New Jersey becomes the 5th state to implement stay-at-home order.
Today’s update begins with some good news: Vice President Mike Pence and second lady Karen Pence have both tested negative for coronavirus.
“Pleased to report that the COVID-19 test results came back negative for both Vice President @Mike_Pence and Second Lady @KarenPence,” said Katie Miller, the press secretary for the vice president, via her Twitter account.
Pence had said he and his wife would be tested Saturday afternoon after a staff member of his office had tested positive for coronavirus.
Of course, the haters gotta hate:
The Devil protects his own.
— Susan Schreiber (@JSDMusic3000) March 22, 2020
Lower death rate now being estimated for coronavirus, especially for non-elderly
There is even more good news, as analysis of new data show a lower rate of fatality than the 2-3% that had been recently published.
In a rare piece of good news about Covid-19, a team of infectious disease experts calculates that the fatality rate in people who have symptoms of the disease caused by the new coronavirus is about 1.4%. Although that estimate applies specifically to Wuhan, the Chinese city where the outbreak began, and is based on data from there, it offers a guide to the rest of the world, where many countries might see even lower death rates.
The new figure is significantly below earlier estimates of 2% or 3% and well below the death rate for China based on simply dividing deaths by cases, which yields almost 4%. While it is still higher than the average 0.1% death rate from seasonal flu, it raises hopes that the worst consequence of the coronavirus will be uncommon.
FDA approves new coronavirus test that can have ‘results within hours’ instead of days
Quicker testing means quicker treatment, which could have a significant impact on the disease outcome for those infected.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued emergency authorization Saturday for a novel coronavirus (COVID-19) test kit made by Cepheid Inc. that can yield results in a matter of hours instead of days.
The new tool is called the “Cepheid Xpert Xpress SARS-CoV-2 test” and will be made available to the public by the end of the month.
“The test we’re authorizing today will be able to provide Americans with results within hours, rather than days like the existing tests, and the company plans to roll it out by March 30,” the FDA said in a press release.
Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar added: “With new tools like point-of-care diagnostics, we are moving into a new phase of testing, where tests will be much more easily accessible to Americans who need them.”
New Jersey becomes the 5th state to implement stay-at-home order
Connecticut also joined New York, California and Illinois in issuing stay-at-home orders.
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed an executive order on Saturday mandating that all non-essential retail businesses close their stores and almost all state residents stay home to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
The order affects some 9 million residents in the state and exempts those who work in essential services such as healthcare and the food industry, the governor said at a news conference. The order banned all gatherings including weddings and parties, Murphy said.
‘My job is to make sure we get through this emergency so that you can safely gather with family and friends later,’ Murphy said.
Italy coronavirus death toll spikes yet again, up 793 in 24 hours
Italy — a country at the heart of the coronavirus outbreak in Europe — watched its number of cases and deaths due to the novel coronavirus astronomically leap once again, up 793 deaths with 6,557 newly confirmed cases recorded in just 24 hours.
Saturday’s jump marks the worst day for fatalities since the crisis began just four months ago.
The country now counts 53,578 diagnosed infections, up 13.9 percent, with 4,825 deaths — the highest in the world.
Angry Hawaiian locals upset by sunbathers who ignore coronavirus warnings
Tourists in Hawaii are ignoring warning signs and barrier tape in their quest to enjoy sun and surf and are placing themselves in a different sort of danger.
Hawaiian beaches are still packed with sunbathers despite social distancing advice, outraging residents who blame tourists for the state’s 37 coronavirus cases and are telling them to leave the islands.
Beach-goers were seen crowding the shorelines yesterday and crossing the yellow tape surrounding closed areas, armed with rubber rings and surf boards.
Beach parks in Honolulu have been closed but Mayor Kirk Caldwell said he was struggling to enforce the shutdown.
…Though people are still technically able to cross the beaches to enter the sea, overstretched emergency services have urged the public to stay out of the water.
‘We want the public to know there are no lifeguards in the towers. We ask that you stay out of the water if possible and away from the shorelines,’ an Ocean Safety spokesperson said.
— Hawaii News Now (@HawaiiNewsNow) March 21, 2020
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