MONDAY, June 22, 2020 (HealthDay News) — The World Health Organization recorded the largest single-day worldwide increase in coronavirus cases on Sunday, with Brazil and the United States logging the biggest jumps in infections.
More than 183,000 new cases were reported around the globe in the past 24 hours, with Brazil’s daily tally hitting 54,771 and the United States following closely behind with 36,617 new cases, CBS News reported. More than two-thirds of new COVID-19 deaths were reported in the Americas, the network reported.
Experts say rising case counts reflect both more testing, as well as the spread of new infections. In the United States, the resurgence in infections isn’t a “second wave,” but instead a continuation of the first wave of outbreaks, they noted.
“When you have 20,000-plus infections per day, how can you talk about a second wave?” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious diseases expert, told the Associated Press. “We’re in the first wave. Let’s get out of the first wave before you have a second wave.”
Nationwide, cases have risen 15 percent over the past two weeks, with the most significant increases reported in the South, West and Midwest, The New York Times reported. However, overall deaths have dropped dramatically, with the 14-day average down 43 percent as of Sunday. That drop is likely rooted in improved hospital treatment protocols, experts said.
In California, where Gov. Gavin Newsom announced last week that face masks would be required in any indoor settings in the state, a record-setting 4,515 new cases were reported on Sunday. Meanwhile, Missouri and Oklahoma also broke records for the number of new cases reported in a single day, the Times reported.
Floridians, in particular, could be in peril, with experts warning it could become the next U.S. epicenter as citizens flock back to beaches, restaurants and bars. In Oklahoma, cases are up 110% from last week, CNN said.
Masking, social distancing
On Sunday, White House Trade Advisor Peter Navarro said that the federal government was working to replenish the national stockpile of medical equipment and supplies in preparation for another surge of the virus this fall, the newspaper reported.
“We are filling the stockpile in anticipation of a possible problem in the fall,” Navarro told CNN. “We’re doing everything we can.”
Twenty-nine states are seeing upticks in new coronavirus cases, the Times reported, as some state officials consider measures similar to what has been ordered in California.
Reimposing prior precautions could turn some states’ rising numbers around, experts say.
“Uniform masking would go a long way,” Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, said during an appearance on “Morning Joe” on Thursday.
Dr. Peter Hotez, of the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, said, “I don’t see any option other than to start re-implementing significant levels of social distancing.”
Hotez told CNN, “Things opened up prematurely. We didn’t complete that social distancing period that we needed to do, and now we’re seeing this very sharp acceleration.”
By Monday, the U.S. coronavirus case count neared 2.3 million as the death toll neared 120,000, according to a Times tally.
According to the same tally, the top five states in coronavirus cases as of Monday were: New York with more than 392,700; California with more than 178,800; New Jersey with over 169,000; Illinois with over 138,000; and Texas with over 114,000.
An old drug brings new hope
There was some good news last week, however. Researchers at Oxford University in England announced that dexamethasone, a widely used, low-cost steroid, appears to cut the death rate for ventilated COVID-19 patients by one-third. It also lowered the death rate for patients who require oxygen (but are not yet on a ventilator) by one-fifth, the Times reported.
“Bottom line is, good news,” Fauci, who directs the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told the AP. “This is a significant improvement in the available therapeutic options that we have.”
On Thursday, another weekly batch of new jobless claims suggested that the damage the pandemic has wrought on the U.S. economy may be slowing. Roughly 1.5 million people filed for state unemployment insurance — bad news, but at least a decline from the 6 million claims seen in a single week in March. More than 45.7 million claims have been filed over the past 13 weeks, NPR reported.
“We’re slowly seeing the labor market recovery begin to take form,” said Robert Rosener, an economist at Morgan Stanley, but “there’s still an enormous amount of layoffs going on.”
Meanwhile, the search for an effective vaccine continues. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said in late May that it would provide up to $1.2 billion to the drug company AstraZeneca to develop a potential coronavirus vaccine from Oxford University, in England.
The fourth, and largest, vaccine research agreement funds a clinical trial of the potential vaccine in the United States this summer with about 30,000 volunteers, the Times reported.
The goal? To make at least 300 million doses that could be available as early as October, the HHS said in a statement.
The United States has already agreed to provide up to $483 million to the biotech company Moderna and $500 million to Johnson & Johnson for their vaccine efforts. It is also providing $30 million to a virus vaccine effort led by the French company Sanofi, the Times reported. Moderna said a large clinical trial of its vaccine candidate could begin in July.
Nations grapple with pandemic
Elsewhere in the world, the situation remains challenging.
Even as the pandemic is easing in Europe and some parts of Asia, it is worsening in India. The country has loosened some of the social distancing enacted in the world’s largest lockdown, even as cases surge. As of Monday, India had over 425,000 cases, a Johns Hopkins tally shows.
Brazil has also become a hotspot in the coronavirus pandemic, with over 1 million confirmed infections by Monday, according to the Hopkins tally. U.S. President Donald Trump has issued a ban on all foreign travelers from Brazil because of the burgeoning number of COVID-19 cases in that country, CNN reported.
Cases are also spiking wildly in Russia: As of Monday, that country reported the world’s third-highest number of COVID-19 cases, at over 591,400, the Hopkins tally showed.
Worldwide, the number of reported infections neared 9 million on Monday, with more than 468,500 deaths, according to the Hopkins tally.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on the new coronavirus.
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