Coronavirus Update: Week 8

President Trump notes ‘very sad milestone’ after U.S. coronavirus death toll surpasses 100,000- the highest number of any country. Parts of all 50 states have begun to reopen in phases, causing a spike in new cases in some areas. Coronavirus is also on the rise in three other countries, with the WHO reporting the largest one-day increase in worldwide cases on May 20. New symptoms have also been discovered by doctors, causing some to speculate that the rise in reported case numbers is due to a greater ability to detect the virus. However, despite all of this, many countries are planning to reopen their airports for tourism beginning in early June.  red line going up in a chart with the words covid-19 on top

Coronavirus On The Rise in States That Reopened Early

All 50 states have now partially reopened, but at least 17 of them reported an increase in the average number of new daily cases after reopening. Alabama, South Dakota and Texas have already begun to see a slight increase in confirmed coronavirus cases since they lifted certain restrictions and reopened nonessential businesses such as gyms and hair salons.

More than half of all counties in California are still moving forward with plans to further reopen, even though the state recorded its second highest number of daily Covid-19 deaths on Tuesday, May 19. Other states such as Florida and Georgia are already allowing dine-in service at restaurants, with other states like North Carolina planning to allow it at the end of this week.

Covid-19 Unusual Symptoms

persons skin with a spotty rash
Splotchy red spots on the skin is a new symptom of covid-19.

Still more symptoms of the virus have been observed in patients: blisters on toes and splotchy red spots on the skin. The blisters make patients’ toes look as if they’re frostbitten, earning this symptom the nickname “COVID toes.” These blisters are more prevalent in patients who are either otherwise asymptomatic or present with milder symptoms. 

“The pernio lesions or ‘COVID toes’ are certainly one of the primary things being reported” in the American Academy of Dermatology registry, according to Dr. Esther Freeman, a dermatologist and epidemiologist at Massachusetts General Hospital who’s managing the registry. “But we’re also seeing a lot of other skin manifestations as well.”

Census Survey Reveals High Unemployment

On Wednesday, May 20th, The US Census Bureau released the first results from its new “pulse survey.”The results represent data collected between April 23-May 5, and, according to the survey,  47% of adults 18 and over either lost employment income or had another adult in their household lose employment income during that time period. About 39% of adults expected that they or someone in their household would lose employment income over the next four weeks. 

WHO Reports Largest Single-Day Increase in Cases

On Wednesday, May 20, Tedros Adhanom-Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization, said that more cases were reported in that 24 hour period than on any day since the outbreak began.

“We still have a long way to go in this pandemic,” Adhanom-Ghebreyesus said at a briefing in Geneva. “In the last 24 hours, there have been 106,000 cases reported to WHO – the most in a single day since the outbreak began. Almost two-thirds of these cases were reported in just four countries.”

Among  those 4 countries was Brazil, which reported 19,951 new cases in one 24 hour period,  a record high for cases reported in a single day.

Countries Begin To Reopen Travel To Their Countries

blue and white plane with tube connected to it and luggage carts around it

Multiple countries also revealed on May 20 that they will begin allowing tourism and travel to their countries. 

  • Greece’s Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced that they will begin to allow some foreign visitors into the country. Flights will resume to and from Athens International Airport on June 15. In the first stage of reopening, only visitors from specific countries with low infection rates will be able to visit. After July 1, they will evaluate the results of phase 1 and then open all airports to travelers from all countries, with exceptions for those with higher case numbers.
  • Italy will reopen their airports starting June 3, Transport Minister Paola de Micheli announced during a May 20th parliamentary session.
  • Turkey’s Health Minister Fahrettin Koca announced that the country will begin a phased reopening, and will allow travelers from 31 countries to begin traveling to Turkey in June. 
  • India’s domestic flight operations will resume May 25th “in a calibrated manner,” the country’s Civil Aviation Minister announced.

Coronavirus Update: Week 5

The coronavirus pandemic continues to affect the United States, with confirmed cases passing 1 million and deaths passing the 60,000 mark. This week, however, brought intensified talk about reopening the economy in certain states, and discussions about the best way to go about doing that. The CDC also put out new guidelines for assessing symptoms of the virus, and the WHO released more hopeful information about possible vaccines.  

When and How Should States Reopen?

caucasian man and woman sitting 6 ft apart on a wall with masks on and hands in their pockets looking at each other.
Dr. Thomas Frieden, former director of the CDC said this week that activities can resume around the U.S, as long as people continue social distancing.

The White House did not extend its social distancing guidelines past the expiration date of April 30; President Trump is instead telling governors to make their own decisions about reopening their states. Because our economy is facing its largest decline since the Great Recession of 2008, many are pushing to allow businesses to open in early May. Others worry that reopening businesses will bring on another wave of the virus.

One prominent voice encouraging reopening is Dr. Thomas Frieden, former director of the CDC.  He said this week that activities can resume around the U.S, because we are “basically over the worst of this phase of the pandemic.” While he thinks that we can reopen the states and people can resume normal activities, he also said that he believes social distancing is still necessary. 

Frieden suggested that a good way to begin relaxing guidelines is with outdoor spaces. “Yes, in fact, outdoors places are much safer than indoor places. Beaches, parks, bicycling, hiking. These are great things to do. They’re great for the spirit, and outdoors is a great way to reduce risk,” he added. “Now to have 100,000 people on a crowded beach, that’s a little different, but with sensible precautions, the great outdoors is a great way forward.”

States That Have Reopened

The first states to open up were Georgia, Florida, Alabama and South Carolina- even though they were the last ones to shut down amid the coronavirus. Alabama had one of the shortest-lived stay-at-home orders, which began on April 4 and ended on April 30. Other states that have relaxed their stay-at-home orders are Colorado, Oklahoma, Montana, Mississippi, Indiana, and Alaska. 

So far in states like Georgia, more than 1,000 new cases of COVID-19 were reported the day before the stay at home order was lifted, and another 1000+ were reported the day it was lifted. Expert models show that numbers will spike due to the stay at home order being lifted too soon, but only time will tell. 

Pennsylvania, Ohio, North Carolina, and Arizona are set to slowly lift their stay-at-home orders throughout the end of May. 

CDC Adds More Symptoms To The List

caucasian man with his hand over his forehead.

The most commonly known symptoms of COVID-19 are cough, shortness of breath, and fever. But the CDC has recently added 6 new symptoms to the existing list. They are:

  • Chills
  • Repeated shaking
  • Headache
  • Muscle pain
  • Sore throat
  • Loss of taste or smell

According to the CDC, symptoms will appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. 

Trump Declares May “Older Americans Month”

Trump declared May “Older Americans Month” in order to shed light on the importance of “protecting America’s seniors.” One way the federal government is attempting to protect vulnerable seniors is by sending additional supplies to nursing homes. FEMA will be sending supplemental shipments of PPE (personal protective equipment)  to 15,400 Medicaid & Medicare certified nursing homes in the U.S. 

“That’s a spot that we have to take care of. I guess you could call it a little bit of a weak spot, because things are happening at the nursing homes, and we’re not happy about that. We don’t want it to happen,” Trump said.

WHO Says 102 Potential Vaccines In Works

The WHO says there are 102 potential COVID-19 vaccines being developed all around the world. Currently, there are 8 potential vaccines approved for clinical trials. Of the vaccines  approved for human trials, 4 have been developed in  China, 1 in England, and 1 in the U.S. A final vaccine has been a combined effort of American and European scientists. caucasian woman in a lab coat with gloves on mixing liquids with a stopwatch in front and vaccine bottles in the background.

Coronavirus Vaccine Doses Available By January

When asked on NBC’s Today Show about a possible vaccine, Dr. Anthony Fauci, a key member of the White House coronavirus task force, was hopeful. He said that since trials are already in early phases, there is a chance that there will be hundreds of millions of doses available by January 2021. He also warned, though, that accelerating production would be done “at risk.” 

“In other words, you don’t wait until you get an answer before you start manufacturing. You at risk — proactively — start making it, assuming it’s going to work,” Fauci said. “And if it does, then you can scale up and hopefully get to that timeline. I think that is doable if things fall in the right place.”