Tulane Outbreak Daily | March 31, 2020

Featured Headlines

‘So many patients dying’: Doctors say NYC public hospitals reeling from coronavirus cases – NBC News  A doctor at a major public hospital in New York City described having worn a single N95 mask, a critical tool in protection from the coronavirus, for an entire week. Normally, the Brooklyn doctor would change it after every visit with a patient. Colleague after colleague, including nurses and residents, have been falling sick with the virus. Patients were coming in for unrelated health issues and suddenly testing positive for coronavirus after coming to the hospital. [Related – NYC Builds Field Hospitals in Central Park]
CDC Director On Models For The Months To Come: ‘This Virus Is Going To Be With Us’ – NPR  CDC Director Robert Redfield agreed to a phone interview with Sam Whitehead, the health reporter at WABE in Atlanta, where he also hosts a coronavirus podcast. Link will take you to audio and transcription of the interview.
How sick will the coronavirus make you? The answer may be in your genes – Science  COVID-19, caused by the new pandemic coronavirus, is strangely—and tragically—selective. Only some infected people get sick, and although most of the critically ill are elderly or have complicating problems such as heart disease, some killed by the disease are previously healthy and even relatively young. Researchers are now gearing up to scour the patients’ genomes for DNA variations that explain this mystery. The findings could be used to identify those most at risk of serious illness and those who might be protected, and they might also guide the search for new treatments.
FDA ‘OKs’ healthcare workers to reuse N95 face masks; here’s how they’re being cleaned – WWMT Michigan  The FDA approved the decontamination and re-use of masks due to the requests from many states for the federal government to supply more to protect healthcare workers. The approval came after the FDA rewrote its rules to allow the use of a technology that sterilizes protective face masks. Specialized equipment is used to vaporize hydrogen peroxide and kill germs and viruses that might be living on the mask.
Coronavirus in Sewage Portended Covid-19 Outbreak in Dutch City – Bloomberg  Dutch scientists were able to find the coronavirus in a city’s wastewater before Covid-19 cases were reported, demonstrating a novel early warning system for the pneumonia-causing disease.
Scientists search for ways to impede, treat COVID-19 – CIDRAP  Nursing homes must identify and bar staff and visitors who may be infected with COVID-19, monitor patients for infection, and take stringent infection-control measures to prevent outbreaks such as the deadly one in King County, Washington, experts said in an epidemiologic study published Mar 27 in The New England Journal of Medicine.
Asymptomatic Coronavirus Carriers: How Contagious Are They?  To have any idea whether our current social distancing efforts in the United States are helping slow the spread of coronavirus, and to gauge how long we should go on this way, scientists need to know how many people have mild or asymptomatic cases of Covid-19. There could be many such people. Since their symptoms are vague and possibly non-existent, the case numbers that climb by the day aren’t what they seem. The true numbers may be much higher — or only a little higher.
Graduating med students given early degree chance to help in hospitals – Harvard Gazette  his year’s graduating Harvard Medical School (HMS) students will have the option to receive their diplomas early so that, if they choose, they can quickly be deployed into hospitals where regular staff might soon be overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients.
What explains Covid-19’s lethality for the elderly? Scientists look to ‘twilight’ of the immune system – Stat News Researchers on Monday announced the most comprehensive estimates to date of elderly people’s elevated risk of serious illness and death from the new coronavirus: Covid-19 kills an estimated 13.4% of patients 80 and older, compared to 1.25% of those in their 50s and 0.3% of those in their 40s. [Related paper]
Belarus President Prescribes vodka, hockey and folk medicine against coronavirus – CNN  As countries close their borders and hospitals struggle with a surge in coronavirus cases, some of the most repressive societies in the former Soviet Union are carrying on with business as usual, while their leaders prescribe unusual remedies amid the global pandemic.
The Centers for Disease Control is reconsidering its guidance that healthy people should not wear masks as new data shows high rates of transmission by people who are carrying the virus but show no symptoms. Citing the new data, the CDC director said the guidance on mask-wearing was being re-evaluated “to see if there’s potential additional value for individuals that are infected or individuals that may be asymptomatically infected.” Masks stop the wearer from infecting others, rather than vice versa.


Editor’s note: Regarding the case counts below, please consider due to limited testing capabilities in some locations, the real number of cases could be considerably higher.

Official Reporting for March 31, 2020

  WHO SITREP #70 ECDC    Country Data Johns Hopkins
Confirmed Cases 693,224 77,7798 801,400
Deaths 33,106 37,272 38,743


Total cases: 140,904
Total deaths: 2,405
Jurisdictions reporting cases: 54 (50 states, District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and US Virgin Islands)

Travel Related: 886
Close Contact: 2,351
Under Investigation: 137,667
Total Cases: 140,904

Surveillance Headlines


Georgia: Days After a Funeral in a Georgia Town, Coronavirus ‘Hit Like a Bomb’ New York Times  Six siblings fell ill after attending their brother’s funeral in Albany, Ga., and the rural county now has one of America’s most intense clusters of the coronavirus

Boston, Massachusetts: 4 Boston Hospitals Report Significant Numbers Of Employees Have The Coronavirus – NPR

Houston, Texas: Several BP offshore workers test positive for coronavirus – Houston Chronicle

North Carolina: Coronavirus Shows Exponential Growth In North Carolina – Local News


Spain: Reported 5,085 more cases, and  537 more deaths, increasing its fatality count to 7,340 – CIDRAP

Spain: Spain’s daily death toll hits highest level yet – CNBC

Italy: Reported 4,050 new cases, and 812 more deaths, boosting that total to 11,591 – CIDRAP

France:  Reported 4,375 new cases – CIDRAP

UK:  Reported 2,619 new cases – CIDRAP

Turkey: Reported 1,610 new cases – CIDRAP

Middle East

Iran:  Reported a steady surge of cases over the past several weeks with 3,186 new cases, and 117 new deaths, boosting its respective totals to 41,495 and 2,757 – CIDRAP


India: A humanitarian crisis is developing in India after their president ordered a 21-day lockdown for the country, affecting 1.3 billion people.The lockdown announcement triggered a massive return of migrant workers to their homes, stranding some without food and shelter, bringing crowds of people to wait for busses, and creating clashes between state and federal policies. India had 536 cases and 37 deaths when its lockdown went into effect; as of today, it has 1,071 cases, plus 29 deaths. CIDRAP

Japan: Government officials announced a plan to ban travelers from the United States, China, South Korea, and most of Europe – CIDRAP


Travel Advisories

Look up current travel advisories at US Department of State

U.S. CDC Travel Advisories

Science and Tech


Developing Covid-19 Vaccines at Pandemic Speed – NEJM  Vaccines for the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), Ebola, and Zika did not follow a similar path. The SARS and Zika epidemics ended before vaccine development was complete, and federal funding agencies reallocated funds that had been committed to vaccine development, leaving manufacturers with financial losses and setting back other vaccine-development programs.


FDA OKs Addition To Stockpile Of Malaria Drugs For COVID-19 – NPR The Food and Drug Administration granted two malaria drugs “emergency use authorization” for the treatment of COVID-19. The move makes it easier to add the medicines to the strategic stockpile, which can be drawn upon in the current public health emergency.


Coronavirus tests made by Abbott Labs in Maine give results within minutes – Press Herald  The tests developed by Abbott Laboratories, which will start mass producing them this week, could substantially change how testing is done in the United States.

Luminex Receives BARDA Contract to Support Development of Second, Rapid SARS-CoV-2 Test – 

Published Research

Two Recent Studies on Kidney Failure and Sepsis in Severe COVID-19 Patients
  • The Lancet Patients who had the poorest outcomes from COVID-19 infection were those who were older, showed signs of sepsis, and/or had blood clotting disorders.
  • JAMA Significant number of critically ill COVID-19 patients developed septic shock and organ dysfunction, such as kidney injury

Covid-19 in Critically Ill Patients in the Seattle Region — Case Series – NEJM

Estimates of the severity of coronavirus disease 2019: a model-based analysis – Lancet

SARS-CoV-2 Testing: Trials and Tribulations  – Oxford Academic

Pre-Pub (not yet peer reviewed, should not be regarded as conclusive) 

Coping in Quarantine

Ted Talk: How we can Navigate the Coronavirus with Courage and Hope 

To Flatten the COVID-19 Curve, Target the Subconscious Getting people to comply with social distancing policies is basically an exercise in marketing

NASA offering fun activities for families stuck at home during coronavirus outbreak

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