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RIP Buddy: The first dog to test positive for the coronavirus in the U.S. has died – MarketWatch

If we’re still learning about how the coronavirus spreads among humans, and why some people get so much sicker than others — then we’ve barely scratched the surface with what it does to pets. 

While the number of animals infected worldwide remains relatively low, the first U.S. dog to test positive for SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19, has sadly died. 

National Geographic has identified the pup as Buddy, a 7-year-old German shepherd from Staten Island, N.Y., in an exclusive interview with his family that published this week. Buddy passed on July 11, just two and a half months after he started wheezing and developing thick mucus in his nose. But the Mahoney family’s struggle to get him tested and to fully understand why their pet’s health declined so rapidly — and whether lymphoma, which wasn’t diagnosed until the day he died, played a part in it — illustrates just how many questions remain about the virus’ effect on animals. 

“You tell people that your dog was positive, and they look at you [as if you have] 10 heads,” Allison Mahoney, one of Buddy’s owners, told National Geographic. “[Buddy] was the love of our lives….He brought joy to everybody. I can’t wrap my head around it.” 

The family explained that Buddy began showing difficulty breathing in mid-April, when Allison’s husband Robert Mahoney had been sick with the virus himself for three weeks. “Without a shadow of a doubt, I thought [Buddy] was positive,” Robert said. 

Related: Can my dog or cat get coronavirus? Can I kiss my pet? FDA video warns pet owners about spreading COVID-19

But the first few veterinarians that they visited were skeptical that Buddy had the coronavirus. In some cases, clinics simply didn’t have the COVID-19 test on hand to find out. The third clinic that the Mahoneys visited finally tested Buddy, and he was confirmed positive for COVID-19 on May 15, a month after his symptoms began. By May 20, he tested negative for the virus, indicating it was no longer present in his body — although he did have the antibodies for it, which was further evidence he had been infected. The U.S. Department of Agriculture verified in a June 2 press release that Buddy was the first confirmed case of canine COVID-19 in the country. 

Buddy’s diagnosis spurred more questions, however: could he have spread it to the family’s 10-month-old German shepherd puppy, Duke, or anyone else in the house? (He did not.) Had he contracted it from Robert? (That seems likely.) And why was this otherwise healthy dog’s health suddenly crashing, despite being on prescription antibiotics and steroids? (He had not been diagnosed with possible lymphoma yet.) He lost weight and began to have trouble walking. And on the morning of July 11, the poor dog began vomiting clotted blood. There was nothing more that the family or veterinarians could do for Buddy, so they made the difficult decision to euthanize him.

But new blood work done the day that Buddy was euthanized revealed he probably had lymphoma, a type of cancer, which could explain some of his symptoms toward the end. But it’s still unclear whether this underlying condition made him more vulnerable to the coronavirus, or whether the coronavirus is what first made him sick — or whether it was just bad, coincidental timing. 

The Mahoneys don’t bear any blame or ill will toward the clinic. “I think they are learning as well. It’s all trial and error. And they tried to help us the best way they can,” Allison said. 

They do wish that health officials had performed a necropsy (essentially a pet autopsy, or postmortem medical exam) to learn more about the virus in Buddy’s body. The family doesn’t remember anyone asking them about a necropsy on the day Buddy was euthanized, however, although they admit the sad day was a blur. Robert Cohen, the veterinarian at Bay Street Animal Clinic who treated Buddy — and who lost his own father to COVID-19 just a couple of weeks ago — told National Geographic that he asked the NYC Department of Health whether it needed Buddy’s body for follow up research. But by the time NYCDOH responded with a decision to do a necropsy, Buddy had already been cremated. So we don’t know for sure whether the coronavirus is what killed Buddy. 

“While testing of Buddy did indicate an infection with SARs-CoV-2 [the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19], he also had lymphoma, which can cause clinical signs similar to those described, and it very likely was a primary reason for his illness and ultimately death,” Dr. Doug Kratt, president of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), told MarketWatch by email.

“We have much more to learn about this virus and this disease,” he continued. “Research is underway to determine the full reach of SARS-CoV-2, how infection with the virus may affect animals, and which animals are susceptible and why (or why not).”

Related:Owners warned stop kissing pets as U.K. latest to sound the alert over cat infected with coronavirus

While this case raises a lot of questions about the coronavirus in animals, here’s what we do know. On the plus side, there are very few cases of COVID-19 in animals, especially relative to humans. While the virus has infected more than 17 million people worldwide, there are less than 25 confirmed cases in pets globally — although it should be noted that there has not been widespread testing of pets. 

The CDC is still not recommending routine testing for pets, largely because there is no evidence that pets are spreading the virus to people, and also because there are many health issues that could cause symptoms similar to COVID-19 in pets. “Because these other conditions are much more common than SARS-CoV-2 infections in animals, routine testing of pets for SARS-CoV-2 is not currently recommended by veterinary infectious disease experts, animal health officials, or public health veterinarians,” Dr. Kratt said. “Testing may be appropriate in certain situations after a pet has been completely evaluated by a veterinarian to rule out other causes of their illness.”

So it remains unclear how many pets in the U.S. have been tested, or how many could carry the coronavirus. 

“We don’t want people to panic. We don’t want people to be afraid of pets” or to rush to test them en masse, CDC official Dr. Casey Barton Behravesh told the AP. “There’s no evidence that pets are playing a role in spreading this disease to people.” What’s more, the pets who do get sick generally have mild symptoms, and they usually recover. 

But Buddy’s fatal case does raise questions about whether more pets should be tested moving forward, or if animals with underlying conditions could be more vulnerable to the virus in the same way that many people with pre-existing health conditions have been hit harder by COVID-19. “Certainly it is likely the underlying condition could weaken the dog’s natural defenses to a lot of things,” one South Carolina vet told National Geographic. 

The FDA and the CDC are recommending that people practice social distancing with their pets, such as keeping dogs on a leash and six feet away from dogs and people who aren’t from their household. Anyone who gets sick with the coronavirus should isolate themselves from their pets, if possible, as there is evidence that pets can catch the virus from humans. And the U.K.’s chief veterinary officer has warned pet owners to stop kissing their pets, sharing food with them or sharing beds with them.

Click here for more information about what we know about pets and coronavirus so far, as well as answers to many questions about taking care of pets during the pandemic. 

And for more information, check out the following resources:

American Veterinary Medical Association: avma.org

The Centers for Disease Control: cdc.gov/coronavirus

And read more of MarketWatch’s coronavirus coverage here.

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Ancestors of coronavirus have been hiding out in bats for decades, ready to infect humans – Live Science

The ancestors of the novel coronavirus may have been circulating in bats unnoticed for decades. And those coronaviruses likely also had the ability to infect humans, according to a new study. 

To understand where the novel coronavirus, known as SARS-CoV-2, came from and how it spread to humans, scientists need to trace its evolutionary history through the virus’s genes, which are encoded in ribonucleic acid, or RNA. But the evolutionary history of SARS-CoV-2 is complicated, because coronaviruses are known to frequently exchange genetic material with other coronaviruses.

That gene-swapping, called genetic recombination, also makes it difficult for scientists to pin down how the coronavirus first spread to humans; some researchers propose a direct bat-to-human transmission, while others hypothesize there was a middle species, such as pangolins, involved.

Related: Coronavirus news: Live updates

In the new study, researchers first identified the sections of RNA in the SARS-CoV-2 genome that had been evolving “as one entire piece,” without genetic recombination, for as far back as they could study, said co-lead author Maciej Boni, an associate professor of biology at Penn State’s Center for Infectious Disease Dynamics. 

They then compared these genetic regions with those of similar coronaviruses found in bats and pangolins. Adding evidence to support previous findings, they discovered that SARS-CoV-2 was most closely related to another bat coronavirus, known as RaTG13. 

In previous studies, scientists had looked specifically at genes responsible for the so-called receptor-binding domain (RBD) of the coronavirus’ “spike” protein — the piece that allows the virus to dock to the ACE2 receptor in human cells and infect them. That research found the RBD portion of the spike protein was genetically more similar to a coronavirus found in pangolins (called Pangolin-2019) than that of RaTG13. There are two possible explanations for this finding: first, that the SARS-CoV-2 virus had evolved its ability to spread to humans in pangolins (unlikely, given that SARS-CoV-2 is more closely related to RaTG13 than any known pangolin viruses), or second, that the SARS-CoV-2 had acquired this RBD through recombination with a pangolin virus, Boni said. 

But in the new analysis, the researchers did not find any evidence of recombination in the genes of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. Instead, the new genetic sequencing data suggests a third explanation for what happened: The genes for the spike protein, and thus the coronavirus’s ability to infect human cells, were passed down from a common ancestor that eventually gave rise to all three of the coronaviruses: SARS-CoV-2, RaTG13 and Pangolin-2019. 

The authors note that it’s still possible that pangolins “or another hitherto undiscovered species” could have acted as an intermediate host that helped the virus spread to humans. But “it’s unlikely,” Boni said. Rather, the new findings suggest that the ability to replicate in the upper respiratory tract of both humans and pangolins actually evolved in bats. From bats, SARS-CoV-2 could have spread directly to humans. 

Circling for decades

But when did the lineage that gave rise to SARS-CoV-2 first diverge from the other two virus lineages? To figure this out, the researchers identified mutations or differences in specific nucleotides — the molecules that make up the RNA of the coronavirus — among the different viruses. They then counted the number of mutations present in the regions of the SARS-CoV-2 genome that had not undergone recombination. And knowing the estimated rate at which the coronavirus mutates every year, they calculated how long it had been since the three diverged.

Related: The coronavirus was not engineered in a lab. Here’s how we know.

They found that over a century ago, there was a single lineage that eventually would give rise to SARS-CoV-2, RaTG13 and Pangolin-2019 viruses. Even then, “this lineage probably had all of the necessary amino acids in its receptor-binding site to infect human cells,” Boni said. (Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins such as the spike protein).

At that time, the Pangolin-2019 virus diverged from the SARS-CoV-2 and the RaTG13 viruses. Then, in the 1960s or 1970s, this lineage split into two, creating the RaTG13 lineage and the SARS-CoV-2 lineage. Sometime between 1980 and 2013, the RaTG13 lineage lost its human receptor-binding ability, but the SARS-CoV-2 did not.

“The SARS-CoV-2 lineage circulated in bats for 50 or 60 years before jumping to humans,” Boni said. Near the end of 2019, “someone just got very unlucky” and came into contact with SARS-CoV-2 and that set off a pandemic.

There are likely other virus lineages from the same century-old ancestor that also underwent decades of evolution, “that we have just not characterized,” Boni said. “The question is, ‘Are there half a dozen of these lineages, 20, or a hundred?’ — and nobody knows.” But it’s likely there are others out there hiding out in bats that are able to spread to humans, he said.

“This paper provides more clues to understanding how this and other coronaviruses may emerge,” said Dr. Amesh Adalja, an infectious disease expert at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security in Baltimore, who was not a part of the study. “We only really know the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the viruses that are harbored in bats.” Seeing that relatives of the coronavirus have been around for so many years, suggests there’s so much unsampled. “When it comes to pandemic preparedness, having a much more robust surveillance system is really the only way that we’re going to protect against these threats in the future,” Adalja said.

A lot of virus sampling is done in domestic and wild birds in east Asia, Southeast Asia and in other parts of the world in an effort to prevent potential bird flu pandemics, Boni said. “If someone gets infected with an avian influenza virus, the turnaround time to understand that would be something like 48 hours and we would immediately know that this person needs to be isolated right away and other measures would follow.” But for bat coronaviruses, there are no such preventative measures in place, he added. 

It took more than a month after SARS-CoV-2 first spread to humans for scientists to have the novel coronavirus’s genome in their hands — enough time for the virus to have spread to a thousand people, Boni said. “At that point it was too late.”

The findings were published July 28 in the journal Nature Microbiology.

Originally published on Live Science.

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Salmonella outbreak in 48 states linked to backyard poultry, CDC says – Arizona Daily Star

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“Coronavirus Effects Will Be Felt For Decades”: WHO – NDTV

'Coronavirus Effects Will Be Felt For Decades': WHO

The pandemic is a once-in-a-century health crisis, said WHO.

Geneva:

The WHO said Friday that coronavirus pandemic effects would be felt for decades as its emergency committee assessed the situation six months after sounding its top alarm over the outbreak.

The novel coronavirus has killed nearly 675,000 people and infected at least 17.3 million since it emerged in China last December, according to a tally from official sources compiled by AFP.

The World Health Organization’s emergency committee, comprising 18 members and 12 advisers, is meeting for the fourth time over the COVID-19 crisis.

“It’s sobering to think that six months ago, when you recommended I declare a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC), there were less than 100 cases and no deaths outside China.” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said as the meeting began.

“The pandemic is a once-in-a-century health crisis, the effects of which will be felt for decades to come.”

The committee can propose new recommendations or amend existing ones.

However, there is little doubt that the WHO will maintain the pandemic’s status as a PHEIC — its highest level of alarm — first declared on January 30.

The WHO has been sharply criticised for the length of time it took to declare an international emergency.

The United States, which accused the organisation of being too close to China, officially began its withdrawal from the organisation in July.

The agency has also been criticised for recommendations deemed late or contradictory, in particular on wearing masks, or the modes of transmission of the virus.

– Questions unanswered –

“Many scientific questions have been resolved; many remain to be answered,” Tedros said.

“Early results from serology studies are painting a consistent picture: most of the world’s people remain susceptible to this virus, even in areas that have experienced severe outbreaks.

“Many countries that believed they were past the worst are now grappling with new outbreaks. Some that were less affected in the earliest weeks are now seeing escalating numbers of cases and deaths. And some that had large outbreaks have brought them under control.”

The highly restrictive lockdowns enforced to deal with the pandemic earlier this year caused economic turmoil and an effective vaccine may be the only long-term solution to the highly contagious respiratory disease.

“Although vaccine development is happening at record speed, we must learn to live with this virus, and we must fight it with the tools we have,” said Tedros.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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Several dozen virus cases occurred on USCs fraternity row – KCRA Sacramento

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Botox injections may reduce depression, study finds – Fox News

People who received Botox (botulinum toxin) injections for certain conditions reported less depression less often compared to patients who did not receive the injections for similar diagnoses, according to a study published Thursday in the journal Scientific Reports.

“For years, clinicians have observed that Botox injected for cosmetic reasons seems to ease depression for their patients,” said Ruben Abagyan, Ph.D., professor of pharmacy and one of the lead researchers of the study, in a statement.

“It’s been thought that easing severe frown lines in the forehead region disrupts a feedback loop that reinforces negative emotions. But we’ve found here that the mechanism may be more complex because it doesn’t really matter where the Botox is injected,” the author stated in a news release.

GOOD SENSE OF SMELL MAY INDICATE LOWER RISK OF DEMENTIA IN OLDER ADULTS: STUDY

The research team at Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at University of California San Diego combed through the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)’s Adverse Effect Reporting System (FAERS) database to see the side effects reported by nearly 40,000 people who received Botox injections for various reasons, according to a news release by the university.

The treatments were not just in the forehead but included several different sites, including the neck, limbs and forehead. The release stated the researchers used an algorithm to find significant statistical differences between patients who used Botox and those who did not for the same issue.

The treatments were not just in the forehead but included several different sites, including the neck, limbs, and forehead. (iStock)

The treatments were not just in the forehead but included several different sites, including the neck, limbs, and forehead. (iStock)

The researchers found depression was reported 40 to 88 percent less often by Botox users for six of the eight conditions and injection sites, according to the release.

“This finding is exciting because it supports a new treatment to affect mood and fight depression, one of the common and dangerous mental illnesses — and it’s based on a very large body of statistical data, rather than limited-scale observations,” Tigran Makunts, PharmD, one of the researchers in the study, stated in the release.

More research is needed to determine how Botox potentially acts as an antidepressant, according to the study. The researchers have a few theories that need further investigation. For instance, Botox being absorbed systemically to the central nervous system, which is involved in mood or emotions, they hypothesized, or possibly Botox indirectly affecting a person’s depression because the Botox helped relieve an underlying chronic condition that may have been a contributing factor to the patient’s depression.

Health experts say Botox is commonly used not only for cosmetic reasons, such as combatting wrinkles but also for muscle spasms, tight muscles, migraines, temporomandibular joint dysfunction, as well as other conditions including excessive sweating and bladder conditions.

DIETS HIGHER IN PROTEIN, PARTICULARLY PLANT PROTEIN, LINKED TO LOWER RATES OF EARLY DEATH: STUDY

The FAERS data used in this study was not exclusively gathered for the purpose of investigating the link between Botox and depression, according to the news release.  The data represents only a subgroup of Botox users who reported experiencing negative side effects. The authors note they excluded data from patients who were taking antidepressants; however, in some of the cases, the use of medications could have been underreported.

The release stated there is a clinical trial underway that is directly investigating Botox treatment for people with depression, but it is only testing forehead injection sites,. The authors said additional clinical trials are necessary to investigate which site is best to specifically inject to treat depression.

According to the World Health Organization, an estimated more than 264 million people worldwide experience depression.

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OSU estimates 17% of Hermiston residents infected with coronavirus – OregonLive

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown’s decision Thursday to push Umatilla County back to stay-at-home status came after she learned of alarmingly high coronavirus spread in Hermiston estimated by researchers at Oregon State University.

A random sampling of Hermiston residents last Saturday and Sunday found that 41 of 471 people – or 8.7% – tested positive for coronavirus.

Researchers subsequently calculated that the actual prevalence was 17%, or about 3,000 active infections in a city of about 18,000 residents.

“This study confirms what we have feared based on weeks of troubling data from the Oregon Health Authority: The coronavirus has spread throughout Hermiston and threatens the entire community,” Brown said in a statement.

Brown learned about the study results Thursday during a briefing from top leaders at the Oregon Health Authority, who also shared other state-collected data points showing persistent problems in Umatilla County.

Coronavirus cases have been surging in Umatilla County for a month and a half, pushing the jurisdiction to the fourth-most cases in Oregon despite having the 13th most residents. Cases are also climbing in neighboring Morrow County, prompting Brown to push it back into Phase 1 reopening status.

The growth of cases in the Hermiston area had been well documented even before the latest study, conducted by Oregon State University as part of its months-long project that began in Corvallis before moving to Bend and Newport. State data showed that Hermiston’s 97838 ZIP code has regularly had among the highest number of new cases since June.

“Our results indicate the virus is extremely widespread in Hermiston and more prevalent than previous data had indicated,” Ben Dalziel, an assistant professor and co-director of the project, said in a statement.

It’s not clear how many of the 41 people who tested positive during the OSU study had already been identified as testing positive and included in numbers compiled by the Oregon Health Authority. The state has identified 1,902 Umatilla County residents with confirmed or presumed infections.

Dalziel told The Oregonian/OregonLive that participants who submit test samples are not asked if they have already been tested or if they have tested positive for COVID-19.

But researchers do ask about symptoms, and four out five Hermiston residents who tested positive during OSU’s project did not report having indicators of the virus. Participants are given a swab to collect a sample from their nose.

Researchers also collected samples from sewage in Hermiston, and Boardman in Morrow County, to monitor spread. Those also showed high levels of the virus.

Hermiston’s mayor, David Drotzmann, expressed alarm at the findings.

“The results of this study are a significant warning,” he said in a statement. “We now have a clearer picture of how many people are carrying this disease without knowing it, and how rapidly it is spreading family to family, household to household.”

— Brad Schmidt; bschmidt@oregonian.com; 503-294-7628; @_brad_schmidt

Subscribe to Oregonian/OregonLive newsletters and podcasts for the latest news and top stories.

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Children and staff at Georgia overnight camp test positive for coronavirus, CDC says – NBC News

A coronavirus outbreak was reported at an overnight summer camp in Georgia that did not require campers to wear face masks.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a study Friday on the outbreak, saying that it shows children are susceptible to the virus and “play an important role in transmission.”

The camp, which the CDC did not name, held an orientation for 120 staff members and more than 130 trainees in mid-June, according to its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. The staff members stayed at the camp and on June 21 were joined by more than 360 campers ranging in age from 6 to 19.

Days later, on June 23, a teenage staff member left after developing chills and later tested positive for the coronavirus. The camp began to send people home the following day and alerted the state’s Department of Public Health.

Among the children and staff who were tested for the virus, 260 came back positive, with 231 of them aged 17 or younger.

“Settings, like multi-day, overnight summer camps, pose a unique challenge when it comes to preventing the spread of infectious diseases, considering the amount of time campers and staff members spend in close proximity,” the CDC said in a press release.

The health department recommended that everyone who attended the camp get tested for the virus and self-quarantine. Those who tested positive were asked to isolate. The camp closed down on June 27.

According to the CDC, the camp had everyone submit documentation that they had tested negative for the virus, but did not require campers to wear face masks. Only staff members had to wear masks.

The report also noted that campers slept in cabins and participated “in a variety of indoor and outdoor activities, including daily vigorous singing and cheering.”

“Asymptomatic infection was common and potentially contributed to undetected transmission, as has been previously reported,” the CDC report stated. “This investigation adds to the body of evidence demonstrating that children of all ages are susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 infection and, contrary to early reports, might play an important role in transmission.”

The CDC said in its press release that the proper use of face masks, along with rigorous cleaning and social distancing, can help prevent the spread of the virus. These recommendations are included in the CDC’s recently released guidance for the reopening of schools, which has been under debate as the White House calls for schools to fully reopen.

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Amid coronavirus, Alaska sees surge in syphilis cases – Fox News

Amid coronavirus, Alaska health officials are dealing with another outbreak – syphilis.

According to local media reports, the state’s Department of Health and Social Services said sexually transmitted diseases are at an all-time high nationwide and in Alaska. The State of Alaska Epidemiology Bulletin on syphilis, published Thursday, stated the number of cases of the sexually transmitted disease doubled in 2019, and health officials are concerned the numbers will reach a similar high in 2020.

PROTECTING AGAINST CORONAVIRUS: IS A FACE MASK OR FACE SHIELD BETTER? 

According to the bulletin, the majority of increased cases were in heterosexual men and women. The rise in female cases raises the risk of women passing the infection on to their babies, officials said, adding in the report that this “underscores the importance of STD screening at the initial prenatal visit, during the third trimester, and at the time of delivery for those at-risk.”

“This is a reminder that as we battle the COVID-19 pandemic, there are other outbreaks that need our attention,” Dr. Joe McLaughlin, Alaska’s State Epidemiologist, said in a statement to local TV outlet KTUU-2.

A syphilis outbreak in Alaska was first declared in 2018. At the time, 114 cases were reported to state epidemiologists. But by 2019, the number of syphilis cases rose to 242, representing a 112 percent increase.

Many factors contributed to the climb in cases. Among them were methamphetamine and heroin use, homelessness, and a history of incarceration within 12 months prior to the survey, according to the state’s Epidemiology Bulletin.

DIETS HIGHER IN PROTEIN, PARTICULARLY PLANT PROTEIN, LINKED TO LOWER RATES OF EARLY DEATH: STUDY

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended states with STD clinics to open under capacity restrictions in an effort to prioritize patients who have STD symptoms and groups that are considered high risk, the local outlet reported.

To reduce the spread of the disease, the department advised Alaskans to take precautions, get tested regularly, and seek treatment and inform their partner if they are positive, according to KTUU-2.

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El Paso surpasses 14000 confirmed cases; 7 new virus deaths announced – KVIA El Paso

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EL PASO, Texas (KVIA) — The El Paso Department of Public Health announced seven virus deaths and 337 new cases Friday morning.

The death toll now stands at 266.

The heath department said the victims ranged in age from their 70s to their 90s. They included three men in their 70s, two women in their 80s and two women in their 90s.

Only one of the victims did not have underlying health conditions, officials indicated.

There have now been 14,276 confirmed cases in El Paso County since the pandemic began. The number of active cases increased for the first time in five days. It now stands 3,311, compared to 3,204 on Thursday.

The Department of Public Health had not yet published the updated number of recoveries.

Hospitalizations decreased by 15 from 279 to 264. The number of ICU patients decreased from 104 to 100. However, the number of patients on ventilators increased to 54, which is an all-time high.

For a complete look at the health department’s Covid-19 data, click here.

Coronavirus / El Paso