Daily coronavirus briefing: Italy to ease lockdown restrictions, reopen more businesses

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The coronavirus pandemic brought the world to a halt in the early part of 2020. After emerging in China’s Hubei province in late 2019, the number of cases skyrocketed and infected more than 2 million worldwide over a four-month span with the epicenter shifting from Asia to Europe and, as of late March, the United States.

The World Health Organization (WHO) officially declared the outbreak a pandemic on March 11. The virus, called SARS-CoV-2, causes a disease known as COVID-19, and as the number of cases escalated, government officials took drastic measures to slow the spread, ordering various forms of travel restrictions including total lockdowns in some places.

As residents stayed shuttered indoors, major metropolitan areas from Los Angeles to New York City to Paris and Rome have transformed into ghost towns. Infectious disease experts have stressed there is much to be learned about the virus, including whether there will be a seasonal correlation to a rise or decline in confirmed infections or how weather and UV radiation can impact the spread.

April 26, 8 p.m.

The U.S. has 964,937 confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to Johns Hopkins University. Global cases have hit 2,965,363, meaning the U.S. accounts for 32.5% of the global confirmed case count. So far, 5,441,079 people in the U.S. have been tested for the virus.
April 26, 7:02 p.m.

Prime Minister of Italy Giuseppe Conte announced that the country will enter phase two of lifting the lockdown, The BBC reported. Phase two includes:

Visiting relatives in small groups in masks

Opening of parks

Funerals with up to 12 attendees

Travel within regions, but not between regions

The training of individual athletes and sports in

Reopening of bars and restaurants for takeout on May 4

Reopening of bars, restaurants, hairdressers and other beauty salons for in-store service on June 1

More retail shops will open on May 18, including museums and libraries

Group training for sports teams will resume May 18

Despite the number of eases on the restrictions, Conte announced school will remain closed until September.

April 26, 6:06 p.m.

Northwell Health in New York has started clinical trials of treating COVID-19 with an over the counter heartburn medication, Science Magazine reported. Famotidine, which is found in Pepcid, has been given to 187 patients in the hospital at nine times the dose for heartburn. Kevin Tracey, who is a former neurosurgeon leading the research, said if the drug works, they will be able to tell in a few weeks, after testing more patients.
April 26, 5:03 p.m.

Dr. Sunil Desai from Orlando Health said the health system is seeing great results in COVID-19-infected patients through plasma-derived therapy. CNN reported that plasma-derived therapy is when doctors inject the plasma of a recovered COVID-19 patient into a person that is still fighting it, as the antibodies in the plasma help to fight off the virus. Desai said the procedure has been performed on 12 patients, whose conditions have since improved.
April 26, 4:01 p.m.

The last remaining patient on the military hospital ship the USNS Comfort was discharged on Sunday. The hospital ship was anchored in New York Harbor. ABC reported that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo thought the ship “not only brought comfort but also saved lives,” despite the projected COVID-19 cases not being reached. The ship is now returning to Virginia for maintenance, before embarking on its next mission.
April 26, 2:57 p.m.

As many states begin to consider reopening their economies, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy warned that the reopening of his state is still weeks away. “The mandate to stay at home and stay away from each other is still very much in effect until we can break the back of this curve,” Murphy said, according to NJ.com.
April 26, 1:45 p.m.

South Carolina received 1.5 million surgical masks, state leaders announced in a press conference. The masks arrived from China to Greenville, South Carolina today in a partnership with Boeing. State leaders thanked Discommon owner Neil Ferrier who sourced the masks in China. The masks will be given to healthcare workers at Prisma Healthcare as well as the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston.
April 26, 12:30 p.m.

More than 105,000 patients have recovered from COVID-19 in the United States, according to the data from Johns Hopkins University. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo reported total hospitalizations in New York are down to levels seen nearly a month ago. There have been 367 deaths statewide in the last day, down from 437 in the previous 24-hour period, Cuomo announced.
April 26, 11:30 a.m.

CDC adds more coronavirus symptoms. Previously, only fever, cough and shortness of breath were noted as possible symptoms of COVID-19, however, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has added six new possible symptoms.

These symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus, according to the CDC:

Fever

Cough

Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

Chills

Repeated shaking with chills

Muscle pain

Headache

Sore throat

New loss of taste or smell

April 26, 10:15 a.m.

In Madrid, children under the age of 14 are now allowed outside for the first time in six weeks. The government declared they have one hour of supervised outdoor activity per day between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m., staying within close proximity to their home. The relaxation came as Spain registered its lowest daily increase in the coronavirus death toll in more than a month. Currently, Spain has 223,759 total confirmed cases and 22,902 deaths.

April 26, 9 a.m.

Tampa’s Mayor Jane Castor posted an apology to Tom Brady after he was removed from a local park that was closed due to coronavirus. “Tom, my apologies for the miscommunication when you arrived – not the best first impression,” Castor wrote in a statement posted to Twitter on Saturday. The NFL season set to begin as scheduled on September 10.

April 26, 7:45 a.m.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommended countries refrain from issuing certificates of immunity to people who have been infected with the virus since there is still no evidence that people who test positive for the new coronavirus and recover are immunized and protected against reinfection, The World Health Organization warned. “There is currently no evidence that people who have recovered from COVID-19 and have antibodies are protected from a second infection,” WHO said in a statement.

April 25, 9:51 p.m.

Hawaii Gov. David Ige announced the state’s sixth supplementary emergency proclamation, extending the stay at home order in the state to May 31. The order also restricts outdoor activities such as surfing, swimming and walking pets. “This was not an easy decision. I know this has been difficult for everyone. Businesses need to reopen. People want to end this self-isolation and we want to return to normal, but this virus is potentially deadly, especially for the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions,” Ige said.

April 25, 8:23 p.m.

The coronavirus has killed more than 200,000 people globally. Here are the latest global COVID-19 numbers, provided by researchers at Johns Hopkins University:

Total confirmed cases: 2,892,508

Total confirmed deaths: 202,455

Total confirmed recoveries: 815,658

April 25, 7:14 p.m.

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson will return to work on Monday, CNN reported. Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Dominic Raab has been acting as Prime Minister while Johnson recovered from COVID-19, which he was hospitalized for earlier this month

April 25, 6:10 p.m.

Smoking could increase the chances of contracting COVID-19, according to The U.S. Food and Drug Administration. In addition, smoking can worsen the outcome in people who develop the virus. “People who smoke cigarettes may be at increased risk of infection with the virus that causes COVID-19, and may have worse outcomes from COVID-19,” the FDA told Bloomberg.

April 25, 5:07 p.m.

Harris County in Texas will begin enforcing that all residents over the age of 10 wear face coverings. The order will begin being enforced on April 27, KHOU 11 News reported. To assist residents in following the order, the city of Houston announced they will begin handing out free masks at various locations, beginning Saturday.
April 25, 4:02 p.m.

Over a dozen sailors on a U.S. Navy destroyer ship in the Caribbean have tested positive for COVID-19, U.S. officials told Reuters. There are believed to be a few hundred sailors on the ship. It is also believed that the cases are the first onboard a ship that is currently at sea. The destroyer was sent to the Caribbean in an effort to fight drug cartels. There is now concern that the outbreak could lead it to return to the United States. A similar situation happened to an aircraft carrier in the Asia Pacific when 850 tested positive causing the ship to dock in Guam for medical assistance.

April 25, 3 p.m.

U.S. military sentinels stand watch at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier no matter the weather and even as COVID-19 has led to a shutdown in and around the nation’s capital. U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper recently reminded Americans of those sentinels’ duties when he posted a photo of one guarding the tomb in wet spring weather. Rain is in the cards there on Friday, with sunshine returning over the weekend, according to the AccuWeather forecast. Last year, AccuWeather’s Jonathan Petramala reported on the constant watch the sentinels provide, even when the weather makes it difficult. Volunteers from the U.S. Army’s 3rd Infantry have been standing watch at Arlington National Cemetary in Virginia every minute of every day since 1948. Watch his report here.

April 25, 1:45 p.m.

Florida will receive a shipment of antibody test kits on May 1, Gov. Ron DeSantis said at a press conference. The antibody testing kit company had to send kits to New York before they could fulfill the order for Florida, DeSantis said. “We have now been confirmed that we will have the antibody tests that the state has ordered,” DeSantis said.

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