to have to use it.
~Here’s to Your Healthy Pursuits!
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