U.S. braces for tough COVID-19 week, deaths drop in parts of Europe

April 6, 2020

Top U.S. health officials warn that the nation is in for a tough week ahead with more COVID-19 cases and deaths, as activity in some European countries—including some of world's main hot spots—showed more signs of slowing.

 As of April 5, the U.S. total is approaching 350,000 cases, including almost 10,000 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins online dashboard. Globally, the total passed 1,275,000 from 183 countries, including almost 70,000 deaths. The World Health Organization (WHO) said in its latest daily situation report that the Falkland Islands, home to about 3,400 people, reported its first cases.

On CBS's Face the Nation, Tony Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), said the country is struggling to get COVID-19 activity under control and warned that the next week would be bad, because the outbreak is not at its peak yet. He said he hoped to see some flattening of the curve in a week to nine days. At a White House briefing, President Trump also warned of a tough week ahead, as did Surgeon General Jerome Adams in an interview with Fox News.

So far, eight states haven't implemented stay-at-home orders. They include Utah, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Arkansas, Nebraska, and South Carolina.

Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently launched a new weekly COVID-19 surveillance report called COVIDview, similar to its weekly FluView report. The first week shows that outpatient and emergency department visits for COVID-like symptoms are elevated compared to levels normally seen for this time of year, though there is little flu virus circulation.

Hospitalization rates are similar to what the CDC sees at the start of an annual flu season. The percentage of deaths from pneumonia and flu is 8.2 percent, above the epidemic threshold of 7.2 percent. Pneumonia deaths have increased sharply since the end of February, as flu deaths declined last week, which could reflect COVID-19 activity.

In another CDC development, scientists have started serology studies to gauge the number of Americans who have had COVID-19. The efforts will start with current hot spots, then expand nationally this summer, with another part geared toward examining healthcare workers infections.

In New York, the nation's main hot spot, Governor Andrew Cuomo said the number of deaths has been dropping over the past few days, though it's too early to say how significant the trend is.

In New Jersey, the second most affected state, Governor Phil Murphy said that after multiple talks with the White House, the state has secured 500 more ventilators, which he says is New Jersey's top need right now.

In Europe, hot spot deaths have declined in Spain, the country with the second highest case total, and Italy reported its lowest daily death total in more than two weeks. Deaths also declined in the United Kingdom, where Prime Minister Boris Johnson was admitted to the hospital for persistent symptoms, and Queen Elizabeth addressed the country in a prerecorded message, thanking key workers and the public and vowing that the UK will succeed in its fight against the virus.

In Turkey, however, COVID-19 activity is quickly accelerating, with the country now reporting almost 30,000 cases and nearly 600 deaths, according to the health ministry. Of the total, over 3,000 were reported, along with almost 75 deaths.

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