National News

For five days in a row this week, NC saw record number of hospitalizations

Posted June 20, 2020 10:13 a.m. EDT
Updated July 23, 2020 12:23 p.m. EDT

Ten percent of coronavirus tests reported by the state on Sunday are came back positive. Also on Sunday, the state reported 1,412 new cases of the virus and did over 14,000 new tests.

Coronavirus-related hospitalizations were on a record-high streak for this week -- five days in a row the state saw hospitalizations break records --  but that streak ended with Sunday's numbers.

In total, the state is reporting that 52,801 people have tested positive for the coronavirus in the state.

On Saturday, 883 people were reported to be hospitalized. On Sunday, that number went down to 845 people, but the number of hospitals reporting on Sunday decreased.

The number of new cases recorded before the weekend began on Friday – 1,652 – was the second-greatest daily increase since the outbreak began.

Many people who contract the coronavirus show no symptoms. Others suffer what feels like a wicked case of the flu. But as of Saturday, for 1,269 people in North Carolina, the coronavirus has been fatal.

Most cases are young or middle-age adults

Also according to North Carolina's numbers, almost half of all people who have tested positive, 45 percent, are between 25 and 49. Twenty percent are 24 and under, but people in that age group make up basically 0 percent of all deaths.

Just 7 percent of people with the virus are over 75, but more than 70 percent of state deaths are in that age group.

Because state guidance has limited the number of people tested to those with symptoms, those in high-risk positions like medical or correctional facilities, those with a known exposure and, more recently, those who have been in a crowd, the true spread of the virus is impossible to measure.

Of the state's 50,000 reported cases, about 30,000 are believed to have recovered.

Coronavirus cases spike across the country

In California, which on Friday broke another record for the number of cases in a single day, Gov. Gavin Newsom mandated that masks be worn inside public spaces and in situations where staying six feet apart from others is not possible. But at least five sheriff's departments in the state say they won't enforce the order since the offense is minor and the danger of an encounter during a pandemic is major.

The governor of Nebraska also pushed back against attempts to make masks mandatory.

Gov. Pete Ricketts said he will withhold federal coronavirus relief funds from counties that require people to wear face masks in government buildings, according to a state guidance document obtained by CNN on Friday.

As cases continue to climb, health experts are encouraging face coverings to mitigate the pandemic's impact.

Fifteen states and Washington DC now require the use of face coverings in public.

But while the guidance to curb spread -- which also includes social distancing and limiting large gatherings -- has remained consistent, intensifying anti-science sentiments have led people to ignore public health guidelines, Dr. Anthony Fauci said on CBS Radio Friday.

The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases called the trend "disturbing" and "disappointing."

Eight states are reporting their highest seven-day averages of new coronavirus cases per day since the crisis began: Arizona, California, Florida, Nevada, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas and Utah. And Florida, experts say, could become the next coronavirus epicenter.

Globally, Thursday saw the most coronavirus cases reported to the World Health Organization in one day since the outbreak began, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during a Friday briefing.

Uncertainty in the awaited treatments and vaccines

As the virus spreads, researchers are racing to get treatments and vaccines approved.

But one clinical trial has ended. Novartis, one of the makers of hydroxychloroquine, announced Friday it was stopping its clinical trial in the US of the drug in coronavirus patients.

The FDA revoked emergency authorization for the drug to be distributed to treat coronavirus patients on Monday, saying that there was "no reason to believe" it worked against the virus and that it also increased the risk of side effects that include heart problems.

Novartis said the trial did not stop over safety issues but had trouble recruiting patients.

Treating the virus, however, might not come down to one drug, Dr. Rick Stevens, associate laboratory director for Computing, Environment and Life Sciences at the Argonne National Laboratory, told the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology on Friday.

"We think the best strategy is probably a multiple ... therapeutic mix, that would go after multiple targets -- maybe a target that would help in blocking viral entry, one that might block replication, and one that might block some host process that is a problem," Stevens said.

And it may take a while. It took over a decade to develop effective treatments for HIV, he said.

The WHO paused trials for hydroxychloroquine immediately when safety problems arose, and Tedros said it will do the same for highly anticipated vaccines.

Immunization has been "the single most effective health intervention, and the single most effective life-saving intervention for children all over the world," said Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of the WHO's health emergencies program. But, he said, "there are no shortcuts in science and safety is a must."

Research shows soaring cardiac arrests during the pandemic

The longer the pandemic continues, the more researchers are learning about its ripple effects.

Fatal cardiac arrests soared in the streets and homes of New York at the peak of the coronavirus epidemic there in March and April, researchers reported Friday.

People needing emergency resuscitation increased three-fold in 2020 and 90% of those people died, the team at Albert Einstein College of Medicine/Montefiore Health System found.

While coronavirus likely caused many of these deaths, others were probably a consequence of an overwhelmed medical system, the researchers reported in the journal JAMA Cardiology.

"The tragedy of the Covid-19 pandemic is not just the number of patients infected, but the large increase in out-of-hospital cardiac arrests and deaths," said Dr. David Prezant, a professor of medicine at Einstein and the chief medical officer for the Fire Department of New York, and colleagues concluded.

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