5 things to know about COVID-19 this week

Learn the latest COVID-19 developments as cases continue to grow in the U.S. and abroad.

The number of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases in the U.S. and abroad continues to grow this week. These are the latest developments as of 4 p.m. CT on Wednesday.

1. Number of cases in the U.S.: The CDC is reporting 129 COVID-19 cases and nine deaths. The CDC is reporting confirmed and presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 reported to CDC or tested at CDC since Jan. 21, 2020. The New York Times is reporting at least 135 cases and 11 deaths in the U.S.—10 deaths in Washington state and one in California.

States that have one or more COVID-19 cases, according to the New York Times: Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wisconsin.

2. Global cases: There have been 93,090 confirmed cases worldwide and 3,198 deaths, according to the WHO. In a Monday press conference, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director-general, said the COVID-19 epidemics in South Korea, Italy, Iran and Japan are the agency’s greatest concern, while cases in China are continuing to decline.

3. The evolving mortality rate: On Tuesday, Dr. Tedros said that roughly 3.4% of COVID-19 patients worldwide have died from the illness, a figure that doesn’t include all mild cases not requiring medical attention and is skewed by cases from Wuhan, China, where the death rate is higher than it is in other areas in China, the New York Times reported.

In a Feb. 28 editorial for the New England Journal of Medicine, leaders of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the CDC stated that when asymptomatic and minimally symptomatic cases are factored in, COVID-19’s mortality rate could be considerably less than 1%.

“This suggests that the overall clinical consequences of COVID-19 may ultimately be more akin to those of a severe seasonal influenza (which has a case fatality rate of approximately 0.1%) or a pandemic influenza (similar to those in 1957 and 1968) rather than a disease similar to SARS or MERS, which have had case fatality rates of 9 to 10% and 36%, respectively,” they wrote.

COVID-19 might not transmit as easily as the flu, Dr. Tedros said on Tuesday, according to the New York Times.

4. CDC testing: On Tuesday, the CDC broadly expanded the criteria of who can be tested for COVID-19, according to Politico coverage of a White House press briefing. Under the new guidelines, any American can be tested for the virus if a doctor suspects it, regardless of whether they are showing symptoms.

At the press conference, Vice President Mike Pence also said the U.S. plans to send out 2,500 new test kits by the week’s end. Collectively, the kits can test 1.5 million samples, he said; patients typically require at least two samples, public health labs say.

5. House passes a nearly $8-billion bill to fight COVID-19: On Wednesday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a $7.8-billion emergency spending bill to fight COVID-19, multiple news outlets reported. The Senate and President Donald Trump are expected to approve the bill. The bill includes a mandatory funding authorization for $500 million over a 10-year period for a remote health care program and a provision that requires that funds are only used for fighting COVID-19 and other infectious diseases, NBC News reported.

The bill would allocate more than $2 billion to the CDC, more than $3 billion to a public health emergency fund and the NIH for vaccine development and research, and provide more than $300 million to ensure that any vaccine developed is available to all Americans regardless of their ability to pay for it, according to NBC News.

Additional resources:

The AOA’s COVID-19 FAQ from Feb. 26

CDC COVID-19 landing page

WHO COVID-19 landing page

The New York Times’ live COVID-19 updates page

How to stay healthy during severe flu seasons

How to protect yourself from pneumonia

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