National Coronavirus Update: April 26th
As of April 26th, the total number of COVID-19 cases in the United States was over 963,000. The death toll in the U.S alone has surpassed 54,000 people. This puts the U.S at roughly a 5.6% mortality rate, which is well above the estimated rate of 2-4%. However, this jump in mortality rates could be in part due to increased testing capabilities. The FDA has recently added three new antibody tests, which now brings the total number of coronavirus tests to seven.
A hospital in New York is studying a new drug to treat the virus. The drug under study was previously used as a heartburn drug, but doctors observed that patients on the drug seemed to fare better in fighting the virus than patients not on the drug. Doctors are currently using high doses of the over-the-counter drug to treat their patients and see if it can combat the virus. These patients are receiving the drug intravenously rather than orally at a dosage around 9 times higher than the oral drug. The clinical trial started April 7th and currently has 187 patients. Scientists are hoping to increase the trial to 1200 people in the near future. The trial could have preliminary results in three weeks.
In other news, California residents are disobeying the stay at home order after a heat wave drew throngs of people to the beaches, rivers, and trails. There were tens of thousands of people at Newport Beach alone. People compared the massive crowds of people to crowds associated with Fourth of July celebrations. Lifeguards attempting their duty at protecting people did what they could and reminded beach goers to practice social distancing. Huntington Beach also saw large numbers of people despite the closing of parking lots and parking meters. Officials in the state warned their constituents that disobeying the stay at home order could reverse their progress and bring the coronavirus back in full force.
Besides people disobeying social distancing protocol, there are also people preying on vulnerabilities introduced by the coronavirus. The Senate Majority Leader, Chuck Schumer, called for a crackdown on fake coronavirus tests. He said he would send a letter to the FDA to increase policing of tests sold online, publically announce which tests have been approved, and issue cease and desist orders to every company selling fake tests online. He warned that fake tests could cause the recovery from the coronavirus to take much longer because it could cause false positives and negatives.
Several states in the U.S. have decided to reopen despite the cases in the nation climbing to 1 million. Colorado, Minnesota, and Montana plan to ease social distancing and stay at home orders. These decisions go against a study that stated that no state should open up prior to May 1st due to the current degree of presence of the virus in the United States. The study also pointed out that many states should not reopen even after May 1st, but many have already started the process of reopening. Hawaii and Florida have relaxed beach restrictions. Texas allowed retail stores, landscapers, plant nurseries, and bike repair shops to reopen provided they follow social distancing guidelines. Alaska has also allowed several hair salons and restaurants to reopen. Georgia and Oklahoma are also allowing some businesses to reopen and easing their guidelines. Despite the action of governors, mayors in many states are urging their citizens to stay home.
The director of the national institute of allergy and infectious diseases recommended that the testing for the virus double. Right now there is more policy in place to curb the virus rather than to test it, which is expected to be a problem in the future. With governors deciding to open up their states, more outbreaks are inevitable, so more testing needs to be available as well since more testing will allow identification, isolation, and contact tracing during this time.
Finally, the WHO warns about a second coronavirus wave. Right now, there is not enough evidence to suggest that people who have had the coronavirus already are immune to it. Because of this, a vaccine is crucial.