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

Social distancing and shutdowns have been astonishingly effective at blunting the pandemic

Vox - June 10, 2020

Lockdowns, stay-at-home orders, closed schools, and canceled public events prevented millions of Covid-19 coronavirus cases and deaths, according to two new peer-reviewed studies in the journal Nature. One of the studies estimated the number of Covid-19 cases with and without these tough interventions. They found that in six countries, including China and the US, pandemic control policies had a huge effect. In the United States alone, the measures stopped 4.8 million more confirmed cases of Covid-19 and up to 60 million infections in total. In China, they prevented 285 million infections. In the second study, researchers looked at the number of deaths from Covid-19 in 11 countries in Europe. They found that 3.1 million deaths in these countries were avoided with pandemic control measures.

Coronavirus Live Updates: W.H.O. Walks Back Claim That Asymptomatic Transmission is Rare

The New York Times - June 9, 2020

More than half of states may be undercounting coronavirus cases by not following CDC guidelines

CNN - June 9, 2020

At least 28 states are not following US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines on reporting new Covid-19 cases -- half of which saw the trend of new cases increasing in the last week. Those states are not reporting probable cases, according to the daily case count listed on the CDC's website. Probable cases include those that show evidence of an infection without the confirmation of a lab test and cases where coronavirus was listed as a cause or contributing cause of death but are not confirmed with a lab test. This comes as 26 states see an increased or steady rate of new cases.

Satellite images of Wuhan may suggest coronavirus was spreading as early as August

CNN - June 9, 2020

Satellite images of hospital parking lots in Wuhan as well as internet search trends, show the coronavirus may have been spreading in China as early as last August, according to a new study from Harvard Medical School. The study, which has not yet been peer-viewed, found a significantly higher number of cars in parking lots at five Wuhan hospitals in the late summer and fall of 2019 compared to a year earlier; and an uptick in searches of keywords associated with an infectious disease on China's Baidu search engine. "Individual hospitals have days of high relative volume in both fall and winter 2019. However, between September and October 2019, five of the six hospitals show their highest relative daily volume of the analyzed series, coinciding with elevated levels of Baidu search queries for the terms 'diarrhea' and 'cough'," they wrote.

U.S. coronavirus deaths top 110,000 as cases approach 2 million

Johns Hopkins - June 8, 2020

New Coronavirus Hot Spots Emerge Across South And In California, As Northeast Slows

NPR - June 8, 2020

Mass protests against police violence across the U.S. have public health officials concerned about an accelerated spread of the coronavirus. But even before the protests began May 26, sparked by the May 25 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, several states had been recording big jumps in the number of cases. The U.S. is still seeing roughly 20,000 new cases a day. There's a wide range from state to state, from one case a day, on average, last week in Hawaii all the way up to to 2,614 new cases a day in California. Specific areas in the Golden State have become hot spots, along with certain counties in every Southern state. The northeastern states of New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts — which among them accounted for a quarter of all COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. — are seeing a substantial slowing of new cases. A closer look at these hard-hit areas highlights some of the common and unique challenges states face as they manage protests and begin efforts to reopen the economy amid the risks of more disease and death.

Bleach on Fruit, Lysol Gargles: Many Getting Home Disinfection Dangerously Wrong

HealthDay - June 8, 2020

Nearly two out of five Americans are using bleach and other household cleaners in potentially dangerous ways in an effort to protect themselves against COVID-19 infection, a new survey reveals. About 20% Americans say they have applied bleach to their fruits and vegetables as a means of disinfection, a practice not recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Shutdowns prevented 60 million coronavirus infections in the U.S., study finds

MSN - June 8, 2020

Another study estimated that the shutdowns saved about 3.1 million lives in 11 European countries and dropped infection rates by an average of 82 percent. Both reports were published Monday in the journal Nature. The two reports provide fresh evidence that aggressive and unprecedented shutdowns, which caused massive economic disruptions, were necessary to halt the exponential spread of the novel coronavirus. The first study, from researchers at the University of California at Berkeley, examined six countries — China, the United States, France, Italy, Iran and South Korea — and estimated how 1,717 different interventions, such as stay-at-home orders, business closings and travel bans, altered the spread of the virus. The report concluded that those six countries collectively managed to avert 62 million test-confirmed infections, which the researchers estimate would correspond to roughly 530 million total infections.

Unemployment rate drops to 13 percent, as the economy began to lose jobs at a slower pace

The Washington Post - June 5, 2020

The federal unemployment rate declined to 13.3 percent in May, down from 14.7 percent in April, the Department of Labor said Friday, a sign that economy is improving quicker than economists had projected. 2.5 million people gained jobs in May, as states and counties began to reopen around the country. There are hopes that these figures show the country is moving away from the nadir of the crisis — the rocky bottom below which the United States will sink no further. Yet, with some 30 million workers collecting unemployment benefits, the labor market has been upended.

Lancet, New England Journal retract Covid-19 studies, including one that raised safety concerns about malaria drugs

STAT - June 5, 2020

The Lancet, one of the world’s top medical journals, on Thursday retracted an influential study that raised alarms about the safety of the experimental Covid-19 treatments chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine amid scrutiny of the data underlying the paper. Just over an hour later, the New England Journal of Medicine retracted a separate study, focused on blood pressure medications in Covid-19, that relied on data from the same company. The retractions came at the request of the authors of the studies, published last month, who were not directly involved with the data collection and sources, the journals said.

Race, Ethnicity Data To Be Required With Coronavirus Tests In U.S.

NPR - June 5, 2020

All laboratories will now be required to include detailed demographic data when they report the results of coronavirus tests to the federal government, including the age, sex, race and ethnicity of the person tested, the Trump administration announced Thursday. The new requirement, which will go into effect Aug. 1, is designed to help provide long-sought, crucial information needed to monitor and fight the pandemic nationally.

Jobless claims: Another 1.877 million Americans file for unemployment benefits

Yahoo! Finance - June 4, 2020

The state of employment in the U.S. took centerstage Thursday when the U.S. Labor Department released its weekly jobless claims report. An additional 1.877 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits in the week ending May 30, exceeding economists’ estimates for 1.843 million initial jobless claims during the week. The prior week’s figure was revised higher to 2.13 million from the previously reported 2.12 million. Over the past 11 weeks, more than 42 million Americans have filed for unemployment insurance.

Hydroxychloroquine does not prevent Covid-19 infection if exposed, study says

STAT - June 4, 2020

The malaria drug hydroxychloroquine did not help prevent people who had been exposed to others with Covid-19 from developing the disease, according to the results of an eagerly awaited study that was published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine. Despite a lack of evidence, many people began taking the medicine to try to prevent infection early in the Covid-19 pandemic, following anecdotal reports it could be effective and claims by President Trump and conservative commentators.

Heart patients avoided ERs as coronavirus hit, US study says

AP - June 4, 2020

Emergency room visits in the U.S. for chest pain and heart attacks fell early this spring, according to a study that supports fears that the coronavirus outbreak scared away people from going to the hospital. ER visits were up for respiratory illnesses and pneumonia, but were down for nearly every other kind of injury or ailment, the CDC reported Wednesday. Overall, fewer ER patients showed up: Visits were down 42% in a four-week period that stretched from late March through most of April, compared to the same time last year. At the time, hospitals is some U.S. cities — most notably New York — were overwhelmed treating COVID-19 patients. But the CDC study covers 43 states, and saw big declines, particularly in visits involving preteens. Some of that may be good news — there may have been fewer injuries from some types of accidents, for example, because people were staying at home and not doing as many risky things at work or play. But some experts worry about the CDC finding 1,100 fewer visits per week for heart attacks, and 24,000 fewer for chest pain.

Protesting in a pandemic: COVID-19 testing sites shut down amid national unrest

NBC News - June 3, 2020

As the U.S. remains in the grip of protests over the death of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis, some COVID-19 testing sites have been forced to suspend operations because of violence and unrest in recent days. The temporary closures — from California to Florida — are sure to hamper efforts to control the spread of the coronavirus, particularly as social distancing has given way to mass gatherings of potentially contagious people who don't know they're infected. Meanwhile, as protests sweep nation, research finds social distancing most effective at slowing coronavirus spread.

Pandemic to Cost U.S. Economy $7.9 Trillion Over 10 Years

The New York Times - June 3, 2020

The Congressional Budget Office projected on Monday that the pandemic would inflict a devastating long-term blow on the United States economy, costing $7.9 trillion over the next decade. Without adjusting for inflation, the agency said, the pandemic would cost $16 trillion over the next 10 years. The estimates were an official tally of the damage from the crisis, reflecting expectations of dampened consumer spending and business investment in the years to come. Much of the diminished output was projected to be a result of weaker inflation, as prices for energy and transportation are expected to increase more slowly than they otherwise would have as Americans pull back on travel. Phillip L. Swagel, the director of the budget office, cautioned that “an unusually high degree of uncertainty surrounds these economic projections,” because it remained unknown how the pandemic would unfold during the remainder of the year, or how social distancing and any future relief measures enacted by the federal government might affect its impact.