Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update: What You Need to Know This Week

Healthcare News

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update: What You Need to Know This Week

Common Cold.COVID-19.The Flu
Libby Pellegrini, MMS, PA-C
By Libby Pellegrini, MMS, PA-C
May 27, 2020
An illustration of COVID-19

Recently Updated: The below information was updated on April 27, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to exert its force on global communities, many of which have been on lockdown for more than a month. New knowledge about the virus emerges every day — here is what you need to know this week.

Coronavirus Cases By The Numbers

As of the evening of April 26th, the number of global cases of COVID-19 was approaching 3 million and the global death toll was greater than 206,000. The United States had reported about 965,000 cases, and the U.S. national death toll approached 55,000.

A COVID Tracker published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that the top five states in terms of case count are New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Illinois, and California. However Michigan, Louisiana, and Connecticut have reported a disproportionately higher number of deaths from COVID-19.

Emerging Insights About How The Novel Coronavirus Affects the Body

Clinicians on the front lines are often the first to detect nuances when it comes to the novel coronavirus. Neurosurgeons in New York have warned this week that the viral infection seems to trigger strokes in young adults in their 30s and 40s who are otherwise relatively asymptomatic. This may be due to the way that the virus interferes with the body’s blood clotting pathways, by causing inflammation in the walls of the large blood vessels.

Emerging Insights About How The Novel Coronavirus Spreads

An analysis of the genome of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 infections, shows that three main variants have been circulating throughout the world. Researchers with the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences have dubbed these variants “A, B and C” and have found that they are differentially distributed throughout the globe, with B predominantly in East Asia and A and C predominantly appearing outside of East Asia, in Europe and the Americas. This research may have significance moving forward, as researchers examine the different ways that the virus has mutated and spread throughout the population.

Emerging Insights About the Prevalence of the Novel Coronavirus

The novel coronavirus likely caused a fatality in the U.S. before the first officially reported death on February 26th in Seattle. Autopsy findings from the Santa Clara County Public Health Department show a resident died of COVID-19 on February 6th, indicating that the virus may have been silently spreading undetected in the U.S. as early as January. This assertion is reinforced by a population study conducted in L.A. County which shows that COVID-19 infections were far more ubiquitous than originally thought, up to 28 to 55 times higher, as determined by antibody testing.

Treatment of COVID-19 Infections

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned this week of the dangers associated with hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, antimalarial medications for which it has issued an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for COVID-19 treatment. These medications are known to cause heart rhythm problems, so the FDA has advised against using them outside of controlled hospital settings and clinical trials.

For more information about the novel coronavirus, make sure to visit coronavirus.gov.

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Previous Updates: The below information was updated on April 13, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has rapidly reshaped the recognizable world, and new information emerges each day. Here’s what you need to know this week regarding the novel coronavirus.

Coronavirus Cases by the Numbers

As of the evening of April 12, the number of global cases of COVID-19 had surpassed 1,850,000 and the global death toll was greater than 114,000. The United States had reported more than 556,000 cases, and the U.S. national death toll, at more than 22,000, was the highest in the world.

The prevalence of the COVID-19 virus is markedly different from that of just one month ago; exactly four weeks prior, on March 15, the global case count was around 167,000, and 3500 cases had been identified in the United States.

Despite COVID-19’s rapid spread, hospitalization rates do seem to be decreasing in the most virus-stricken areas, such as in New York state.

Emerging Insights about the Novel Coronavirus

A report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates that the novel coronavirus may travel up to 4 meters (13 feet), and it also may be present on the soles of shoes of health care workers. These findings came from analysis of air samples that were taken from the ICU and general wards of two hospitals in China, as well as swabs of common surfaces in the hospitals like clothing, computer mice, and doorknobs. This information is significant when it comes to infection control and the efforts being undertaken to prevent the virus from spreading in health care settings.

Emerging Therapeutic Insights about COVID-19

An article published in the New England Journal of Medicine discusses the use of the experimental drug remdesivir in patients infected with the novel coronavirus. In an observational study of 53 patients in the United States, Europe, Canada, and Japan, 68 percent showed clinical improvement when receiving a compassionate-use 10-day course of the medication. Compassionate use is a term that refers to the use of a new, unvalidated medication to treat a critically ill patient when no other approved treatments are available.

Although these results indicate a positive outcome, more research in the form of randomized, double-blind controlled trials is needed in order to assess remdesivir’s true impact on outcomes when it comes to COVID-19 infections. Several trials of this nature are currently underway.

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Coronavirus Cases By The Numbers

As of the evening of April 19th, the number of global cases of COVID-19 had surpassed 2.4 million and the global death toll was greater than 165,000. The United States had reported 760,000 cases, and the U.S. national death toll, at more than 40,000, continues to be the highest in the world.

China has revised its official COVID-19 death toll in the city of Wuhan, the original source of the outbreak, citing 1290 additional cases that had not been included in its original count of 2579. This represents a 50 percent increase and brings the total reported deaths in China to 4636.

Emerging Therapeutic Insights About The Novel Coronavirus

A new review published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) provides a summary of known evidence regarding proposed treatments for COVID-19. It draws the conclusion that “no therapies have shown effective to date.” Many treatments — including antimalarial, antiretroviral and immunoglobulin therapies — are currently being explored, but no pharmacologic treatment has demonstrated efficacy. The paper does note that the most promising therapy to date appears to be remdesivir, however this is not FDA-approved and must be obtained via compassionate-use, expanded access or via a clinical trial.

According to a document released by the World Health Organization (WHO), there are currently 70 COVID-19 vaccines in development around the world with three at the clinical evaluation stage, indicating that human trials have commenced.

Population-Wide Efforts to Manage COVID-19

One thing seems to be certain when it comes to COVID-19; social distancing measures are effective in slowing the spread of the illness. However, it is unclear how aggressive and long-lasting these measures need to be in order to keep global citizens safe. A new study conducted by researchers at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health has examined various models of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, taking into account seasonality and the probability of recurring waves of the virus over the next five years. In the absence of a vaccine or effective COVID-19 therapy, the researchers conclude that it may be necessary to continue intermittent or prolonged social distancing into the year 2022.

Impact of COVID-19 on Daily Life

  • The U.S. Department of Labor released its weekly jobs report which revealed that, in the week ending with April 11th, another 5.5 million Americans filed for unemployment. This brings the four-week total to nearly 22 million lost jobs.
  • Governors across the U.S. are weighing strategies for a gradual return to work rollout in an effort to offset the economic impact imposed by shelter-in-pace restrictions which, in many states, have been in place for a month. The presidential administration has issued guidance regarding a return to economic activity in the form of a three-phase approach.

You can find more information about the novel coronavirus, and how to protect yourself, by visiting coronavirus.gov.

Impact on Daily Life around the Globe

  • A model created by the University of Washington has lowered its projections for U.S. resource utilization and fatalities from COVID-19. The White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator, Dr. Deborah Birx, attributes this to the success of nationwide social distancing efforts. The model also predicts that the country as a whole reached its peak resource utilization on April 11, though the needs of states are varied, and some states are predicted to peak later.
  • The U.S. Department of Labor released another jobs report, which revealed that, in the week ending with April 4, another 6.6 million Americans filed for unemployment. This brings the three-week total to nearly 16.5 million lost jobs, a figure that is unprecedented.
  • The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Boris Johnson, has been discharged home from the hospital where he had spent three nights in the ICU, fighting an infection with the novel coronavirus.
  • The city of Wuhan, China, where the novel coronavirus originated in mid-December 2019, ended its official lockdown on April 7, lifting some of its restrictions on residents.

You can find more information about the novel coronavirus, and how to protect yourself, by visiting coronavirus.gov.

Previous Updates: The below information was updated on April 6, 2020

News surrounding the novel coronavirus changes fast. Here’s what you need to know this week regarding the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Coronavirus Cases by the Numbers

As of the evening of April 5, the number of global cases of COVID-19 had surpassed 1,275,000. The United States had reported more than 338,000 cases alone, accounting for more than a quarter of the world’s total cases. The COVID-19 disease had claimed nearly 70,000 lives across the globe and more than 9,600 lives in the United States.

Emerging Insights about the Novel Coronavirus

An infection with the novel coronavirus is known to cause certain hallmark symptoms. People with COVID-19 disease have been largely reported to have respiratory involvement, and some have also suffered from cardiac and gastrointestinal dysfunction. However, a new case, published in the journal Radiology, indicates that a COVID-19 infection can also cause a brain infection known as encephalitis.

In this case report, a female airline employee in her late fifties presented to an emergency department in Detroit with a cough, fever, and altered mental status. She tested positive for COVID-19; however, her medical treatment team was concerned about her confusion and disorientation and thus ordered imaging of her brain. This imaging revealed a condition known as acute necrotizing encephalopathy, which necessitates a different type of treatment than typical COVID-19 pneumonia. This report highlights the importance of clinical vigilance as health care workers and patients alike continue to learn more about the COVID-19 disease.

Emerging Insights about COVID-19 Transmission

Mounting evidence suggests that the COVID-19 virus may be largely transmitted by people known as “silent spreaders.” These are persons who have the SARS-CoV-2 virus but are not yet experiencing any symptoms, so they unknowingly spread the virus to others. Researchers from Singapore and China examined the average incubation period of the virus (the time it takes between coming into contact with the virus and developing symptoms of an infection) and the rate at which viral clusters are emerging, and determined that the virus is likely being passed along an average 2.55 to 2.89 days before its human transmitters develop symptoms.

These findings reinforce the importance of physical distancing measures, copious hand hygiene, and self-isolation. Even if you are feeling well, it is possible that you could unwittingly be transmitting the virus to others. In order to control the spread of the virus, it may be prudent for everyone to conduct their daily affairs in a way that presumes that they have the virus, taking every precaution to avoid passing it along to others.

Impact on Daily Life in America

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued an official advisory to Americans regarding the use of face coverings. The organization advises that everyone wear a nonmedical, cloth mask, when in public places where it is difficult to maintain a proper social distance, such as in grocery stores.

The CDC notes that facial coverings are particularly important in areas of the country that currently have widespread COVID-19 activity. You can check out this website for instructions on how to make your own mask, as well as a video tutorial.

Recently Updated: The following information was updated on March 27, 2020

News surrounding the novel coronavirus changes fast. Here’s what you need to know this week regarding the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Coronavirus Cases by the Numbers

As of the evening of April 5, the number of global cases of COVID-19 had surpassed 1,275,000. The United States had reported more than 338,000 cases alone, accounting for more than a quarter of the world’s total cases. The COVID-19 disease had claimed nearly 70,000 lives across the globe and more than 9,600 lives in the United States.

Emerging Insights about the Novel Coronavirus

An infection with the novel coronavirus is known to cause certain hallmark symptoms. People with COVID-19 disease have been largely reported to have respiratory involvement, and some have also suffered from cardiac and gastrointestinal dysfunction. However, a new case, published in the journal Radiology, indicates that a COVID-19 infection can also cause a brain infection known as encephalitis.

In this case report, a female airline employee in her late fifties presented to an emergency department in Detroit with a cough, fever, and altered mental status. She tested positive for COVID-19; however, her medical treatment team was concerned about her confusion and disorientation and thus ordered imaging of her brain. This imaging revealed a condition known as acute necrotizing encephalopathy, which necessitates a different type of treatment than typical COVID-19 pneumonia. This report highlights the importance of clinical vigilance as health care workers and patients alike continue to learn more about the COVID-19 disease.

Emerging Insights about COVID-19 Transmission

Mounting evidence suggests that the COVID-19 virus may be largely transmitted by people known as “silent spreaders.” These are persons who have the SARS-CoV-2 virus but are not yet experiencing any symptoms, so they unknowingly spread the virus to others. Researchers from Singapore and China examined the average incubation period of the virus (the time it takes between coming into contact with the virus and developing symptoms of an infection) and the rate at which viral clusters are emerging, and determined that the virus is likely being passed along an average 2.55 to 2.89 days before its human transmitters develop symptoms.

These findings reinforce the importance of physical distancing measures, copious hand hygiene, and self-isolation. Even if you are feeling well, it is possible that you could unwittingly be transmitting the virus to others. In order to control the spread of the virus, it may be prudent for everyone to conduct their daily affairs in a way that presumes that they have the virus, taking every precaution to avoid passing it along to others.

Impact on Daily Life in America

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued an official advisory to Americans regarding the use of face coverings. The organization advises that everyone wear a nonmedical, cloth mask, when in public places where it is difficult to maintain a proper social distance, such as in grocery stores.

The CDC notes that facial coverings are particularly important in areas of the country that currently have widespread COVID-19 activity. You can check out this website for instructions on how to make your own mask, as well as a video tutorial.

Previous Updates: The below information was updated on April 3, 2020

Here’s the news you need to know today regarding the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Coronavirus Cases By The Numbers

As of the morning of April 3rd, the number of global cases of COVID-19 had surpassed a milestone of one million, topping 1,030,000. The United States had reported more than 245,000 cases alone. In New York state, the case count topped 92,000, exceeding that of every other country in the world except for the U.S., Italy, and Spain.

Emerging Insights About the Novel Coronavirus

The novel coronavirus is understood to differentially affect elderly persons and those with pre-existing medical conditions. An investigation into laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 cases that were submitted to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showed that up to 44.5 percent of Americans aged 65 and older with at least one pre-existing condition who contracted COVID-19 were hospitalized, with up to 22.2 percent necessitating ICU level care.

However, the statistics also show that the virus can impact younger people and those who do not have pre-existing medical conditions. Up to 6.7 percent of COVID-19 positive persons ages 19 to 65, without pre-existing medical conditions, were hospitalized, and up to 2 percent of those people received ICU treatment.

These findings reinforce the importance of social distancing and hand washing measures for every citizen, regardless of age or medical condition.

COVID-19 Diagnostic Developments

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued an Emergency Use Authorization for a new test that can detect anti-COVID 19 antibodies in the blood. The test has been developed by a company named Cellex, and it will be available via select certified laboratories. This diagnostic tool will measure antibodies to help determine who may have recovered from an asymptomatic or mild case of the novel coronavirus. Antibodies are created by the immune system within the first few days of an illness and they stay in the blood for a long time after an immune response (some provide lifelong immunity, others wear off over months or years), so they are detectable even after a virus or other infection has been cleared from the body.

By assessing antibodies, researchers can gather more information about the total number of COVID-19 cases in the country. This is important when it comes to calculating how widespread the virus may be, as well as fatality rates. It is also important for assessing herd immunity, the phenomenon in which a critical mass of the population has immunity to a virus, and is therefore able to protect the non-immune minority. This type of testing may also be valuable for health care workers because it could determine who may be immune, and therefore at less risk when returning to work.

Impact on Daily Life in America

  • According to the U.S. Department of Labor, more than 6.6 million Americans filed for unemployment in the past week, which broke the previous record of 3.28 million claims that was set the previous week.
  • State and local authorities are taking control of their own responses to the novel coronavirus. You can check in on your own state’s projected COVID-19 timeline and health care system capacity using this tool that was developed by the University of Washington.

For more information on the COVID-19 disease, and how to keep yourself healthy, make sure to visit the CDC’s website.

Previous Updates: The below information was updated on April 2, 2020

The U.S. is bracing itself for a surge of novel coronavirus cases over the next two to three weeks. Here’s what you need to know about the COVID-19 pandemic today.

Coronavirus Cases By The Numbers

As of the morning of April 2nd, the number of global cases of COVID-19 had surpassed 950,000, with all indicators pointing to a climb past one million within another day. The United States had reported more than 216,000 cases alone. Two other countries, Italy and Spain, had reported more than 100,000 cases. The global death count was greater than 47,000, and the United States had surpassed 5,000 deaths.

Hospitals Weighing Ventilator Splitting

The U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams issued a letter to hospitals in the U.S. regarding the use of ventilators. In response to the evolving pandemic and the growing shortage of ventilators, the Surgeon General states in the letter that it is acceptable for medical teams to begin “splitting” ventilators, meaning that they can use connector devices in order for a ventilator to be used on more than one patient simultaneously.

While there is no established data or method for this practice, Dr. Adams includes statements from both the CDC and FDA in this letter which allow treatment teams to weigh the risks and benefits and embark on ventilator sharing with impunity. If universally applied, this innovation could significantly augment the country’s current ventilator capacity.

Emerging Therapeutic Insights

A recent meta-analysis published in the Journal of Intensive Care examines the use of Vitamin C in critically ill patients who are receiving mechanical ventilation. The researchers found that in select patients, the addition of Vitamin C to the treatment plan reduced the duration of time that they were mechanically ventilated.

While the study authors note that more research is needed regarding the specific dosing of Vitamin C that is most effective, this may prove to be a useful therapy for critically ill patients suffering from COVID-19 who are in the intensive care unit on mechanical ventilation.

 The Impact of COVID-19 on Daily Life in the United States

  • The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is relaxing regulations for the use of telemedicine in order to help the U.S. health care system manage the surge of patients who have been impacted by the closure of outpatient clinics. This means that patients may be able to have a full visit with their health care provider from the comfort of their own home, reducing the risk of contracting the novel coronavirus in transit to and from a doctor’s office.
  • Twenty-five U.S. jurisdictions have now been categorized as having “widespread” transmission of the novel coronavirus, according to the CDC. The top states for reported coronavirus cases are New York, New Jersey, California, Michigan, Massachusetts and Florida.
  • Shelter-in-place restrictions and copious hand washing remain the mainstays of prevention and protection from the novel coronavirus.

Previously Updated: The below information was updated on April 1, 2020

Here’s the news you need to know today regarding the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Coronavirus Cases By The Numbers

As of the morning of April 1st, the number of global cases of COVID-19 had surpassed 874,000. The United States had reported more than 188,000 cases alone. In New York state, the case count topped 75,000, exceeding that of the original epicenter of the novel coronavirus, the Chinese province of Hubei.

Emerging Insights About the Novel Coronavirus

Though the cardinal symptoms of infection with the novel coronavirus have been described as fever, cough and shortness of breath, digestive symptoms may be more predominant than has been previously understood.

According to a recent study published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology, about half (50.5 percent) of study participants who presented to three hospitals in China were found to have gastrointestinal symptoms. These participants were randomly selected and all had positive COVID-19 diagnoses.

The gastrointestinal symptoms that were seen with COVID-19 included loss of appetite (78.6 percent), diarrhea (34 percent), vomiting (3.9 percent) and abdominal pain (1.9 percent). Even excluding the more ubiquitous viral symptom of appetite loss, researchers found that more than 18 percent of patients had classic digestive symptoms. Importantly, these patients tended to have more serious cases, implying that patients with digestive symptoms should be monitored more closely by health care providers for deterioration.

COVID-19 Diagnostic Developments

Many researchers and private companies are racing to harness the power of artificial intelligence (AI) in order to augment the fight against the novel coronavirus. Researchers at two institutions in New York, in partnership with two hospitals in China, published an algorithm in the computer science journal Computers, Materials and Continua (CMC). The algorithm seeks to identify the physiologic indicators that lead to a more severe prognosis with COVID-19, and it may, therefore, have the ability to predict which patients might require more life-sustaining resources, even before they become critically ill.

Other COVID-19 artificial intelligence initiatives range from wearable technologies that detect subtle physiologic changes in patients who have been diagnosed with COVID-19, to crowd-sourcing of audio recordings of coughs, in an effort to train AI to distinguish between a “non-COVID” and a “COVID” cough.

Impact on Daily Life in America

  • According to calculations conducted by The New York Times, more than 80 percent of Americans are now operating under “shelter in place” restrictions.
  • One of the most aggressive stay-at-home timelines was issued in Virginia, with Governor Ralph Northam advising residents that these stipulations will remain in place for 70 days, until June 10th.
  • The presidential administration is deliberating about whether or not to encourage the American people to wear face masks in public, once the mask supply has been augmented.

For more information on the COVID-19 disease, and how to keep yourself healthy, make sure to visit the CDC’s website.

Previous Updates: The below information was updated on March 31, 2020

The novel coronavirus has touched lives all across the nation and globe. Here’s what you need to know today about the COVID-19 pandemic.

Coronavirus Cases By The Numbers

As of the morning of March 31st, the number of global cases of COVID-19 had surpassed 800,000. The United States had reported more than 164,000 cases and had crossed a threshold of 3,000 deaths, with a fatality rate of 1.8 percent. This fatality rate is much lower than in countries that were hit by the virus earlier, such as Italy (fatality rate of 11.3 percent) and Spain (fatality rate of 8.8 percent). However, other countries, such as Germany (0.9 percent) and Singapore (0.3 percent) have demonstrated lower fatality rates despite the sustained presence of the virus.

Emerging Insights About the Novel Coronavirus

A new report released by the CDC illustrates how rapidly the novel coronavirus can spread, particularly within institutions such as long term care facilities. The report examines the case of an outbreak within a Seattle nursing home. One health care worker became ill with COVID-19, leading to widespread testing of nursing home residents.

Of those tested, which was nearly the entire nursing home population, 30.3 percent had a positive COVID-19 test result. However, of those who had a positive test result, about half were asymptomatic or presymptomatic (they would go on to later develop symptoms) at the time of the testing.

These findings may help explain the high transmission rate of the novel coronavirus; a person can have a high enough viral load to induce a positive test and still have no symptoms at the time of testing.

The virus can therefore likely be spread by people who are unaware that they are carriers. Not only does this insight about the virus mandate extreme precautions among those who work in a health care setting, or reside in an institution, it also reinforces the importance of the social distancing measures that have been put into place by governments worldwide.

COVID-19 Diagnostic Developments

A new point-of-care test for the novel coronavirus, created by the health care company Abbott, has been authorized by the FDA for emergency use. This test represents the fastest available option on the market, with the ability to yield test results within five minutes. This innovation could significantly impact decision-making for health care providers, many of whom have been making presumptive diagnoses of COVID-19 disease without objective data, due to a lack of quick testing turn around and low testing availability.

The company has announced that it will be able to produce and deliver 50,000 of these tests per day, starting as early as next week.

Impact on Daily Life for Americans

On March 18th, the presidential administration signed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). The act applies to companies with fewer than 500 employees and it goes into effect tomorrow, April 1st. It mandates that employers provide paid sick leave for up to 10 days at the regular rate for employees who are off of work due to COVID-19 illness or quarantine. Employees who must be off of work taking care of a family member with COVID-19, or because of another COVID-19 related concern (i.e. daycare closure), are also entitled to paid leave at 2/3 of their normal rate.

How to Learn More

New information about the novel coronavirus, and the scientific innovation that is racing to combat it, emerge every day. For more information on the COVID-19 disease, and how to keep yourself healthy, make sure to visit the CDC’s website.

Previous Updates: The below information was updated on March 30, 2020

It has officially been two months since the World Health Organization declared the emerging novel coronavirus a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). Since that time, the infection has spread across the globe, impacting communities of all sizes and wreaking havoc on health care, economic and social institutions.

Read on for what you need to know about the COVID-19 pandemic today.

Coronavirus Cases By The Numbers

As of the morning of March 30th, the number of global cases of COVID-19 had surpassed 735,000. The United States had reported 143,000 cases. Nearly 34,000 of the U.S. cases were in New York City alone, and the state of New York saw its 1,000th death. Italy’s case count was nearing 98,000, and Italy’s death toll had surpassed 10,000, accounting for nearly one-third of COVID-19 related deaths worldwide.

In a press interview on Sunday, March 29th, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the Director of the National Institute on Allergy and Infectious Diseases, cautioned that the number of U.S. cases of COVID-19 could rise to the millions, and that deaths could range from 100,000 to 200,000 Americans.

Emerging Therapeutic Insights

The FDA has approved the use of a type of blood therapy for the treatment of patients who are critically ill with COVID-19. This therapy, known as a “convalescent plasma transfusion,” involves taking blood donations from patients who have mounted a successful immune response against COVID-19 and transfusing this blood into patients who are still actively fighting the disease. This type of therapy, though relatively rudimentary, has previously been used to fight other infectious diseases.

On March 28, the FDA issued an EUA (emergency use authorization), allowing hydroxychloroquine sulfate and chloroquine phosphate products to be used for specific patients who are hospitalized due to COVID-19.

COVID-19 Diagnostic Insights

Despite a dearth of available testing for acute cases of novel coronavirus, epidemiologists may soon be able to paint a better picture of who has had a mild, or even asymptomatic, case of COVID-19 and made a full recovery. A blood test that measures the antibodies that the body’s immune system has produced in response to encountering and fighting the novel coronavirus virus may be able to better elucidate just how widespread the virus has been, retroactively.

Researchers hope that this type of serologic testing may enable those who have a demonstrated immunity to the virus to return to work, possibly relieving communities of the severe economic burden imposed by mass self-isolation.

The Impact of COVID-19 on Daily Life Around the World

  • Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister of the U.K., announced on March 27th that he had tested positive for the novel coronavirus. He noted that his symptoms have been mild and that he has been self-isolating at home.
  • On Saturday, March 28th, the CDC cautioned residents of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut against non-essential domestic travel for the next 14 days.
  • On Sunday, March 29th, the U.S. presidential administration extended its social distancing guidelines to April 30, 2020, noting that its earlier hope of loosening guidelines by Easter would be premature.

For more information on the COVID-19 disease, and how to keep yourself healthy, make sure to visit the CDC’s website.

Previous Updates: The following information was updated on March 27, 2020

When it comes to the COVID-19 pandemic, it can be difficult to keep up with the rapid pace of changing information and news updates. Read on for what you need to know today.

Coronavirus Cases By the Numbers

As of the morning of Friday, March 27th, 2020, the global COVID-19 case count has surpassed 550,000. The United States has assumed the status as the nation with the highest number of reported cases of the COVID-19 disease, at 84,000.

The state of Louisiana, which is currently reporting more than 2,300 COVID-19 cases, has seen the fastest spread of COVID-19 of anywhere in the world, according to data gathered by an economics researcher at the University of Louisiana. This has been attributed to the mass gatherings that occurred on and around Mardi Gras, which was February 25th, 2020.

Emerging Insights about the Novel Coronavirus

Guidance issued in the medical journal Hypertension encourages patients with high blood pressure to continue taking their prescribed antihypertensive medications, such as ACE-inhibitors and angiotensin-receptor blockers (ARBs), despite the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Previous discussion had called into question the risk of these medications, as the virus seems to interact with the body’s renin-angiotensin system, which is the target of these medications. However, researchers thus far have found no increased risk of COVID-19 disease in people taking this medication class compared to those who take different antihypertensive medications.

If you are currently taking an antihypertensive medication to control your blood pressure, make sure to check in with your health care provider to ensure that you have an adequate supply. If your health care provider prescribes you more prescription medication, you can use RxSaver to find prescription coupons on your medication at nearby pharmacies.

Therapeutic Insights

When someone has contracted the COVID-19 disease and then recovered from the virus, it means that their immune system has mounted a successful response and it has produced virus-specific antibodies. Researchers have previously harnessed these antibodies to treat other human diseases, and COVID-19 is proving to be no exception. Antibody therapies for COVID-19 are currently in full swing, with one firm, Vir Technology, reporting that two of its antibody therapies appear to neutralize the SARS-CoV-2 virus. These antibodies, and others, may be able to enter human testing in as early as a few months.

The Impact of COVID-19 on Daily Life

The following news is affecting Americans today:

  • The Senate has unanimously approved a $2-trillion stimulus package, which is the largest economic stimulus that has ever been proposed. This deal will be considered by the House today, March 27th, and, if passed, will go to the president’s desk to be signed.
  • According to a report released by the Department of Labor, jobless claims in the U.S. exceeded 3.28 million last week, which represents a record number of unemployment claims in this country. The previous record high for unemployment filings was 695,000, which was reported in October of 1982.

For more information on the COVID-19 disease, make sure to visit the CDC’s website.

Previous Updates: The below information was updated on March 26, 2020

When it comes to the COVID-19 pandemic, it can be difficult to keep up with the rapid pace of changing information and news updates. Read on for what you need to know today.

Coronavirus Cases By the Numbers

As of the evening of Wednesday, March 25th, 2020, the global COVID-19 case count has surpassed 470,000. In the United States, there have been 66,000 reported cases of the COVID-19 disease, which represents a doubling of reported cases in the past 72 hours. On Wednesday evening, the U.S. reported more than 200 COVID-19 related deaths in a single day, its highest thus far.

The epicenter of the outbreak in the United States continues to be the state of New York, which claims more than 30,000 of these 66,000 cases, nearly 18,000 of which are in New York City alone.

Emerging Insights about the Novel Coronavirus

A study published yesterday in the JAMA Cardiology medical journal examines the impact of COVID-19 disease on the heart. The study’s authors examined more than 400 patients at a hospital in Wuhan, China, from January 20, 2020 to February 10, 2020, and found that cardiac injury associated with a novel coronavirus infection was correlated with mortality rate. Cardiac injury was found to be present in 19.7 percent of patients who were diagnosed with COVID-19 disease; mortality in those with cardiac damage was 51.2 percent, compared to 4.5 percent of patients without cardiac injury.

This study highlights the importance of early assessment of cardiac factors in patients who are diagnosed with COVID-19 disease, as early detection of cardiac problems could save more lives. It also emphasizes the importance of self-protection and strict isolation principles for those who already have pre-existing heart conditions, as they may be more vulnerable to the COVID-19 disease.

The Impact of COVID-19 on Daily Life

The following news is affecting Americans today:

  • The Senate is preparing to vote on a $2-trillion stimulus package, which is the largest economic stimulus that has ever been proposed. This would include a $1,200 check to most Americans, as well as support for struggling businesses and more resources for hospitals.
  • New guidance issued from the presidential administration advises that anyone who is traveling from New York should self-quarantine for at least 14 days after they leave the state.

For many, this is a time of much uncertainty, and it can be hard to pin down the precise emotions at play. The Harvard Business Review describes this phenomenon in a recent article, and gives guidance for how to manage the stress associated with the novel coronavirus outbreak

RxSaver rounded up 10 free resources for mental health needs and how to talk about COVID-19 with your family.

For more information on the COVID-19 disease, make sure to visit the CDC’s website.

Previous Updates: The below information was published on March 25, 2020

When it comes to recent developments surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, here’s what you need to know today.

Coronavirus Cases By the Numbers

As of the evening of March 24th, the global COVID-19 case count has surpassed 420,000 and the global death count is approaching 20,000. Cases of the COVID-19 disease have surpassed 55,000 in the United States.

Emerging Insights about the Novel Coronavirus

Scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have added some evidence to the widely-circulated speculation that the novel coronavirus may have a seasonality. Many have expressed hope that viral transmission may decrease as summer approaches, similar to the pattern seen with other respiratory viruses, such as influenza.

The researchers analyzed climate data in various geographic regions impacted by the virus between January and March of this year and found that the virus seemed to spread faster in climates with average temperatures between 37 and 62 degrees Fahrenheit, and absolute humidity between 4 and 9 g/m^3. This may explain why, though cases are still occurring in hot and humid locations such as Singapore, the spread has been at a slower pace than in countries in northern Europe and North America.

Therapeutic Advances

The FDA has approved a clinical trial proposed by drug maker Genentech. This randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial intends to investigate the safety of Actemra (tocilizumab) in the treatment of severe COVID-19 pneumonia. Actemra is an interleukin-6 inhibitor that has been used to treat severe forms of rheumatoid arthritis. This medication might help suppress the inflammatory storm that seems to be at the root of severe COVID-19 disease.

The Impact of COVID-19

A recent report published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) compared case fatality rates of the COVID-19 disease in China and Italy, the two nations with the highest confirmed case counts. The fatality rate in Italy was found to be significantly higher, at 7.3 percent, compared to a fatality rate of 2.3 percent in China. The report’s authors suggest that this may be because of the demographics of the nation of Italy, as it has a higher percentage of older people who are more susceptible to the virus. The majority of case fatalities were in older, Italian men with multiple comorbidities.

While sobering, this report reaffirms the necessity of the imposed shelter-in-place restrictions that are being enforced by countries across the globe. These measures can reduce the spread of the virus, thereby protecting the world’s most vulnerable populations.

News From Around The Globe

India, the world’s second-most populated nation, will be undergoing a 21-day national lockdown, as mandated by Prime Minister Modi.

For more information on COVID-19, make sure to visit the CDC’s website.

Previous Updates: The below information was published on March 24, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has altered daily reality for citizens across the globe. Read on for what you need to know today about recent developments.

Coronavirus Cases By the Numbers

According to remarks made in a press briefing by the World Health Organization Director-General on Monday, March 23rd, the pandemic is accelerating: “It took 67 days from the first reported case to reach the first 100,000 cases, 11 days for the second 100,000 cases and just 4 days for the third 100,000 cases.” However, this insight was coupled with the reassurance that the global community is not a helpless bystander; it is capable of curbing the spread of the virus.

The global case count is approaching 380,000 and the global death count is more than 16,000. However, more than 100,000 people have recovered from the COVID-19 disease.

Emerging Insights

Health experts report that one of the initial signs of infection with the novel coronavirus may be a loss of sense of smell, known as anosmia. Although this information is anecdotal and has not made it onto official symptom lists published by major health organizations, it may be worthwhile to pay attention to this symptom should it occur.

Drug Shortages

As many hospitals start to see more cases of COVID-19, medications that are used to help manage other health conditions may fall into short supply. One particular medication, albuterol, is predicted to be in high demand.

If you use albuterol for a chronic condition, make sure to check in with your medical provider to ensure that you are up to date on your prescription and have the resources you need. You can also check out these recommendations by the American College of Asthma, Allergy and Immunology.

If your health care provider prescribes a refill of albuterol, you can use RxSaver to save up to 85 percent at the pharmacy.

Impact on Daily Life

The presidential administration is weighing plans to send relief funds to many Americans to help offset lost wages. The Federal Reserve vowed to take aggressive actions to mitigate the economic fallout from COVID-19. An official of the International Olympic Committee announced that the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo will be postponed.

It is estimated that nearly one-third of Americans are now in a state of relative lockdown, “sheltering in place.” If you are stuck at home, it can be tempting to give undue attention to any physical symptom that you experience throughout the day. It is hard not to fixate on whether or not a sniffle or sneeze could be a sign of COVID-19. Fear not; you can use this handy tracker to assess yourself and get some peace of mind.

For more information on COVID-19, make sure to visit the CDC’s website.

A few examples of social distancing measures that are being undertaken include:

  • Companies are instituting work-from-home policies
  • Citizens are encouraged to reduce non-essential travel
  • Public gatherings and events are being canceled on a wide scale
  • Schools and universities are announcing extended spring breaks and closures
  • Businesses are introducing periods of closure or reduced hours
  • The CDC has recommended postponing or canceling gatherings of 50 or more people for the next 8 weeks.

Coronavirus and Travel

The Trump administration announced a travel ban on Europe, excluding the UK, on March 11th. The administration extended the ban to include the U.K and Ireland on March 14th. Domestic air travel within the U.S. is still sanctioned; however, the CDC advises that “older adults and people of any age with serious chronic medical conditions are at increased risk for severe disease and should consider postponing nonessential travel.”

Testing Capabilities in the U.S. Will Increase

Testing for the novel coronavirus has been limited in the U.S. thus far. On March 13th, the Trump administration announced a partnership with business leads in the private sector to increase COVID-19 screening and testing availability. Verily, formerly Google Life Sciences, will roll out its pilot website to California consumers early this week.

For more information on COVID-19, and to monitor the spread of COVID-19 within the United States, visit the CDC’s website.

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Previous Updates: The below information was published on March 10, 2020

The global COVID-19 case count has surpassed 110,00. More cases of the COVID-19 disease have been reported in the United States this past week, with 35 states reporting at least one case, and the total number in the U.S. rising above 600, as of the evening of March 9th.

Here’s what you need to know this week.

COVID-19 Disproportionately Affects the Elderly and Chronically Ill

A particular COVD-19 outbreak in a nursing home in Seattle cast light on the vulnerability of the elderly and those with chronic health conditions when it comes to the novel coronavirus. In fact, the CDC has recently recommended that older adults and those with chronic medical conditions check in with their medical providers about getting access to extra prescription medications, the event that they are stuck at home or quarantined.

If a health care provider prescribes you or a loved one extra medication, make sure to use RxSaver to find drug coupons for the lowest prices at the pharmacy. If your insurance coverage does not cover more than one fill a month, RxSaver can help.

COVID-19 Seems to Largely Spare Children

For unknown reasons, the virus does not seem to affect younger people with nearly as much force. The number of pediatric COVID-19 cases has been very low, with only 2.4% of cases in China affecting children under the age of 18.

The COVID-19 Mortality Rate is Being Questioned

In a briefing on March 5th, the director of the World Health Organization (WHO) described the COVID-19 mortality rate as being 3.4%; of the 95,265 reported cases, there have been 3281 deaths.

However, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the NIH National Institute Of Allergy And Infectious Diseases, believes the mortality rate may be lower. In a commentary on a recent Chinese study of COVID-19 epidemiology, he stated the following:

“If one assumes that the number of asymptomatic or minimally symptomatic cases is several times as high as the number of reported cases, the case fatality rate may be considerably less than 1%. This suggests that the overall clinical consequences of Covid-19 may ultimately be more akin to those of a severe seasonal influenza (which has a case fatality rate of approximately 0.1%) or a pandemic influenza (similar to those in 1957 and 1968) rather than a disease similar to SARS or MERS, which have had case fatality rates of 9 to 10% and 36%, respectively.”

The Question of Seasonality in the COVID-19 Outbreak Has Been Raised

Though coronaviruses, as a family, are not related to influenza viruses, some scientists have still questioned whether the novel coronavirus may behave like influenza, slowing down and lessening in its fierceness as the weather warms.

Scientists are generally unclear about whether this will be the case for COVID-19. Some evidence that points away from that possibility is the fact that COVID-19 cases are still springing up in tropical places like Singapore, despite persistently hot, humid temperatures. As warmer weather approaches, we will just have to wait and see how this new virus behaves.

The Race Is On In The Development of COVID-19 Treatments and Vaccines

Many companies have thrown their biopharmaceutical hats into the ring when it comes to creating novel therapies to help attenuate the impact of the novel coronavirus. You can see a complete listing of current drugs and vaccines that are in development here.

The therapy that appears to be furthest along is Remdesivir, a medication that has already been used in intravenous form to treat a patient in the U.S. who was diagnosed with COVID-19.

For more information on COVID-19, and to monitor the spread of COVID-19 within the United States, visit the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) country-specific page.

As the novel coronavirus continues to spread across the globe, it is easy to become panicked about what this means for your daily reality. Read on to learn about the most recent developments about the virus and what you can do to protect yourself.

The Virus Has a New Name

When news of a viral outbreak originating from Wuhan City, China first broke in early January, public health officials referred to the disease as the 2019 Novel Coronavirus, or 2019-nCov. On February 11th, 2020, public health officials announced a new name for the novel coronavirus disease, COVID-19. The new coronavirus that causes this disease is now being referred to as the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

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The Virus Has Spread Beyond China

Cases of COVID-19 have now been reported in 60 countries. While the grand majority of reported cases and deaths from the disease have been in China, cases are being reported in new locations daily. Countries with the largest clusters of disease activity outside of China currently include Japan, South Korea, Iran, and Italy.

You can monitor the spread at the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) situation summary page.

The Virus Is Emerging Without a Link to Travel History

While most COVID-19 cases have been linked to travel history to an infected location, in the U.S. we are beginning to see cases emerge where there is no apparent connection with travel, the first of which was in California. This may be occurring because the disease appears to be able to transmit from asymptomatic persons. The CDC predicts that more cases like this will be detected in the short term, and public health officials encourage all Americans to be prepared for the possibility of an outbreak in their community.

Treatment Drugs and Vaccines are Currently in Development

As communities brace themselves for the possibility that COVID-19 may not be contained and may take a permanent foothold in our global panoply of infectious diseases, many scientists have an active eye toward therapies. The National Institutes of Health has already begun enrolling participants for a clinical trial involving an antiviral medication, Remdesivir. This medication has previously been tested in humans with the Ebola virus, and it has shown some success against MERS and SARS, which are diseases also caused by coronaviruses.

If Remdesivir appears to be beneficial in the treatment of COVID-19, it may become more widely available. In the event of an outbreak of COVID-19 in your community, it is important to be prepared and to know your resources. Many antiviral medications can be expensive, so make sure to use RxSaver to save up to 85 percent at the pharmacy.

You Can Take Immediate Steps to Protect Yourself

Even if COVID-19 becomes more widespread in our country, you still have control over your risk of personal exposure. The principles of self-protection from COVID-19 are identical to those of protecting yourself from influenza and the common cold.

The CDC recommends the following simple steps to protect yourself and others from getting sick:

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds at a time
  • Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands
  • Stay home when you are sick and avoid others who are sick
  • Wear a mask if you have symptoms of coughing or sneezing to prevent the spread of infection

Although the COVID-19 outbreak represents a growing public health threat, officials at the CDC provide this reassuring statement in their most recent update about the novel coronavirus: “For the general American public, who are unlikely to be exposed to this virus at this time, the immediate health risk from COVID-19 is considered low.”

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Previous Updates: The below information was published on March 3, 2020

What Is a Coronavirus?

As a family of viruses, many coronavirus strains are ubiquitous and commonly detected within the American health care system. When most healthy people contract a coronavirus, they experience a minor illness, usually with upper respiratory symptoms, similar to the common cold.

However, a new strain of the virus, called the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCov), originated in Wuhan City, China, in December 2019. It is thought to have passed to humans from an animal species, likely a bat. This is the coronavirus that is garnering the recent attention.

Why Is Coronavirus Causing Widespread Concern?

To date, 2019-nCov is reported to have infected more than 20,000 people in 27 countries and caused more than 400 fatalities. This series of events has sparked global worry because it is reminiscent of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak in 2003, which was also caused by a coronavirus strain. Although the 2019-nCov has actually caused more deaths than the SARS epidemic, the mortality rate is thought to be lower than SARS, meaning that a greater number of people have also recovered from this novel coronavirus.

2019-nCov Causes a Lower Respiratory Tract Illness

The symptoms of the novel coronavirus include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. It is thought that symptoms can appear between 2 and 14 days of transmission. Although many people have been recovering well from the coronavirus, like any virus, it can be more dangerous in the very young and very old, and in people who have comorbidities, such as lung or heart disease, or immunosuppression. In more serious cases, it can cause very serious lung infection and respiratory failure.

Coronavirus Can Spread from Person to Person

Similar to other respiratory viruses, such as influenza, it is thought that 2019-nCOV can spread via respiratory droplets. This happens when an infected person coughs or sneezes, and then another person inhales the resulting respiratory droplets, introducing the virus into their mouth, nose, or lungs. The virus may be able to be passed from an infected person who does not have any symptoms, according to a case report in the New England Journal of Medicine.

How Coronavirus Is Treated

To date, no specific medication can treat the novel coronavirus. Likewise, there is no coronavirus vaccine to prevent the disease. However, just like in cases of other respiratory illnesses, health care professionals are using supportive care to help people who have fallen ill.

Your Risk Is Low if You Have Not Traveled to China

According to the Centers for Disease  Control and Prevention (CDC), “For the general American public, who are unlikely to be exposed to this virus, the immediate health risk from 2019-nCoV is considered low at this time.” Only 11 people thus far have been infected with the coronavirus in the United States, and various restrictions are in place to prevent the spread within the country. In contrast, influenza, or the flu virus, has caused 19 million infections in the United States and 10,000 deaths.

A Lot Is Unknown about Coronavirus

As much as it seems like we know about the virus, a lot is still unknown. This is why very restrictive quarantines and travel bans have been implemented.

On January 30, 2020, the World Health Organization designated the 2019-nCOV outbreak as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC), which is meant to mobilize teams throughout the globe to help fight the spread of the disease. Using an abundance of caution in this fashion can prevent the virus from ever taking a foothold across the globe.

What to Do if You Are Worried You May Be at Risk

If you are worried that you may have come into contact with someone who has a documented novel coronavirus, or you have a fever and respiratory symptoms after traveling from China, contact your health care provider immediately.

For the grand majority of Americans, these conditions will not apply. You can lower your risk of contracting the novel coronavirus, and other viruses such as influenza, by routinely washing your hands, keeping your distance from someone who is coughing, and refraining from touching your face or mouth after touching public surfaces.

Ultimately, if you live in the United States, your risk of contracting influenza is much higher than your risk of contracting coronavirus. You can visit the CDC’s website for updates on both illnesses.

Libby Pellegrini, MMS, PA-C

Libby Pellegrini, MMS, PA-C

Libby Pellegrini, MMS, PA-C, is a nationally certified physician assistant. She currently works in emergency medicine where she sees and treats a broad spectrum of illnesses across all age ranges. She holds a journalism degree from Northwestern University.

The information on this site is generalized and is not medical advice. It is intended to supplement, not substitute for, the expertise and judgment of your healthcare professional. Always seek the advice of your healthcare professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard seeking advice or delay in seeking treatment because of something you have read on our site. RxSaver makes no warranty as to the accuracy, reliability or completeness of this information.

If you are in crisis or you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately.

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