Coronavirus update: FDA approves COVID-19 breath test

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The U.S. has updated its travel advisories

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

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌confirmed‌ ‌cases:‌ 80,576,205 (80,514,666)

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌deaths:‌ 988,161 (987,560)

Total‌ ‌global‌ ‌cases:‌ 503,025,210 (501,970,999)

Total ‌global‌ ‌deaths:‌ 6,194,288 (6,190,360)‌

FDA clears COVID-19 breath test

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted emergency use authorization (EUA) for a breathalyzer test that indicates the presence of the coronavirus. The test, produced by InspectIR Systems, collects a breath sample and analyzes it for chemical compounds associated with the virus that causes COVID-19.

The FDA was likely impressed with the results of a clinical trial. In a study of 2,409 people, the test correctly returned correct positive readings 91.2% of the time and correctly delivered negative results 99.3% of the time.

The equipment that performs the test is about the size of a small suitcase. The FDA said it can be deployed in hospitals, medical offices, and other test sites.

U.S. updates its COVID-19 travel advisories

The State Department has announced that it will change how it advises U.S. citizens about foreign travel, with those recommendations being based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) updated guidelines. The CDC says the change will reduce the number of countries the government recommends avoiding.

Under the new system, the U.S. will limit “Level 4” classification to countries where the virus is rapidly spreading. Level 4 destinations currently include most of Europe, Brazil, Turkey, Russia, South Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong, Israel, and Australia. 

“This update will leave approximately 10% of all Travel Advisories at Level 4: Do Not Travel,” the State Department said in a Travel Advisory Update. “This 10% includes Level 4 Travel Advisories for all risk indicators, not just COVID-19.  We believe the updated framework will help U.S. citizens make better informed decisions about the safety of international travel.”

China’s lockdown expected to increase U.S. inflation

What happens in China doesn’t stay in China, at least when it comes to COVID-19. Economists say the extended lockdown in Shanghai, China’s largest city, will undoubtedly contribute to the U.S.’ already high inflation rate.

CNBC cites a note from Bernstein analyst Jay Huang who points out that China’s exports are falling at a faster rate than two years ago, at the start of the pandemic. That is likely to lead to more shortages and other supply chain issues that usually drive up costs.

The note said Shanghai export container costs are five times higher than before the pandemic, and air freight rates are two times higher. “Hence, there would be higher export of inflation, especially to China’s large trading partners,” the analyst concluded.

Around the nation

  • Virginia: An uptick in COVID-19 cases is unlikely to result in a resumption of a statewide mask mandate. That’s the view of Dr. Colin Greene, Virginia’s Health Commissioner. “Right now we don’t have a protocol for going back to the mask mandate and don’t foresee that,” he said at a Department of Health Advisory Committee meeting.

  • Vermont: An outbreak of COVID-19  closed the Glover Community School this week. Most kids are now back in the classroom, but school officials are keeping the fifth and sixth graders out until next week. 

  • California: State health officials have decided to delay a requirement that all school children receive a COVID-19 vaccination. The mandate has been pushed back to July 1, 2023, pending approval by federal health officials of a vaccine for the youngest students.

  • Utah: Utah is ranked first in the nation in the National Bureau of Economic Research’s evaluation that measured COVID-19-related outcomes. The ranking is based on a number of metrics, including how states’ pandemic policies influenced health outcomes, economic performance, and impact on education. 

  • South Carolina: The number of people being treated for COVID-19 in hospitals around the state has dropped to one of its lowest points since the start of the pandemic. The state health department has counted 89 patients this week, down from 101 last week. Twenty-four of those patients are receiving intensive care.

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