Coronavirus update: A big drop in new cases, CDC says to avoid pain meds before getting vaccinated

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Cuomo pushes back against cover-up accusations over nursing home deaths

Coronavirus (COVID-19) tally as compiled by Johns Hopkins University. (Previous numbers in parentheses.)

Total U.S. confirmed cases: 27,703,142 (27,505,950)

Total U.S. deaths: 486,520 (482,956)

Total global cases: 109,285,411 (108,682,468)

Total global deaths: 2,411,745 (2,398,085)

New cases fall to lowest level since October

All across the country, doctors are reporting declines in new cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19). On Monday, the number of new cases of the virus fell to 53,000. That’s the smallest number of new cases since October.

California, which has been grappling with a surge in new cases and a record number of hospitalizations, reported its lowest daily case increase since early November. But health officials point out that it’s much too early to breathe a sigh of relief.

"The only thing that I'm concerned about now, is that we do have this U.K. variant, and it seems to be accelerating in the United States," Dr. Peter Hotez, dean for the National School for Tropical Medicine at the Baylor College of Medicine, told CNN.

CDC says to avoid taking pain relievers before getting vaccinated

Some people who are scheduled to receive the COVID-19 vaccine are taking an over-the-counter (OTC) pain medication like Tylenol or Motrin in anticipation of some post-shot pain or discomfort. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that that’s not a good idea.

In updated guidance, the CDC says government health researchers don’t have enough information about how those medications interact with the COVID-19 vaccine-induced antibody response. It says antihistamines prior to the vaccination should also be avoided.

Doctors say antihistamines won’t prevent a physical reaction to the vaccine shot and could actually hide a problem that should be addressed. The CDC says it should be fine to take an OTC pain reliever, if needed, after getting the shot.

Cuomo says New York didn’t try to cover up nursing home deaths

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, on the defensive after it was revealed the state under-reported nursing home deaths from COVID-19, is pushing back against allegations that the state engaged in a cover-up.

“The truth is everybody did the best they could,” Cuomo told reporters. “The truth is it was the middle of a terrible pandemic. The truth is, Covid attacks older people. The truth is, with all we know, people still die.”

But critics argue that state officials feared criticism after they ruled in March that nursing homes in the state could not bar new residents who tested positive for COVID-19.

Existing heart drug may help ‘long haulers’

Some existing drugs have proven useful in the fight against COVID-19. Researchers at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine now say a drug used for heart failure appears to relieve a symptom of so-called “long-hauler syndrome.” That’s a condition in which a COVID-19 patient continues to suffer some symptoms months after recovery.

Writing in the February 15, 2021, online issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, study authors investigated the drug ivabradine and its effects on heart rate, quality of life, and plasma norepinephrine levels in persons living with postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome, otherwise known as POTS. This complex, debilitating disorder affects the body’s autonomic nervous system, causing a high heart rate, usually when standing.

“In our contemporary practice, we are seeing patients who have previously been infected with COVID-19 present with symptoms consistent with POTS,” said Jonathan Hsu, MD, cardiologist at UC San Diego Health. “Given the similarities, this study leads to the question whether therapy with ivabradine may help patients who experience similar symptoms after a COVID-19 infection, and provide an important area for future study as well.”

COVID-19 can’t dampen the Mardi Gras spirit

Today is Mardi Gras, but the streets are empty in New Orleans. The annual parades have been canceled because of the pandemic, and revelers -- if there are any -- have to keep a safe distance from each other.

Instead of floats moving down the streets, New Orleans residents have decorated their homes as floats. Instead of spectators lining the streets, spectators are driving their cars past these decorated homes to partake in a little Mardi Gras spirit.

Just to make sure partiers don’t ignore the warnings and begin to congregate in the French Quarter, New Orleans police have blocked off Bourbon Street and other traditional Mardi Gras thoroughfares. 

“We’re prepared to take whatever action is necessary to protect the safety of this city and if arrest is that action, so be it,” said New Orleans Police Superintendent Shaun Ferguson.

Around the nation

  • New York: The South African virus variant has shown up in New York City. Gov. Andrew Cuomo said a patient from Connecticut, who was transferred to a New York hospital, tested positive for the variant. Cuomo said there’s no evidence that the variant has spread beyond that one patient.

  • Nevada: Nevada’s COVID-19 indicators continue to move in the right direction. The state reported a new test positivity rate of 12.8 percent. It’s the first reading below 13 percent since mid-November.

  • Virginia: State officials are trying to recover after a shaky vaccine rollout that left many residents angry and confused. The Virginia Department of Health today is launching a new, centralized pre-registration system to help ease some of the confusion surrounding the sign-up process for a COVID-19 vaccine.

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