Coronavirus update: Researchers promote frequent testing, Supreme Court leaves eviction ban in place

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Study findings suggest that a loss of taste and smell may linger after COVID-19 recovery

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

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌confirmed‌ ‌cases:‌ 33,654,602 (33,642,146)‌

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌deaths:‌ 604,510 (604,179)

Total‌ ‌global‌ ‌cases:‌ 181,926,290 (181,‌533,728)

Total‌ ‌global‌ ‌deaths:‌ 3,940,211 (3,932,077)‌

NIH study makes a case for frequent antigen testing

Researchers affiliated with the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics (RADx) initiative have concluded a study that found regular coronavirus testing using the rapid antigen tests is the most effective way to screen for the virus.

While the PCR molecular test is the gold standard for accuracy, it costs more and takes longer to get results. The study found that frequent testing using the cheaper, faster antigen test was just as accurate.

“Rapid antigen testing at home, two to three times per week, is a powerful and convenient way for individuals to screen for COVID-19 infection,” said Bruce Tromberg, Ph.D., director of the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB), part of NIH. “With schools and businesses reopening, an individual’s risk of infection can change from day to day. Serial antigen testing can help people manage this risk and quickly take action to prevent spread of the virus.”

Supreme Court leaves eviction moratorium in place

The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected an appeal by property groups to lift the moratorium placed on evictions early in the pandemic for non-payment. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently extended the moratorium through the end of July. Originally, it would have expired today.

Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Bret Kavanaugh sided with the court’s three liberal justices in refusing to lift the moratorium. In a brief concurrence, Kavanaugh expressed doubts about the legality of extending the moratorium but concluded that the extension would allow for a more orderly distribution of rental assistance.

Before extending the moratorium, The CDC expressed concerns that evicting people from their homes could contribute to a public health hazard if the former renters became homeless.

Study finds some COVID-19 symptoms linger

Most people who have gotten COVID-19 have recovered, but some patients who had even mild symptoms reported that they hung around after recovery. Most notably, they experienced a continued loss of or reduced sense of smell and taste, along with shortness of breath.

Research findings from Aarhus University Hospital and Regional Hospital West Jutland showed that women and elderly patients were the most likely to experience continuing symptoms following their recovery. 

"We saw that the prevalence of a longer lasting reduced taste and smell is significantly increased in patients with mild COVID-19 disease who did not require hospitalization,” said Henrik Kolstad, who led the study. “This pattern is also seen for shortness of breath, but far fewer people were affected." 

Around the nation

  • New Jersey: Public school students will not be required to wear masks in class when the school year resumes in the fall. Gov. Phil Murphy said that’s contingent, however, on rising vaccination levels and continued lower rates of infection.

  • California: A federal jury convicted four California residents of scheming to submit fraudulent loan applications seeking millions of dollars in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) COVID-19 relief funds. Charges included fraud and money laundering.   

  • Iowa: The pandemic helped some businesses while hurting others. The Iowa Lottery Board said it is on track to smash records thanks to homebound residents looking for a little entertainment. Through May, lottery sales stood at nearly $417.2 million, compared with $335.1 million for the same 11-month period one year ago.

  • Indiana: While many states have ended enhanced jobless benefits early, Indiana won’t join them. An Indiana judge ruled that the state must continue paying the extra $300 a week benefit, saying its early termination could cause "irreparable harm." 

  • Kansas: A state government audit COVID-19 to be the leading cause of death in Kansas during the final four months of 2020. The audit revealed that COVID-19 caused more than 2,500 deaths during those four months, surpassing deaths from each of the traditional top 10 causes.

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