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5 things to know about COVID-19 this week

An experimental drug shows promise, young patients suffer devastating strokes and toe lesions emerge as an usual symptom of the disease.

As the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic continues, new information is coming out constantly. Here are five important developments from the past week.

1. The FDA plans to issue an emergency use authorization for remdesivir, an experimental antiviral drug, multiple news outlets reported. This development comes on the heels of the news that preliminary results of a government study of remdesivir found the drug shortened patients’ recovery time by four days on average.

The study, which is being conducted by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has not yet been peer-reviewed. A separate clinical trial of remdesivir in Chicago patients, which has also not been published, has also showed promising results. On the flipside, a new study of patients in China, which was published in the Lancet on Wednesday, found that severely ill patients who took remdesivir did no better than those who didn’t take it.

2. Updated projections suggest nearly 20 states will see peak demand for hospital resources from COVID-19 in the next 2 weeks, according to the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) in Seattle. Nationwide, peak demand for hospital resources due to COVID-19 occurred on April 19. In an analysis, Becker’s Hospital Review provides the projected peak date for each state, noting that IHME created the projections under the assumption that social distancing measures would continue through the end of May.

The 20 states projected to see peak hospital demands in the next two weeks are Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and Wyoming.

3. The CDC has added six new symptoms to its list of COVID-19 symptoms. The new symptoms, which are now listed alongside fever, shortness of breath, and coughing, are:

  • Chills
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell

4. Reports of young COVID-19 patients suffering severe strokes are emerging. Physicians are seeing highly atypical strokes in COVID-19 patients in their 30s and 40s who would otherwise have few or no risk factors for stroke, according to a recent Washington Post article. Many of the young patients are suffering from devastating large vessel occlusions, which are more common in patients who are older than 60.

Researchers suspect the strokes are related to a blood-clotting complication seen in some COVID-19 patients.

5. Dermatologists are seeing rashes and toe lesions in some COVID-19 patients. Roughly half of the entries in the American Academy of Dermatology’s registry of skin conditions seen in COVID-19 patients are on what’s become known as “COVID toes,” or pinkish-reddish lesions that can later turn purple, according to USA Today. Many of the COVID toes entries cite patients who are in their 20s and 30s with mild cases of the disease who recover well.

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