One patient had a stillbirth and another a preterm delivery, but it's impossible to determine if the coronavirus caused either, study finds.
Mass protests against police brutality that have brought thousands of people out of their homes and onto the streets in cities across America are raising the specter of new coronavirus outbreaks, prompting political leaders, physicians and public health experts to warn that the crowds could cause a surge in cases.While many political leaders affirmed the right of protesters to express themselves, they urged the demonstrators to wear face masks and maintain social distancing, both to protect themselves and to prevent further community spread of the virus.More than 100,000 Americans have died of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus. People of color have been particularly hard hit, with rates of hospitalizations and deaths among black Americans far exceeding those of whites.The protests in dozens of cities have been spurred most recently by the death last week of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis. But the unrest and outrage spilling out into the streets from one city to the next also reflects the dual, cumulative tensions arising from decades of killings by police and the sudden losses of family and friends from the virus.The spontaneous outpouring of protests are occurring as many states have warily begun reopening after weeks of stay-at-home orders with millions of Americans unemployed. Restaurants, schools, beaches and parks are under scrutiny as the public tentatively practices new forms of social distancing.In Los Angeles, where demonstrations led to the closing of virus testing sites Saturday, Mayor Eric Garcetti warned that the protests could become "super-spreader events," referring to the types of gatherings, usually held in indoor settings, that can lead to an explosion of secondary infections.Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland, a Republican, expressed concern that his state would see a spike in cases in about two weeks, which is about how long it takes for symptoms to emerge after someone is infected, while Atlanta's mayor, Keisha Lance Bottoms, advised people who were out protesting "to go get a COVID test this week."Some infectious disease experts were reassured by the fact that the protests were held outdoors, saying the open air settings could mitigate the risk of transmission. In addition, many of the demonstrators were wearing masks, and in some places, they appeared to be avoiding clustering too closely."The outdoor air dilutes the virus and reduces the infectious dose that might be out there, and if there are breezes blowing, that further dilutes the virus in the air," said Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University. "There was literally a lot of running around, which means they're exhaling more profoundly, but also passing each other very quickly."The crowds tended to be on the younger side, he noted, and younger adults generally have better outcomes if they become ill, though there is a risk they could transmit the virus to relatives and household members who may be older and more susceptible.But others were more concerned about the risk posed by the marches. Dr. Howard Markel, a medical historian who studies pandemics, likened the protest crowds to the bond parades held in American cities like Philadelphia and Detroit in the midst of the 1918 influenza pandemic, which were often followed by spikes in influenza cases."Yes, the protests are outside, but they are all really close to each other, and in those cases, being outside doesn't protect you nearly as much," Markel said. "Public gatherings are public gatherings -- it doesn't matter what you're protesting or cheering. That's one reason we're not having large baseball games and may not have college football this fall."Though many protesters were wearing masks, others were not. SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the COVID-19 disease, is mainly transmitted through respiratory droplets spread when people talk, cough or sneeze; screaming and shouting slogans during a protest can accelerate the spread, Markel said.Tear gas and pepper spray, which police have used to disperse crowds, cause people to tear up and cough, and increase respiratory secretions from the eyes, nose and mouth, further enhancing the possibility of transmission. Police efforts to move crowds through tight urban areas can result in corralling people closer together, or end up penning people into tight spaces.And emotions have been running high, Markel said. "People get lost in the moment, and they lose awareness of who is close to them, who's not, who's wearing a mask, who's not," he said.The biggest concern is the one that has bedeviled infectious disease experts since the pandemic began, and it is the coronavirus' secret weapon: that it can be transmitted by people who do not display any symptoms and feel healthy enough to participate in protests."There are a huge number of asymptomatic carriers, and that makes it hugely risky," Markel said.Dr. Ashish Jha, a professor and director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, said more than half of coronavirus infections are spread by people who are asymptomatic, including some who are infected but never go on to develop symptoms and others who do not yet know they are sick.Arresting, transporting or jailing protesters increases the potential for spreading the virus. Jha called on protesters to refrain from violence, and urged police to exercise restraint.Dr. Scott Gottlieb, a former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, appearing on CBS' "Face the Nation" on Sunday, also predicted the protests would lead to new "chains of transmission."He said social and economic inequities, including poor access to health care, discrimination in health care settings, greater reliance on public transportation and differences in employment were all factors leading to a greater burden of COVID-19 disease among people of color."Stopping the pandemic is going to depend on our ability to take care of our most medically and socially vulnerable," Gottlieb said. "We absolutely need to resolve these underlying problems to eliminate the risk of pandemic spreading of the epidemic."This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2020 The New York Times Company
After months of lockdown, public congregation increased exponentially last week, as residents of major cities from coast to coast took to the streets in huge numbers to protest decades of black death at the hands of police officers, and specifically the killing of 46-year-old George Floyd in Minneapolis.But even before the unrest and the possibility of attendant contagion, warm weather across the country prompted people to sun in public parks, take day trips to beaches, and drink in groups as states eased COVID-19 lockdowns. Relaxed restrictions have also sent thousands of young people sidelined from service industry jobs back to work in states from Texas to Vermont.As public health experts have warned for months, any return to pre-pandemic behavior—whether at bars in Waco or demonstrations in cities like Los Angeles—could come at significant cost. In fact, if an analysis from the first COVID-19 hot spot in the United States is any indication, young people have, for weeks, appeared to be setting the stage not for a second wave of an infection, but a deadly extension of the first one.Essentially, public health experts told The Daily Beast, the young hold the power to determine whether states can continue on a steady march toward reopening—or else veer back toward an infection spike that could force new lockdowns.It’s Time to Make a Reopening Plan—for Your WalletIn Washington state, half of new daily infections in early May were occurring in people under 40, a dramatic increase from eight weeks earlier, when older age groups made up more than two-thirds of the patients who tested positive, according to a new report. Based on public data from the Washington Department of Health, the analysis noted that cases in Washington state peaked on March 22, then declined for a few weeks, and then sustained a plateau with an average of approximately 200 cases per day since.“Watch what’s happening before and after the peak,” said lead author Dr. Judith Malmgren, an epidemiologist and affiliate assistant professor at the University of Washington’s school of public health. “The disease didn’t change, but the people who were infected changed.”Malmgren said the analysis—published on the preprint site for health sciences research, medRxiv, and not yet peer-reviewed—found 39 percent of confirmed cases in the state were in the 20-39 age bracket, and another 11 percent were in those 19 or younger. Though otherwise healthy young people are less likely to suffer serious illness from the virus than those over the age of 65 or with comorbidities, the disease can cause lifelong health effects on all patients, and recent reports of a life-threatening inflammatory syndrome in children has raised significant concerns across the country. Malmgren’s analysis was first-reported by The Seattle Times, and though it was preliminary, Washington State Health Officer Dr. Kathy Lofy told the paper it was evidence that older residents have done a promising job of social distancing. Dr. Jeff Duchin, the health officer for Public Health Seattle & King County, also posited that the pattern “reflects people’s behavior.”Crucially, Malmgren added, young people are also more likely to work in essential jobs. That, combined with a greater desire for social interaction, may be the cause of the new bump in infections among younger Washingtonians. But, as always, it’s also a reason for concern about those in vulnerable populations who must interact with them in supermarkets, pharmacies, and elsewhere.“In eight weeks, our demographic slipped from majority over age 60 to majority under age 40,” Malmgren told The Daily Beast. “As the epidemic got under control and people over 60 followed pretty strict social distancing and guidelines, the infection rate went down in that portion of the population. But we didn’t have the same messaging—had no messaging, basically—to young people that there’s a danger to you.”While trend lines in New York, New Jersey, and other parts of the country had been promising in recent weeks, experts told The Daily Beast that the new analysis pointed to a disturbing trend that—with an assist from mass protests—could be replicated elsewhere. Dr. William Haseltine, president of the global health think tank ACCESS Health International, said the reopenings and decreased case counts in some areas may have provided a “false sense of security” to young people who believe themselves invulnerable to serious infection.“Human beings can control this epidemic without a vaccine and without a drug,” said Haseltine, pointing to the testing, contact tracing, and social distancing guidelines that created dramatic drops in case counts in countries as vastly different as Australia, China, and Denmark.“About 20 percent of people get really ill—and some fraction, which is yet to be determined, suffer lifelong damage they will never recover from, like having their kidneys removed and put on lifelong dialysis or contracting a heart disease or a serious stroke that can cause lifelong impairment.”But Haseltine and Malmgren both said the desire to socialize is neither surprising nor beyond understanding.“Young people have an enormous innate drive to congregate, and to not recognize that is to not recognize our humanness,” said Haseltine. “This virus takes advantage of that.”While the concept of herd immunity—that if enough of the population becomes infected and then immune from the virus, life can return to normal—has been discussed at length, there are significant problems with attempting to use it as a public health policy. And even in the first American hot spot, Washington’s King County, fewer than 2 percent of residents have been infected, according to estimates cited by the Times.“There is no community in the United States which has the majority of people infected,” said Haseltine. “None.”Or, as Malmgren put it, it would be “very dangerous” to assume that the worst of the pandemic was over just because there were more hospital beds and testing available in May than in March or April. What’s worse, she added: “If this is the number of confirmed cases in that age group, it could actually be much higher.”“It might feel like” the risks have gone down since the pandemic first hit the U.S., but any socialization at all is “dangerous,” she added. Dr. Irwin Redlener, director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University and an expert on U.S. readiness for pandemics, called it a “delusion of normalcy” to see gradual reopenings as an indication that any community—from New York to Washington—is out of the woods. But to be fair, said Redlener, “risky behavior in younger people is always a public health issue.”That gamble is made worse by the recent reports that have shown, for children under 18, the potentially fatal multisystem inflammatory syndrome related to COVID-19. The illness is seemingly rare, but children and teens have been tested far less than adults for the coronavirus, meaning nobody knows how many children have been infected, and “we don’t have a denominator to define that it’s a rare event,” said Malmgren. Scientists don’t have enough data to know if only one in 1,000 children with the coronavirus develops the disease or if the incidence is much, much higher, she said.And there are still many unknowns about the way the virus behaves—including whether Malmgren’s analysis points to more young people exposing themselves to social contact or something more concerning.“It’s almost like it’s a different disease now, at least in Washington,” said Malmgren, cautioning that the analysis likely means the disease didn’t change, but that people’s behavior changed.But whatever the reason for the demographic shift—an unknown “change in the virus” or evidence that young people took reopenings as a signal that “things are better now”—said Redlener, these findings are “worthy of significant attention.” All the more so given that Washington state was the first hot spot with a confirmed case of community transmission and home to the first COVID-19 death in the country.“If what’s happening in Washington becomes true nationally, we have a problem,” said Redlener. “Every state and the federal government need to be following this very, very closely.”And all three experts agreed that any conversation about a possible second wave of infections misses a crucial point: We’re not out of the first wave anywhere in the U.S., and we still do not have enough testing or contact-tracing to adequately handle subsequent outbreaks.“My message to the rest of the country,” said Malmgren, is that “your strategy is going to have to change” as demographics shift among those who are infected.And ultimately, she added: “You can’t manage what you don’t measure.”Read more at The Daily Beast.Got a tip? 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A Missouri resident who arrived at the lake on Saturday "developed illness" on Sunday, according to a news release from Camden County.
Lilly is one of the several drugmakers and research institutions that are working on vaccines, antivirals and other treatments to help those infected with the fast-spreading novel coronavirus, which has already killed over 370,000 worldwide. An antiviral drug from Gilead Sciences called remdesivir has shown some promise against COVID-19 and is being given to patients by some countries under compassionate or emergency use rule. Lilly said its early stage study will assess safety and tolerability in patients hospitalized with COVID-19 and results are anticipated by the end of June.
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Public health officials warn new cases of COVID-19 will likely emerge following mass gatherings fueled by racial injustice in cities across America.
An independent autopsy ordered by George Floyd's family found his homicide was "caused by asphyxia due to neck and back compression that led to a lack of blood flow to the brain," according to early findings from the examination released Monday. Dr. Michael Baden and the University of Michigan Medical School's director of autopsy and forensic services, Dr. Allecia Wilson, handled the examination, according to family attorney Ben Crump. Baden, who was New York's medical examiner in 1978 and 1979, had previously performed independent autopsies on Eric Garner, who was killed by a police officer in Staten Island, New York, in 2014 and Michael Brown, who was shot by officers in Ferguson, Missouri, that same year.
Some 54% of black women reported facing economic challenges like getting laid off or having their pay docked.
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On Friday, Trump said the US was ending its relationship with the WHO. On Monday, the WHO director general said that was news to him.
Protests across the United States the past six days over the death of George Floyd have eclipsed issues over the coronavirus pandemic that have dominated much of the past three months. The first day of June saw coronavirus restrictions ease from Asia to Europe and in the United States. Here are some of AP’s top stories Monday on the world’s coronavirus pandemic.
Data says Latinos show COVID-19 symptoms at far greater rates, the result of front-line jobs, close living quarters and lack of health care
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Here are the latest developments in the coronavirus crisis. It is followed by Britain with 38,489, Italy with 33,415, Brazil with 29,314, France with 28,802 and Spain with 27,127. Iran announces almost 3,000 new infections, its highest daily count in two months, as it warns of another "dangerous peak" in the Middle East's deadliest outbreak.
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In an interview, Fauci told STAT News "I didn't like that," referring to Moderna releasing early data on its coronavirus vaccine.
A California biotech company says its experimental drug remdesivir improved symptoms when given for five days to moderately ill, hospitalized patients with COVID-19. Gilead Sciences gave few details on Monday but said full results would soon be published in a medical journal. A large study led by the National Institutes of Health recently found it could shorten average recovery time from 15 days to 11 days in hospitalized patients with severe disease.
Stephanie Byrd agonized over temporarily laying off nearly the entire staff at her family’s trio of Detroit businesses when the coronavirus pandemic hit. “Most of the people I know who have businesses and are black are terrified right now,” said Byrd, whose family owns Flood’s Bar & Grille, The Block restaurant and the city’s Garden Theater. COVID-19 has disproportionately impacted black Americans, infecting and killing them at higher rates across the nation.
FDA-approved fabric used since 2017 as wound dressing can use electricity to neutralize coronaviruses after a minute of contact, early research shows.
Turkish Airlines resumed limited domestic flights, restaurants welcomed sit-in customers and beaches and museums reopened as Turkey’s broadest easing of coronavirus restrictions came into effect Monday. A Turkish Airlines flight, with 156 people on board, departed from Ankara airport for Istanbul as Turkey lifted a travel ban between 15 of its worst-affected provinces. The air routes between Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir, Antalya and Trabzon are the first start, with others scheduled to follow gradually.