Novel Coronavirus/COVID-19 COVID-19 News from Around the Web

New York Gov. Cuomo Calls For Army Corps To Help Build Temporary Hospitals

NPR - April 30, 2020

Facing a rapid increase in the number of confirmed coronavirus cases, Gov. Andrew Cuomo says New York state is ready for the Army Corps of Engineers to start building temporary hospitals in the state immediately. Cuomo said he had toured and formally approved four sites in the state, including the Javits Center in Manhattan and others in Westchester County and Long Island.

Trump Activates National Guard To 3 States Hit Hardest By Coronavirus

NPR - April 30, 2020

In a wide-ranging, digressive news conference Sunday evening, President Trump said he has activated the National Guard to assist New York, California and Washington, states that so far have been hit hardest by the rapidly spreading coronavirus. The Federal Emergency Management Agency will fund the deployment of the Guard, which Trump said will give states "maximum flexibility to use the Guard against the virus without having to worry about costs and liability. And [it frees] up state resources to protect the health and safety of the people in their state."

Chaos, inconsistency mark launch of drive-thru virus testing

AP - April 30, 2020

Drive-thru sites have been opening around the United States to make it quicker and safer to test people for the new coronavirus. But much like the rest of the U.S. response to the pandemic, the system has been marked by inconsistencies, delays, and shortages. Many people who have symptoms and a doctor’s order have waited hours or days for a test. More than a week after President Donald Trump promised that states and retail stores such as Walmart and CVS would open drive-thru test centers, few sites are up and running, and they’re not yet open to the general public. Some states are leaving it to the private sector to open test locations; others are coordinating the effort through state health departments. The slow ramp-up of the COVID-19 testing and the spotty nature now of the system makes it hard for public health officials to track the spread of the disease and bring it under control.

In hard-hit areas, testing restricted to health care workers, hospital patients

Washington Post - April 30, 2020

Health officials in New York, California and other hard-hit parts of the country are restricting coronavirus testing to health care workers and the severely ill, saying the battle to contain the virus is lost and the country is moving into a new phase of the pandemic response. As cases spike sharply in those places, they are bracing for an onslaught and directing scarce resources where they are needed most to save people’s lives. Instead of encouraging broad testing of the public, they’re focused on conserving masks, ventilators and intensive care beds — and on getting still-limited tests to health-care workers and the most vulnerable. The shift is further evidence that rising levels of infection and illness have begun to overwhelm the health care system.

FDA authorizes first rapid ‘point-of-care’ test for coronavirus

Washington Post - April 30, 2020

The Food and Drug Administration late Friday approved the first coronavirus test that can be conducted entirely at the point of care for a patient — and deliver results in 45 minutes. The FDA granted “emergency use authorization” to Cepheid, a California company that makes a rapid molecular test for the coronavirus. The turnaround time for Cepheid’s product is far shorter than for the tests being used, which are typically sent to centralized labs that may not return results for days. The FDA authorization is for use in “patient care settings,” including doctors’ offices, but the test initially will be used primarily by hospitals and emergency departments, the company said.

U.S. Hospitals Prepare Guidelines For Who Gets Care Amid Coronavirus Surge

NPR - April 30, 2020

As COVID-19 spreads rapidly through the United States, many American doctors could soon be making the decisions that overwhelmed health care workers in Italy are already facing: Which patients get lifesaving treatment, and which ones do not? Every accredited hospital in the U.S. is required to have some mechanism for addressing ethical issues like this — typically, an ethics committee made up of not just medical professionals but often also social workers, pastors and patient advocates. Sometimes in partnership with hospital triage committees, they create guidelines for prioritizing patient care if there's a resource shortage. As the number of coronavirus cases rises in the U.S., hospitals have a new urgency in revisiting and updating those guidelines.

The Virus Can Be Stopped, but Only With Harsh Steps, Experts Say

New York Times - April 30, 2020

Scientists who have fought pandemics describe difficult measures needed to defend the United States against a fast-moving pathogen. Terrifying though the coronavirus may be, it can be turned back. China, South Korea, Singapore and Taiwan have demonstrated that, with furious efforts, the contagion can be brought to heel. Whether they can keep it suppressed remains to be seen. But for the United States to repeat their successes will take extraordinary levels of coordination and money from the country’s leaders, and extraordinary levels of trust and cooperation from citizens. It will also require international partnerships in an interconnected world.

California issues statewide stay-at-home order in coronavirus fight

NBC - April 30, 2020

The governor of California on Thursday evening issued a statewide stay at home order to help combat the spread of the novel coronavirus. The order is effective Thursday night and asks residents to leave their homes only when necessary. It remains in place until further notice. … California, which has a population of around 40 million, appears to be the first state to order restrictions statewide. “We project that roughly 56 percent of our population — 25.5 million people — will be infected with the virus over an eight week period," Newsom wrote in a letter to President Donald Trump dated Wednesday.

State Department warns US citizens not to travel abroad due to coronavirus pandemic

CNN - April 30, 2020

The US State Department on Thursday warned American citizens not to travel abroad due to the coronavirus pandemic, issuing the highest possible level of travel advisory. The Level 4: Do Not Travel advisory "advises U.S. citizens to avoid all international travel due to the global impact of COVID-19." The State Department urged Americans "in countries where commercial departure options remain available" to "arrange for immediate return to the United States, unless they are prepared to remain abroad for an indefinite period." The updated advisory also cautioned US citizens living abroad to "avoid all international travel." … Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, the Level 4 travel advisory had been used sparingly for only a handful of countries, including Syria, Iran, Yemen and North Korea.

Italy passes China’s coronavirus death toll, prepares to extend lockdown

Reuters - April 30, 2020

A total 427 deaths were registered in Italy over the past 24 hours, bringing the total nationwide tally to 3,405 since the outbreak surfaced on Feb. 21. China has recorded 3,245 deaths since early January. However, Italy has far fewer confirmed cases - 41,035 as of Thursday against 80,907 in China. Officials and experts believe the total number of infections here is significantly higher, with testing largely limited to those arriving for hospital care. The country’s large, elderly population, who are particularly vulnerable to the virus, is also seen as factor for the high number of fatalities.

Almost Half of Coronavirus Patients Have Digestive Symptoms

HealthDay - April 30, 2020

Diarrhea and other digestive symptoms are the main complaint in nearly half of coronavirus patients, Chinese researchers report. Most patients with the coronavirus have respiratory symptoms, but these findings from the early stages of the outbreak show that digestive problems are prevalent in many patients with COVID-19. "Clinicians must bear in mind that digestive symptoms, such as diarrhea, may be a presenting feature of COVID-19, and that the index of suspicion may need to be raised earlier in these cases rather than waiting for respiratory symptoms to emerge," wrote the investigators from the Wuhan Medical Treatment Expert Group for COVID-19. The researchers analyzed data from 204 COVID-19 patients, average age nearly 55, who were admitted to three hospitals in the Hubei province between Jan. 18 and Feb. 28, 2020. The average time from symptom onset to hospital admission was 8.1 days. However, the finding showed that patients with digestive symptoms had a longer time from symptom onset to hospital admission than patients without digestive symptoms, 9 days versus 7.3 days. This suggests that patients with digestive symptoms sought care later because they didn't yet suspect they had COVID-19 due to a lack of respiratory symptoms, such as cough or shortness of breath, the researchers explained. Patients with digestive symptoms had a variety of problems, including loss of appetite (nearly 84%), diarrhea (29%), vomiting (0.8%) and abdominal pain (0.4%). Seven of the patients in the study had digestive symptoms but no respiratory symptoms. As the severity of the disease increased, digestive symptoms became more serious, the researchers found. Patients without digestive symptoms were more likely to be cured and discharged than those with digestive symptoms (60% versus 34%), according to the study published March 18 in the American Journal of Gastroenterology.

Senate GOP unveils massive coronavirus bill that includes checks for Americans

NBC News - April 30, 2020

The proposal, expected to cost around $1 trillion, calls for direct payments on a tiered scale. Individuals making $75,000 based on a 2018 tax return would be eligible for $1,200 payments, or $2,400 for couples filing jointly. The payments would decrease for those making more than $75,000, with an income cap of $99,000 per individual or $198,000 for couples. The payments would also increase $500 for each child a person or couple has. However, taxpayers with little or no income tax liability but at least $2,500 of qualifying income would be eligible for only $600 or $1,200 for couples. The direct deposits appear to be just a one-time payment, rather than two payments as initially proposed by the White House. The Republican proposal also includes emergency aid for small businesses and industries such as airline companies. The GOP proposal would provide $208 billion for loans or loan guarantees to air carriers and other distressed industries but no more than $50 billion for passenger air carriers and $8 billion for cargo air carriers. The rest, around $150 billion, would be for other industries.

CDC Reports first known employee with COVID-19 Infection

CDC - April 30, 2020

This individual is in good condition and is isolated to prevent spread of infection to others. Our best wishes go to the employee for a rapid and full recovery. This individual was not involved in the COVID-19 response, has not been present in the CDC workplace since March 6, and was asymptomatic at that time. Staff working in the same unit are teleworking while we will do a deep cleaning of the office space. After developing symptoms, the individual took the appropriate action and stayed home.

Younger Adults Make Up Big Portion of Coronavirus Hospitalizations in U.S.

New York Times - April 30, 2020

New C.D.C. data showed that nearly 40 percent of patients sick enough to be hospitalized were aged 20 to 54. But the risk of dying was significantly higher in older people.

Most coronavirus cases in kids are mild, but some are at risk for worse, study confirms

NBC News - April 30, 2020

"Just because it’s much more uncommon for children to get severe disease, these data show it is indeed possible," an expert said of the study of more than 2,000 children in China.

Trump signs coronavirus relief legislation into law

CNN - April 30, 2020

President Donald Trump on Wednesday signed into law a coronavirus relief package that includes provisions for free testing for Covid-19 and paid emergency leave. The Senate had earlier Wednesday approved the House-passed bill. The move allowed the upper chamber to devote its full attention to passing the next relief package in response to the coronavirus crisis.