COVID_19 Update _ The Latest Numbers (as of May 12, 2020) 

There are more than four million cases worldwide, and the U.S. death toll has topped 82,000.

The Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center maintains an ongoing count of the COVID-19 cases and deaths in the United States and worldwide. As of May 12, the tally is:

  • Total cases worldwide: 4,247,709 (up from 4,174,651 Monday)
  • Total deaths worldwide: 290,838 (up from 285,945 Monday)
  • Total recoveries: 1,485,134 (up from 1,455,731 Monday)
  • Total cases in the United States: 1,366,350 (up from 1,347,151 Monday)
  • Total deaths in the United States: 82,105 (up from 80,378 Monday)

New York is set to partially reopen. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that three regions (the Finger Lakes, which includes Rochester; the Southern Tier, which borders Pennsylvania; and the Mohawk Valley, west of Albany) have met the criteria to reopen gradually starting May 15.  Certain low-risk business and recreational activities including landscaping and gardening; outdoor activities such as tennis; and drive-in movie theaters will be ready to reopen statewide on May 15.  Meanwhile, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a press conference on Monday that the city won’t reopen before June “unless something miraculous happens,” as reported by Fox News.

More than nine million Americans have been tested so far. A total of 9,382,235 individuals have been tested in the United States for the detection of SARS-CoV-2 as of May 12, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.

New Developments

Dr. Fauci warned the Senate of the health and economic dangers of an early reopening. Anthony S. Fauci, MD, the nation’s top infectious-disease expert, cautioned a Senate committee on Tuesday that the country would face “needless suffering and death” along with economic damage if states reopened too early, according to The Washington Post.  He stressed that if spikes lead to renewed outbreaks, “the consequences could be serious.”  In other testimony, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Robert Redfield, MD, told senators, “Timely testing is vital to reopen America. Increasing contact tracing is critical.”

Both testified by videoconference because they are in quarantine after exposure to a person at the White House who tested positive for COVID-19. Also self-quarantining is U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Stephen M. Hahn, MD, according to the Associated Press.

Brett Giroir, an assistant secretary in the Department of Health and Human Services, also testified remotely, according to The Washington Post.

In opening remarks, Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tennessee) underscored the need for testing: “The more tests we conduct, the better we can identify those who are sick and exposed.” The senator presided over the hearing by teleconference after a staff member in his office tested positive, CNN reported.

Vice President Mike Pence’s press secretary Katie Miller, who is married to White House immigration adviser and speechwriter Stephen Miller, recently tested positive for the coronavirus, according to Reuters and other news outlets.  The news came a day after reports that a member of the U.S. Navy who serves as one of President Trump’s personal valets tested positive for the coronavirus.

A personal assistant to President Trump’s daughter Ivanka also tested positive.  The assistant had been teleworking and was not around Ivanka Trump for several weeks, according to CNN.

Admiral Michael Gilday, the chief of naval operations, is also in self-quarantine after exposure to a family member with the coronavirus, CNN reported.

Eleven Secret Service members have tested positive. Department of Homeland Security documents reviewed by Yahoo News revealed that 11 members of the U.S. Secret Service have tested positive for the coronavirus.  Another 60 employees are reportedly self-quarantining and 23 have recovered from the virus.

Most White House officials besides the president have been asked to wear face coverings. The Washington Post reported that the administration is issuing a directive asking most White House officials to don masks when in public areas in the presidential compound.  Sources say the request will not apply to offices or to President Trump himself.

Wuhan is planning to test all 11 million residents within 10 days. The Chinese city of Wuhan, where the pandemic began at the end of 2019, plans to test its entire population of 11 million within 10 days after a small cluster of new cases erupted, according to Reuters.  Since seeing no new cases since April 3, the city had been returning to normal, restarting businesses, schools, and public transport.  Over this past weekend, however, six new cases emerged, all originating in the same residential compound.  NPR reported that the city has been trying to identify asymptomatic carriers through a random testing initiative, which it started in April.

Marc Eisenberg, MD, a cardiologist at Columbia University Irving Medical Center in New York City, told Everyday Health, “I think it is helpful to test large groups of people to hopefully contain and isolate those who are actively infectious.  It seems like the United States is not prepared to do such large-scale testing.”

An unreleased White House report found that COVID cases are spiking in the heartland. NBC News reported that it has obtained data from the White House’s pandemic task force showing that coronavirus infection rates are reaching new highs in several metropolitan areas and smaller communities nationwide.  The report cited counties in states including Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, and Tennessee as recording greater than 10 percent increases in case numbers over a week-to-week observation period. Counties in North Carolina, Kansas, Nebraska, Alabama, and Arizona also appear in the top 10 counties with notable case increases.  NBC has also assembled data indicating significant increases in coronavirus cases in both Iowa and Nebraska where no stay-at-home orders were ever declared.

U.S. consumer prices posted the largest monthly decline since 2008 recession. The Bureau of Labor Statistics released data on Tuesday showing that consumer prices dropped to their lowest point since December 2008.  The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) declined 0.8 percent in April.  A 20.6-percent decline in the gasoline index was the largest contributor to the monthly decrease in the seasonally adjusted all items index, but the indexes for apparel, motor vehicle insurance, airline fares, and lodging away from home all fell sharply as well.  In contrast, food indexes rose in April.

Major League Baseball has approved a plan to start the season in July. Major League Baseball (MLB) owners have finalized a plan to that could start the season by July 4 weekend, according to CNN.  The season, which was due to start March 26, would be cut down to 82 games from a regular season of 162 games.  The proposal now moves on to the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) for review.

Musk is defying California’s lockdown order to restart the Tesla factory. Elon Musk announced on Twitter Tuesday that he is reopening operations at his Tesla car manufacturing factory in Fremont, California, in defiance of local government lockdown orders.  “If anyone is arrested, I ask that it only be me,” Musk tweeted.  In an earlier statement, the CEO threatened to “move its HQ and future programs to Texas/Nevada immediately.”  He has claimed that the county is violating the Fourteenth Amendment’s equal protection and due process clauses.

The availability of home-testing kits is to expand.  LabCorp announced Tuesday that its COVID-19 at-home collection test kit is now being offered to individuals nationwide who have symptoms consistent with COVID-19 infection and individuals without symptoms who may have been exposed to the virus.  The FDA granted Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) on April 20, and initially, the test kits were made available to frontline healthcare workers and first responders.

Children may experience diarrhea and digestive trouble rather than a cough, a study has found.  Research published May 12 in Frontiers in Pediatrics suggested that the coronavirus may first present with gastrointestinal problems such as diarrhea.  “Infection should be suspected when children show digestive tract symptoms, especially with fever or exposure history,” wrote the study authors of this small investigation, which involved five children from Wuhan between ages 2 and 5.

A study of children found that a small percentage get severely ill.  An investigation published this week in JAMA Pediatrics showed that severe illness in children is significant but far less frequent than in adults.  Scientists analyzed health records of 48 children (from infants up to age 21) who were hospitalized with the coronavirus during late March and early April.  Two of the patients died and 18 needed to be placed on ventilators.  About 8 in 10 had preexisting medical conditions. “Consistent with the few other initial reports on COVID-19 on children, our study found the clinical course of COVID-19 to be far less severe and the hospital outcomes to be better in critically ill children than those reported in adults,” wrote the authors.

An investigation published May 11 in the journal Radiology revealed scans of patients with COVID-19 show they may have bowel abnormalities, contributing to evidence that indicates that the virus affects the digestive tract.

Bleach and disinfectant poisonings rose in April. Based on American Association of Poison Control Centers poisoning case count data from the beginning of the year until May 10, poisonings from disinfectants were 121 percent higher in April compared with last year, and bleach poisonings were 77 percent higher.  The increases came during the same month President Trump made a comment about the possibility of injecting disinfectants into the body to fight the coronavirus.

Sioux tribes in South Dakota refused to remove coronavirus checkpoints. Sioux tribes in South Dakota are maintaining coronavirus checkpoints they set up on roads that pass through their land despite South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem’s warning that they are illegal and must be taken down, according to the BBC.  Tribes are allowing in only people needed for essential business who complete a health questionnaire.  They want to prevent an outbreak from overwhelming their limited healthcare facilities.

Dr. Birx is to head up distribution of the antiviral drug remdesivir.  The White House has said that Deborah Birx, MD, the administration’s coronavirus response coordinator, would be overseeing distribution of remdesivir, according to Politico.  Gilead, the drug’s manufacturer, has donated 607,000 vials of remdesivir to the U.S. government, but plans on how hospitals may access the medication have been uncertain.

“It’s still unclear how distribution is working,” said Albert Rizzo, MD, chief medical officer of the American Lung Association and chief of the pulmonary and critical care medicine section at Christiana Care Health System in Newark, Delaware, in an interview with Everyday Health.

At the end of April, the National Institutes of Health released preliminary trial results indicating that the antiviral drug accelerates recovery from advanced COVID-19, and the FDA gave emergency authorization for its use.

Politico said that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is expected to ship 14,400 vials of the drug to state health departments, which will decide how to distribute.  Previously, the government sent 35,360 vials to handpicked hospitals.

Birx said the process the Trump administration used to allocate the COVID-19 drug resulted in it not going where it was needed but distribution is being corrected, according to The Wall Street Journal on Monday.

More cases and deaths have been reported from a mysterious illness in kids that may be related to COVID-19.  NBC reported that as many as 100 children and teens in New York State are suspected of having a mysterious inflammatory condition called pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome, which may be linked to COVID-19.  Three deaths have been reported and two others are under investigation.

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), children with this syndrome have symptoms resembling Kawasaki Disease, including “persistent fever, inflammation, and evidence of single or multi-organ dysfunction (shock, cardiac, respiratory, renal, gastrointestinal, or neurological disorder), and may or may not test positive for COVID-19.”

More research suggests benefits of heartburn medication for the coronavirus.  Patients hospitalized with the coronavirus who took famotidine, a common heartburn medicine, were more than twice as likely to survive the infection, according to research posted Friday on Medrxiv. Famotidine is an active ingredient in Pepcid.  This investigation come on the heels of other research reported in the journal Science showing potential benefits of famotidine as a possible coronavirus treatment.  Reports from China suggest that the drug could have a positive effect on severe respiratory illness because it may inhibit a key enzyme that helps the virus replicate.  Clinical trials are still needed to more definitively determine if the drug works against COVID-19.

The WHO has warned about the lack of virus tracing as countries reopen.  On Monday, Michael Ryan, MD, emergency chief of the World Health Organization (WHO) warned that countries are essentially driving blind in reopening their economies without setting up strong contact tracing to beat back flare-ups of the coronavirus, according to the Associated Press.  He pointed to Germany and South Korea as providing encouraging models for tracing to detect and stop the virus spread.

The U.S. unemployment rate is at its highest since the Great Depression.  The U.S. unemployment rate hit 14.7 percent in April, with a record 20.5 million jobs lost, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.  It marks the highest unemployment rate since the Great Depression and the worst monthly job loss on record.  While all major industries were affected, particularly heavy losses were reported in the leisure and hospitality sectors.

The latest data from the U.S. Department of Labor shows that more than 33 million Americans have filed for unemployment benefits over the last two months.  About 3.2 million people filed jobless claims over the past week, a significant drop from March 28 when 6.8 million filed for unemployment.  The new report hints that layoffs may be slowing, but it may take years to fully replace jobs lost so far.

A COVID antibody blood tests shows a high performance rate. A study published Friday in the Journal of Clinical Microbiology showed that an antibody test for the new coronavirus from Abbott Laboratories was highly accurate in diagnosing infection.  Researchers at the University of Washington found the test to have a specificity rate of 99.9 percent and a sensitivity rate of 100 percent.  Antibody testing can tell if someone has been previously infected with the virus and may be recovering or has recovered from the infection, in both people with or without signs or symptoms.

The FDA has granted authorization for an at-home saliva test.  The FDA issued an emergency use authorization (EUA) to a saliva COVID-19 diagnostic test developed by Rutgers University in New Jersey.  The test permits patients to self-collect saliva samples at home.  Rutgers had previously received emergency authorization for its test using a nasal swab or saliva samples collected in a healthcare setting, according to MarketWatch.

How to Help

Blood Donors Needed

The American Red Cross is seeking people who have fully recovered from the coronavirus to sign up to donate plasma to help current COVID-19 patients.  You may qualify to donate plasma if you meet specific convalescent plasma and regular blood donation requirements.  The FDA offers more information about plasma donations on its website.

Help the Hungry

As the result of job losses, school closures, and health concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic, many communities and individuals are in need across America.  Feeding America is seeking donations to support food banks nationwide.