Getting It Right About COVID-19

There is so much information and misinformation in the public about the COVID-19 pandemic.  Touro Nevada students will be using twitter to bring you daily news and has compiled other information in easy to understand snippets of information. 

News & Research Updates

  • Combination treatment with Baricitinib and Remdesivir has been shown to reduce recovery time and improve clinical status in patients with COVID-19. The combination therapy was found to decrease 28-day mortality by 2.7% and serious adverse events were 5% less frequent. (NEJM)
  • A preprint study used a mathematical model to compare SARS-CoV-2 vaccine prioritization strategies. The study suggests that prioritizing younger adults aged 20-49 may most effectively minimize cumulative incidence of infection. However, prioritizing adults over 60 most effectively minimizes mortality and saves the greatest number of lives. (Nature & medRxiv)
  • In regard to who will get the COVID-19 vaccine first, the CDC recommends prioritizing health care facility workers -- including doctors, nurses, nursing home aides, cafeteria workers and janitorial staff. The staff and residents of nursing homes and assisted living facilities should also be prioritized. Other groups the CDC says to prioritize include other essential workers, people 65 years old or above, and people who have underlying medical conditions that put them at higher risk of getting seriously ill from COVID-19. (NPR)
  • On December 10, Ellen DeGeneres announced that she has tested positive for COVID-19. Since September, "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" has been back in production with COVID safety protocols in place. The show began hosting a limited studio audience in October. (CNN)
  • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently authorized an at-home coronavirus test that can be bought without a prescription and used for immediate test results. Ellume, the Australian company that makes the at-home test, stated that the test will be available in January and cost around $30. (NPR)
  • The NCAA plans to hold the entirety of 2021’s Division I women’s basketball tournament in one geographic region. The decision was made in an effort to reduce the amount of travel required by teams to limit the spread of the coronavirus. Preliminary talks are underway with the city of San Antonio and the surrounding region as a potential location for the tournament. (NPR)
  • Authors of a preprint study suggest that olfactory tests could be a high impact and cost-effective method for COVID-19 screening when compared to weekly RT-PCR testing. The researchers found that olfactory testing every third day controlled epidemic growth when patients experience loss of smell for 3 to 7 days. Additionally, they estimate that a mitigation strategy using weekly RT-PCR assays with 80% participation would cost $5.3 million, while a mitigation strategy using olfactory tests every 3 days followed by RT-PCR would cost $320,000 in tests. (MedRxiv & Nature)
  • Despite low antibody levels found in some recovered COVID-19 patients, a study on rhesus macaques demonstrates that relatively low antibody titers are sufficient in protection against SARS-CoV-2. Additionally, researchers found that cellular immune responses involving CD8+ T cells may contribute to protection if antibody responses are suboptimal. (Nature)
  • The UK advises that those prone to severe allergic reactions should not receive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for the time being after two health workers with a history of serious allergies developed reactions after being given the vaccine. Scientists state that this should not cause any concerns for the vast majority of people and that it is difficult to protect against rare reactions with any new vaccine. (NY Times)
  • Federal data shows that more than a third of Americans live in areas where hospitals are running critically low in ICU beds. In El Paso, there were only 13 of 400 ICU beds that were vacant last week and 0 vacant in Albuquerque. (NY Times)
  • Authors of a study published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases suggest that the coronavirus may have been present in the U.S. earlier than previously recognized. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention analyzed blood samples collected from U.S. residents between Dec. 13 and Jan. 17 and detected the presence of coronavirus antibodies. Researchers indicate that this could mean that the virus may have been present in the U.S. as early as December 2019. (NPR & Infect. Dis.)
  • Researchers state that those that test negative for SARS-CoV-2 should be retested due to high rates of false negative results in those that test early or late in the course of infection. They reported that from a survey of 15,000 participants, 2.2% of 2,700 individuals that initially tested negative for the virus tested positive after retaking the test within 2 weeks. They conclude that lower respiratory tract specimen testing should be prioritized in those with high clinical suspicion of COVID-19. (Open Forum Infect. Dis. & Nature)
  • A blinded, randomized placebo-controlled clinical trial provides further evidence on the efficacy of hydroxychloroquine in treating COVID-19. The study of 479 participants found that hydroxychloroquine did not significantly improve clinical status 14 days after randomization when compared to the placebo group. (JAMA)
  • California hospitals are in a new surge of COVID-19 cases, and if trends continue, state intensive care units could be overwhelmed in a few weeks. Currently, 75% of ICU beds are occupied, and without intervention could reach 112% by Christmas Eve, according to projections shared by Gov. Gavin Newsom. Los Angeles County is now under another lockdown. (NPR)
  • Leaked documents show that China mishandled the early stages of COVID-19. The world got more optimistic data than actuality. For example, on February 10, when China reported 2,478 new confirmed cases nationwide, the documents show Hubei, a Chinese province, actually circulated 5,918 newly reported cases. However, death tolls listed in the documents reveal the starkest discrepancies. (CNN)
  • Amid concerns of a surge in COVID-19 cases, health experts are urging people to take precautions to limit the spread of the virus after the Thanksgiving holiday. Dr. Deborah Brix, the coordinator of the White House’s coronavirus tasks force, advises Americans who traveled during Thanksgiving to assume that they were exposed to the virus. She recommends that people get tested in the next week and avoid interacting with people who have comorbidities or are over the age of 65. (NPR)
  • Contrary to previous findings, two-thirds of 2463 children in an observational study were asymptomatic prior to testing positive for SARS-CoV-2. Cough and rhinorrhea were the 2 most common symptoms among those that tested positive but were also the most common among those that tested negative for the virus. However, anosmia/ageusia, nausea/vomiting, and headache were most predictive of a positive result for SARS-CoV-2 in children. (CMAJ)
  • Researchers propose that immunomodulatory agents such as melatonin may be an effective adjuvant to boost the effectiveness of the SARS-CoV-2 vaccine. Previous research indicates that melatonin is capable of enhancing natural killer and CD4+ cell counts and amplifying the production of cytokines needed for an effective vaccine response. (NCBI)

 

  • Over the past 2 weeks, more than 900 staff members across the Midwest Mayo Clinic system have been diagnosed with COVID-19. The Midwest Mayo Clinic system consists of clinics, hospitals and other facilities in Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin. Midwestern states have been hit especially hard by recent COVID-19 case surges. (CNN)
  • A retired orchestra teacher battling COVID-19 in a Utah hospital wanted to show his gratitude to health care workers by playing his violin and viola while being intubated and unable to speak. He played church hymns and the “Tennessee Waltz.” According to the hospital, he was able to play a few times before he became too sick and required sedation. (CNN)
  • SARS-CoV-2 antibody studies in Kenya indicate that the virus may be dampened in the African country. These studies suggest that 4% of people in Kenya have been infected by the virus, however only 341 people died due to COVID-19 by early July. Spain had a similar estimate of antibody prevalence, but lost 28,000 to the disease by this same time. These findings indicate that Kenya may have had a history of infection with SARS-CoV-2. (Science & Nature)

 

  • As of Sunday, Nov. 15, the United States reported more than 11 million total cases of COVID-19. Just a week ago, cases passed more than 10 million and more than 1 in 400 Americans have tested positive since. Deaths across the country remain at lower levels compared to the peak in spring, but they are rising rapidly and approaching 250,000. (NY Times)
  • S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams states that "pandemic fatigue" is largely to blame for the increase in COVID-19 cases. He believes that people are tired and are not taking mitigation measures as seriously as before. As the winter and holidays approach, people may be tempted to escape the cold and spend time indoors with friends and family. Adams is encouraging people to have virtual events or celebrate Thanksgiving only with people living in their household. (NPR)
  • Data from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the Children’s Hospital Association shows that 1 in 11 of all reported coronavirus cases in the U.S are children. Over 1 million U.S. children have tested positive for COVID-19, but the AAP noted that this number likely underestimates the number of children who have had the virus. (NPR)
  • On Tuesday, New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell’s office announced that parades will be prohibited at New Orleans’ 2021 Mardi Gras celebration in February. The holiday is New Orleans’ biggest tourism draw and according to a 2020 study by WalletHub, the celebration had an economic impact of over $1 billion in the city. The city’s decision comes as Louisiana's COVID-19 cases and deaths surge. (NPR)
  • A mutation in the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein binding motif has been discovered to allow the virus to evade neutralizing monoclonal antibodies. The variant has been found to have emerged twice independently and was identified in 12 different countries. (Nature & bioRxiv)
  • A study finds that SARS-CoV-2 spike glycoprotein (S)-reactive antibodies were detectable in children and adolescents that were not previously infected with the virus. These antibodies were found to be of the IgG class that targeted the S2 subunit of the spike glycoprotein. It still remains unclear whether previous infection with a seasonal coronavirus may produce antibodies against SARS-CoV-2. (Science & Nature)
  • Under the nation’s first public health crisis sentencing law passed by the state legislature in September, New Jersey will release more than 2,200 prisoners. The law allows for sentencing credits to be rewarded to inmates within a year of completing their sentence during a public health crisis such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Another 1,167 prisoners will be released on a rolling basis between November 4 and March 4, 2021. Inmates that are serving sentences for murder, aggravated sexual assault or who have been deemed a repetitive, compulsive sex offender are not eligible for early release. (CNN)
  • According to Dr. José Romero, head of the committee that develops evidence-based immunization guidelines for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, health care workers will get the first doses of COVID-19 vaccine in the US when one is approved. The committee's goals for a COVID-19 vaccine are to decrease death, keep society functioning, and reduce the burden of health disparities. State health officials are responsible for determining where vaccines should be distributed within their own borders. (NPR)
  • Governor Gary Herbert of Utah announced a statewide mask mandate amid a steep spike of coronavirus cases in the state. The mandate requires that residents wear a mask in public and when they are within 6 feet of people they do not live with. For the next two weeks, the new restrictions only permit casual social gatherings among people who live in the same household. Work, school, and religious services require masks and physical distancing and are not part of the mandate. (NPR)
  • On Monday, President-elect Joe Biden named over a dozen health experts to his Transition COVID-19 Advisory Board. The board will work on creating a plan to bring the pandemic under control, a plan that Biden says will begin immediately after his inauguration. The coronavirus continues to spread at an alarming rate in the U.S. and nearly 238,000 Americans have died from the virus since January. (NPR)
  • A study in Massachusetts found that 8% of 33 samples taken from surfaces throughout Somerville were found positive with SARS-CoV-2 RNA. However, researchers state that these samples only had a “low level” of contamination and confer a low risk of infection. The samples were taken from 12 locations including a trash can, liquor store, bank, metro entrance, grocery store, gas station, laundromat, restaurant, convenience store, post office box, and crosswalks. A trash can handle and liquor store door handle were found to be the most frequently contaminated surface. (Nature & medRxiv)
  • Contrary to previous research, a study finds that secondary infections within households occur rapidly, with 75% of infections identified within 5 days of the index patient’s illness onset. Additionally, less than one half of household contacts that became infected were asymptomatic when they first tested positive. (Nature & CDC)
  • While Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) are typically used for severe weather and AMBER Alerts, Utah is the first state to have a WEA regarding COVID-19 spikes sent to all of its residents. "State of Utah: COVID-19 is spreading rapidly. Record cases. Almost every county is a high transmission area. Hospitals are nearly overwhelmed. By public health order, masks are required in high transmission areas. Social gatherings are limited to 10 or fewer. Be careful!" read the alert. The messages were sent on October 30 and remained active for 15 minutes. (CNN)
  • CNN found that 14 out of 17 Trump campaign rallies they investigated had an increased rate of new coronavirus cases in the county the rallies took place in. CNN evaluated the rate of new COVID-19 daily cases per 100,000 residents four weeks before the rally, on the rally date, and four weeks after the rally at the county level and at the state level. For example, Douglas County had an increase of 225% in new cases four weeks after a Trump rally in Minden, Nevada. (CNN)
  • The U.S. is experiencing a third surge in coronavirus infections. Last Friday, the nation added over 99,321 cases and 1,030 deaths to its COVID-19 tally. Experts anticipate that cases and deaths will increase during the colder seasons, since more people are expected to congregate indoors and social distancing restrictions become harder to enforce. States including Iowa, North Dakota, and Wisconsin reported record cases on Friday. (NPR)
  • The coronavirus pandemic has increased telework opportunities in many industries with many companies announcing plans to make remote work a permanent option for employees. According to an October study released by Upwork, a freelancing platform, 14 million to 23 million Americans intend to relocate to a different city as a result of telework. The survey found that over 20% of respondents planning to move live in a major city and suggests that big cities will see the largest out-migration. (NPR)
  • Regardless of the election’s outcome this week, President Trump is going to be in charge of directing the country through the potentially deadliest period of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, he has largely excluded the nation’s leading health officials from his inner circle. Those who voted for President Trump considered the virus to be in somewhat control, while even more Biden voters have said that it is not under control. (NY Times)
  • A study found that Tocilizumab, an interleukin 6 inhibitor, was not effective in preventing intubation or death in moderately ill hospitalized patients with COVID-19. Researchers previously noticed an association between high IL-6 and death or mechanical ventilation in these patients. They hypothesized that dampening the immune response in COVID-19 patients would lead to a less severe disease outcome. (NEJM)
  • A study in France suggests a high prevalence of mental health issues among students who experience quarantine due to COVID-19 underline the importance of reinforcing prevention, surveillance, and access to mental health care. The study found that of the 69,054 students who completed the survey, 27.5% reported a high level of anxiety and 11.4% reported thoughts of suicide. (JAMA)
  • Women already and still face many inequities in today’s healthcare system, according to Maya Dusenbery, author of "Doing Harm: The Truth About How Bad Medicine and Lazy Science Leave Women Dismissed, Misdiagnosed, and Sick." Lack of sufficient COVID-19 testing in the US creates barriers for women to prove their symptoms are real. In addition, there is a relative lack of knowledge regarding women’s conditions, symptoms, and bodies. There are differences between men and women prevalent in many conditions, and it is important for healthcare providers to understand them. (CNN)
  • With the recent surge of COVID-19 cases, businesses in Chicago are required to shut down by 10 p.m. This curfew will last for two weeks, starting on Friday, October 23. Chicago is also asking its residents to avoid social gatherings of more than six people and to end all events by 10 p.m. According to the COVID Tracking Project, 42 states have had a 5% increase in hospitalizations over the past two weeks. (CNN)
  • Stocks have dropped as coronavirus cases surge in the U.S. and Europe and optimism about another U.S. pandemic relief bill declines. Earlier this week, the Dow Jones Industrial Average posted their biggest decline since Sept. 3. (NPR)
  • Many European countries have introduced new regulations in an attempt to stop the spread of the coronavirus during its second wave across Europe. This includes the U.K., where some cities have limited gatherings to six or fewer people and banned residents from mixing with people from other households. Ireland re-imposed a national lockdown last week and Wales began a 17-day lockdown starting last weekend. France is currently Europe’s worst-hit country and has had more than 40,000 new COVID-19 cases every day for the last few days. (NPR)
  • Fauci has predicted that it won’t be until the end of 2021 or the start of 2022 that our lives will go back to normal. Despite having a vaccination within the next few months, it will take significant time and resources to disburse among the US people. However, Fauci has noted that the political divide has affected how this country is currently doing. (CNN)
  • A mathematics professor in a Colorado College has been testing human waste for the COVID-19 virus. People who have been infected with the virus shed the viral particles through feces. Studies suggest that wastewater monitoring provides early opportunity to detect COVID-19 prior to development of respiratory symptoms. (NPR)
  • A study suggests that several nasal and oral rinses have the potential to inactivate human coronavirus (HCoV) and decrease viral loads in vivo. Researchers found that 1% baby shampoo when used as a nasal rinse inactivated 99% and 99.9% of the virus when contact time was administered for 1 and 2 minutes, respectively. However, Neti Pot, an over-the-counter saline nasal rinse, did not inactivate the virus at any incubation time tested. Additionally, Listerine Antiseptic was found to be highly effective at inactivating HCoV by inactivating 99.99% of the virus with a contact time of 30 seconds. Other tested products such as Peroxide Sore Mouth, Orajel Antiseptic Rinse, 1.5% H2O2, Listerine Ultra, Equate Antiseptic, and CVS Antiseptic Mouth Wash were not as efficient in inactivating the virus. These findings may give insight on protective measures against the transmission of SARS-CoV-2. ( Med. Virol.)
  • An evaluation of breast milk from 18 women who had a confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection found only one positive sample that had detectable SARS-CoV-2 RNA. Breast milk samples were taken at varying time points before and after a positive SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR test result. The positive sample was taken on the day of symptom onset and was preceded by a negative test 2 days before and 12 days after symptoms began. Additionally, viral RNA was not detected in the sample following Holder pasteurization. (JAMA)
  • The president of the State University of New York at Oneonta has resigned as the school handles 712 reported COVID-19 cases within the university since the start of the semester in mid-August. This number makes up more than half the total number of reported cases from campus testing across the entire SUNY system, including 61 campuses. The university did not test students or quarantine them upon arrival. Soon after, the university saw an increase in positive COVID-19 results. (CNN)
  • 18 members of Yale's men's ice hockey team have tested positive for COVID-19. The news came a day after the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's weekly report suggested indoor sports games could increase the transmission of coronavirus. An indoor sporting environment often involves deep breathing and individuals in close proximity to one another - a well suited place for COVID-19 transmission.(CNN)
  • British researchers at the Imperial College London are preparing to start a study in which dozens of healthy volunteers will be exposed to live coronavirus. The controversial Human Challenge Programme is being conducted in an effort to speed up vaccine development. If granted final regulatory approval, the study will begin in January at a bio secure unit at London’s Royal Free Hospital. The study would include inoculating participants with a candidate vaccine and then testing its effectiveness by deliberately exposing volunteers to live coronavirus. Vaccines, such as the seasonal flu and typhoid, have been tested in similar fast-tracked human challenge studies. (NPR)
  • Ireland will be the first European country to return to a nationwide shut down. Two weeks ago, the government rejected the health experts’ recommendation to impose this level of a national lockdown. However, as COVID-19 cases rise, non-essential retail businesses were ordered to close by Wednesday and residents are expected to stay within 3 miles of their homes with few exceptions. COVID-19 cases in the country have risen by 75% since the beginning of September. Deputy Prime Minister Leo Varadkar announced that there will be a penalty for traveling beyond that distance and added that the details are being finalized. The national lockdown will be in place for six weeks. (NPR)
  • Despite the increase in COVID-19 cases, it appears that more people are flying across the country compared to several months before. Over one million people were screened by TSA at airport security on Sunday, October 18th. This is the first time the daily travel count has been over a million since March 16th. Despite the current increase in travel, the number of individuals flying is down more than 60% from the 2.6 million people who were flying at this time last year. (NPR)
  • The governor of Nevada is urging residents that more restrictions will be put into place if people are not careful about stopping the spread of COVID-19. He is concerned that people are undergoing ‘COVID fatigue’. In the past month, the state has doubled in case counts and the positive test rate is the highest it has been since September. In addition, Nevada’s positivity rate is 82% higher than the goal currently set out by the WHO. (CNN)
  • A study finds that SARS-CoV-2 can survive for a significantly longer time on some surfaces than initially thought. Researchers found that the virus was detectable on non-porous surfaces such as glass, polymer bank notes, stainless steel, and vinyl and paper banknotes after 28 days post inoculation at 20 degrees Celsius. However, no infectious viral particles were recovered after 14 days post inoculation on porous material such as cotton cloth. The amount of infectious viral was found to significantly reduce with increasing temperatures. ( J.)
  • A preprint study assessed whether prior infection by seasonal coronaviruses can elicit neutralizing antibody activity against SARS-CoV-2. The researchers found that none of the 37 serum samples collected from patients previously diagnosed with seasonal coronavirus had any detectable neutralizing activity against SARS-CoV-2. This data suggests that only pandemic sera may have neutralizing activity against the virus. (Nature & medRxiv)
  • The recent increase in coronavirus cases across the US has emergency physicians fearing it could represent the start of a "dreaded second wave." According to an influential model prediction bythe Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington School of Medicine, the US coronavirus death toll could almost double to about 400,000 by February. (CNN)
  • Viruses like measles, mumps and meningitis are known to sometimes cause sudden hearing loss, and there is now growing evidence that the coronavirus should be added to the list as well. A mother lost her hearing in her right ear and a 23-year-old student lost 70-80% of the hearing in his left ear after a COVID-19 infection. Researchers are still not sure why it seems like some COVID-19 patients develop hearing loss while others don't. (CNN)
  • There are increasing calls asking for the Trump Administration to release its vaccine contracts with pharmaceutical companies. The administration’s crash coronavirus vaccine program awarded billions of dollars in vaccine contracts through Advanced Technology International, a third party. Unlike traditional government contracts, these types of contracts are not required to include taxpayer protections. (NPR)
  • Europe is experiencing a second wave of COVID-19 cases. Globally, Spain has one of the highest numbers of COVID-19 deaths and infections. As COVID-19 cases rise, the Madrid region of Spain has been declared a state of emergency by the Spanish government. Thus, making it possible to impose new anti-coronavirus lockdown restrictions against the opposition of the local government. (NPR)
  • As companies continue to test their experimental SARS-CoV-2 vaccinations, Pfizer has started to test its vaccine on children as young as 12 years old. This is the first coronavirus vaccination trial to include children in the United States. Officials believe that having a vaccination for children is fundamental for controlling the spread of the virus. (CNN)
  • Some colleges are suggesting that students have gotten COVID-19 on purpose in order to boost their plasma donor payout. Any students who have intentionally exposed themselves to the virus have been suspended immediately and may be permanently dismissed. Individuals who give convalescent plasma earn $100 per visit and are able to donate multiple times. (NPR)
  • A viral spike protein mutation in SARS-CoV-2, characterized by amino-acid alteration D614G, has been found to significantly increase viral replication on human lung epithelial cells and primary airway tissues. Studies with hamsters infected with the same variant suggests that the mutation increases viral loads in the upper respiratory tract and may increase transmission between COVID-19 patients. (Nature & bioRxiv)
  • A study finds that SARS-CoV-2 can survive on human skin for up to 9 hours. The study compared the stability of SARS-CoV-2 and influenza A virus (IAV) in several different media and surfaces. Researchers found that both viruses were inactivated more rapidly on skin when compared to hard surfaces such as stainless steel, glass, and plastic. However, SARS-CoV-2 was found to survive significantly longer on skin when compared to IAV, which was found to have less than a 2-hour survival time. These findings illustrate the increased risk of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 through direct contact with others. (NEJM)
  • President Donald Trump left the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in the middle of an aggressive course of treatment for coronavirus on Sunday, Oct. 4, to wave to supporters while riding in a SUV. Trump's doctors provided concerning details about his medical condition to reporters - including two alarming drops in his oxygen levels. Trump’s actions raised questions about whether or not he comprehends the seriousness of the highly contagious and deadly disease. (CNN)
  • 29-year-old lawyer, Jordan Josey, from Macon, Georgia, first contracted the coronavirus right around St. Patrick’s Day. He recovered and started jogging again by late June. However, Josey was diagnosed with COVID-19 a second time and became entirely inactive for four weeks. He and his internist aren't sure whether the virus was never fully defeated or if he had gotten reinfected. The disease presented with symptoms that differed from his first case. It caused severe fatigue, appetite loss, and weight loss. (CNN)
  • On Monday, Oct. 5, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) acknowledged that COVID-19 can be spread via airborne particles that can linger for minutes or hours. This comes after the CDC removed a guidance last month from their website suggesting that aerosol droplets might be among the most common ways that the virus is spreading. (NPR)
  • Lawmakers have been at odds on how much should be included in the next round of COVID-19 aid. Recent job reports have shown a sharp decline in job growth and many companies have begun another round of layoffs. On Tuesday, Oct. 6, President Trump ordered his representatives to halt talks regarding a new round of COVID-19 aid until after the election. (NPR)
  • The US FDA has confirmed that it wants to see two full months of follow-up reports after volunteers receive their second doses of potential COVID-19 vaccinations undergoing clinical trials. This hinders the ability for a vaccine to be available by election day. (CNN)
  • Recent studies have shown that most patients that have been hospitalized with COVID-19 have neurological symptoms. The most common symptoms include headaches or encephalopathies and altered brain function or structure. The researchers found that the patients with neurological symptoms appeared to be younger than the patients without the symptoms. (CNN)
  • A study released by the CDC indicates that weekly COVID-19 cases among young adults aged 18-22 years increased 55% nationally from August 2nd to September 5, 2020. The incidence in this age group changed 2.1-fold, while testing saw a 1.5-fold change. This suggests that the increase in cases were not solely due to increased testing. The authors of the study believe that the observed increase in COVID-19 cases in this age group may be in part linked to the resumption of in-person attendance at some colleges and universities. (CDC)
  • A genomic segment known to be a major genetic risk factor for severe SARS-CoV-2 infection and hospitalization is found to be inherited from Neanderthals and is carried by about 50% of people in South Asia and about 16% of people in Europe. The gene cluster is found on chromosome 3 and was previously found to be a risk locus for respiratory failure. (Nature)
  • A new report from the CDC shows people ages 20 to 29 accounted for more than 20% of all confirmed COVID-19 cases this past summer. The CDC noted younger people are more likely to work frontline jobs that leave them exposed to the virus and they may be less likely to adhere to social distancing guidelines. More than 59,000 COVID-19 cases have been reported in colleges and universities across all 50 states. (CNN)
  • In an effort to get travelers back on planes, United Airlines will begin offering on-the-spot coronavirus testing to some passengers at the airport before boarding their flight. The tests will be offered to United customers going to Hawaii from San Francisco International Airport in a pilot program starting October 15. The rapid tests, developed by Abbott Laboratories, will provide results in 15 minutes. United customers will also have the option of a self-administered, mail-in test that they would need to submit within 72 hours before their flight. (NPR)
  • On Monday, September 28, over a hundred teachers did not show up for class in Little Rock, Arkansas. Teresa Knapp Gordon, the President of the Little Rock Education Association, says that “Our schools are NOT safe.” The association, which represents over 166 instructors, released a statement saying that until the district allows for remote-only instruction or increases school safety, they will stay home. Gordon says teachers are willing to work and serve students virtually; however, the district says that no-show teachers may face disciplinary actions. (NPR)
  • Rio de Janeiro’s Carnival, one of the most famous spectacles in the world, has been indefinitely postponed over coronavirus concerns. This marks the first time that Carnival has been postponed in over a century. (NPR)
  • Recent news has suggested that a vaccination for COVID-19 would be available prior to election day in November. However, the FDA is considering implementing novel rules for the authorization of the drug. Sources have predicted that it won’t be before Thanksgiving that any company gets authorization to release the vaccine. (CNN)
  • Data has shown that many communities across the country are seeing an uptick in COVID-29 cases. However, many cities continue to loosen their restrictions that were put in place in order to halt the spread of the disease. This news comes as at least 30 states have reported high seven-day averages of new daily cases. (CNN)
  • Results from a cohort study in China suggest that those that wear eyeglasses for more than 8 hours a day may have a lower risk of contracting COVID-19. The researchers hypothesize that eyeglasses prevent or discourage the wearer from touching their eyes, therefore avoiding transmission of the virus from their hands to their eyes. (JAMA)
  • A cohort study of 1,614 COVID-19 patients found that elevated red blood cell distribution width (RDW) was associated with increased mortality rate. The mortality rate of those with normal RDW was found to be 11%, while those with an elevated RDW (>14.5%) had a 31% mortality rate. Additionally, all patients whose RDW increased during hospitalization had higher mortality compared to those whose RDW did not change. (JAMA)
  • India is on track, within weeks, to become the worst-affected country in the world by COVID-19. On Wednesday, September 16, India's total caseload surpassed 5 million - a number only the United States had exceeded so far. Serological studies have shown as many as 1 in 4 Indians already have coronavirus antibodies, suggesting that real rates of exposure to the virus may be much greater than confirmed cases indicate. (NPR)
  • The University of Wisconsin-Madison campus has over 350 students in a dorm dedicated to students who tested positive for the coronavirus since the start of the school year. Since students began moving in, the university has seen more than 2,000 COVID-19 cases in total. Just five days after the start of classes, students were restricted to their residences, with exceptions for essential activities. (CNN)
  • On Tuesday, September 22, the U.S. death toll from the coronavirus surpassed 200,000. According to data collected by Johns Hopkins University, the U.S. has reported more COVID-19 cases than any other country. The global death toll from COVID-19 is now over 965,000. (NPR)
  • On Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) posted that aerosol transmission might be one of the “most common” methods of COVID-19 transmission. However, on Monday this post was removed from their website. The CDC says that the Friday post was a draft version of proposed changes that was posted in error and notes that it will post a version with updated language once their review process is complete. (NPR)
  • The CDC has issued a warning regarding the typical methods of trick-or-treating. Experts are hoping that pandemic Halloween will be different from regular Halloween due to the risks of transmitting COVID-19. The CDC is proposing that moderate-risk and higher-risk category kids should trick-or-treat from the trunks of cars in a big parking lot. In addition, indoor haunted houses are expected to be banned. (NPR)
  • The NFL has fined several different head coaches over $100,000 for not wearing face masks while on the sidelines. This precaution was put into place to halt the spread of the virus. The fines were issued after the second week of games, all of which were played with no fans in the stands or at drastically reduced capacity. (NPR)
  • A systematic review of 77 studies analyzed maternal and perinatal outcomes in pregnant women with suspected or confirmed COVID-19. The review showed that pregnant and recently pregnant women are less likely to display typical COVID-19 related symptoms such as fever and myalgia than non-pregnant women of reproductive age. In addition, pregnant women are more likely to need intensive care treatment for COVID-19. Some risk factors for severe symptomatic COVID-19 include pre-existing comorbidities, high maternal age, and high body mass index. Preterm birth rates were also higher in pregnant women with COVID-19 than in pregnant women without the disease. (PubMed)
  • An analysis in Salt Lake City, Utah, found three childcare facilities linked to three outbreaks. The report suggests that 12 children likely contracted SARS-CoV-2 at the care facilities and 3 were found to be asymptomatic. Additionally, 12 people outside the care facilities who had contact with the children, including parents and siblings, were found to also test positive. COVID-19 has been found to be less severe in children, but these findings indicate the role children may play in spreading the virus. (CDC)
  • Using several different ribosome profiling techniques, researchers in Israel were able to quantify the expression of canonical viral open reading frames (ORFs) and identified 23 unannotated viral ORFs. Some of these ORFs are thought to likely play a regulatory role, while others were found to encode entirely new proteins or truncated forms of known proteins. (Nature)
  • In recent weeks, at least three teachers have died from complications of COVID-19. Among them include Demetria Bannister, a 28-year-old elementary school teacher in Columbia, South Carolina, Thomas Slade, a teacher at Vancleave High School in Jackson County, Mississippi, and AshLee DeMarinis, a 34-year-old middle school teacher in Potosi, Missouri. (CNN)
  • Fauci said the US might not return to pre-coronavirus life until the end of 2021. However, he is cautiously optimistic the country will have a vaccine by the end of this year. He warns that it is not going to be turning a switch off and on. He believes the transition is going to be gradual and that it will take several months before the US gets to the point where individuals can really feel something that approximates how it was normally before COVID-19. (CNN)
  • According to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, adults who tested positive for COVID-19 were twice as likely to have dined out within a two-week period prior to becoming ill. The study notes that many reported cases tied to restaurants have been associated with air circulation. (NPR)
  • As of Tuesday, the state of New York has removed Nevada from its COVID-19 travel advisory list. Travelers will no longer have to self-quarantine for 14 days upon their arrival. (CNN)
  • Studies have shown that COVID-19 may have circulated in the United States as early as December 2019. This is a month earlier than believed by the CDC. There was a statistically significant increase in both clinic and hospital visits by patients who presented with respiratory illness as early as the week of December 22nd. (CNN)
  • Doctors are concerned that individuals are able to get both the flu and COVID-19 at the same time, which could be extremely detrimental to your immune system. There are concerns that getting infected with one of these illnesses will make you more vulnerable to getting sick with the other. (CNN)
  • Multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) has been found to illicit lower levels of IL-17A in children suffering from COVID-19 when compared to Kawasaki’s disease. MIS-C and Kawasaki’s disease have been found to have overlapping features, but these findings may elucidate the pathogenesis and severity of MIS-C. The study also suggests that autoantibodies may be involved in the pathogenesis of MIS-C and may be implicated with severe COVID-19. (Cell)
  • A study in Iceland found that antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 persist in the body for at least 4 months after recovering from the virus, despite recent evidence suggesting that antibodies quickly disappear after infection. The study found that 91.1% of the 1797 COVID-19-recovered participants tested positive for 2 pan-Ig SARS-CoV-2 antibody assays and remained positive for 120 days after diagnosis. (NEJM)
  • At least 147 COVID-19 cases and 3 deaths are now linked to an August wedding reception that had approximately 65 guests in Maine. Outbreaks linked to the wedding have unfolded at a nursing home and prison, both more than 100 miles away from the venue. The wedding venue is being cited for violating the state’s 50-person cap for indoor events. (CNN)
  • According to Johns Hopkins University, over 6.1 million people nationwide have been infected with COVID-19. A new model cited by top health officials predicts that more than 410,000 people in the US could die from the coronavirus by January 1. The University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation stated that near-universal mask use could reduce the number of projected additional fatalities by more than half. (CNN)
  • The CDC has sent guidelines and protocols to states on how to prepare for distribution of a COVID-19 vaccination. The CDC states that their plans should be in place as soon as October, as distribution may begin early November. These dates have led many individuals to speculate if political pressure is tainting the process. (NPR)
  • India has surpassed Brazil for total recorded coronavirus cases and is now number 2 on the global pandemic list. India’s total cases now surpass 4.2 million. Despite the surge of cases in India, the government continues to ease lockdown restrictions in an effort to help the economy. (NPR)
  • S. employers added 1.4 million jobs in August. However, these job gains were enhanced by the temporary hiring of 238,000 workers to complete the 2020 census. While the monthly snapshot from the U.S. Labor Department shows improvement in unemployment rates, job growth has slowed steadily since June. This could indicate a long recovery from the pandemic recession. Less than half of the 22 million jobs lost this past spring have been recovered. (NPR)
  • Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, says that COVID-19 has disrupted the care and prevention efforts of other diseases globally. With more people missing screenings and routine checkups, non-coronavirus related diseases, such as autoimmune, cancer, and inflammatory diseases, can become neglected. (CNN)
  • A study identified an immunocompetent, 33 year old male patient in Hong Kong that was re-infected with SARS-CoV-2 4.5 months after the first episode of infection. The first diagnosis of COVID-19 was confirmed via posterior oropharyngeal saliva SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR after presenting with cough and sputum, sore throat, fever, and headache for 3 days. The patient was discharged 2 weeks later after testing negative via nasopharyngeal and nasal SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR twice. The patient tested positive via posterior pharyngeal saliva SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR 4.5 months later, after returning to Hong Kong from Spain. The patient was found to be asymptomatic during the second episode of infection but had elevated CRP, high viral load with gradual decline, and seroconversion of SARS-CoV-2 IgG. Whole genome analysis revealed that both episodes of infection were due to different strains of the virus. (Infect. Dis.)
  • Underlying sex differences in COVID-19 may give insight on proper management of men and women infected with SARS-CoV-2. A study found that male patients had increased levels of proinflammatory innate immune chemokines and cytokines (IL-8, IL-18, and CCL5), which correlated with robust induction of non-classical monocytes. However, women were found to have a significantly more robust T cell activation than male patients. Poor T cell response was negatively correlated with patients’ age and was associated with worse disease outcome in males. Contrarily, higher innate immune cytokines in females were associated with worse disease outcome when compared to males. (Nature)
  • In Nevada, a 25-year-old man is said to be the first documented case of COVID-19 reinfection in the U.S. According to genetic tests, the patient was infected with two different strains of the virus. He was first diagnosed with COVID-19 in April, tested negative after recovery, and required ongoing oxygen support after testing positive again in May. If reinfection is possible in such a short period of time, it is important for vaccine developers to keep this information in mind. (CNN)
  • Moderna and Pfizer, the companies leading the race for a coronavirus vaccine in the US, reported this week that they have enrolled over half of the individuals needed for the 30,000-person trials representing the final phase of testing. However, only about one-fifth of the participants are from Hispanic and Black communities, which have been affected the most by COVID-19. Peter Hotez, dean of the School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, thinks US coronavirus vaccine trials should at least have 35% representation among minority groups. (The Washington Post)
  • With the need for quicker results, some people are now turning to concierge services provided by certain physicians and small laboratories for quick COVID-19 testing. For those that can afford it, most pay monthly or yearly membership services at these offices, which allows them to have access to quicker results. (NY Times)
  • In the past week, Spain has recorded over 53,000 new COVID-19 cases and is becoming the hotspot of a second wave. Other countries, such as Germany, Italy, Greece, and Belgium, are also reporting rises in the number of cases but not as high as in Spain. Many are attributing this to Spain’s rapid reopening after their tight lockdown. Additionally, the median age of COVID-19 patients in Spain has dropped from 60 to 37 years old. Restrictions have started to get stricter but many fear that they are still too relaxed. (NY Times)
  • Earlier this week, American Airlines, United Airlines, and Delta Air Lines each announced that they are getting rid of many change fees. These changes in flexibility come as the pandemic continues to have a large economic impact on the airline industry. (NPR)
  • The number of confirmed worldwide coronavirus cases is over 25 million and the number of deaths exceeds 846,000. As of Monday, according to a tally maintained at Johns Hopkins University, over 6 million Americans have been infected with the virus and over 183,000 have died from it. Recently, the number of daily COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. have declined. However, the U.S. continues to see close to 42,000 new cases daily. Hawaii, Iowa, North Dakota, and South Dakota have begun seeing surges in new cases. (NPR)
  • Studies have indicated that the COVID-19 vaccination may require two doses. Throughout the previous months, the United States was hit with a range of logistical issues such as difficulty procuring COVID-19 test kits and protective gear. This could be indicative of the issues to come with the administration of multiple vaccination doses. (CNN)
  • The 2020 U.S. Open started on Monday, August 31st in Queens, New York. The stands stood empty as the prohibition of in-person fans is part of New York’s effort to curb the spread of COVID-19. The U.S. Open includes 350 players following specific health and safety protocols, such as face masks when not on the court, social distancing and frequent SARS-CoV-2 testing. (NPR)
  • A single dose of an intranasal SARS-CoV-2 vaccine has been found to prevent upper and lower respiratory tract infection. The vaccine was developed using a chimpanzee adenoviral vector encoding a pre-fusion stabilized spike protein with two proline substitutions in the S2 subunit. Researchers found that one to two doses of intramuscular administration of the vaccine reduced lung pathology and inflammation in mice, but detectable viral RNA levels were found in the lung and indicated that the treatment did not confer sterilizing immunity. However, a single dose administered intranasally generated a robust IgA and neutralizing antibody response with undetectable levels of viral RNA found in the upper airway tissues. (Cell)
  • A SARS-CoV-2 variant has been found to be associated with milder symptoms in those infected with the virus when compared to patients infected with the wildtype strain. The variant was found to have a 382-nucleotide deletion in the open reading frame 8 region of the genome and was first detected in Singapore and other East Asian countries. Researchers found that none of the 29 patients with the SARS-CoV-2 variant in the study developed hypoxia requiring supplemental oxygen, while 28% of patients with the wildtype strain did. (Lancet)
  • According to data from the Florida Department of Health, a 6-year-old girl from Hillsborough County became the youngest individual to die from COVID-19 complications in Florida. It is unclear whether she contracted the virus after being in contact with a known case or if her infection was travel related. (CNN)
  • The director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated that COVID-19 deaths should start dropping across the country by next week. The country's seven-day average for daily deaths has topped 1,000 for at least 24 days in a row, but this number has been on the decline for weeks. According to Johns Hopkins University, more than 5.6 million Americans have been infected and at least 175,308 have died so far. (CNN)
  • School Nurses are going to play an instrumental role in the eventual re-opening of in-class learning in Los Angeles. Nurses are going to help test more than 600,000 students and 75,000 staff members, in addition to implementing contact tracing techniques. This comes at a time where the Los Angeles school district has a major nurse shortage. (NPR)
  • A Florida judge called parts of the state’s order requiring schools to open for in-person instruction by the end of this month “unconstitutional.” On Monday he ruled against the order and granted a temporary injunction, thus putting the decision-making power in the hands of individual districts. (NPR)
  • The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an emergency use authorization of convalescent plasma from patients who have recovered from COVID-19 to treat hospitalized coronavirus patients. The convalescent plasma contains antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 that may be able to fight the virus. This treatment has been in use for a number of months and has about a 35% improvement in the survival for COVID-19 patients. Experts have concluded that this treatment is safe and shows promise in the fight against COVID-19. (NPR)
  • An emerging study finds racial disparities in COVID-19 hospitalizations. According to JAMA Internal Medicine, Black, Latino, American Indian and Alaskan Native populations have been disproportionately hospitalized for the disease. Additionally, their findings indicate that 10 of 11 states that reported their number of hospitalizations for Hispanic patients found that Hispanic patients constituted the highest population of COVID-19 hospitalizations in the state. (CNN & JAMA)
  • Famotidine, or Pepcid AC, has been found to be associated with lower risk of intubation and in-hospital mortality of COVID-19 patients. Famotidine is a histamine-2 receptor antagonist and is often used to treat heartburn, however, the mechanism by which the drug improves clinical outcomes for COVID-19 patients is unknown. Additionally, patients taking famotidine were found to have lower markers for serious disease including serum ferritin, CRP, and procalcitonin. (J. Gastroenterol.)
  • Researchers at USC have found the most common order of discernible symptoms in COVID-19 patients that can differentiate the illness from other prominent respiratory diseases. The most common order of symptoms in COVID-19 patients includes fever, cough, muscle pain, nausea and vomiting, and diarrhea. Symptoms involving the upper gastrointestinal tract (nausea and vomiting) were found to precede symptoms involving the lower GI tract (diarrhea) in COVID-19, which is opposite from MERS and SARS. ( Public Health)
  • Anti-vaxxers are currently flooding social media with misinformation about the upcoming coronavirus vaccine. According to Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, the government needs to do a better job at getting correct coronavirus vaccine information out there - possibly a public education campaign to counteract the propaganda. A CNN poll in May found one-third of Americans said they would not try to get vaccinated against coronavirus, even if the vaccine is widely available and affordable. (CNN)
  • Robert Redfield, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, issued a dire warning for all Americans to follow recommended coronavirus measures or risk having the worst fall in US public health history. These measures include wearing a mask, social distancing, washing your hands, and being smart about crowds. COVID-19 will not be going away over the next five months and the country will continue to fight the health emergency. (CNN)
  • COVID-19 is changing how people are travelling around their communities. People are avoiding buses, trains and ride share programs, instead gravitating towards biking, walking and driving if possible. Bike sales across the country have soared and retailers are struggling to keep up with the demand. (NPR)
  • The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is shifting to entirely online instruction this Wednesday after 130 students and 5 employees tested positive for COVID-19 during its first week of classes. Despite precautions in place and having less than 30% of “total class seats” being taught in person, COVID-19 cases soared within days. Between August 10 and August 16, the rate of positive coronavirus cases on campus rose from 2.8% to 13.6%. (NPR)
  • A report published by the CDC found that Hispanic children had the highest rates of pediatric COVID-19-associated hospitalization. The authors hypothesize that this is due to overrepresentation of Hispanic adults in frontline occupations, which might affect children living in their households. Additionally, obesity was found to be the prevalent underlying medical condition of hospitalized children with COVID-19. Case fatality rate remains low even among children hospitalized due to severe complications; however, further research on the association between obesity and SARS-CoV-2 infection may be crucial in identifying possible clinical interventions and preventative strategies to reduce the risk of pediatric hospitalization. (CDC)
  • A study finds that 44% of patients with COVID-19 were found to also be positive for lupus anticoagulant (LA), a prothrombotic antibody often associated with antiphospholipid syndrome (APS). Patients with positive LA were also found to have higher CRP, a prolonged mean prothrombin time, prolonged PTT, and were documented for thrombosis when compared to LA-negative patients. However, only 1 of the 30 COVID-19 LA-positive patients in the study were found to have antibodies against B2-glycoprotein-1 and cardiolipin, indicative of APS. (JAMA)
  • Scientists in the field of immunometabolism are finding that obesity interferes with the body’s immune response, putting obese individuals at greater risk for infection such as COVID-19. Scientists also know that vaccines can be less effective in obese adults. More than 107 million American adults are obese. Their ability to return safely to work, care for their families, and resume daily life could be restricted if the COVID-19 vaccine delivers weak immunity for the (CNN)
  • In the Corinth School District in Mississippi, several students have been infected with COVID-19 a little over a week after in-person classes resumed. About 116 students have been considered to be in "close contact" with a positive COVID-19 case and are required to quarantine at home for 14 days. (CNN)
  • Twitter and Facebook have both removed a post shared by President Trump for breaking their rules against spreading COVID-19 misinformation. The removed post contained a video clip from a Fox News interview in which the president urged schools to reopen, falsely claiming that children are "almost immune from this disease." Research has shown that children are less likely to contract coronavirus than adults, but kids can still get infected and spread the virus.(NPR)
  • As the country tackles the decision on whether or not to resume in-person schooling, COVID-19 cases have increased 90% in children. There have been suggestions that COVID-19 is completely benign in children, however, this has been proven to be false. (CNN)
  • Approximately 20 million people worldwide have tested positive for COVID-19 nearly 5 months after the WHO declared it a pandemic. In the United States, the surge continues as over 11 states have recorded 10,000 positive cases in the past week and is logging over 1000 deaths a day. COVID-19 is on track to become the third leading cause of death. (NPR)
  • New Zealand reported four new cases of coronavirus this week. This comes three months after the country had its last case of community spread. All four COVID-19 cases are members of the same family, but at this time the source of the virus is unknown. (NPR)
  • On Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that Russia has become the first country to approve of a coronavirus vaccine. The vaccine, dubbed Sputnik-V, has been met with some skepticism as it has yet to complete Phase III Clinical trials. Putin stated that the vaccine, which was developed by Russia’s Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology, would be available to the general public on January 1st. This announcement mounts anxiety as there are fears that the country is rushing for political reasons. There have been concerns from the WHO stating that the country should not stray from following normal safety protocols, but Russian officials state that the vaccine is ‘effective enough’. (NPR & NY Times)
  • The U.S. Census Bureau announced that it would be ending all counting efforts one month early on September 30th. The bureau’s door knockers, also known as enumerators, are tasked with reaching the estimated 56 million addresses that have yet to fill out a census form. Many are feeling the pressure and worry that rushing the count could botch results. Tallying of the country’s residents is required by the Constitution and is used to determine each state’s number of Electoral College votes and seats in Congress for the next decade. (NPR)
  • A 7-year old boy in Georgia died after having a seizure due to a high fever in a bathtub that caused him to drown. Postmortem analysis revealed that the boy tested positive for COVID-19. The coroner states that seizures resulting from high fevers are very common in children who are infected with the virus. (CNN)
  • On August 11, the Trump administration announced that it reached a deal with the pharmaceutical company Moderna to manufacture and distribute 100 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine they developed once it is approved. The deal was made for $1.525 billion, but it is said that the vaccine would be provided to Americans at no cost. The government had also reached a similar deal with the company Pfizer back in July. (CNN)
  • In less than a week after opening, a school district north of Atlanta had to order 925 students, faculty, and staff to self-quarantine due to potential exposure to COVID-19. The governor of Georgia has not mandated required face coverings but has instead left that decision to district superintendents. (NPR)
  • A literature review finds that COVID-19 is associated with neurological and neuromuscular complications, including Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS), myopathy, myasthenia gravis, and acute myelitis. GBS was found to be the most commonly reported neuromuscular complication, however it is not commonly associated with similar viruses like SARS-CoV-1 and MERS-CoV. It is speculated that SARS-CoV-2 elicits an immune response that targets self-epitopes and leads to nervous system involvement. (RRNMF Neuromuscular J.)
  • A preprint study indicates that SARS-CoV-2 may be transmitted to pets. The study found that all 817 of the animals tested were negative for the virus via PCR. However, 3.4% of dogs and 3.9% of cats had measurable SARS-CoV-2 antibody titers. Additionally, dogs from COVID-19 positive homes were found to be significantly more likely to have these neutralizing antibodies when compared to COVID-19 negative households. (Nature & bioRxiv)
  • An investigational vaccine undergoing development by NIH-Moderna has been found to induce neutralizing antibody production in mice after two intramuscular injections 3 weeks apart. Additionally, the vaccine conferred protection against viral replication in the lungs and nose after the mice were challenged with SARS-CoV-2 after administration of the vaccine. (NIH & Nature)
  • The governor of California has stated that the number of COVID-19 cases have stabilized in the state. Following a surge of cases for most of July, the average number of new and intensive care admissions have since decreased. (NY Times)
  • The closure of schools across the USA between March and May is speculated to have prevented a million COVID-19 cases and more than 40,000 deaths. It appears that the states that closed schools earlier had the greatest declines of cases per week at the time. The discussion about reopening schools is among the greatest challenges that this country has faced. (CNN)
  • The number of new COVID-19 cases have plateaued across 27 states, however, experts believe that the numbers are still too high. They state that masks need to be required and call for large social gatherings to be shut down for the time being. The death toll is expected to reach 173,00 by August 22. (CNN)
  • Starting next week, the UK will begin to roll out millions of new COVID-19 tests that will provide on-the-spot results in under 90 minutes. Rapid testing and quick reporting of results are needed for contact tracing to be effective. Pandemic experts have said it would be beneficial to differentiate among the various flu-like illnesses that circulate in winter months. (CNN)
  • In New York, a German shepherd that had the first U.S. confirmed case of COVID-19 in a dog has died. A USDA database of confirmed COVID-19 cases in animals in the U.S. includes 12 dogs, 10 cats, a tiger and a lion. The agency says there is currently no evidence that animals play a significant role in spreading the virus, but it is possible that the virus can spread from people to animals in some situations. (TIME)
  • Major League Baseball announced that seven St. Louis Cardinals players and six team staffers have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past week. Additionally, 21 players and staff on the Miami Marlins tested positive for COVID-19 last week. These outbreaks raise questions about MLB's plans to safely continue the season amid the current pandemic.(CNN)
  • Experts strongly suggest making plans to receive the flu vaccine early this year. With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, this winter’s flu season could burden the already overwhelmed U.S. healthcare system. People who usually do not see a doctor for the flu might head for the ER, since both COVID-19 and the flu have common symptoms. If more people get their flu shots, there could be fewer hospital visits, which could reduce the transmission of coronavirus between non-COVID-19 and COVID-19 patients. Public health experts are also concerned about people having both COVID-19 and the flu at the same time and encourage people to get their flu vaccine. (NPR)
  • Over 30 crew members from a Norwegian cruise ship have tested positive for the coronavirus. Some passengers also tested positive for the virus and four patients were admitted to a hospital in the city where the ship is currently docked. Hurtigruten, the company that owns the ship, has suspended all cruises aboard this ship and two of its other vessels. (NPR)
  • Tailored Brands, the parent company of Men’s Wearhouse and Jos. A. Bank, has filed for bankruptcy. Tailored Brands had been struggling with debt prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Other clothing companies that have joined in pandemic bankruptcy include Brooks Brothers, J. Crew, and J.C. Penney. (NPR)
  • In a small cohort study on coronavirus patients, cardiac magnetic imaging revealed cardiac involvement and active cardiac inflammation. These findings were independent of preexisting conditions and disease severity. (JAMA)
  • A phase 1/2 trial of a vaccine candidate against COVID-19 was found to increase antibody responses while keeping an acceptable safety profile. The vaccine candidate uses a chimpanzee adenovirus-vectored vaccine expressing SARS-CoV-2 spike proteins. (Lancet)
  • A research team identified 100 antiviral molecules, including 21 known drugs that exhibit dose response relationship, after conducting a study to discover SARS-CoV-2 antiviral medications through drug repurposing. Thirteen of these drugs were found to achieve effective concentrations at therapeutic doses. (Nature)
  • New CDC guidelines state that patients recovering from COVID-19 should be able to come out of isolation without further testing. A patient is considered recovered if 10 days have passed since they first felt ill and they no longer have any symptoms. These revisions should help alleviate the burden on the country’s testing system. (NY Times)
  • According to Uganda’s Ministry of Health, the country has registered its first COVID-19 death. Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 1,079 positive cases in Uganda. It was also among the first African countries to announce a ban on large public gatherings. The Seychelles and Eritrea are currently the only countries in Africa not to have reported a COVID-19 death. (CNN)
  • Emirates airline, the United Arab Emirates flag carrier, has become the world's first airline to cover customers' medical expenses and quarantine costs if passengers contract COVID-19 during their travel. The airline will pay medical expenses up to $173,000 and quarantine costs of up to $116 for 14 days. This policy will be available to all customers, at no extra cost, from now until October 31, 2020. (CNN)
  • In Florida, the rate of child hospitalizations due to COVID-19 has surged 23% in the past week. This is happening just weeks before schools are set to open across the state. There has been a 34% increase in new cases among children in the past eight days. These surges in cases are coming amid the heated debate whether children should return to the classroom this fail. (CNN)
  • Google has announced that it is going to let their employees work from home until July 2021. The COVID-19 pandemic has allowed the company to extend their work-from-home option for jobs that don’t need to be in the office. Many technology companies have adapted quickly to the work-from-home policies from the start of the pandemic, as they are reluctant to bring their workers back too early. In May 2020, Facebook announced that many of their employees would be allowed to work from home permanently. (NY Times)
  • North Korea reported their first suspected case of COVID-19 after a person suspected of having the disease returned from South Korea. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has placed the city of Kaesong under lockdown and has declared a state of emergency. It was reported that in February, North Korea closed their border with China, in addition to extending its quarantine period from 15 to 30 days. (NPR)
  • A Moderna and National Institutes of Health COVID-19 vaccine candidate entered Phase 3 efficacy testing this Monday. This final phase may take months and tests if the vaccine candidate prevents disease. The World Health Organization lists four other vaccine candidates that have reached Phase 3 testing. (NPR)
  • McDonald’s joins other large national restaurant chains in requiring face masks. A McDonald’s representative said that customers without a mask will be offered one. (NPR)
  • Unlike New York, which has reduced the number of COVID-19 deaths and hospitalizations, states in the west and south have seen an increase in the number of coronavirus cases. Florida, in particular, has surpassed New York in the number of coronavirus cases recorded. President Trump canceled the late-August, Jacksonville portion of the Republic National Convention last week. (NPR)
  • There seems to be a plateau in the number of daily cases of COVID-19 in the US, but still at high daily rates. The 7-day daily average was 66,000 new cases; the lowest it has been in 10 days but is still extremely high. Arizona, Texas, and Florida are among the states that are causing these high rates. These three states opened back up without effective safety protocols. These trends seem to be due to the rollbacks in closing states up again, but it is still too early to determine if these trends will last. (CNN)
  • Four California high school students created a coronavirus themed coloring book to help teach children about the pandemic without overwhelming them with information. They created this as part of a capstone project for their economics class. The coloring books cost five dollars each and about 40% of the proceeds are going to charities. Those that purchase the book can write where they would like their donations to go. (CNN)
  • On July 27th, a video went viral over social media that was created by Breitbart News, a right-wing media outlet. Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube are working now to scrub their sites of the video due to the false information being provided in the video. The video consisted of people in white lab coats claiming to be physicians. One woman in the video claimed that masks were not needed to prevent the spread of the virus and also stated that hydroxychloroquine is the cure. Multiple studies by reputable sources have shown that the drug is not an efficient treatment for coronavirus and may actually create more complications. (CNN)
  • Researchers at BYU analyzed 115 scientific studies on COVID-19 to determine if face coverings are an efficient measure to protect against SARS-CoV-2. The researchers state that although there was initially scientific uncertainty surrounding the effectiveness of face coverings, evidence has emerged in the past few months supporting the use of masks to reduce the transmission of COVID-19. They also found some evidence that cloth masks may also protect the wearer from infection. (BYU)
  • A study finds that young adults who smoke are twice as likely as non-smokers to develop severe COVID-19 illness. The evidence indicates that smoking is associated with increased illness severity, ICU admission, and death. The researchers state that smoking is the most prevalent factor conferring medical vulnerability to severe COVID-19 illness among young adults. (JAH)
  • Research at King’s College London indicates that there may be 6 distinct subtypes of COVID-19. The study found that each subtype may manifest differently, resulting in varying symptoms. The researchers seek to develop a clinical tool that can be used to differentiate between these subtypes based on their symptoms, allowing patients to seek early medical help before complications arise in those infected with the most severe subtypes. (KCL & medRxiv)
  • Some teachers are also preparing their wills while preparing to head back into the classroom this upcoming school year. They have also been commenting in groups across social media platforms about enrolling in supplemental life insurance as COVID-19 cases rise. (CNN)
  • Last week, Virginia became the first state in the nation to require businesses to protect workers from COVID-19. The state enforces that businesses give out PPE to their employees and must mandate social distancing guidelines. Companies risk up to $130,000 in fines if they are found to be in violation of the guidelines. (NPR)
  • Northwell Health in New York has increased home care services to help with the surge in coronavirus cases that the state has experienced. This model may help relieve health systems in other parts of the United States, where rising numbers of cases are putting significant pressure on hospitals and filling intensive care units. Doctors at Northwell are discussing the program with physicians in Miami, where many hospitals have already reached capacity. (NY Times)
  • A COVID-19 vaccination being developed and tested at Oxford University, England has proven to have promising initial results. An early clinical trial has prompted an immune response in hundreds of subjects who have received the vaccination. Scientists have stated that a good immune response is being seen in almost all individuals, especially in those ranging from ages 18-55. (NY Times)
  • NFL training camps are scheduled to reopen in the coming days, but prominent players are voicing their concerns over social media. It appears that players want to play but are concerned about their safety and the safety of their loved ones. Players are worried about the lack of communication and direction as to how the safety protocols are going to be implemented. (NPR)
  • There have been discussions across the country as to whether it is the right time for schools to reopen. The teachers’ union in Florida are suing Governor Ron DeSantis due to his emergency order pushing schools to fully reopen in August. Many other states including Texas and California have concluded that it is not safe to hold in-person classes. Governor DeSantis’s administration ruled for schools to reopen in August after President trump threatened to cut federal funding for districts that did not teach in person. (NY Times)
  • The coronavirus pandemic is accelerating the collapse of Medicare as more Americans find themselves out of work. Fewer Americans working means that fewer payroll taxes are available to fund Medicare spending, especially as the number of beneficiaries continues to rise. (NPR)
  • According to new state rules announced on July 17th, most California schools may remain closed when the academic year begins this fall. New requirements outline how and when schools may reopen for in-person learning. Rules include social distancing and health screenings for anyone entering a school, requiring facemasks to be worn by staff and students in grades 3-12, and encouraging younger students to wear masks. The county must also not be on the list of counties being monitored for COVID-19 cases for 14 consecutive days. (NPR)
  • As coronavirus cases continue to rise, an increasing number of national retail chains is requiring customers to wear masks to fill the void left by government agencies that have yet to set mandatory face covering policies. Target, CVS, Kohl’s, Walmart, and Kroger’s grocery store chain will be implementing similar policies. (NPR)
  • On July 21st, President Trump stated that the coronavirus pandemic is going to get worse before it can get better and is now endorsing the use of face masks to help prevent the spread of the virus. This announcement comes after weeks of downplaying the seriousness of the pandemic. (NY Times)
  • A former director of the CDC has urged state officials to use a standardized way of reporting data in regard to COVID-19. Some experts are saying that states are only providing 40% of the data needed to accurately fight the pandemic. They are suggesting that states not only report numbers on deaths, hospitalizations, and actual cases but should also report more sophisticated data on infections such as data on clusters of people (such as those that work together), the number of healthcare workers testing positive for COVID-19, how long it takes to get a test result, and the percentage of people that are wearing masks in their respective counties. The urge for more reported data stems from the concern that the data currently out there is inadequate to properly fight off the virus. (NY Times)
  • A recent study by the CDC has found that in many places in the US, the actual number of cases of COVID-19 was much higher than the numbers that were reported. Case numbers were found to be anywhere from 2 to 13 times higher than what was initially reported. Researchers indicate that the data suggests that most people infected never received any medical treatment. In addition, the study found that even in the hardest hit areas, herd immunity has not been achieved. (NY Times)
  • A study links stress cardiomyopathy, often referred to as broken heart syndrome, with the psychological, social, and economic stresses associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. The study found that the incidence of stress cardiomyopathy during March 1 and April 30, 2020 was increased to 7.8% when compared to the 1.5-1.8% incidence seen in pre-pandemic times. These patients were also found to have a longer median hospitalization, however, there was no significant difference in the mortality rates and rehospitalization. This study shows the impact of COVID-19 on our health, even in the absence of viral infection. (JAMA)
  • Those with blood group O have been found to have the lowest frequency of COVID-19 positivity. The study that reported these findings indicate that of 1,289 symptomatic COVID-19 patients, 16.6% had blood type A, 19.4% had blood type B, 19.8% had blood type AB, and 16.1% had blood type O. Blood type A was found not correlated with positive testing, while blood types B and AB were associated with testing positive. No association was found between ABO blood type and COVID-19 severity. (Springer)
  • A case study finds that COVID-19 infection may occur in utero. The study indicates that a 23-year-old female at 35 weeks gestation presented to a hospital and tested positive with COVID-19. Three days after admission, a cesarean section was performed with intact amniotic membranes. Clear amniotic fluid prior to rupture of the membranes was found positive with SARS-CoV-2 via RT-PCR. The male neonate was transferred to the NICU, where blood, non-bronchoscopic bronchoalveolar lavage fluid, nasopharyngeal swabs, and rectal swabs tested positive for the virus. Viral load was found to be much higher in the placental tissue when compared to the amniotic fluid, and maternal and neonatal blood. This study demonstrates the ability of a transplacental transmission of SARS-CoV-2 from a pregnant mother during late pregnancy to her offspring. (Nature)
  • The American Nurses Association recently surveyed 32,000 nurses - 68% of the nurses said they are worried about being short-staffed and 87% of them are very or somewhat afraid to go to work. Nursing services have played a huge role in the current pandemic. However, hidden within the layers of care rendered by nurses are some psychological traumas they endure. (CNN)
  • As of Friday, July 10th, Miami-Dade County in Florida reported a staggering 28% positivity rate amongst individuals that tested for coronavirus. Mayor Carlos Gimenez said the goal is to not have a positivity rate greater than 10%, but the county has exceeded the 18% mark for the past two weeks. Hospitalizations in Miami-Dade County have gone up 74% and ICU bed usage has increased by 88%. (CNN)
  • The US Department of Health and Human Services announced the opening of a new website (org) to allow individuals nationwide to register in clinical trials for vaccines and monoclonal antibody therapies. Individuals can register for four large vaccine studies that are expected to start this summer and fall, and any others that follow. A vaccine developed by Moderna, a Massachusetts biotech company, is expected to be the first to be tested. The researchers are aiming to have 40% of the study subjects to be over the age of 65 or have underlying conditions, since they are more likely to become ill with COVID-19. (CNN)
  • Disney World has reopened as COVID-19 cases are surging across Florida. Both the Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom began welcoming guests on Saturday July 11th. The other sections of the park, Epcot center and Hollywood Studios are expected to open on Wednesday July 15th. The park plans to enforce increased health and safety rules, including: cleaning and disinfecting stations, temperature checks, and masks for everyone who enters the park. (NPR)
  • 17 States join into a legal battle in order to block a rule that will revoke visas from foreign students taking virtual classes. This rule was issued a week ago and could force many students to return back to their home countries during the pandemic where their ability to study could be compromised. (NY Times)
  • A few weeks ago, Hong Kong appeared to have handled COVID-19 very successfully. However, on July 13th they announced that they will be closing gyms, cinemas and banning public gatherings of over four individuals. Health officials stated that the new surge of cases may be localized to taxi drivers, restaurants and nursing homes. (NY Times)
  • On July 13, the mayor of NYC reported that within the past 24 hours, there were zero COVID-19 related deaths. From being a COVID-19 epicenter to now only having a 2% positivity rate, the city has reached a huge milestone. While this is great news, the mayor states that the battle is not yet over, and we must continue being careful by practicing social distancing. (CNN)
  • As more people are pushing for schools to reopen, educators and teachers are growing increasingly worried about how to do so in the midst of a global pandemic. They are worried about their health and the health of millions of children. Teachers also have countless questions as to how resources will be shared in a safe manner and worried their questions won’t be answered before their schools reopen. Reopening decisions are to be made by individual school districts. (CNN)
  • Last week the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) passed a directive that would have prohibited international students from entering or remaining in the US if their colleges were only offering online courses in the fall semester. This week, the Trump administration has agreed to rescind this directive after many universities, tech companies, and municipalities expressed their support for legal action against the proceeding. (NPR)
  • Hong Kong Disneyland will temporarily close down on Wednesday, July 15, due to a spike in COVID-19 cases within the city. The park had only been reopened for less than a month after its initial closure in January. (NPR)
  • Infectious disease expert, Dr. Lilian Abbo, states that “Miami is now the epicenter of the pandemic.” Public health experts say that the surge in COVID-19 cases began in mid-June. Miami-Dade County recently imposed a curfew in an effort to stop the spread of the virus and all restaurants were closed for indoor dining. (NPR)
  • A seroepidemiological study in Spain was performed to quantify the extent of SARS-CoV-2 infection throughout the country and the populations that have developed antibodies against the virus. The large sample study used two serological tests, a point-of-care rapid test using fingerprick blood and an immunoassay requiring venepuncture, in order to determine the presence of IgG antibodies. They found that the prevalence of antibodies against coronavirus is about 5% in Spain, with regional differences of 5 times greater in hotspot areas like Madrid compared to low-risk regions such as along the coast. The authors of the study indicate that the prevalence of antibodies is too low to provide herd immunity. (Lancet)
  • Researchers at the University of Houston have developed an air filter that can trap the SARS-CoV-2 virus and kill it instantly. The researchers reported that 99.8% of the virus was killed when passed through the filter, which is made of commercially available nickel foam heated to 200 degrees Centigrade. They hope to use the filter in areas where the virus can remain in the air for long periods of time, including airports, airplanes, schools, cruise ships, and office spaces. (UH)
  • A study that examined the prevalence of asthma and comorbidities in asthmatics suffering from COVID-19 found that patients with asthma were not more likely to be hospitalized due to COVID-19 when compared to those who don’t have asthma. Although, those with asthma and COVID-19 were found to have many other comorbidities such as obesity, hypertension, sleep apnea, COPD, GERD, and immunodeficiencies. Researchers also indicated no observable difference in mortality rates between COVID-19 patients with and without asthma. These results were surprising to many experts as they expected asthma patients to have worse outcomes from asthma exacerbations due to the viral illness. (AAAAI)
  • As the current pandemic continues, Walmart plans on converting 160 of its parking lots into drive-in movie theaters starting August. Walmart will use its physical stores nearby as a way to pick up treats and food through curbside pickup. This idea is a safe alternative to traditional movie theaters that remain closed in the majority of the country. (CNN)
  • A groom died two days after his wedding in eastern India from coronavirus. 400 guests were tested after the wedding and 80 people linked to the wedding have tested positive. It was found that not all 80 that tested positive attended the wedding, but instead contracted the virus from being in contact with attendees. (CNN)
  • An 11-year-old boy from Miami-Dade County is Florida’s youngest individual to die from COVID-19. It is reported that the boy had severe underlying health conditions. He is the third minor to die in Florida from coronavirus complications. The others were a 17-year-old boy and 16-year-old girl. (CNN)
  • Over the first five days of July, the US had its largest daily totals with over 250,000 COVID-19 cases reported. Along the Mexican border in Texas, novel cases are being reported by the hundreds and hospitals are quickly running out of space to accommodate the surge in cases. (NY Times)
  • Harvard University is requesting that most of their students continue to study remotely while maintaining the same tuition fees. An announcement was made that only 40% of their undergraduate students would be allowed on campus at any time during the next academic year. In order to include some normalcy for their students, first year students will be invited on campus during the fall semester and seniors will be invited back for spring semester in order to complete their degree on campus. (NY Times)
  • Actor Nick Cordero died at the age of 41 from COVID-19. Cordero had been in Los Angeles working on the production of Rock of Ages when he developed symptoms of pneumonia. Unfortunately, after months of grueling treatment he passed away from COVID-19 on July 5, 2020. (NY Times)
  • With the new surges in cases across the country, testing centers are now facing shortages again. In some places like Phoenix, residents have had to wait for up to 8 hours in their car to be tested. Others in places like New Orleans have been turned away because the testing centers ran out of tests. Due to these demands, many local officials are posing restrictions on who can get tested. (NY Times)
  • Before the pandemic, many airline companies were expecting to face a shortage of pilots. Now that flights and travel are only at a fourth of the capacity that they were at last year, airlines are now facing tough decisions on furloughing pilots and other crew members. Southwest has decided to offer pilots partial pay and benefits for a few years for those that take a temporary or permanent leave while other companies are deciding to simply furlough. This leaves pilots in difficult situations because they can spend an upward of $100,000 on training, while most entry level positions only offer around a $30,000 salary. (NY Times)
  • The top medical officer for California’s corrections system has been replaced during the pandemic. Staff at the corrections system stated that due to these unprecedented times, reorganization was necessary. Currently, more than 2,350 inmates are currently infected and more than half of them come from the same facility, San Quentin State Prison. Many note that it is much more difficult to social distance in prison and to overcome this, parole processes have been expedited along with expansion of space to allow COVID-19-positive inmates to be isolated. (CNN)
  • The University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation created a model that shows that a significant increase in wearing cloth or homemade masks could prevent up to 28,000 deaths across the U.S. before October 1st. The group has submitted their model for peer review. Another projection model at Arizona State University developed in April showed that up to 65% of projected deaths could be prevented in Washington state in April and May if 80% of people wore masks in public. (NPR)
  • According to new regulations released by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement on July 6th indicate that foreign students attending U.S. colleges that will be operating entirely online in the fall must leave the country. This leaves those students with the uncomfortable choice of attending in-person classes during the pandemic or taking them online from another country. Students enrolled in colleges that have already announced plans to operate strictly online have no choice but to leave the country or transfer to schools with in-person instruction. The State Department will not issue visas to foreign students enrolled in online-only colleges and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection will not allow them to enter the country. (NPR)
  • The U.N. reports that zoonotic diseases, such as COVID-19, Ebola, and MERS, are more likely to pass from animals to humans as animal habits continue to be ravaged by climate change, unsustainable farming practices, and wildlife exploitation. Rodents, bats, carnivores, and non-human primates are most likely to harbor zoonotic diseases, with livestock acting as the bridge of transmission between animals and humans. (NPR)
  • Two studies provide new findings on the clinical presentation and complications of multisystem inflammatory syndrome associated with COVID-19 in children. One study found that organ-system involvement often included the gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, and respiratory systems. This study also found that 20% of children received mechanical ventilation and 2% died. The second study reported similar results and found that children often presented with tachycardia, gastrointestinal symptoms, and had elevated levels of C-reactive protein, D-dimer, and troponin. ( Engl. J. Med. #1 & N. Engl. J. Med. #2)
  • Surgisphere, a healthcare analytics company, had 2 of its research papers retracted from prominent journals. One study, published in the Lancet, linked hydroxychloroquine to increased deaths in COVID-19 patients. The other study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, examined the use of ACE inhibitors in COVID-19 patients. Many leading European hospitals have since denied providing data to Surgisphere. These retractions have led to questions about the use of large data sets in medical studies. (Politico)
  • A study in Japan analyzed COVID-19 cases to identify where COVID-19 clusters are most likely to arise. They found that primary sources of clusters included healthcare facilities (30%), care facilities (16%), restaurants or bars (16%), workplaces (13%), music events (11%), and gyms (8%). The largest non-healthcare-related cluster was made up of more than 30 people who attended a live music concert. (CDC)
  • With coronavirus cases increasing in California, Disneyland and California Adventure parks have postponed their reopening’s indefinitely. Both parks initially planned on reopening on July 17th. Downtown Disney shopping district is still on track with its July 9th reopening. (Time)
  • Anthony Fauci says that the United States may not reach herd immunity if too many people refuse to get the COVID-19 vaccine in the future. Within the next three months, three COVID-19 vaccines are expected to be studied in large-scale clinical trials. Dr. Fauci says he would settle for a 70-75% effective vaccine. (CNN)
  • According to data collected by Johns Hopkins University, there were more than 500,000 deaths and more than 10,000,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 worldwide by June 28th. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi stated that the United States is 4% of the world's population and has 25% of the global coronavirus cases and the deaths. (NPR)
  • Due to the recent surges in COVID-19 cases, 16 states have decided to slow down their plans to reopen. In Texas and California, bars were directed to close down during this upcoming holiday weekend. Officials are trying to not have repeat scenes from Memorial Day weekend with July 4th celebrations approaching. The past week has been devastating for the country with over 40,000 new cases reported on June 26th alone. (CNN)
  • According to the New York Times database, 43% of COVID-19 deaths are linked to nursing homes and long-term care facilities. Over 54,000 residents or employees of these facilities have died to COVID-19. Based on data provided from individual states and counties, over 200,000 cases are known to arise from 12,000 facilities. Most of these clusters emerged in facilities such as nursing homes, prisons, and food processing plants due to difficulty in social distancing or inability to shut down due to the pandemic. (NY Times)
  • China has imposed a stricter lockdown near Beijing in order to halt the spread of COVID-19 and prevent a second wave of infections. The restrictions placed are similar to those imposed on Wuhan earlier this year. Only one family member from each household is allowed to leave their household at a time to buy essential items. (BBC)
  • The FBI is warning the public of scammers that are pretending to be performing COVID-19 antibody tests and are offering incentives to take them. Most of the time, the scammers reach out via phone call or social media. Scammers are hoping to capitalize on the fear this pandemic has created by pretending to be government officials or contact tracers mandating that the person take the test. Once the victim agrees, they take important information, such as their social security number or health insurance information to use in fraudulent manners. The FBI is telling everyone to only trust those tests or testing companies listed on the FDA website. (NY Times)
  • Through surveys performed by the CDC, universities, national governments, and the World Health Organization, data shows that the number of coronavirus cases may be severely undercounted. CDC data indicates that there are many asymptomatic carriers and many people are spreading the virus without knowing. They believe that these findings may give insight on states reopening too soon and causing a potential second wave of infection. (NY Times)
  • Vice President Mike Pence and other Trump administration officials are stating that the surge in coronavirus cases are not due to states reopening, but due to an increase in testing. Despite these claims, many health officials are discrediting these claims and argue that states reopening prematurely compounded by the lack of proper social distancing is causing the surge. The Trump administration also stated that hospitals would have enough ventilators and protective gear, but many hospitals are reporting shortages. (NY Times)
  • Arizona’s Governor Doug Ducey issued a new shutdown order for the state. The order came after new coronavirus cases exceeded 3,000 cases seven times in the past ten days. Arizona’s gyms, bars, movie theaters, and water parks have been ordered to shut down for 30 days. He also ordered public schools to delay the start of classes until August 17th. Governor Ducey allowed bars with food service to open in mid-May, which was earlier than what White House guidelines recommended. Arizona joins Texas and Florida in re-imposing COVID-19 restrictions amid a rising number of cases. (NPR)
  • New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo has expanded the list of states that qualify for the state’s COVID-19 travel advisory. Individuals traveling to New York from the following 16 states will be required to quarantine for two weeks: Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Nevada, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Utah. New Jersey and Connecticut governors have announced that they are also asking individuals traveling from the above states to quarantine for 14 days upon entry into their states. (CNN)
  • AMC Theatres, the nation’s largest movie theater chain, is delaying its U.S. reopening until the end of July in response to the postponed release of two anticipated summer blockbusters. The first round of AMC Theatres resuming operations has been delayed for two more weeks to better coincide with the updated August release dates of Disney’s Mulan and Warner Brothers’ Tenet. (NPR)
  • A study focusing on the epidemiological and clinical characteristics of asymptomatic COVID-19 infection found that the duration of viral shedding for their asymptomatic patients was longer, a duration of 19 days, than mildly symptomatic patients, a duration of 14 days. Researchers also found that a significant number of participants that recovered from COVID-19 saw a decrease in IgG and neutralizing antibodies 2-3 months after infection. These findings highlight the risk of potential re-infection of COVID-19 patients and support the continued use of anti-contagion measures. (Nature Med.)
  • Some researchers believe that COVID-19 case counts may have been undercounted as many cases of influenza-like illness (ILI) were not taken into account. Beginning in March 2020, many states had a surge in non-influenza ILI cases that were in excess of seasonal norms. Instead, this non-influenza ILI case surge correlated with COVID-19 case counts across the US. (Science Transl. Med.)
  • Postmortem examinations of 10 COVID-19 patients found that the major histological finding was disseminated diffuse alveolar damage at different stages. Alveolar damage was found unevenly distributed in all lobes but was prominent in middle and lower lung fields. Damage was accompanied by pronounced fibroblastic proliferation, partial fibrosis, pneumocyte hyperplasia leading to interstitial thickening and collapsed alveoli, patchy lymphocyte infiltration, and reactive osseous and squamous metaplasia. These findings provide insight into the cause of death in COVID-19 patients. (JAMA)
  • A team of European scientists found that people with Type A blood are at a 45% higher risk of contracting coronavirus and are more likely to develop severe symptoms. However, those with Type O blood were found to be at a lower risk and were just 65% as likely to become infected as people with other blood types. (CNN)
  • Many experts believe that patients most affected by COVID-19 should be enrolled in clinical trials for vaccines and treatments. This includes those who are most disproportionately affected, such as people over the age of 65 with underlying conditions. However, there is a long history of clinical trials excluding the older population. (NY Times)
  • Warnings across the Southern US states indicate that more young individuals in their 20s and 30s are now testing positive for COVID-19. This recent surge in cases among younger individuals could result in a decrease in COVID-19 death rates. However, this decrease may only be temporary as these younger individuals are at a greater risk of infecting older individuals in their immediate circles. (CNN)
  • Due to the recent surge in COVID-19 cases, the White House administration has acknowledged that they are preparing for a second wave in the fall. The White House director of trade and manufacturing stated that he was working to prepare for a second wave and that they were filling the stockpile in anticipation of a potential problem in the fall. (NY Times)
  • Florida is feared to become the new epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic, recently just surpassing 100,000 cases. Florida is amongst 10 states that saw their largest 7-day daily average of the novel COVID-19. (CNN)
  • The FDA is issuing a warning about purchasing sanitizers that contain methanol. They found that nine sanitizer products manufactured in Mexico contained methanol. On June 17, the FDA asked the manufacturing company, Eskbiochem SA de CV of Mexico, to remove its products from the market but the company has not yet responded. Experts are saying that methanol itself is not toxic but its metabolites, formaldehyde and formic acid, are toxic. Anyone that has been exposed to methanol should seek immediate treatment. (NY Times)
  • Gilead Science, a biopharmaceutical company, is now trying to create an inhalable version of the drug remdesivir, the first antiviral shown to slow progression of COVID-19 in patients. Currently, the drug can only be administered intravenously in hospitals. The hope with these trials is to make treatment more accessible and widespread. They hope to be able to give this drug via a nebulizer, which more patients are able to tolerate. (NY Times)
  • New York City, previously described as the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic in the US, began reopening about two weeks ago and has now entered phase 2 of reopening on June 22. State officials are considering this a major milestone. In this phase, outdoor dining and some in-store shopping can resume. Despite opening up, many people are not returning to work and the city still looks empty. Public transportation is only at 17% capacity compared to pre-pandemic times and riders are required to wear face masks. Many believe that it will take a longer time for everything to return to normal. (NY Times)
  • A paper published last week in Nature Medicine found that many asymptomatic COVID-19 patients developed signs of minor lung inflammation. Fifty-seven percent of asymptomatic carriers in the study showed lung abnormalities on their CT scans. This could mean that being an asymptomatic carrier does not necessarily mean no lasting damage. (NPR)
  • On Monday, June 22nd, Delta Air Lines announced that it would be resuming passenger flights between the United States and China this week. This comes after last weeks’ announcement by the U.S. Department of Transportation that travel restrictions between American and Chinese carriers would be easing. (NPR)
  • As of Sunday, California reached a new high in the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations. This increase in hospitalizations comes as California enters stage two of its reopening. The majority of new COVID-19 cases are located in Southern California and the Central Valley, with Los Angeles County having the most hospitalized patients. (NPR)
  • A study finds that face coverings significantly decrease the number of COVID-19 infections and are a key determinant in shaping trends of the pandemic. The researchers of this study assessed the effectiveness of mitigation measures by analyzing pandemic trends in New York City, Italy, and Wuhan, China. Their analysis indicates that face coverings reduced the number of infections by over 78,000 in Italy and by over 66,000 in New York City. From this study, the researchers were able to conclude that face coverings in public correspond to the most effective means to prevent COVID-19 transmission. They also stress that other mitigation measures such as social distancing, quarantine, and contact tracing are insufficient by themselves and should be used in conjunction with face masks. (PNAS)
  • Researchers at Cleveland Clinic have developed a COVID-19 risk prediction model to help healthcare providers assess the likelihood of a patient being infected with SARS-CoV-2. This study demonstrates the relevance of age, gender, socioeconomic characteristics, and medications in COVID-19 susceptibility. The risk prediction calculator may be helpful for providers to determine which patients should receive further COVID-19 testing and is freely available online. (Chest & COVID-19 Risk Prediction Calculator)
  • A study at MIT aims to weigh the risks of reopening businesses based on their economic importance. Researchers assessed the COVID-19 transmission risk, economic output and costs, and consumer value of 26 categories including shops, entertainment, and service providers in the US. This study indicates that banks and finance rank first in economic importance and 14th in risk, while other businesses such as liquor and tobacco stores, sporting goods stores, cafes, juice bars, dessert parlors, and gyms create much more crowing and have far less economic importance. (MIT News & PNAS)
  • 12 states have seen an increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations since Memorial Day weekend. A rise in cases have pressed Arizona hospitals to activate emergency plans. With no vaccine, looser stay-at-home restrictions, and national protests, health experts warn that a second wave may arise. (CNN)
  • On June 11th, surgeons at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago announced the first successful double lung transplant on a COVID-19 patient. The 20-year-old patient spent six weeks on a ventilator and an ECMO machine while battling the virus in the hospital’s ICU. (CNN)
  • With the rise in COVID-19 cases after national protests and business reopening’s, many wonder if the U.S. is at the start of a second wave. However, health experts say the U.S. is still currently fighting the first wave of infections. More than 800 people are dying everyday nationwide. Prominent forecasters predict around 56,000 to 90,000 additional COVID-19 deaths from now until October 1st. (NPR)
  • The US Tennis Association (U.S.T.A) has decided to proceed with the U.S Open despite the pandemic. The tournament will run as previously scheduled, from August 31 to September 13 but will take place without spectators. The players can decide if they would like to still participate or not. Those that decide to play will continuously be monitored for COVID-19 symptoms and will have strict guidelines on where they can go during the tournament. In addition, they will be required to bring a much smaller support staff than previously allowed. Many players are still hesitant and worry about the toll it can take to play two tournaments back to back since the French Open was postponed until September. (NY Times)
  • Due to the pandemic, many women are facing obstacles to getting a safe abortion. European women have often had to travel to other countries in order to get an abortion. As many of these countries started closing their borders during the pandemic, it has been difficult for these women to travel. In France, Ireland and England, Scotland and Wales in Britain, women are able to receive at-home abortion medication with the guidance from a medical professional online or over the phone. Even in the US, some states did not list abortions as essential procedures and halted access for women in their states. With these restrictions, there is worry of a drastic increase in unwanted pregnancies, unsafe abortions, and maternal deaths in the next 12 months. (NY Times)
  • The CDC released new numbers on patient demographics and outcomes of those who were infected with COVID-19. This data confirmed that the elderly, minorities, and those with preexisting health conditions are at a higher risk for death. They found that 14% of patients infected were hospitalized, 2% were admitted to the ICU, and 5% died. Hospitalization was found to be 6 times higher and death 12 times higher in those with underlying health conditions. The incidence rate for males and females is about the same, but men are more likely to require hospitalization. (CNN)
  • A COVID-19 model developed by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington predicts approximately 200,000 deaths by October. Ali Mokdad, one of the model’s creators, stated that these high projections are because of two reasons: increased mobility of the public and premature relaxation of social distancing measures. Daily deaths are expected to decrease throughout June and July, but a sharp increase in deaths is expected in September. (CNN)
  • Airlines are beginning to increase enforcement of face mask policies. Alaska, American, United, Delta, Southwest, JetBlue and Hawaiian airlines will communicate their policy to their passengers prior to their flight. Once on board, the crew members will reiterate their policy and those who don’t comply may be placed on a no-fly list. (NPR)
  • The Oscars have been postponed two months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Originally, the academy awards were scheduled to occur on February 28, 2021 but the award ceremony will now take place on April 25th. This will allow filmmakers to have more flexibility in being able to complete their films. (NPR)
  • Dexamethasone is a low-cost, anti-inflammatory drug that has been used to treat arthritis and asthma. According to a U.K. clinical trial known as RECOVERY or Randomized Evaluation of COVID-19 Therapy, dexamethasone administration appeared to reduce deaths in patients that needed either ventilation or oxygen as a result of their illness. Researchers noted that there was no benefit of taking dexamethasone for COVID-19 patients who did not require breathing assistance. (NPR)
  • The U.S. Commerce Department noted that U.S. retail spending went up 17.7% in May as some cities eased restrictions on restaurants and shopping centers. Spending is still down 6.1% compared to the same time last year. The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated the shift from in-person shopping to online shopping. Many believe that this pandemic may have changed Americans’ long-term shopping habits. (NPR)
  • On June 15th, the Nevada DMV reopened all of its branches for in-person services. The Nevada DMV is requesting that anyone who is able to legally drive to not visit its branches for the first 30 days. This is so that their offices are able to prioritize serving the disabled, elderly, members of the military, as well as residents without a license, ID, or plates. Despite its reopening, the Nevada DMV asks that residents continue using online services whenever possible. (NPR)
  • A recent study used econometric methods that are often used to measure the effect of policies on economic growth in order to evaluate the effect that anti-contagion policies had on the growth rate of COVID-19 infections. The researchers found that these policies significantly decreased the rate of COVID-19 infection when compared to 38% per day, the estimated exponential growth rate if these policies were not put into place. The researchers estimate that these intervention policies averted about 530 million total infections across China, South Korea, Italy, Iran, France, and the US. (Nature)
  • An online survey conducted by the CDC on 502 US adults finds that a third of Americans may have misused cleaners or disinfectants in order to prevent infection by SARS-CoV-2. These non-recommended high-risk practices include using bleach on food products, using household cleaning products on skin, and inhaling or ingesting cleaning products and disinfectants. This survey was conducted after a sharp increase in calls to poison control centers was seen regarding exposure to cleaners and disinfectants since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Reuters & CDC)
  • Anecdotal reports reviewed by a study found that there has been a 41.9% reduction of patients admitted to VA inpatient facilities during weeks 11-16 of 2020 when compared to weeks 5-10. The study also found that there was a decrease in admittance of patients presenting with a principal diagnosis of stroke, myocardial infarction, COPD, heart failure, and appendicitis. This decline was not seen during the same time frame in 2019. The researchers of this study believe that many patients are avoiding hospitals and healthcare facilities to decrease their risk of COVID-19 infection. (JAMA)
  • On June 3rd, the CDC reported that emergency room visits for non-COVID-19 concerns decreased by 42% during the pandemic when compared to a similar time period last year. The largest decrease was found to be among children 14 and under, females, and individuals living in the Northeast U.S. The CDC recommends that people should not hesitate to seek care for serious conditions, such as heart attack and stroke. (CNN)
  • Tear gas used in recent nationwide protests during the COVID-19 pandemic is said to be ‘a recipe for disaster’ by Dr. Sven Eric Jordt, associate professor and researcher at Duke University School of Medicine. He notes that there is sufficient data demonstrating that tear gas can increase the risk of exposure to pathogens and viruses. When inhaling tear gas, antiviral defenses are compromised. Dr. John Balmes, a pulmonologist at the University of California, San Francisco, reports that exposure to tear gas could turn an asymptomatic infection to a symptomatic disease. (NPR)
  • More than 1,200 health professionals signed a letter in support of protests against racial injustice amidst the current pandemic. The letter writers, many of whom are part of the University of Washington’s Division of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, express that they want to stand with protestor demands in the name of public health. They deem peaceful protests as necessary to improve the nation’s public health and point out that the groups protesting for their rights are the same people who are disproportionately affected by COVID-19. (CNN)
  • New York City has begun reopening almost 100 days after its first coronavirus case. The people of New York are beginning to slowly return to their old routines while adjusting to COVID-19 precautions. Over 400,000 workers have begun returning to construction jobs, manufacturing sites, and retail stores for both curbside service and in-store pick up. (NY Times)
  • Las Vegas is welcoming visitors again as their hotels and casinos have begun to reopen. However, only a fraction of these plan to open right away. Housekeeping regulations is one of the biggest differences between the pre- and post-opening. In the past, each company had its own set of rules, but now all hotels must comply with the cleaning standards set out by the CDC. (CNN)
  • With no current cases, New Zealand has lifted its remaining pandemic restrictions. The Prime Minister of New Zealand has said that the country has officially eradicated COVID-19. They have brought the country's alert system down to the lowest level indicating that they will begin allowing large gatherings including concerts and sporting events. (NPR)
  • With general elections coming up, people are more hesitant to vote in-person due to the pandemic. This has led to a surge in requests for mail-in ballots and even online voting. While President Trump has stated that mail-in ballots would not be fair and would only help Democrats, it has been shown that mail-in voting is actually quite safe and fair. However, there is a risk of hacking with online voting. States are now working to try and find more secure measures to see if online voting can be possible. (NY Times)
  • Hospitals around the country have been receiving bailout funds from the government but are still furloughing and reducing hours of many of their workers. HCA Healthcare, one of the world’s wealthiest hospital chains, is worth $36 million. It received a $1 billion bailout from the federal government but workers are still saying that they do not have adequate gear. HCA warned that they would fire thousands of nurses if they did not agree to wage freezes and other concessions. Other hospitals, such as Mayo Clinic, are also sitting on billions of dollars of reserve money but are still laying off their employees. Workers are growing frustrated and are protesting with their unions for better protection and pay during these times. (NY Times)
  • The FDA recently changed their policy to state that some N95 masks that are made in China should not be reused. This change in policy came after they had initially stated that they could be reused after decontamination. They state that some of these masks are acceptable for emergency use but should not be reused. (NY Times)
  • Two papers published in Nature indicate that lockdown efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19 were highly effective and prevented millions of infections and saved millions of lives. One of those papers estimated that an additional 3.1 million people in European nations would have died had the lockdown measures not been implemented. The other paper found that lockdowns in China, Iran, France, South Korea, Italy, and the United States averted 62 million confirmed COVID-19 cases. (NPR)
  • Texas Gov. Greg Abbott continues to move forward with plans to reopen the state despite the Texas Department of State Health Services reporting a record-breaking number of COVID-19 hospitalizations. However, the number of new COVID-19 cases are rising even in states with strict restrictions. The World Health Organization warns that the outbreak is continuing to worsen around the world. (NPR)
  • Many states may not be following the CDC’s guidelines on reporting new coronavirus cases, resulting in an undercount of COVID-19 cases. States with the largest populations, including New York, California, and Texas, are among the 28 states that are listed as not reporting probable cases. The CDC’s COVID-19 reporting guidelines are voluntary. However, states not reporting probable cases makes it difficult for officials to get an accurate representation of where the United States stands and how to make plans on reopening. (CNN)
  • Those with an intellectual or developmental disability (IDD) may have a higher risk for poorer outcomes from COVID-19 due to a higher prevalence of specific comorbidities such as respiratory diseases, circulatory system diseases, and endocrine, nutritional, or metabolic disorders. Although the overall-case fatality rate was similar for those with IDD (5.1%) and those without IDD (5.4%), differences were seen in different age groups. Those that were 17 or younger with IDD had a mortality rate of 1.6%, while the rate for those without IDD was <0.01%. Those aged 18-74 with IDD had a mortality rate of 4.5% and those without IDD had a rate of 2.7%. (NewsWeek & Health J.)
  • A review of 172 observational studies indicates that N95 or similar respirators may provide a lower risk and higher protection from viral infection when compared to surgical masks. Experts are calling for the WHO and CDC to make it clear that N95 masks, not just surgical masks, should be recommended for healthcare providers and emergency responders when dealing with COVID-19. Findings also indicate that transmission of viruses was lower when eye protection was used and with physical distancing of 1 m or more, compared with a distance of less than 1 m. (NY Times & Lancet)
  • Researchers believe that if we can predict the circumstances that give rise to superspreading events, we may be able to quickly curtail the spread of coronavirus. The reproduction number (R), or the average number of new infections caused by a single patient, for SARS-CoV-2 is about 3 when social distancing is not taken into account. Considering that some people may infect many others while some infect none, the dispersion factor (k), or how much a disease clusters, must also be taken into account when analyzing the spread of the virus. Estimates of k for SARS-CoV-2 vary, but researchers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical medicine estimate the k to be as low as 0.1, somewhat higher than SARS and MERS. The lower k indicates that most transmissions come from a small number of people and that most chains of infection die out by themselves. (Science)
  • Mortality rates for African American COVID-19 patients are particularly high in large U.S. cities. Normally 31% of patients at the Ochsner Health System are African American. However, currently 77% of treated COVID-19 patients are African American and 70% of those who died due to the infection were African American. Dr. Eboni Price-Haywood and other colleagues at Ochsner believe that factors such as obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure could be contributing factors. (CNN)
  • According to a paper published in the journal Thorax, more than 80% of the passengers that tested positive for COVID-19 on a cruise ship were asymptomatic. This research shows the prevalence of asymptomatic COVID-19 transmission and highlights the importance of social distancing even among seemingly healthy individuals. (Time)
  • The current pandemic has caused a surge of hydroxychloroquine prescriptions after the drug was thought to be a breakthrough treatment for COVID-19. Patients who rely on hydroxychloroquine to treat autoimmune diseases, such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, are worried that they won’t be able to obtain their routine prescriptions due to high demand and shortages. (NY Times)
  • Brazil has reported over 500,000 cases of COVID-19, bringing it to only second to the United States in the highest number of cases. The Pan American Health Organization has named the Americas as the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak. (CNN)
  • The White House administration’s initial plan to increase COVID-19 tests at various retailers across the country is yielding few results. The president promised that stores in virtually every location would have drive-through COVID-19 testing sites. However, NPR reviewed the number of stores that had tests available and found only small quantities compared to their national reach. Target, Walgreens, Kroger, Walmart, Rite Aid and CVS have almost 32,000 locations nationwide, but only about 1,300 of these stores offer COVID-19 testing. (NPR)
  • There are fears across the nation that mass protests against police brutality will set off a second wave of COVID-19. Even though protesters are wearing masks, the risk of new cases will increase as people gather in masses. In Los Angeles, Mayor Eric Garcetti warned that these protests could result in superspreaders due to the nature of these events. (NYTimes)
  • Airlines and airports are coming out with plans to slowly bring aviation and travel back to normal. Many airlines are requiring temperature checks before boarding and requiring passengers to wear masks. In addition, many airlines are keeping middle seats empty in an effort to maximize as much distance between passengers as they can. Airlines have also changed their sanitizing measures to be more aggressive, including changing HEPA filters twice as often as recommended. (NY Times)
  • Zappos turned their customer service line into a chat line. While orders, shipments, and refunds are still being processed, anyone can call in and talk about absolutely anything they want to. After a phone call between a customer and customer service representative ended up in a lengthy chat about restaurants and a girls trip to Hawaii, the company sensed the rising anxiety in their customers from the pandemic. Due to this, they wanted to help people by giving them the ability to talk to someone. (NY Times).
  • As more protests are happening across the nation, the US Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams is warning that more clusters of coronavirus cases are likely to happen. Even if protestors are wearing masks, social distancing in crowds is difficult. Dr. Adams is not only worried about the public health consequences but also about the issues on institutional racism that are being brought to light, especially since the pandemic has disproportionately affected communities of color. (CNN)
  • On Friday, May 29th, President Trump announced that the U.S. would be parting ways from the World Health Organization (WHO) over its response to China’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. This involves halting the U.S.’s funding and membership in WHO. Global health experts state that the U.S. leaving the global health governing body is short-sighted and could be dangerous for the American public. Senator Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., noted that withdrawing membership from WHO could interfere with access to COVID-19 clinical trials and potential vaccines. (NPR)
  • Nevada’s Phase 2 of reopening began on May 29th. The new allowances include increased public and private gathering limits to 50 people, reopening of gyms with occupancy limits, and the reopening of salons. (NPR)
  • As of Friday, May 29th, New Zealand was down to one active COVID-19 case. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is credited for taking an early decisive action to minimize the impact of the virus in New Zealand. (NPR)
  • The ApoE e4e4 allele has been found to increase the risk of severe COVID-19 infection. After a study in the UK found that dementia was one of the common comorbidities associated with higher COVID-19 mortality, this study aimed to test the association between ApoE e4, a genotype often associated with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, and COVID-19 severity. ApoE is a highly co-expressed gene found in type II alveolar cells in the lungs and the e4 variant has been known to affect lipoprotein function and to moderate macrophage pro-/anti- inflammatory phenotypes. Further investigation is needed to determine the biological mechanism between the ApoE genotype and COVID-19 severity. (Guardian & Gerontol.)
  • A multinational observational study involving 96,032 participants finds that hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine, taken with or without a macrolide, does not offer a benefit in treating COVID-19 patients. Instead, the results of this study show that those in the treatment groups taking hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine, with or without a macrolide, had an increased risk for ventricular arrhythmia during hospitalization when compared to the control group. Increased mortality was also found in the treatment groups (16.4-23.8%) when compared to the control group (9.3%). (Lancet)
  • Speculative findings of a research review suggest that mouthwash can inhibit and reduce the spread of SARS-CoV-2. The review refers to studies that have found that low concentrations of ethanol are highly effective against enveloped viruses, such as coronavirus, in vitro. Lower concentrations of ethanol can alter the pathogenicity of SARS-CoV-2 by impacting the viral membrane and the spike glycoproteins that are associated with it. However, further investigation is needed to determine the non-toxic concentration and contact time needed for the ethanol to be effective against coronavirus under biologically-relevant conditions. This scientific review provides insight on methods of reducing the spread of COVID-19 until an effective vaccine or treatment option is found. (MedicalNewsToday & Function)
  • A study in China showed that obesity in those with metabolic associated fatty liver disease (MAFLD) is a strong risk factor contributing to more severe COVID-19 symptoms. The findings of this study indicate that severe COVID-19 patients with MAFLD were more obese, had higher inflammatory C-reactive protein levels, and lower lymphocyte counts than the non-severe COVID-19 patients with MAFLD. Researchers suggest that clinicians should pay special attention to this population group if they present with COVID-19 symptoms and should be managed with prompt and aggressive treatment. (NCBI)
  • Findings published from the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) found that patients that retested positive for COVID-19 after making a full recovery may not be infectious. Researchers studied 285 patients who had recovered from COVID-19 but retested positive after multiple negative tests. Virus samples from these patients couldn’t be grown in culture, suggesting that the patients were shedding “dead” virus particles. In addition, researchers tested 790 individuals who had been in close contact with these patients and discovered that none had tested positive. These findings could help to understand survivor immunity and how long it lasts, a key to advancing economic reopening. (Forbes)
  • A recent cross-sectional analysis across Europe shows that mortality in COVID-19 patients is significantly associated with vitamin D levels. The study attributes the low mortality rates seen in Nordic countries with their vitamin D sufficient diets and fortified foods. Additionally, the researchers hypothesized that black and other minority populations have more severe COVID-19 outcomes than white populations because they’re more likely to have a vitamin D deficiency due to their darker skin. They suggest that vitamin D might mitigate SARS-CoV-2 infection by supporting the production of antimicrobial peptides in the respiratory epithelium and to help reduce the inflammatory response. Furthermore, vitamin D also upregulates the expression of ACE2, which is downregulated by SARS-CoV-2. Even though there is a positive correlation between a vitamin D sufficient diet and COVID-19 outcome, further investigation needs to be taken. Scientists in the UK aim to recruit 12,000 people in order to further investigate how diet and lifestyle might affect the transmission, recovery, severity and long-term effects of COVID-19 patients. (Lancet & Irish Medical Journal).
  • Generating a vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 has been one of the top priorities in the scientific community. Most of the efforts for vaccine development have focused on an antibody generated immune response. However, recent studies have shown that patients infected with the SARS-CoV-2 have mounted a strong helper T cell response against viral spike proteins that the virus uses to enter host cells. These findings further the understanding of the role of T cells during COVID-19 infection and may give insight on an efficient vaccination design. (Science & Cell)
  • As Americans celebrate Memorial Day weekend, COVID-19 cases are beginning to surge. The spikes in numbers of COVID-19 cases came after some states reopened their beaches and bars. As the country continues to reopen, it is important that people are still diligent about their actions. (CNN)
  • Two hairstylists in Missouri have potentially exposed up to 140 clients to COVID-19. The two individuals showed up to work for up to eight days while symptomatic. These incidents highlight the severity and danger of community spread in the United States. (CNN)
  • The Trump administration has temporarily barred any travel into the United States from Brazil. As of May 23, 2020, Brazil had over 300,000 cases of COVID-19, the third highest number of confirmed cases in the world. The travel ban does not apply to the flow of commerce between the two countries. (NY Times)
  • On May 22nd, the World Health Organization announced that around 80 million babies worldwide are missing routine childhood vaccines due to the COVID-19 pandemic. WHO vaccine director Dr. Kate O'Brien notes that people are reluctant to visit medical facilities to obtain vaccinations due to pandemic-driven health concerns. Furthermore, fewer healthcare workers are able to give vaccinations due to restrictions on travel, a general lack of protective equipment, and personal coronavirus battles. (CNN)
  • CDC estimates that one-third of COVID-19 patients appear asymptomatic and 40% of infections are transmitted before the individual feels sick. The agency also estimates that 0.4% of symptomatic COVID-19 patients will die. (CNN)
  • Peru was among one of the first nations to implement strict stay-at-home orders and border closures to control the spread of the coronavirus. However, as of May 25th, Peru had more than 123,900 COVID-19 cases and 3,600 deaths. According to Peruvian doctor Dr. Elmer Huerta, deep inequality in the country has led to its health catastrophe. A large portion of its citizens have no choice but to go out to gather and stock up on food due to lack of refrigeration. (CNN)
  • Scientists have finally released the data from the clinical trial on Remdesivir for the treatment of COVID-19. The study found that the drug was able to reduce recovery time from 15 to 11 days for hospitalized patients. In the study, 1,063 seriously ill patients were given either Remdesivir or a placebo. The study also showed that the drug was equally as effective for Hispanics, blacks, and whites and was effective regardless of whether the drug was given before or after 10 days of symptoms. However, the researchers cautioned that the drug is far from ideal and an antiviral drug alone is not likely to be sufficient for the treatment of COVID-19. (NY Times)
  • Many patients are pushing off their surgeries and other time-sensitive treatments due to the fear of becoming infected with COVID-19. Hospitals report seeing less patients, but the patients that they are seeing tend to be in serious condition. Additionally, people are refusing life-changing surgeries, such as organ transplants, with the fear that they will become infected with COVID-19 and die. Many physicians have had to spend time on the phone reassuring patients that it is safe for them to come in for their surgeries. (NY Times)
  • New York Governor, Andrew Cuomo, has announced that New York is now in the reopening phase after seeing a constant downward trend in COVID-19 related cases and deaths. The state is slowly opening back up after being a hotspot in the US, with nearly 360,000 cases and over 28,000 deaths. Cuomo also announced the reopening of campgrounds and RV parks, professional sport training camps, and the opening of state beaches at 50% capacity. Despite this, he warns that everyone needs to continue to practice social distancing and other safety precautions to prevent a second wave of the virus. (CNN)
  • The coronavirus lockdown has resulted in dramatically reduced state sales tax revenues and state income. Many state lawmakers and governors have had to implement deep cuts in order to balance their budgets, including cuts to school funding. Austin Beutner, the superintendent of the nation’s second largest school district, noted that these cuts to school funding will have a lasting impact on the lives of an entire generation of students. (NPR)
  • The World Health Organization has halted clinical trials that use hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19 patients. This temporary halt came after the medical journal The Lancet published a study that reported patients receiving hydroxychloroquine treatments were dying at higher rates than other COVID-19 patients. (NPR)
  • The United Food and Commercial Workers Union released data that indicates that 10,000 of the grocery store workers it represents have been infected by or exposed to coronavirus. Marc Perrone, the Union President, noted that coronavirus cases have increased by 200% in five weeks. This data also reveals that at least 68 workers have died from the virus. (NPR)
  • Researchers found that those infected with coronavirus can produce more than 1,000 virus-containing droplets just by talking loudly. The droplets can linger in the air for more than eight minutes. These findings stress the importance of wearing a face mask and avoiding confined areas that don’t have good airflow. (USA Today)
  • Two mental health foundations estimate that deaths from alcohol, drugs, and suicide could increase by 75,000 due to feelings of despair from COVID-19. Psychologists and suicide survivors urge elected leaders to make mental health care more accessible–whether or not they are employed. (NPR)
  • According to the U.S. Navy, 13 USS Theodore Roosevelt sailors tested positive for a second time after recovering and receiving negative test results. Public health professionals are in the process of figuring out why patients sometimes test positive for COVID-19 after showing good recovery. (NPR)
  • On May 18, the Trump administration will announce the signing of a $354 million 4-year contract with a new company called Phlow Corp, which will create drugs and generic ingredients that will be used in treating COVID-19. Most companies rely on raw ingredients manufactured in other countries, but this Virginia-based company hopes to create a large reserve of ingredients and pharmaceutical supplies for the US. (NY Times)
  • On the evening of May 18, President Trump threatened to pull US funding from the WHO if they do not make plans to make tremendous improvements with their response to the pandemic and reformation of their organization in the next 30 days. President Trump is also requesting that WHO shows independence from China. (CNN)
  • President Trump announced that he had started taking hydroxychloroquine, an antimalarial drug, as a preventative measure against coronavirus. Many medical experts are criticizing the President for his statements. Studies have shown that the drug does not help prevent COVID-19 and the FDA states that the drug could cause serious heart problems in coronavirus patients. Medical experts are urging people not to follow in the footsteps of the President due to the serious side effects the drug can cause. (NY Times)
  • Moderna, a biotechnology company, partnered with the National Institutes of Health to develop a vaccination for COVID-19. Early results from a clinical trial show that participants developed antibodies against the virus. If further studies are promising, the vaccination could be available to the public as early as January. (CNN)
  • Several states, including Connecticut, Kentucky, and Minnesota, are moving towards reopening this week. Governors are attempting to weigh the risks of reopening their states and minimizing the impact on the economy. (NY Times)
  • COVID-19 could take a toll in areas that have not yet seen a major outbreak but are where chronic health conditions are common. Certain areas of the United States which have high rates of diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity could see detrimental effects from COVID-19. Public health experts warn that these areas may not be prepared for a new wave of infection and many areas are already lifting restrictions. (NY Times)
  • COVID-19 is delaying care for a variety of other serious illnesses, including cancer. The pandemic is creating a bottleneck in care with fewer cancer screenings and more limited treatment options available for those with active cancers. One breast cancer patient noted that although her scheduled mastectomy was deemed an essential surgery, the additional cosmetic procedure needed to cover the wound was deemed nonessential. Her surgery, like countless others, was delayed. (NPR)
  • Apple Store shoppers will have a very different shopping experience compared to pre-pandemic times. Shoppers will have their temperature checked before entering the stores and will be required to wear face coverings. Only a limited number of shoppers will be permitted entry at any one time. (NPR)
  • The coronavirus pandemic is leaving a lasting impression on America’s next generation of physicians. For many medical residents, the pandemic has amplified long-standing working condition concerns. Before the COVID-19 outbreak, the Committee of Interns and Residents was pushing for a bill of rights focused on better protections for residents, including better sick-time policies and pay. Many residents feel that they need these protections now more than ever. (NPR)
  • Many states in the U.S. have started taking steps to loosening their lockdown restrictions. How this will affect the population and whether we will see a resurgence is yet to be known. Two countries–S. Korea and China, which are further along in their reopening process, can provide valuable information in regard to possible trends of COVID-19 resurgences. Since loosening its social distancing restrictions, S. Korea has seen a resurgence of cases. Similarly, a resurgence of cases has been reported in Wuhan after their lockdown measures were lifted in early April. Both countries have established plans to widely test its citizens in order to keep track of infections and prevent it from spreading further. As other countries are figuring out ways to re-open without causing a resurgence of the virus, massive testing seems to be imperative in catching those who are asymptomatic and are most likely to unknowingly spread the virus. (NPR)
  • Diabetes is a known risk factor for COVID-19 and has been associated with severe SARS-CoV-2 infections. One study aims to explore the cause behind the increased severity and mortality in diabetic COVID-19 patients. The researchers believe that glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1c), a measure often used to monitor and diagnose diabetes, may provide valuable information regarding the prognosis, inflammation and hypercoagulability in such patients. The study finds that patients with higher HbA1c may have elevated levels of inflammatory markers such as ESR, CRP, serum ferritin, fibrinogen and IL-6, as well as decreased arterial oxygenation (SaO2). Therefore, uncontrolled diabetics (high HbA1c) are more susceptible to increased inflammation, decreased oxygen saturation and poor prognosis due to SARS-CoV-2 infection. The exact mechanism of how elevated HbA1c leads to increased inflammation and hypercoagulability is still unknown. (Diabetes Res. Clin. Pract.)
  • One of the ways SARS-CoV-2 damages our body is through the induction of “cytokine storm”, in which a massive release of inflammatory cytokines causes systemic consequences like acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) and fulminant myocarditis along with multiorgan failure. Glutathione (GSH), its precursor (N-acetyl-cysteine), and antioxidants that help regenerate GSH (alpha lipoic acid) have proven to be effective in treating “cytokine storms” and Herxheimer reactions in patients suffering from Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses. A case study explored the use of GSH, N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC), and alpha lipoic acid in treatment of COVID-19 patients with respiratory distress. The study involved 2 patients with COVID-19-induced dyspnea and shows that a high dose (2000mg) of oral/IV glutathione improved their respiratory systems within the first hour of use. GSH, NAC, and alpha lipoic acid inhibit TNF-alpha-induced activation of NF-kappaB, a transcription factor that leads to increased production of many inflammatory factors. This study shows the possibility of using GSH, NAC, and alpha lipoic acid as treatment options for COVID-19-induced “cytokine storm” and thus improving the prognosis for patients suffering from ARDS and COVID-19 pneumonia. ( Med. Case Rep.)
  • A study compares the rates of COVID-19 in border counties in Illinois, where a stay-at-home order was implemented, vs border counties in Iowa, where a stay-at-home order was not implemented. The results of this study found that rates of COVID-19 cases per 10,000 residents were higher in the border counties without a stay-at-home order. However, there are limitations to this study such as differences in population densities. (JAMA)
  • Coronavirus-specific antibodies were detected in neonatal blood of newborns whose mothers were infected with COVID-19. A study indicates that 6 mothers had mild clinical manifestations of COVID-19, but SARS-CoV-2 was not detected in the serum or throat swabs of their newborns. However, IgG concentrations were elevated in 5 of the infants while IgM was detected in 2 infants. (JAMA)
  • Studies have shown that African Americans have a higher COVID-19 mortality rate. In Illinois, one study found that African Americans account for 26% of COVID-19 cases but make up 43% of COVID-19 deaths. Researchers propose that this increase in mortality rate is due to a genetic variant that confers an increased risk for drug-induced long QT syndrome, leading to an increased risk for ventricular arrhythmia and sudden cardiac death. (Medscape & HeartRhythm)
  • A recent meta-analysis that studied the efficacy of corticosteroids on SARS-CoV-2 infections showed that use of corticosteroids resulted in delayed clearing of the virus. In addition, it did not improve survival or reduce hospitalization stay. Researchers advised using caution when administering corticosteroids to positive COVID-19 patients to alleviate symptoms. (NCBI)
  • New studies provide strong evidence that children can transmit COVID-19 and that if schools were to reopen too soon, the number of cases could increase significantly. One study found that children are roughly a third as susceptible to coronavirus infections as adults. However, children at school have three times as many contacts as adults and thus three times as many opportunities to become infected. This would even out their risk of becoming infected with COVID-19. (NY Times)
  • A team at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City are conducting a study to determine if treating severely ill COVID-19 patients with systemic anticoagulants can lead to fewer deaths. Dr. Valentin Fuster said that the 75 autopsies he and his team performed strongly indicated that blood clotting is a major complication of COVID-19. Clotting starts in the lungs, followed by the kidneys, the heart and, eventually, the brain. (CNN)
  • The COVID-19 pandemic may be issuing in a new era in medicine. Prior to the pandemic, many physicians were reluctant to use telemedicine because of bureaucratic challenges to use the platform and poor reimbursement options as many insurance companies did not consider telemedicine to be “real medicine”. However, now about 48% of physicians are treating patients via telehealth. Moving forward, telemedicine may become more commonplace. (The DO)
  • As the fight against COVID-19 continues, more healthcare professionals are turning to antibody testing. A study has found that most patients who were thought to have been infected with COVID-19 are creating antibodies. While the study still needs to be peer-reviewed, it indicates that these antibodies and the level of antibody production in an individual is linked to how quickly and how much the body can neutralize the virus and its effects. The next step is to understand exactly how long this immunity will last. (NY Times)
  • 30 states are beginning to reopen and plan to return to work soon. The White House has set guidelines to help each state reopen their economies and to resume business and social activities. They hope that these guidelines lead to a downward trajectory of coronavirus cases. However, most of the states that are reopening have failed to meet the White House guidelines and case counts are trending upwards. (NY Times)
  • A new app has been developed that allows people to self-report symptoms related to COVID-19. A study has proven the app to be very successful in accurately predicting which individuals are infected with the virus. The study was conducted using 2.5 million people during March 24 to April 21. The app recorded symptoms such as loss of taste or smell, persistent cough, fatigue, and loss of appetite. Researchers believe that while this is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of data collection, it shows promise in helping local hospitals and governments predict exactly when and where outbreaks are likely to occur. (NY Times)
  • Over the past week, the market for blood plasma from COVID-19 survivors has increased exponentially. Organizations are attempting to contact known survivors, urging them to donate their blood. Many believe that the plasma can be used in a therapy to fight COVID-19, but there is no known evidence proving so. Studies are currently being conducted. (NPR)
  • Since the beginning of this pandemic, U.S. authorities have struggled to make policies without knowing the exact number of people that are actually infected with COVID-19. Researchers at Oregon State University hope to change that. With the TRACE project, or Team-based Rapid Assessment of Community-Level Coronavirus Epidemics, volunteers go door-to-door asking residents to test for the virus. The project's main goal is to better understand the prevalence of the virus in the community. (NPR)
  • WHO officials noted that individuals infected with COVID-19 don’t necessarily ‘bounce back’ from this disease. Research is being conducted to determine the recovery process for those infected and whether the illness can be chronic. Officials have warned that the recovery period can take a significant amount of time. Many of those affected have experienced prolonged issues with energy as well as impacts on their respiratory, cardiovascular, liver and kidney function. (CNN)
  • The Navajo Nation has been hit hard by coronavirus infections. If it were a state, it would have the second highest rate of coronavirus cases per capita in the U.S. The most severe patients are being flown to hospitals in nearby Arizona and New Mexico. (NPR)
  • S. authorities warn American firms to safeguard coronavirus-related research against opportunistic countries. This comes after the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Britain’s National Cyber Security Center stated that hackers are “actively targeting organizations” involved in research of that kind. The statement did not name a specific country. (NPR)
  • Advanced Placement exams are typically three hour in-person exams that test high schoolers’ knowledge of college material. In response to the coronavirus, the Advanced Placement exams were shortened to 45 minutes and moved online. The exams start this week. This new format has raised issues about fairness. Some students lack a stable internet access and others have been shouldering extra responsibilities during the pandemic. With the exam beginning at the same time globally, some students will begin their testing at 6 a.m. and others may test at midnight. (NPR)
  • Some children infected with COVID-19 are showing symptoms similar to that of Kawasaki disease. Although less likely to get severely ill by the SARS-CoV-2 virus as compared to adults, there has been a surge of ICU admission for pediatric patients presenting with unusual complications. About 25 children have been admitted to the Cohen Children’s Medical Center presenting with various symptoms such as reddened tongue and enlarged coronary arteries–symptoms resembling that of Kawasaki Disease. However, there are key differences between the new set of complications called “pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome” vs. Kawasaki disease. For instance, shock is more frequent in the pediatric syndrome caused by COVID-19. Although the incidence seems to be very low, more research needs to be conducted to examine how widespread the syndrome is. (NYT)
  • A new emergency-use coronavirus testing kit has been approved by the US FDA. The kit uses CRISPR, a gene editing technology, which has the ability to identify segments of SARS-CoV-2 genetic material and emit a fluorescent glow if positive. CRISPR can be used to detect the viral genome in nasal, throat or mouth swabs, or in fluid from the lungs. Testing takes about an hour to yield results. This test is co-developed by Sherlock Biosciences and Feng Zhang, the pioneer behind CRISPR technology. The goal of this kit is to reduce COVID-19 testing shortages, which some areas are still facing. (Nature)
  • A study in the UK with more than 17 million participants may give insight on risk factors associated with death from COVID-19. This study indicates that the risk of in-hospital death by COVID-19 is associated with males, older age, deprivation, and ethnic minority groups. Higher risk was also seen in those with comorbidities including diabetes, asthma, respiratory disease, chronic heart disease, liver disease, neurological disease such as stroke and dementia, reduced kidney function, obesity, and autoimmune conditions. (Nature & medRxiv)
  • Researchers find that SARS-CoV-2 is present in the semen of patients with COVID-19 or those that are recovering from it. Results of this study indicate that 15.8% of 38 participants had positive results of SARS-CoV-2 in their semen. The researchers believe that the virus cannot replicate in the male reproductive system but may persist in the semen due to the imperfect blood-testis barrier and privileged immunity of the testes. Although a small sample size, this study provides evidence of sexual transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and may guide patients on safe sex practices. (CNN & JAMA)
  • A combination of 3 antiviral drugs including lopinavir-ritonavir, ribavirin, and interferon beta-1b was found to decrease recovery time in COVID-19 patients in Hong Kong. Researchers indicate that patients given the antiviral combination recovered in 7 days after starting treatment, while it took 12 days for the control group to recover after being treated with only lopinavir-ritonavir. (Medscape & Lancet)
  • A study including Major League Baseball employees revealed that 0.7% of them tested positive for antibodies against COVID-19, indicating that they were previously infected with the virus. Approximately 70% of subjects that tested positive described themselves as being asymptomatic. (Guardian)

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced on April 29th that all county residents can receive free coronavirus testing at city-run sites, whether the individual has symptoms or not. This push is to obtain more accurate numbers on how many individuals have the virus in order to adjust stay-at-home rules. (LA Times)

COVID-19 has been slower at making an impact in America’s rural counties, but cases and deaths have been experiencing faster growth in recent weeks. (US News)

Prison officials announced that they are expanding COVID-19 testing to identify asymptomatic inmates. As of April 29, more than 1,500 federal prisoners have tested positive for this virus. Over 30 prisoners have died and around 300 Bureau of Prison staffers have been infected. (USA Today)

President Trump acknowledged that COVID-19 proved to be more devastating than he had expected a few weeks ago. He predicts that the death toll in the United States could reach 100,000. (NY Times)

On Thursday, the CDC announced an initiative to learn more about how COVID-19 is spreading throughout the country. Multiple labs across the nation are working to sequence samples of the virus and share their data through an initiative called Spheres. By sequencing the genomes, researchers hope to find mutations in the strains to better understand how to create diagnostic tools, treatments, vaccines, and how exactly this virus spreads. Other countries, such as Canada, have started similar work to help better understand this novel virus. (NY Times)

More antibody tests are becoming available to determine if an individual was exposed to COVID-19. A recent study on 14 different antibody tests found that only 3 of the 14 were accurate. These antibody tests can give a better understanding of how many people have actually been infected and may give insight on how the virus spreads. While potentially helpful, antibody testing does have its flaws. Notably, it can take the human body up to 14 days to create antibodies and antibody levels in an individual at the time of testing may be too low to detect. Social distancing measures are still recommended, since a positive test does not indicate immunity to the virus. (NY Times)

As meat processing plants slow down, Costco and Kroger have limited the number of fresh meat items each shopper can purchase in order to ensure that families can still get what they need. Tyson reported that it will likely shut down more processing plants in the near future as fewer workers show up due to the pandemic. (CNN)

Fifteen children in New York City were reported to show signs of an unknown syndrome that has symptoms that are similar to those of toxic shock or Kawasaki disease. Most of these children were found to have been previously infected with COVID-19 either through a positive test or through antibody testing. Five of these children have required breathing support through a mechanical ventilator and most needed blood pressure support. Similar cases have been reported in Europe. (NY Times)

In Stillwater, Oklahoma, there was an official announcement requiring the use of face masks in restaurants and stores. However, the following day after this official statement was issued, there was evidence of violence and verbal abuse, including a threat of violence using a firearm, toward employees trying to enforce this new rule. Therefore, this proclamation was amended and no longer requires, but encourages people to wear face coverings. (CNN)

An Oxford University Professor is predicting that a COVID-19 vaccine might need to be administered annually. The virus does not appear to mutate at the pace of the common flu, but it is very difficult in terms of generating a longstanding immune response. (WebMD)

Singapore was the global shining star in terms of its handling of COVID-19. The World Health organization praised its ability to identify and isolate hot spot areas. As a result, Singapore was able to keep businesses and schools open. However, Singapore had the highest number of COVID-19 cases in Southeast Asia by the end of April. The majority of these cases originated in overcrowded migrant dormitories, which collectively house over 300,000 people. (NPR)

The United States reported May 1st as its deadliest day due to COVID-19 when 2,909 people died in 24 hours. This occurred just as states began deciding how to reopen parts of the economy and ease restrictions. Public Health officials warn that the virus could rapidly spread through communities as people become tired of the restrictions and businesses reopen. (CNBC)

More than one million people have recovered from COVID-19 across the world, with the U.S. reporting the highest number of recoveries. There are now over four times as many reported global recoveries than there are confirmed deaths. (Newsweek)

Officials warn that there may be a series of COVID-19 resurgences over the next 2 years as herd immunity gradually develops in the general population. Approximately 60-70% of the population may need to be immune to reach the level of herd immunity to halt the progression of the virus. According to the Center of Disease Research and Policy, there are three potential ways the pandemic could play out. The first scenario describes that the current wave can be followed by repetitive smaller waves over the next year before a persistent decline in late 2021. The second scenario describes the current wave followed by a larger wave in fall or winter of 2020, with one or more smaller waves in 2021. The third scenario describes the current first wave of COVID-19 followed by a smaller “slow burn” of ongoing occurrences, without a clear wave pattern. (Newsweek & CIDRAP)

College will look differently in the fall for the nation’s 20 million students in higher education. Some proposed changes include a delayed start to the school year, an all virtual curriculum, and a hybrid model of virtual and in-person classes. Others proposed changes include having shortened course blocks and limiting the amount of students on campus. (NPR)

Pfizer, a major pharmaceutical company, has begun testing its new coronavirus vaccine in the United States. The vaccine was created in partnership with BioNTech, a German biotech company. The first subjects of the initial clinical trial have already received vaccine injections and will involve 360 volunteers. In addition to the US volunteers, 200 patients will also be enrolled in trials in Germany. The potential vaccine is an mRNA vaccine, which means that it contains the template for making viral proteins that may trigger an immune response. (NPR)

Smartphone apps are becoming an increasingly popular idea as a means to trace COVID-19 patients. Governments are developing the apps with the help of research and technology companies and are hopeful that it will provide a way to mitigate the spread of infection, especially as lockdowns start to ease. However, there is a serious lack of information to the general public in terms of the efficacy of the app, how it will gather the health data, where the data is going to be stored, safety of the personal data and possible breach of Protected Health Information (PHI). (Nature)

A study in 2 hospitals and public areas in Wuhan finds the potential of SARS-CoV-2 to exist in aerosolized particles. The study sampled SARS-CoV-2 and its aerosol deposits at 30 different sites grouped into 1 of the 3 following categories: Patient Areas, Medical Staff Areas, and Public areas. Droplet digital PCR (ddPCR) was used to quantify the droplet count of SARS-CoV-2 virus in aerosol samples by measuring the copies of viral template RNA per microliter. It was noted that the Medical Staff Areas had the highest level of viral load, which were reduced to non-detectable levels after rigorous sanitization. Most Public Areas did not show high levels of viral load with the exception of an entrance of a department store and other “high traffic” areas. They also noted that the SARS-CoV-2 aerosol has two different size ranges: submicron (0.25 to 1.0) and supermicron (> 2.5). They propose that the smaller size of the submicron particle allows it to be resuspended from the surface of personal protective equipment during removal by medical personnel and could possibly maintain its biological stability. However, investigation on the infectivity of the aerosolized viral particles needs to be assessed further. (Nature)

The global IHME COVID-19 projections website has been updated to account for deaths, infections and now viral transmission in a new statistical component called “Deaths Model.” This model quantifies the rate at which individuals move from being susceptible to exposed, then infected, and then recovered (known as SEIR), along with a component that estimates hospitalizations. “Deaths Model” will allow for a more comprehensive analysis of COVID-19’s toll, especially as many areas start to ease restrictions. (Healthdata)

The FDA has issued an emergency use authorization of remdesivir for the treatment of COVID-19. Early results from a clinical trial conducted by the NIH indicate that this experimental drug can reduce recovery time from 15 to 11 days and decreases the mortality rate to 8.0% for coronavirus patients taking the drug when compared to 11.6% for the placebo group. Another similar trial that was randomized and placebo-controlled in Hubei, China reported that they did not see a statistically significant difference in clinical improvement and mortality in their remdesivir group compared to a placebo group. (FDA, NIH, & Lancet)

A study in South Korea shows that COVID-19 can be exceptionally contagious in high-density work environments and may give insight on the reopening of businesses and cities in the US. Results indicate an attack rate of 43.5% on a single floor of a call center and a secondary attack rate of 16.5% within the households of symptomatic patients found in the building. Asymptomatic patients (4.1%) were found to be much lower than the rate of 30.8% described in a previous model. There were no secondary infections in households of asymptomatic patients and is believed to be due to the prompt mass testing of suspected cases and the high degree of isolation measures that were instituted. (CNN & CDC)

The IDSA established guidelines for the use and reuse of personal protective equipment for healthcare personnel providing care for patients with suspected or known COVID-19 infection. The guideline panel agreed on eight recommendations, most of which addresses the use of surgical masks or respirators when supplies are available or limited. These recommendations are supported using a combination of direct and indirect evidence through systematic review using the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development, and Evaluation approach. (IDSA)

A study aimed to determine the presence of SARS-CoV-2 in the lower female genital tract may provide direct evidence on sexual- and mother-to-child transmission. Findings of this study indicate that all samples of vaginal fluid and cervical exfoliated cells taken from the lower genital tract of female COVID-19 patients were negative for SARS-CoV-2 and might be due to negative expression of ACE2 receptors in the vagina and cervix. These results show that the lower genital tract may not be a transmission route for SARS-CoV-2 and may be used to guide the choice of delivery for infected pregnant women. Previously, SARS-CoV-2 was identified in the throat, anal swabs, urine, and tears of infected patients. (PubMed)

A systematic review analyzing the perinatal outcomes of pregnant women infected with various Coronaviruses, including COVID-19, showed that preterm birth was the most common adverse outcome. Miscarriage, preeclampsia and perinatal death (7-11%)  were also more commonly seen compared to the general population. As of now, there have been no reported cases of vertical transmission of COVID-19. The findings of this study can help guide prenatal counseling of pregnant women. (Pubmed)

A new Harvard conducted study reports that nearly two-thirds of U.S. patients with COVID-19 report gastrointestinal symptoms, such as anorexia and diarrhea. Overall, 61.3% of patients presented with at least one gastrointestinal symptom, including most commonly anorexia (34.8%), diarrhea (33.7%) and nausea (24.6%). Furthermore, gastrointestinal symptoms were the initial symptoms in 14.2% of patients. The outcome of the disease and time of hospital stay did not correlate with the initial presentation of gastrointestinal symptoms. This study can help identify COVID-19 patients earlier and avoid delayed care, inadequate isolation, and further transmission. The authors of the study suggest that digestive symptoms be included in local protocol management guidelines to help clinicians and patients promptly recognize signs of infection. (Gastroenterology)

  • The CDC adds six new symptoms for possible signs of coronavirus. The full list of symptoms now is: fever, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, new loss of taste or smell. (CBS News & CDC)
  • As the country slowly begins to reopen, chefs, restaurateurs and health officials are discussing what a reopened restaurant may look like. As Alaska and Georgia begin to open their doors, they speak of 50% occupancy in restaurants, disposable menus, thermometer checks at the door and multiple safety protocols to ensure the safety of their staff and diners. (NY Times)
  • The U.S. Navy destroyer is an American warpship currently part of a counternarcotics mission. Over the weekend, 47 crew members have tested positive for COVID-19. This is the second American warship to be impacted by the virus. (NY Times)
  • Governors on both the East and West Coasts have formed pacts in order to come to a joint decision on when to open their states. The West Coast states include California, Oregon and Washington. As of Monday, April 27th, Nevada and Colorado have joined the Western States Pact. (CNN & CNN)
  • Due to COVID-19, parents have been cancelling wellness-check appointments and vaccinations for their children. The article was not able to find figures to report vaccination numbers, but did gather vaccine information from 1000 random providers throughout the nation using a pediatric electronic health records company. These electronic records enabled comparisons between vaccinations administrations from a “pre-coronavirus week (February 16) and a week during the COVID stay at home orders (May 5).” It was noted that vaccine administrations were dropping from anywhere from 42 to 73 percent. With this decrease in vaccinations, there is a worry of an increase in other life threatening diseases such as measles. The CDC continues to urge pediatricians to continue administration of vaccines and rescheduling cancelled appointments to ensure vaccines are given. (NY Times)
  • To better gauge how many people are or have been infected by COVID, scientists in the U.S. and abroad have begun working with wastewater plants to detect the virus in fecal matter. These scientists hope that by using fecal matter to measure the prevalence of the virus, they will be able to better detect the possibility of a second wave. While fecal testing is a lengthy process, it allows for broader testing of populations at large and not just of symptomatic patients. (CNN)
  • Due to a lack of testing abilities, President Trump released a blueprint on giving states more tests. He stated that each state should be able to test two percent of their population each month and that there should be no shortage. However, others are reporting that President Trump is overestimating the situation and that, despite having made strides in the numbers of tests, there is still a shortage that needs to be overcome. Adm. Brett P. Giroir, the assistant secretary for health at the Department of Health and Human Services, said that they would start sending out tests weekly to states to help reduce any issues of shortages. They hope to be able to send out 12.7 million swabs in May. (NY Times)
  • WHO says there is "no evidence" people can only be infected by the coronavirus once. This has pushed back against proposals for reopening society and immunity passports based on the premise that an individual can only contract the coronavirus once before developing the necessary antibodies to fight it off. (NPR)
  • Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman would like for restaurants, hotels and casinos to reopen. (NPR)
  • Educators looking into smartphone-based learning platforms to enhance at-home learning experiences. A WhatsApp course has already been created to cover topics like rules for proper social distancing, cleaning, and disinfection protocols during the current pandemic. (NPR)
  • NYC will start ‘self-swab’ coronavirus tests to better protect health care workers from exposure and also save on personal protective equipment. (New York Post)
  • On April 22, the CDC announced the first two confirmed cases of SARS-CoV-2 infections in pet cats in the United States. SARS-CoV-2 is the virus strain that causes COVID-19. Currently, there is no information that suggests that pets may be able to infect people with the coronavirus. Until more is known about COVID-19, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AMVA) recommends that people ill with COVID-19 restrict their interactions with pets when possible. (AMVA)
  • The COVID-19 pandemic has led to disruptions in the food supply chain especially in the distribution of various meat products. Grocery stores are finding shortages all across the country. The processing facilities are shutting down, therefore, farmers don’t have anywhere to sell their livestock. Tyson Foods, one of the U.S.’s biggest meat processors, warns that the “food supply chain is breaking,” in a full page ad in last weekend’s issue of the New York Times. This comes after the company was forced to shut down a large pork processing plant after several workers tested positive for COVID-19. Tyson Foods is not the only company halting production at facilities. A Smithfield Foods pork plant and a JBS beef plant have also been closed temporarily due to coronavirus concerns amongst employees. (CNN & Time)
  • Captain Tom Moore of Britain raised over £23 million pounds for the United Kingdom’s National Health Services (NHS) Charities Together by completing 100 laps of his garden before his 100th Over a million people have donated to Capt Tom’s JustGiving page and more than half a million people have called for his knighting. (BBC)
  • Starting May 4, any passenger stepping foot on a JetBlue operated plane will be required to wear a face mask in order to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. JetBlue’s announcement on April 27 makes it the first major U.S. airline requiring passengers to wear face coverings during their travels. (NPR)
  • Two hospitals have begun clinical trials utilizing female sex hormones, including progesterone and estrogen as a means to support the immune response in men suffering from COVID-19. The logic behind this stems from the higher adverse outcomes seen in men with COVID-19 and the anti-inflammatory properties of these hormones. Estrogen was also shown to reduce the expression of ACE2 protein. Coronavirus is known to use ACE2 receptors to enter host cells. There is mixed response from the scientific community on whether this therapy will work. (NY Times)
  • Among mildly symptomatic patients, altered smell or taste has often been found to be the first apparent symptoms of SARS-CoV-2 infection. (JAMA)
  • High levels of circulating inflammatory cytokines (ex: IL-6, TNFa and IL-1) in COVID-19 patients may increase risk of arrhythmia by altering the conductance of ion channels (aka inflammatory cardiac channelopathies). Inflammatory mediators like IL-6, have been shown to prolong QT segment by increasing L-type Ca++ current and inhibiting the rapidly activating repolarizing K+ current. Therefore, therapies targeted towards controlling the systemic inflammatory response is not only imperative for controlling respiratory failure, but also to decrease acute cardiac complications. (AHA & Nature)
  • NIH has published formal treatment guidelines for COVID-19 patients. Every treatment recommendation has ratings based on how strongly NIH recommends a particular treatment and scientific evidence/expert opinions. (NIH)
  • Prone positioning has been shown to decrease mortality in some COVID-19 patients and can be used as an adjuvant therapy to improve ventilation. This is due to the recruitment of the dorsal lung region, increase in end-expiratory lung volume, increasing chest wall elastance, decreasing alveolar shunt, and improving tidal volume. However, prone position comes with the same complications as when using a ventilator- including accidental removal of the tracheal tube in intubated patients, increased risk of gastroesophageal reflux and increased sedation, among others. Therefore, prone positioning is reserved for severely ill patients who seem to benefit most from this. Some hospitals are placing patients that are not in the ICU in prone position and there is a study to test the efficacy of prone position of those not on ventilator/not severely ill. (NIH & CNN)
      • Figure of construct design from University of Oxford website: covid-19_vaccine_infographic-3.png
        COVID 19 Vaccine Infographic
  • NIH study finds that N95 respirators can be reused up to three times after using proper sanitizing techniques (UV or VHP) and can be reused up to two times using dry heat. Ethanol was not recommended due to loss of N95 integrity. These include: vaporized hydrogen peroxide (VHP), 70-degree Celsius dry heat, ultraviolet light, and 70% ethanol spray. Of these, VHP proved to be the most effective with only 10 minutes of treatment being enough to eliminate the virus. UV and dry heat also seemed to be adequate at decontaminating the mask provided that they were used for at least 60 minutes. (medRxiv & NIH)
  • Large-scale human trials for a coronavirus vaccine are underway in several different countries. The University of Oxford has high hopes for a possible vaccine construct encoding SARS-CoV-2 surface spike proteins using ChAdOx1, a nonreplicating chimpanzee adenovirus vector previously shown to be effective for vaccination against MERS in animal trials. (Gen Eng News & University of Oxford)
  • A study on convalescent plasma therapy shows promising results as a treatment option for severe cases of COVID-19. Convalescent plasma therapy involves taking antibodies from a donor’s blood, someone who has recently recovered from COVID-19, and giving it to someone else infected with the virus to help improve their recovery. Although a small sample size of 10, this study shows improvement of clinical symptoms 1 to 3 days after CP transfusion, increased lymphocyte count, and differing degrees of pulmonary lesion reduction with no serious adverse reactions observed. Confounding variables such as antiviral treatment, glucocorticoid therapy, and other standard care are present. (NY Post & Article)
  • Abnormal blood clotting due to COVID-19 infection may be responsible for severe complications such as sudden stroke in young adults and pulmonary embolus. Mount Sinai Health System in New York reports a seven-fold increase in incidence of sudden stroke in young patients, all of which also tested positive for COVID-19. Other findings at Hôpitaux Universitaires de Strasbourg in France report 32 of 106 (30%) pulmonary CT angiograms performed on COVID-19 patients had pulmonary embolus and 23% of COVID-19 patients at Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Besancon had PE on contrast CT. (CNN & Science Daily)
  • An increase in depressive and anxiety symptoms are found in children undergoing home confinement in Hubei province, China. This study indicates 22.6% of students reporting depressive symptoms and 18.9% reporting anxiety symptoms. (JAMA)
  • A panel of pediatric infectious diseases physicians and pharmacists suggested that supportive care alone is sufficient to treat most children with COVID-19. However, among children who develop severe or critical cases, the panel suggested the use of Remdesivir as the preferred antiviral medication. Most pediatric cases determined to be severe were said to be able to recover through supportive care alone and that antivirals could be considered on a case-by-case basis. The panel considered pediatric cases of COVID-19 as “severe” when a patient required supplemental oxygen. Although it is rare for children to become severely ill with COVID-19, approximately 0.6% of 2,143 pediatric COVID-19 cases were categorized as critical. (PIDS)
  • A study published by the New England Journal of Medicine found that Covid-19 spread through a Seattle skilled nursing facility before patients were symptomatic. More than half the residents of this skilled nursing facility (27 of 48) who had positive tests were asymptomatic at testing. Twenty-three days after the first positive test result, 57 of 89 residents (64%) tested positive. Eleven patients were hospitalized, and 15 died. The authors of the study concluded that focusing primarily on infection control for symptomatic residents was not sufficient to prevent transmission. Instead, COVID-19 testing should expand to include asymptomatic persons residing or working in skilled nursing facilities with positive cases. This will allow facilities to allow for appropriate isolation of infected residents so that they can be cared for to minimize the risk of spread. This recommendation for testing of asymptomatic persons should also be implemented to other congregate living situations, such as prisons and jails, enclosed mental health facilities, and homeless shelters. Current U.S. testing capability must increase in order for this strategy to be implemented. (NEJM)

What is COVID-19

COVID-19 stands for Corona Virus Disease 2019, which is caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. This is a new virus that has never been seen before in humans.  It is different that other human coronaviruses that cause the common cold.

Symptoms of the virus appear 2-14 days after exposure, with an average of 5 days after exposure. Every person is different, so you may have no symptoms, you may have mild symptoms, or you may have severe symptoms.symptoms of COVID-19

If you have been exposed or if you think you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, please be sure to self-isolate for at least 14 days. There is currently no FDA-approved vaccine or cure for COVID-19.

Symptoms of COVID-19

Symptom severity will vary. COVID-19 is a respiratory illness and affects your lungs. Symptoms can include: fever, cough, difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, loss of taste, or loss of smell. You may experience all, some, or none of these symptoms, or you may experience symptoms not listed here.

Steps to Protect Yourself and Others

These simple steps can help protect yourself and others from getting and/or spreading COVID-19.

Wash Your Hands

Wash your hands for a full 20 seconds with soap and hot water. The soap will destroy the capsule surrounding the virus and kill it. You can sing “Happy Birthday” twice to reach 20 seconds. You can also use alcohol based  hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

Keep Your Distance

Stay 6 feet away from others. The virus is spread through respiratory droplets, meaning that someone who has the virus can spread it by coughing, sneezing, or talking. Since there are infected persons that are asymptomatic, or don’t show symptoms, it is important to wear a face mask that covers your nose and mouth when you are in public in order to protect others. You could be an asymptomatic carrier and do not want to risk spreading the virus.

No Touching Your Face

Avoid touching your face in public. The virus can live on surfaces for a period of time, and if you touch something with the virus, then touch your face, you could infect yourself.

Self-Isolate

If you are exposed to the virus, self-isolate for 14 days, which covers the incubation period of the virus.

Get more information

All information is adapted from the CDC website.

For more information, check out the CDC website: CDC COVID Page.