Global COVID-19 Cases Top 3 Million, Signs of Outbreak Slowing

COVID-19 Updates

The Current Numbers (as of April 27, 2020, at 6:35 p.m. EDT)

Cases have climbed 3 million worldwide; the U.S. virus death toll is more than 55,000. With over 985,000 confirmed cases out of more than 3 million worldwide, and more than 55,000 deaths, the United States has the highest number of infections and fatalities in the world.

On Friday last week, Business Insider published statistics from Pantheon Macroeconomics indicating that the United States may be past its peak when it comes to deaths.

The Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center maintains an ongoing count of the COVID-19 cases and deaths in the United States and worldwide. As of April 27, the tally is:

  • Total cases worldwide: 3,034,801 (up from 2,790,986 Friday)
  • Total deaths worldwide: 210,551 (up from 195,920 Friday)
  • Total recoveries: 891,548 (up from 781,382 Friday)
  • Total cases in the United States: 985,374 (up from 890,524 Friday)
  • Total deaths in the United States: 55,906 (up from 51,017 Friday)

New York’s single-day death toll remains low. In his Monday briefing, New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo told reporters that the single-day death toll had fallen to 337 — a significant drop from 422 on Friday, and the lowest count since the end of March. With the New York State lockdown set to expire on May 15, Governor Cuomo said that construction and manufacturing might begin to reopen.

New York City’s Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Monday that the city will close up to 100 miles of streets to vehicle traffic. “This summer is going to look different from any other in our city’s history — and we’re ready to give New Yorkers more ways to leave home while staying safe from COVID-19,” said de Blasio in a statement.

New York testing suggests cases may be higher than reported. In a tweet on Thursday last week, Governor Cuomo released data showing that nearly 14 percent of 3,000 people in New York State who were tested for virus antibodies tested positive. About 21 percent of approximately 1,300 people in New York City who were tested received positive test results. “Assuming the 21 percent antibody figure is reliable, and about 1.8 million people had been infected, it suggests that the rate of infection is higher than earlier predicted,” says Robert Glatter, MD, a physician in the department of emergency medicine at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

Michigan extended its stay-at-home orders to May 15. With more than 35,000 virus cases and 3,000 deaths in Michigan, Governor Gretchen Whitmer Friday extended stay-at-home orders through May 15 and directed residents to wear homemade masks in enclosed public spaces. A recent executive order allows certain outdoor activities and types of work to resume.

There are signs worldwide that the virus is slowing. The Wall Street Journal indicated that the spread of the virus appears to be slowing. Japan had its lowest daily level of new infections in three weeks on Monday with just 39 new cases in Tokyo. The daily infection rate has fallen to 1.5 percent from a high of about 12 percent. Vietnam reported having just two infections in past ten days. New Zealand confirmed one new case on Monday. “There is no widespread undetected community transmission in New Zealand,” said Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. “We have won that battle.” Britain is seeing a downward trend in hospitalizations, and Spain is easing its lockdown as the country recorded its lowest death toll on Saturday of 288, according to the BBC.

Still, some countries are experiencing significant increases in infections. Aljazeera News said Turkey on Monday recorded 2,357 new cases. Canada’s daily death toll reached 2,489 from 2,350 the previous day. An analysis in The New York Times on Friday showed that the number of coronavirus-related deaths in Ecuador may be far higher than officially reported. President Trump pledged on Friday to send more ventilators to the country, according to Reuters.

More than 5.5 million Americans have been tested so far. A total of 5,593,495 individuals have been tested in the United States for the detection of SARS-CoV-2 as of April 27, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.

New Developments

Dr. Birx sees encouraging signs, but social distancing will probably remain through summer. On Sunday’s Meet the PressDeborah Birx, MD, the White House coronavirus task force coordinator, said that many social distancing measures that have been established will most likely keep going through the summer to keep the outbreak under control. She stressed that a “breakthrough” on coronavirus testing is urgently needed to get a more accurate view of how and where the virus is spreading. The latest trends in cases, hospitalizations, and deaths nationwide, however, have given her “great hope” that there will be slow reopenings over the next months.

Tyson, in a full-page ad, warned that the food supply chain is breaking. A full-page ad published in Sunday editions of The New York TimesWashington Post, and the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, penned by Tyson Foods Chairman of the Board John Tyson, said that “the food supply chain is breaking” due to recent closures of meat processing facilities. Outbreaks at major meat packing plants in Logansport, Indiana; Waterloo, Iowa; Sioux Falls, North Dakota; and elsewhere around that country have forced these operations to shutter. Tyson cautions that there will be a limited supply of products available in grocery stores until the processing facilities are able to reopen.

The CDC added six new symptoms of COVID-19. Since the coronavirus epidemic began, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has told people to watch for fever, cough, and shortness of breath. The CDC has now expanded the list of possible virus indicators to include chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, and new loss of taste or smell. Symptoms usually appear within 2 to 14 days of exposure.

Could heartburn medication offer relief from coronavirus? The journal Science reported that New York City hospitals have been conducting trials of famotidine, the active compound in the over-the-counter heartburn drug Pepcid, as a possible coronavirus treatment. The article says that the research has been kept secret for fear that the drug supply would be snatched up before investigators could secure a research stockpile.

The study, conducted by Northwell Health, has enrolled 187 COVID-19 patients in critical status so far and is aiming for about 1,200. Reports from China suggest that the drug could have a positive effect on severe respiratory illness because it may inhibit a key enzyme that helps the virus replicate. Scientists indicate that they should have a better idea if the drug may work or not in a few weeks after initial results are analyzed.

Italy announced plans to ease the nationwide lockdown. In an interview on Sunday, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte shared plans for Italy to reopen its economy and daily life beginning on May 4, according to The Wall Street Journal. Conte advised citizens to remain vigilant with social distancing measures or the infection rate could resurge.

Some states will begin to ease lockdowns. Governor Brian Kemp of Georgia on Friday started allowing specific businesses to resume operations while maintaining safety guidelines. Kemp cited increased testing and slowing case numbers for the easing of restrictions.

“According to the Department of Public Health, reports of emergency room visits for flu-like illnesses are declining, documented COVID-19 cases have flattened and appear to be declining, and we have seen declining emergency room visits in general,” Kemp said. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution showed that positive COVID-19 diagnoses climbed by more than 500 cases in a matter of seven hours on Saturday.

AlaskaMontana, OklahomaSouth CarolinaTennessee, and Texas have also set policies in motion to allow some businesses to reopen over the next two weeks.

According to CNN, Texas Governor Greg Abbott will allow his stay-at-home order to expire this week, with certain businesses permitted to reopen on Friday.

NPR said that as Tennessee restaurants open their doors to dine-in customers today for the first time in almost a month, the state has reported 478 newly confirmed COVID-19 infections, its highest single-day jump. 

Macy’s, Gap, TGI Friday’s, and other national chains say they will pass on the early phase of reopening in states such as Georgia and South Carolina, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has cautioned that returning too quickly to life as it was before the pandemic could backfire, according to The Los Angeles Times.

On Monday, Colorado and Nevada joined California, Oregon, and Washington in the Western States Pact committing to work together to slow the spread of the virus and share information. “We must have a multifaceted and bold approach in order to slow the spread of the virus, to keep our people safe and help our economy rebound,” said Colorado Governor Jared Polis.

President Trump approved the $4.8 billion stimulus package, and the SBA website crashed. As the Small Business Administration (SBA) opened form request for emergency aid on Monday, its computer system for processing loans crashed, according to The New York Times. On Friday, President Trump signed into law a $4.84 billion relief package approved by the House and Senate. The measure will increase funding for small businesses, hospitals, and COVID-19 testing.

Separately, the House also voted last week to establish a panel to oversee the federal response to the coronavirus pandemic. According to Reuters, the panel would safeguard how federal dollars were spent.

At least 47 tested positive aboard a Navy warship. CNN reported Monday that close to 50 sailors have tested positive for COVID-19 aboard the U.S. Navy warship USS Kidd; the vessel has a crew of about 330. This follows the news of an ongoing outbreak aboard the the San Diego–based aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt. A total of 955 of that crew have now tested positive.

The FDA has warned of hydroxychloroquine use outside of a hospital setting. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Friday cautioned against the use of hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine for COVID-19 outside of a hospital setting or clinical trial. The consumer health agency cited serious heart rhythm problems in patients with coronavirus who received the medication often in combination with azithromycin (Zithromax, Z-Pak). The heart rhythm problems include QT interval prolongation (a condition that can cause fast, chaotic heartbeats) and a dangerously rapid heart rate called ventricular tachycardia.

Matthew G. Heinz, MD, hospitalist and internist at Tucson Medical Center in Arizona, told Everyday Health, “Chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine are not benign substances and can have serious adverse effects on COVID-19 patients, especially the elderly and those who suffer from cardiac disease.”

As Reuters reported, however, major hospitals in New York, Louisiana, and other areas have been regularly using hydroxychloroquine on patients hospitalized with the virus. “We will continue to investigate risks associated with the use of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine for COVID-19 and communicate publicly when we have more information,” the FDA wrote.

A vaccine appears to protect monkeys in a scientific trial. On Thusday the journal Science reported that one of the many COVID-19 vaccines in development has shown for the first time to protect an animal, the rhesus macaques (a species of monkey), from infection. Developed by Sinovac Biotech, the vaccine is formulated from a chemically inactivated version of the virus and produced no obvious side effects in the monkeys. A press release from Sinovac says that the company just recently began clinical trials of the vaccine in humans.

You can read more about the latest coronavirus research in our article on fast-track research.

One-third of millennials say they would still leave their homes if they had symptoms. A new survey of 1,209 Americans by Testing.com found that 31 percent respondents ages 18 to 34 would not completely self-quarantine even if they had symptoms of COVID-19. A significant proportion of millennials (71 percent), Gen Xers (72 percent), and baby boomers (67 percent) said that they want to get tested.

Jobless claims topped 4.4 million. The U.S. Department of Labor announced that first-time claims for unemployment benefits totaled 4,427,000 in the week ending April 18. According to CNN, the surge in claims over the last five weeks has been the most sudden since 1967, when the department started tracking data. The Washington Post estimated that the jobless rate is now between 15 and 20 percent. Unemployment reached about 25 percent during the Great Depression.

Mysterious blood clotting is killing coronavirus patients. According to a story in The Washington Post, doctors are increasingly finding that COVID-19 patients are developing deadly blood clots, even after being put on anticoagulants. Autopsies have shown have that some people’s lungs fill with hundreds of microclots.

Coronavirus deaths in the United States began earlier than thought. Last week, the county of Santa Clara released information showing that the outbreak in this country likely started earlier than first suspected. Autopsies on two individuals who died at home on February 6 and February 17 confirmed that they had SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19). Prior to this, the first fatality was thought to be on February 29 in Kirkland, Washington, near Seattle.

How to Help

Blood Donors Needed

The American Red Cross is seeking people who have fully recovered from the coronavirus to sign up to donate plasma to help current COVID-19 patients. You may qualify to donate plasma if you meet specific convalescent plasma and regular blood donation requirements. The FDA offers more information about plasma donations on its website.

Help the Hungry

As the result of job losses, school closures, and health concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic, many communities and individuals are in need across America. Feeding America is seeking donations to support food banks nationwide.