U.S. death toll nears 60,000 as labs race for a vaccine

CBSNews

 

24m ago
Quest Diagnostics is selling coronavirus antibody tests directly to consumers

Quest Diagnostics is selling a direct-to-consumer antibody test that the coompany says will make it easy for people to check whether they may have been exposed to the coronavirus. After ordering the $119 test online, consumers must make an appointment at one of the 2,200 blood-draw centers Quest operates in the U.S.

Consumers can receive the results in one to two days after a blood draw, the company said in a statement. The test is designed to shed light on whether Americans have antibodies to the virus, although Quest notes that it’s unclear whether antibodies can provide protection against reinfection or how long any protection might last.

Even as Quest rolls out the service, scientists have raised questions about the accuracy of antibody tests. On Friday, the World Health Organization noted that “no study has evaluated whether the presence of antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 confers immunity to subsequent infection by this virus in humans.” Click here to read more.

WHO says there’s no evidence of immunity after coronavirus infection

 

41m ago
Coronavirus linked to increased risk of stroke in younger adult patients

COVID-19 might raise stroke risk in young and middle-aged adults, with virus-linked blood clots causing severe damage to their brains, doctors warn.

Word has already spread that the novel coronavirus appears to increase clotting in some patients, experts say.

Now, a series of five cases at the Mount Sinai Health System in New York City indicate that those clots might cause strokes in young patients, according to a new report in the April 28 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. Click here to read more.

Doctors finding COVID-19 patients with unexpected blood clots

 

9:41 AM
Millions of Americans out of work and facing threat of eviction

With millions of Americans out of work because of the coronavirus pandemic, there’s a growing concern many could be evicted from their homes. 

While the federal CARES Act temporarily shields some people living in federally subsidized housing and some states have put a short-term halt on evictions, some renters are facing eviction when they shouldn’t be, and others don’t have any protections at all. Click here to read more.

Americans struggle to pay rent amid pandemic as fears of a housing crisis loom

 

9:23 AM
U.S. economy shrank nearly 5% in the first quarter as pandemic struck — worst slump in a decade

The U.S. economy, which began 2020 riding the crest of a record-long expansion, is now officially in free-fall.

The first-quarter gross domestic product — the broadest measure of all economic activity — dropped at a 4.8% annualized rate, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. It’s the biggest contraction in a decade and the sharpest drop in four years.

And yet, analysts predict a far bigger contraction for the current April-June quarter, when business shutdowns and layoffs have struck with devastating force.

Trump and Fauci at odds on reopening economy

 

9:08 AM
Plan to try hydroxychloroquine as COVID-19 prevention on Indian slum residents reportedly abandoned

An anti-malarial drug lauded by President Trump as a possible “game changer” in the fight against COVID-19 will no longer be tested on tens of thousands of healthy people in India’s slums, The Associated Press reported Wednesday.

The plans were dropped after criticism that the residents of Mumbai’s sprawling Dharavi slum were going to be used as guinea pigs in a bid to prove the efficacy of hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) as a preventative drug for the new coronavirus disease.

Dharavi is India’s biggest and most crowded slum. More than 330 COVID-19 infections and 18 deaths have been reported there so far. Last week, the state government said it would administer HCQ as a prophylaxis in the densely populated area.

A doctor checks the temperature of residents during a nationwide lockdown in India to slow the spread of COVID-19, in Dharavi, one of Asia’s largest slums, in Mumbai, India, April 11, 2020.

Francis Mascarenhas/REUTERS

Now, according to the AP, health officials will stick to the federal government’s guidelines permitting its use only for certain high-risk groups.

The U.S. Federal Drug Administration has authorized hydroxychloroquine for use only in drug trials and for emergency use in coronavirus patients under close clinical observation, noting possible complications.

 

8:48 AM
Former Obama Ebola adviser says global “coalitions of the willing” critical pandemic response

The coronavirus pandemic continues to have a crippling impact worldwide as the global death toll reached over 200,000 this week. President and CEO of the ONE Campaign Gayle Smith says this pandemic “strikes the hardest at people who have the fewest things to fall back on.”

She says she’s concerned about how the coronavirus pandemic will affect the most vulnerable communities.

“I totally understand the imperative of leaders to be focused on the countries they lead,” Smith told “Face the Nation” moderator Margaret Brennan in an interview Tuesday. She added, “It’s equally important that they focus on the spread of this pandemic around the globe because it can come back, it can be re-imported, and we could end up in a vicious cycle if we’re not looking outside at the same time we’re focusing inside.” 

Before leading the ONE Campaign, Smith served as the administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and was a key figure in the response effort to the Ebola crisis of 2014 during her time at the National Security Council. She says organizations like the United Nations and financial institutions like the International Monetary Fund and World Bank play an important part in the global response to pandemics. 

She told Brennan that “coalitions of the willing” are critical to combating similar global pandemics such as coronavirus. Click here to read more.

Gayle Smith: AIDS fight is winnable, but “world is not paying attention”

 

8:16 AM
Large funeral gathering for NYC rabbi sparks police response and a warning from the mayor

Hundreds of people gathered in Brooklyn Tuesday evening for a rabbi’s funeral, sparking a stern warning for New York City’s mayor and a response from the NYPD. CBS New York reported many could be seen wearing face masks, but they were standing close together.

Mayor Bill de Blasio says “the time for warnings has passed” after a large crowd was found gathering for a funeral in Brooklyn during the coronavirus pandemic. Police officers were on the scene to help with crowd control.

In a tweet, the mayor wrote: “We have lost so many these last two months and I understand the instinct to gather to mourn. But large gatherings will only lead to more deaths and more families in mourning. We will not allow this. I have instructed the NYPD to have one standard for this whole city: zero tolerance.” Click here to read more.

 

8:12 AM
U.S. aerospace giant Boeing says its cutting 10% of workforce as COVID-19 grounds aviation

U.S. aerospace giant Boeing has confirmed the coronavirus pandemic is forcing it to slash its workforce by about 10%, and those cuts have already begun, “through a combination of voluntary layoffs (VLO), natural turnover and involuntary layoffs.”

In a letter to employees sent Wednesday, President and CEO Dave Calhoun warned that the cuts would be proportionally deeper “in areas that are most exposed to the condition of our commercial customers — more than 15% across our commercial airplanes and services businesses, as well as our corporate functions.”

Calhoun said the Chicago-based corporation would be able to limit overall staff reductions thanks to “the ongoing stability” of its portfolio in the defense and space sectors.

Explaining the cuts, Calhoun noted that the COVID-19 crisis had all but grounded commercial planes, driving global “passenger volumes down more than 95% compared to last year” and leaving commercial airlines — some of Boeing’s biggest customers — with expected revenue losses of $314 billion this year.

How coronavirus has affected the airline industry

 

7:43 AM
Medicare application delays raise anxiety for seniors amid coronavirus crisis

At greater risk from COVID-19, some seniors now face added anxiety due to delays obtaining Medicare coverage.

Advocates for older people say the main problem involves certain applications for Medicare’s “Part B” coverage for outpatient care. It stems from the closure of local Social Security offices in the coronavirus pandemic.

Part B is particularly important these days because it covers lab tests, like ones for the coronavirus. Click here to read more.

 

7:36 AM
Utah governor’s office was warned of risks a week before buying $800,000 worth of controversial drug

State officials in Utah were warned by an infectious disease expert of possible risks associated with making a controversial anti-malaria drug available for use in COVID-19 patients a week before the state spent $800,000 on a bulk order of it, CBS News affiliate KUTV has learned.

KUTV’s report cites an email chain in which the scientist says they’d learned of plans for the state government to make hydroxychloroquine available directly to the public and warning that, “to make an unproven drug available to the public, independent of diagnosis and without physician oversight and safety monitoring sets a dangerous precedent.”

President Trump was touting the drug at the time as a possible “game changer” in the fight against COVID-19, despite a complete lack of scientific evidence that it’s safe and effective as a treatment for the new disease.   

Utah Governor Gary Herbert’s chief of staff was looped in on the email chain. Herbert has acknowledged that a possible mistake in the purchase of the drug, and his office is investigating the matter, according to KUTV. Asked again on Tuesday about the matter, Herbert reiterated that it was “still under review” and said he’d “probably have something to report on that in the next day or two.”

 

7:03 AM
Coronavirus-diagnosed federal inmate dies after giving birth while on a ventilator

A pregnant inmate whose baby was delivered by cesarean section while she was on a ventilator after being hospitalized with coronavirus symptoms has died in federal custody, the Bureau of Prisons said Tuesday. Andrea Circle Bear, 30, died on Tuesday, about a month after she was hospitalized while serving a 26-month sentence for maintaining a drug-involved premises.

She is the 29th federal inmate to die in the Bureau of Prisons custody since late March. As of Tuesday, more than 1,700 federal inmates have tested positive for COVID-19. About 400 of those inmates have recovered.

Circle Bear was first brought to FMC Carswell, a federal prison medical facility in Fort Worth, Texas, on March 20 from a local jail in South Dakota. As a new inmate in the federal prison system, she was quarantined as part of the Bureau of Prisons’ plan to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Prison in the time of coronavirus

 

6:59 AM
U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson and fiancee Carrie Symonds welcome baby boy amid virus crisis

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his fiancee Carrie Symonds announced the birth of a baby boy Wednesday morning, just days after Johnson returned to work after recovering from the new coronavirus disease. Johnson was reportedly present for the birth of his son at a hospital in London.

A spokesman for the couple said both mother and child were doing well.

Johnson and Symonds are the first unmarried couple to move into the prime minister’s residence at Number 10 Downing Street together.  

Johnson and his second wife, Marina Wheeler, divorced in 2019. Johnson and Wheeler have four children together.

The prime minister had previously said he intended to take paternity leave after the birth of his child, but CBS News partner network BBC News said Wednesday that he was back at Downing Street and would not be going on leave for the time being. Click here to read more.

“London Calling”: Boris Johnson under fire for response to coronavirus crisis

 

6:51 AM
Study suggests men and women at equal risk of COVID-19 infection, but men fare much worse

The preliminary results of a study published Wednesday by Chinese researchers suggests that while the new coronavirus attacks men and women in roughly equal numbers, men appear to be far more vulnerable to serious cases, including fatal infections. 

The study, published in the scientific journal Frontiers in Public Health, found that 2.4 times more men diagnosed with COVID-19 died of the disease than women. The scientists from two research universities, one in Beijing and the other in the coronavirus epicenter of Wuhan, said the results echoed findings from studies on the related SARS virus.

“While men and women have the same prevalence, men with COVID-19 are more at risk for worse outcomes and death, independent of age,” the study said.

COVID-19 is known to be far more lethal for all patients of advanced age and those with underlying health problems, particularly cardiac or pulmonary issues, but the authors of the Chinese study say it is the first to look at how gender may affect the outcomes of patients.

U.S. surpasses 1 million coronavirus cases

 

6:17 AM
COVID-19 crisis forces major change to Oscars rules, making stream-debuted movies eligible

Movies that debuted on a streaming service without a theatrical run will be eligible for the Oscars, but only for this year. The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences on Tuesday announced the change for the 93rd Academy Awards as a response to the coronavirus pandemic’s impact on the film industry.

The film academy also said it will condense the two sound categories into one and prohibit DVD screeners for 2022’s 94th Oscars in an effort to become more carbon neutral.

Oscars eligibility has been a major question since stay at home and social distancing orders led to both the cancellation of major film festivals and the closure of movie theaters. Previously, a film would have to have a minimum seven-day theatrical run in a Los Angeles County commercial theater in order to be considered for film’s highest honor. Now films that had a previously planned theatrical release but are made available on a home video on demand service may qualify for best picture and other categories.

“We’re dealing with the unfolding reality of an unanticipated, unprecedented global health crisis and trying to be responsive to what’s going on in the world and at the same time support our filmmakers who are in a circumstance beyond their control,” film academy president David Rubin told The Associated Press Tuesday.

 

5:46 AM
With fever checks and masks, Dubai’s mega-mall reopens after month-long corona-closure

Clutching bags from designer boutiques in their gloved hands, customers are back at Dubai Mall, one of the world’s largest shopping havens that has reopened under strict safeguards against coronavirus.

At a main entrance where customers hand over their sports cars and luxury SUVs for valet parking, employees greet them with black T-shirts reading “Welcome back”.

Smiling as they point an infrared thermometer “temperature gun” at visitors’ foreheads, they check for the fever that is a telltale symptom of COVID-19 infection.

Dubai Mall is a key attraction of the city state that has built its wealth and world renown on mega-projects and a diversified economy to become a tourism and shopping hub, as well as for finance and real estate. 

Today we reopen our doors to welcome you back. Our priority as always is the safety and well-being of our customers, tenants and employees. pic.twitter.com/HItdxBhWnW

— The Dubai Mall (@TheDubaiMall) April 28, 2020

With more than 1,300 stores arrayed around a vast lake and overlooked by the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest tower, Dubai Mall attracts some 80 million visitors a year and its reopening on Tuesday was a symbolic step as the country emerges from lockdown.

After a month-long closure, crowds have been far thinner, as expatriates in jeans and Emiratis in traditional white Gulf robes roam the bright alleys that showcase everything from chic to bling.

AFP

 

5:15 AM
Turkey claims success treating COVID-19 patients with blanket use of drug touted by Trump

Turkey has the biggest coronavirus outbreak in the Middle East, with more than 114,000 confirmed infections. Almost 3,000 people have died. But while the number of cases has risen fast for six weeks, the fatality rate has remained relatively low, at about 2.5%. That’s much lower than in many European countries, or the U.S.

The Turkish government imposed weekend-only lockdowns and banned only those under the age of 20 and over 65 from leaving their homes during the week, in an effort to limit the economic impact of the pandemic. 

Turkey’s Ministry of Health says the relatively low death toll is thanks to treatment protocols in the country, which involve two existing drugs — the controversial malaria drug hydroxychloroquine touted by President Trump, and Japanese antiviral favipiravir.

“Doctors prescribe hydroxychloroquine to everyone who is tested positive for coronavirus,” Dr. Sema Turan, a member of the Turkish government’s coronavirus advisory board, told CBS News. Hospitalized patients may be given favipiravir as well if they encounter breathing problems, Turan said.   

She said the combination of drugs appeared to “delay or eliminate the need for intensive care for patients.”  

Health workers help a woman who has tested positive for the coronavirus disease COVID-19 at Bagcilar in Istanbul, April 28, 2019.

Bulent Kilic/AFP/Getty

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved emergency use of hydroxychloroquine for coronavirus patients, but has warned it should only be used in clinical trials or under the close observation of doctors, citing risks of heart complications.

 

4:53 AM
Vaccine skeptics casting doubt on virus med before it even exists

A coronavirus vaccine is still months or years away, but groups that peddle misinformation about immunizations are already taking aim, potentially eroding confidence in what could be humanity’s best chance to defeat the virus.

In recent weeks, vaccine opponents have made several unsubstantiated claims, including that vaccine trials will be dangerously rushed or that Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious diseases expert, is blocking cures to enrich vaccine makers. They’ve also falsely claimed that Microsoft founder Bill Gates wants to use a vaccine to inject microchips into people — or to cull 15% of the world’s population.

Vaccine opponents in the U.S. have been around for a long time. Their claims range from relatively modest safety concerns about specific vaccines or the risk of side effects to conspiracy theories that border on the bizarre.

The movement is receiving renewed attention, especially as it aligns itself with groups loudly protesting restrictions on daily life aimed at controlling the spread of the virus. Health professionals say vaccine misinformation could have lethal consequences if it leads people to opt for bogus cures instead. Click here to read more.

Most Americans support stay-at-home orders, CBS News poll finds

 

4:49 AM
Trump invokes Defense Production Act to keep meat processing plants open

President Trump signed an executive order on Tuesday invoking the Defense Production Act to keep meat processing plants open, a senior White House official told CBS News. Plants owned by some of the country’s largest food companies have struggled with outbreaks of the coronavirus among workers and a growing death toll.

The executive order also applies to plants that have already closed, which will have to reopen with healthy workers.   

The executive order declares meat processing plants critical infrastructure to protect against disruptions to the food supply, a person familiar with the matter said earlier Tuesday. The federal government will also provide workers with additional protective gear and guidance, the person said. Click here to read more.

Fears over meat shortages as virus impacts food supply chain

 

4:46 AM
Oxford scientists hopeful COVID-19 vaccine could be widely available by September

In the global race to find a vaccine, Oxford University just jumped way ahead of the pack. Human testing is already underway, and scientists say they’re hopeful a coronavirus vaccine will be widely available by September.

Technology the lab had already developed in previous work on inoculations for other viruses, including a close relative of COVID-19, gave it a head start.

“Well personally, I have a high degree of confidence about this vaccine, because it’s technology that I’ve used before,” said Sarah Gilbert, a professor of vaccinology at the university.

The vaccine takes the coronavirus’ genetic material and injects it into a common cold virus that has been neutralized so it cannot spread in people. The modified virus will mimic COVID-19, triggering the immune system to fight off the impostor and providing protection against the real thing. Click here to read more.

Oxford says coronavirus vaccine could be ready by September

 

4:42 AM
Trump again says virus is “going to go away,” contradicting health experts

President Trump on Tuesday said the coronavirus is “going to go away,” repeating a claim that contradicts his own health experts. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the administration’s leading infectious diseases expert, has said the deadly virus will not disappear, and the U.S. should be prepared for another wave in the fall. 

Mr. Trump said a vaccine is looking promising, but he thinks the virus is going to go away, and if it does return in a “modified” form in fall, the U.S. will handle it. 

CBS News White House correspondent Ben Tracy asked Mr. Trump how, with no known treatment or cure and states starting to reopen, he could be so confident.

“Hopefully we’re going to come up with a vaccine. You never know about a vaccine, but tremendous progress has been made. Johnson & Johnson and Oxford and lots of good things, you’ve been hearing the same things as I do,” Mr. Trump replied, noting “tremendous progress” on possible vaccines.  

“But I think what happens is it’s going to go away,” Mr. Trump added. “This is going to go away, and whether it comes back in a modified form in the fall, we’ll be able to handle it, we’ll be able to put out spurts, and we’re very prepared to handle it.” Click here to read more.

Trump says “this is going to go away” about coronavirus

 

4:34 AM
Almost 70 residents at one veterans facility in Massachusetts have died of coronavirus

Nearly 70 residents sickened with the coronavirus have died at a central Massachusetts home for aging veterans. State and federal officials are trying to figure out what went wrong in the deadliest outbreak at a long-term care facility in the U.S.

While the death toll at the state-run Holyoke Soldiers’ Home continues to climb, federal officials are investigating whether residents were denied proper medical care while the state’s top prosecutor is deciding whether to bring legal action.

Sixty-six veteran residents who tested positive for the virus have died, officials said Monday, and the cause of another death is unknown. Another 83 residents and 81 staff have tested positive. The home’s superintendent, who’s been placed on administrative leave, has defended his response and accused state officials of falsely claiming they were unaware of the scope of the problem there.

Tributes to veterans cover a sign, April 28, 2020, near an entrance road to the Soldiers’ Home, in Holyoke, Massachusetts.

Rodrique Ngowi/AP




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