- The new coronavirus disease outbreak, initially identified in China, is continuing to grow more than 3 months after it was first detected in December.
- More than 135,000 people have contracted the virus. Over 4,900 deaths have resulted from the disease.
- The disease is called COVID-19 and is caused by infection from the new coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, which is one of multiple coronaviruses that can infect humans.
- Other examples include SARS, MERS, and even the common cold.
The spread of the new disease COVID-19 has started to take a toll in the United States in both large and small ways.
President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden both took the opportunity to explain what they believe are the most effective actions we can take against the current COVID-19 crisis.
In only the second Oval Office address of Mr. Trump’s presidency, he laid out his plan to deal with the health crisis currently facing the United States, one facet of which is restricting international travel.
“To keep new cases from entering our shores, we will be suspending all travel from Europe to the United States for the next 30 days. The new rules will go into effect Friday at midnight. These restrictions will be adjusted subject to conditions on the ground,” said Trump during his address.
Some exemptions may be made for Americans or permanent residents who undergo screening before they return.
Former Vice President Joe Biden, in his own speech on the pandemic emphasized the universal nature of the risk COVID-19 presents.
“This disease could impact every nation and any person on the planet, we need a plan about how we’re going to aggressively manage here at home,” said Biden. He also forcefully disagreed that restricting travel is an effective method of containing the virus.
The Former Vice President also derided the Administration for a shortage of coronavirus testing kits, and insisted, “The White House should measure and report each day how many tests have been ordered, how many tests have been completed, and how many have tested positive.”
The NBA has suspended the rest of the season after a player on the Utah Jazz tested positive for the virus. Players on five other teams the Jazz played in recent days will also need to be quarantined.
This morning, team officials announced a second player on the team had tested positive for the virus.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a ban on gatherings of 500 people, which effectively means all shows on Broadway will be canceled.
This afternoon the President of the NCAA announced that the iconic March Madness basketball tournament will be canceled.
Actor Tom Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson announced they have contracted the novel coronavirus. They were in Australia, where Hanks is shooting a movie when they started to develop symptoms.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has officially declared COVID-19 a worldwide pandemic.
Cases of the disease have topped 135,000 in less than 3 months. More than 4,900 people have died from the disease globally. U.S. cases have now topped 1,500 with 39 deaths, according to the New York Times.
Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus, the director-general of the WHO, pointed out that cases outside of China have increased “13-fold” in just 2 weeks.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said in a congressional hearing Mar. 11 that Americans should be prepared for the outbreak to get worse in the coming days and weeks.
“We have got to assume it is going to get worse and worse and worse,” he said according to the New York Times.
He continued, “We cannot look at it and say, ‘Well, there are only a couple of cases here, that’s good.’ Because a couple of cases today are going to [be] many, many cases tomorrow.”
A new study examined 9 people with the new coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2. The researchers wanted to understand virus shedding (when the virus leaves its host) during illness to determine how infectious the disease may be.
Conducted by German researchers, though not yet peer-reviewed, the findings suggest that viral shedding occurred in high levels from the throat during early phases of illness for the patients studied.
However, the rate of shedding dropped after the fifth day in all patients except for two experiencing signs of pneumonia. They continued to shed COVID-19 at high levels until the 10th or 11th day, according to researchers.
“The present study shows that COVID-19 can often present as a common cold-like illness. SARS-CoV-2 can actively replicate in the upper respiratory tract, and is shed for a prolonged time after symptoms end, including in stool,” the study authors wrote.
Scientists also found that people with COVID-19 may shed over 1,000 times more virus than emitted during peak shedding of the 2003 SARS infection. They say this could explain why COVID-19 has spread so rapidly.
As the outbreak continues, New Jersey has declared the first death in that state from COVID-19, a 69-year-old man from Bergen County, according to NBC News.
In Massachusetts, the total number of confirmed cases has risen to 92, according to Mar. 10 figures from that state’s Department of Public Health.
Governor Andrew Cuomo has called in the national guard to assist with the creation of a containment zone in the town of New Rochelle, New York where the state’s outbreak has been located.
Large gatherings and schools will be barred in the town, which is north of New York City. The national guard will be used to help with cleaning public spaces and ensuring everyone has access to food.
Researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health analyzed publicly available data to find COVID-19 has roughly a 5-day incubation period from exposure to onset of symptoms.
Researchers said this average time from exposure to onset of symptoms suggests that the CDC’s 14-day quarantine period for people who were likely exposed to the virus is reasonable.
“Based on our analysis of publicly available data, the current recommendation of 14 days for active monitoring or quarantine is reasonable, although with that period some cases would be missed over the long-term,” said senior study author Justin Lessler, PhD, associate professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, in a statement.
Another recent study from Sun Yat-sen University in China has discovered that SARS-CoV-2 may have an ideal temperature at which it spreads most easily.
Researchers analyzed the cumulative number of all confirmed cases in all affected cities and regions from Jan. 20 to Feb. 4, 2020. Their findings suggest it spreads most easily at about 48°F (8.89°C).
“The study found that, to certain extent, temperature could significant[ly] change COVID-19 transmission, and there might be a best temperature for the viral transmission, which may partly explain why it first broke out in Wuhan,” wrote the study authors. “It is suggested that countries and regions with a lower temperature in the world adopt the strictest control measures to prevent future reversal.”
The CDC now estimates that over the next year, many people in the United States will be exposed to SARS-CoV-2. However, most won’t be severely affected.
“It’s fair to say that, as the trajectory of the outbreak continues, many people in the United States will at some point in time, either this year or next, be exposed to this virus. And there’s a good chance many will become sick,” Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD), said in a
“But again, based on what we know about this virus, we do not expect most people to develop serious illness,” Messonnier added.
Messionnier also warned that people who are at high risk, including people older than 60 or those with underlying health conditions, should start to prepare for the outbreak by stocking up on supplies in case they get sick or don’t want to venture out in the community for groceries.
In Italy, where cases of COVID-19 have soared in recent weeks, the government is effectively locking down the country.
The prime minister of Italy declared that virtually all commerce will be banned except for grocery stores and pharmacies.
Recently, Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus called on countries to make fighting the disease their “highest priority.”
A cruise ship that’s been held off the coast of California after passengers tested positive for the virus was finally able to dock this week.
The ship docked at the Port of Oakland, but passengers and crew weren’t able to simply disembark.
Anyone with symptoms of COVID-19 will be taken to a healthcare facility. Everyone else on board will have to spend 14 days quarantined in a federally run facility.
The crew will remain on board for 14 days for their quarantine.
At least 21 passengers or crew members tested positive for SARS-CoV-2.
“The City of Oakland, Alameda County, and the Port of Oakland are stepping up in a major way, and their residents deserve universal praise. They are showing the world what makes our state great — coming to the rescue of thousands of people trapped aboard this ship and helping tackle a national emergency,” California Governor Gavin Newsom said in a statement.
Health officials in Placer County, California, said the first person to die from the virus in California had likely contracted the virus while on the cruise ship from San Francisco to Mexico. The person was an older adult with underlying health conditions.
With increasing numbers of people reporting symptoms of COVID-19 across the country, local health departments are warning they don’t have enough testing kits.
This month, a letter from Dr. Raul Perea-Henze, the deputy mayor of health and human services in New York, reported the city was given just two test kits.
“New York City must receive additional testing kits as soon as they are available from the CDC,” Perea-Henze wrote. “With multiple positive cases, NYC needs maximum testing capacity to enable successful implementation of the public health strategies that best protect New Yorkers. The slow federal action on this matter has impeded our ability to beat back this epidemic.”
After initial test kits sent by the CDC were delayed in February, the federal government has come under increased pressure to provide test kits in order to gauge the extent of the outbreak in the United States.
Vice President Mike Pence said that testing would be more widely available to Americans over the coming weeks, according to The New York Times.
But he also said, “We don’t have enough tests today to meet what we anticipate will be the demand going forward.”
A survey by the union that represents nurses, National Nurses United, found a significant portion of nurses say they feel hospitals are unprepared for a major outbreak of the new coronavirus.
The survey included responses by 6,500 nurses in 48 states. It found a significant number of them don’t have clear information about how to handle patients who may be suspected of having SARS-CoV-2.
But nearly a quarter said they’re not sure if there’s a plan to isolate patients with COVID-19 symptoms. Just under 30 percent report they know there’s a plan to isolate patients with symptoms of COVID-19.
Additionally, access to medical supplies is becoming an issue. Only 63 percent of nurses report having access to the N95 respirator face mask in their workplace.
In addition to the survey, during a press conference, a statement was read from a nurse in California who cared for a patient with COVID-19.
The unnamed nurse reported they developed symptoms of COVID-19 but haven’t been tested yet despite both their doctor and county health officials wanting them to be tested.
According to their statement, the CDC determined that because they were wearing protective gear while caring for the patient, they weren’t able to contract the virus.
“What kind of science-based answer is that?” questioned the registered nurse in her statement released by the union.
She continued: “[The CDC] claim[s] they prioritize running samples by illness severity and that there are only so many to give out each day. So I have to wait in line to find out the results. This is not the ticket dispenser at the deli counter; it’s a public health emergency! I am a registered nurse, and I need to know if I am positive before going back to caring for patients.”
“I am appalled at the level of bureaucracy that’s preventing nurses from getting tested,” she said. “That is a healthcare decision my doctor and my county health department agree with. Delaying this test puts the whole community at risk.”
Public health experts have advised people to stop touching their face to cut down on your risk of contracting the new coronavirus. But that’s easier said than done.
We talked to experts who told us how we can train ourselves to avoid touching our face constantly. More information can be found here.
“The State of California is deploying every level of government to help identify cases and slow the spread of this coronavirus,” said Governor Gavin Newsom. “This emergency proclamation will help the state further prepare our communities and our healthcare system in the event it spreads more broadly.”
Health officials have been trying to stop the virus from spreading widely in the United States, but multiple cases of unknown origin have been detected across the country.
The federal government recently passed an $8.3 billion aid bill to provide funds to help fight the outbreak.
A new summary found that one way to slow the disease may be by simply getting a thorough travel history from patients.
More than 127,000 people have contracted the virus first detected in December.
While first seen in China, now the disease has been found to be spreading in over 124 countries.
Over 4,700 people have died from the virus globally.
More people have died from this new coronavirus in 3 months than in the entire duration of the 2003 SARS outbreak.
However, the overall death rate is still much lower for this virus (around 2–3 percent) than the SARS virus (around 10 percent).
Other updates on the outbreak can be found here.
In a press briefing, officials from the WHO said the fatality rate for COVID-19 may be higher than previously realized.
Ghebreyesus, the director-general of the WHO, said in a statement that SARS-CoV-2 doesn’t appear to spread as efficiently as the flu.
“This virus is not SARS, it’s not MERS, and it’s not influenza. It is a unique virus with unique characteristics,” he said.
But it may be more deadly.
“Globally, about 3.4 percent of reported COVID-19 cases have died,” he said. “By comparison, seasonal flu generally kills far fewer than 1 percent of those infected.”
He pointed out one reason for those different fatality rates is that there are vaccines and antiviral medications to help treat flu symptoms. But nothing yet for COVID-19.
Additionally, he said that according to evidence from China, only 1 percent of COVID-19 cases have no symptoms, and many people develop symptoms later on.
As the outbreak continues to spread, there are ways you can prepare. Among them is simply stocking up your medicine cabinet with over-the-counter cold and flu medications.
While they can’t cure the virus, they can help relieve symptoms of mild cases.
Researchers are studying how people with the virus shed it and what impact it’s having on affected populations.
One new study has found answers that many won’t find comforting.
Testing and confirmation of SARS-CoV-2 infection is currently carried out by oral swabs. But research published Feb. 17 in Emerging Microbes & Infections finds evidence that there’s an oral-fecal transmission route.
The scientists reported that viruses’ genetic material can be detected in both anal swabs and blood samples. Crucially, evidence of the new coronavirus was found in anal swabs and blood — even when it wasn’t detected using oral swabs.
According to the study, this was particularly true for those patients receiving supportive care for several days.
Although medical staff, people with illnesses, and older adults are most at risk, more than 80 percent of COVID-19 cases have been mild, according to a new report from the Chinese CDC.
Hubei province in China, where the infection is believed to have originated, is the hardest hit, according to the report.
The province’s death rate is almost 3 percent, compared with just under a half percent in the rest of the country.
One of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of illnesses like COVID-19 or the flu is simple: Encourage employees to stay home when they’re sick.
But since the United States doesn’t have a national paid sick leave policy, taking a sick day remains a financial sacrifice for 32 million workers who lack paid sick leave benefits.
Without paid sick leave, workers are more likely to come into work sick, exposing their co-workers to an illness. This means if SARS-CoV-2 starts spreading widely in the United States, it could be difficult to stop.
The WHO announced Feb. 11 in a tweet that the disease from this new coronavirus will now be called COVID-19. The virus itself is called SARS-CoV-2.
Previously, it had been called 2019nCoV, although many media outlets referred to the virus simply as coronavirus — even though that refers to a larger family of viruses.
Experts are still learning a lot about this new virus. But some have hoped that warmer weather will mean a drop in cases, similar to how flu season ends in the spring.
But medical experts warn it’s too soon to tell whether the SARS-CoV-2 outbreak will diminish this summer.
Because it’s a totally new virus, people lack immunity, so even in warm weather months it may still spread across the globe.
Since SARS-CoV-2 is so new, there’s currently no cure. But doctors have been able to use supportive care and other antivirals to try to help patients.
Early studies show some evidence that certain medications, including those that treat HIV, may help fight the virus.
What to Do If You Have Symptoms of COVID-19
If you have COVID-19 or suspect you have the virus that causes COVID-19, you should seek medical care.
If you have COVID-19 or suspect you have the virus that causes COVID-19, you should seek medical care.
You have several options for obtaining medical care, including being seen by your primary healthcare provider. The CDC recommends calling your provider first so that they can take the necessary steps to prepare for your visit and protect others from possible exposure to the virus that causes COVID-19.
Some healthcare providers also offer virtual visits through your smartphone or laptop, so you may not need to leave your home for an initial assessment.
If you don’t have a primary healthcare provider, you can use this tool to find a local primary care office in your area.
If you have a medical emergency, call 911. Notify the operator that you have COVID-19 or suspect exposure to the virus that causes it. If possible, put on a face mask before emergency medical services arrive.
Disclosure: Healthline maintains a partnership with some of the providers linked above and may receive compensation for services provided.
Multiple organizations are already working on a vaccine for the new coronavirus, but it’s unlikely to be widely released within the year.
That’s because rigorous testing is needed to ensure that the vaccine is both safe and effective.
Experts are still investigating, but early research suggests the virus originated in bats and then was transmitted to humans via an intermediary animal.
What’s the intermediary animal? Potentially a snake or type of anteater called a pangolin.
A global outbreak is frightening enough for adults. For kids, it can be overwhelming.
We talked to experts about the best way for parents to talk to their kids about what’s going on and how to reassure them.
Parents should also check in with themselves and consider how their fears may be influencing their children.
“When a parent is anxious, their child is going to feel that anxiety and take it on, regardless of how well they think they mask or hide their anxiety,” said Haley Neidich, a licensed mental health professional and practicing psychotherapist.