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Coronavirus update: U.S. setting records, AstraZeneca reports progress

Pandemic history may be repeating itself

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Photo (c) Arthit Longwilai - Getty Images
Coronavirus (COVID-19) tally as compiled by Johns Hopkins University. (Previous numbers in parentheses.)

Total U.S. confirmed cases: 8,646,085 (8,581,574)

Total U.S. deaths: 225,282 (224,912}

Total global cases: 43,187,134 (42,765,183)

Total global deaths: 1,155,653 (1,151,267)

Daily virus spread at record high

New cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) are spreading at a record rate. An analysis of data collected by Johns Hopkins University shows the average daily growth in cases hit a record high over the weekend, with more than 80,000 new cases on Saturday alone.

“We are likely to see a very dense epidemic,” former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner (FDA) Dr. Scott Gottlieb told CNBC on Monday. “I think we are right now at the cusp of what is going to be exponential spread in parts of the country.”

Hopeful report on AstraZeneca vaccine

AstraZeneca today reported some promising results from its coronavirus vaccine clinical trials. It reports the drug produced an immune response in both older and younger adults.

The company also says that adverse side effects from the vaccine were less than expected, suggesting the potential vaccine could be widely deployed among the most vulnerable population.

The company’s announcement Monday that the vaccine appears to be working on subjects of all ages could raise hopes that the vaccine might be ready for distribution by the end of the year.

Pandemic history is repeating itself, researcher says

If we go back in time to just over 100 years ago, we might see a familiar sight. A deadly virus killed hundreds of thousands of Americans in just a few months. Health officials made rules to stop its spread, but those rules varied widely across the country.

Many people wore masks to block the germs, but some refused. It worked for a while, but the number of cases kept rising, resulting in hundreds of thousands of more deaths. Dr. Howard Markel, a medical historian at the University of Michigan, says that’s exactly what happened during the 1918-19 Spanish flu pandemic.

“I really do fear that, between COVID-19 and the regular seasonal flu, this coming winter and spring could be as bad as, or worse than, what we saw in the horrible spring of 2020,” he said.

Scientists learn how the virus spread in New York

New York City and the surrounding area became the epicenter of the coronavirus in April, and researchers recently determined that the virus arrived mostly from Europe. But after that, they now say the spread was mostly a local affair.

A new analysis by scientists at NYU Langone Health shows that most of the spread through the New York area was within the community, as opposed to coming from people who had traveled.

Previous testing had detected the first case of the virus on March 3 before infections exploded throughout the metropolitan area, leading to 260,600 positive cases by mid-May.

"Our findings show that New York's early screening test methods missed the onset and roots of the outbreak by several days at the minimum," says study co-lead author Matthew Maurano. "The work strongly suggests that to nip future outbreaks in the bud, we need a system of rapid, plentiful real-time genetic surveillance as well as traditional epidemiologic indicators."

Pence chief of staff tests positive

Key members of the Trump administration continue to be affected by the coronavirus. Weeks after President Trump contracted the virus, the chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence and four others on the staff have tested positive for the virus.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Marty Obst, Pence’s longtime political adviser, was one of those who also tested positive for the virus. Pence, meanwhile, is keeping up a busy campaign schedule with less than two weeks to go before the election.

That drew criticism from Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), the Democratic vice presidential nominee, who pointed out that she cancelled campaign appearances after one of her top aides tested positive.

Around the nation

  • Michigan: Hospitalizations in two counties are up more than 80 percent after a recent spike in cases of the virus. Despite that, state health officials say most hospitals still have the capacity to serve more patients.

  • Nevada: UNLV epidemiologist Brian Labus says the largest growth of coronavirus cases in the state is among college-age adults. He attributes it to “COVID fatigue,” describing frustrated and restless residents who now choose to ignore recommended pandemic precautions.

  • Florida: Public health officials warn the state is on the cusp of a resurgence in coronavirus cases. They link the increase to the state’s Phase 3 reopening plan that saw most bars and restaurants resume operations.

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