CDC releases new report on pregnant women and COVID-19 – Good Morning America

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El Paso County COVID-19 cases jump by 233 – KFOX El Paso

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Woman in isolation for 105 days after testing positive for COVID-19 earlier this year – WFLA

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Drug-Hunter Chases Coronavirus Treatment as Pandemic Spreads – The Wall Street Journal

Christos Kyratsous, the top drug hunter at Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc., likes to go fast. He drives a Porsche 911, but lately he has been riding his pricey Swiss-made racing bicycle to his office north of New York City.

Velocity became more important than ever this year for the 39-year-old Greek scientist. He is helming a team of Regeneron scientists sprinting to develop the first drug specifically designed to treat and temporarily protect against new infections.


Coronavirus: US hits record high in daily cases – BBC News

A security guard checks the temperature of a woman at the entrance of a restaurant on Ocean Drive in Miami Beach, Florida on June 24, 2020Image copyright

Image caption

States like Florida are experiencing rates of infection not seen since April

The United States recorded an all-time daily high of 40,000 coronavirus infections on Thursday, figures from Johns Hopkins University (JHU) show.

A recent surge in infections and hospitalisations has prompted the states of Texas, Florida and Arizona to pause reopening plans.

Texas’s governor ordered bars to close and announced other “targeted measures” on Friday to bring infections down.

Florida announced it was suspending alcohol consumption at its bars.

JHU’s previous high of 36,400 was on 24 April when less testing took place.

The US has 2.4 million confirmed infections and 122,370 deaths – more than any other country.

While some of the increase in daily cases recorded is down to increased testing, the rate of positive tests in some areas is also increasing.

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media captionFlorida residents push back on new face mask mandate officials in the US estimate the true number of cases is likely to be 10 times higher than the reported figure.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said up to 20 million Americans may have been infected with coronavirus. The estimate was based on blood samples collected from across the country which were tested for the presence of antibodies to the virus.

The surge in cases was being driven by young people testing positive, especially in the south and west of the US, said the head of the CDC, Dr Robert Redfield.

Which states are worst hit?

Texas, which has been at the forefront of moves to end lockdown measures, has seen thousands of new cases, prompting Republican Governor Greg Abbott to call a temporary halt to its reopening on Friday.

He announced that he was closing bars, stopping river-rafting, and ordering restaurants to return to 50% capacity to try to stem the outbreak.

Image copyright

Image caption

Bars like this one in Houston have to close but could run deliveries or takeaway services

“It is clear that the rise in cases is largely driven by certain types of activities, including Texans congregating in bars,” he said in a statement.

Texas confirmed a record 5,996 new cases on Thursday, while there were also 47 more deaths reported, the highest daily toll for a month.

On Friday, Florida broke its own daily record for new infections, reporting 8,942 new cases. The previous record was 5,508, reported on Wednesday. The state now has a total of 122,960 recorded cases and 3,366 deaths.

State officials announced that alcohol consumption was being suspended at bars across the state. However, it was not clear how the new measures would affect restaurants that served alcohol, the Miami Herald reported.

Earlier, Florida’s governor said there was no plan to continue reopening step-by-step. “We are where we are. I didn’t say we were going to go on to the next phase,” Ron DeSantis told reporters.

Arizona has emerged as another epicentre of the crisis. Disease trackers there say the state has “lost control of the epidemic”, the Washington Post reports. Governor Doug Ducey, who had been giving businesses a “green light” to reopen, now says Arizona residents are “safer at home”.

The light is at “yellow”, Gov Ducey said on Thursday. “I’m asking for Arizonans to proceed with caution, to go slower, to look both ways.”

Other states, including Alabama, California, Idaho, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Wyoming, have all seen record daily increases in the number of confirmed cases this week.

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Media captionDr Fauci on Tuesday: ‘We’re now seeing a disturbing surge of infections’

New York, New Jersey and Connecticut have said they will ask people travelling from eight states – Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas and Utah – to go into self-isolation for 14 days.

In California, which reported a record 7,149 new confirmed cases on Wednesday, Disney said it was delaying reopening of its Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park originally set for 17 July. The company said it first needed to receive approval from government officials.

Governor Gavin Newsom said the state had carried out more than a million tests over the past two weeks, with about 5% coming back positive. Mr Newsom has made wearing a face mask mandatory in public.

The University of Washington predicts 180,000 US deaths by October – or 146,000 if 95% of Americans wear masks.

The European Union is reportedly considering banning US citizens from entering the bloc as it considers how to reopen its external borders.

How has the US responded to the pandemic?

The US federal system of government allows states freedom to devise their own solutions and policies to pressing concerns – even a national health crisis.

Governors have therefore been responsible for the varying degrees of lockdown put in place to curtail the spread of

That patchwork response has also been marked by contention between the Trump administration and some governors.

Back in March, President Trump made it clear he wanted to see America reopen for business “soon”.

Faced with rising unemployment and an economic crisis just months ahead of November’s election, he tweeted at the time: “We cannot let the cure be worse than the problem itself.”

The president even went so far as to endorse street protests against stringent lockdown measures in several states.

Then, in April, President Trump unveiled guidance to governors on reopening state economies.

The guidelines for “Opening up America Again” outlined three phases for states to gradually ease their lockdowns.

Mr Trump promised governors they would be handling the process themselves, with help from the federal government.


People Of Wuhan, China, Share Stories From Coronavirus Ground Zero – NPR

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The coronavirus is even more sinister than we suspected – Los Angeles Times

The new coronavirus’ reputation for messing with scientists’ assumptions has taken a truly creepy turn.

Researchers exploring the interaction between the coronavirus and its hosts have discovered that when the SARS-CoV-2 virus infects a human cell, it sets off a ghoulish transformation. Obeying instructions from the virus, the newly infected cell sprouts multi-pronged tentacles studded with viral particles.

These disfigured zombie cells appear to be using those streaming filaments, or filopodia, to reach still-healthy neighboring cells. The protuberances appear to bore into the cells’ bodies and inject their viral venom directly into those cells’ genetic command centers — thus creating another zombie.

The authors of the new study, an international team led by researchers at UC San Francisco, say the coronavirus appears to be using these newly sprouted dendrites to boost its efficiency in capturing new cells and establishing infection in its human victims.

Their research was published Friday in the journal Cell.

The scientists also believe they have identified several drugs that could disrupt the viral takeover of cells and slow the process by which COVID-19 takes hold. These compounds, many of which were designed as cancer treatments, seem likely to work because they block the chemical signals that activate filopodia production in the first place.

Among the seven drugs they identified as potentially useful against COVID-19 are Silmitasertib, a still-experimental drug in early clinical trials as a treatment for bile duct cancer and a form of childhood brain cancer; ralimetinib, a cancer drug developed by Eli Lilly; and gilteritinib (marketed as Xospata), a drug in use already to treat acute myeloid leukemia.

The new research emerges from an ambitious effort to identify promising COVID-19 treatments using the science of “proteomics,” the interactions among proteins. Scientists set out to identify the chemical signals and cascading chain of events that take place when a virus meets and overtakes a host cell. Then, they look for drug compounds that could scramble those chemical signals and disrupt the process of infection.

Until now, the process by which the coronavirus was thought to infect cells was pretty run-of-the-mill for a virus: It found receptors on the surface of the cells that line humans’ mouth, nose, respiratory tract, lungs and blood vessels.

Like space invaders in a science fiction tale, the tiny virus was known to dock on the surface of the much larger cell. A viral landing party came aboard and hijacked the cell’s usual function, making it a factory for its replication.

Tendrils reach out from a coronavirus-infected cell.

Tendrils reach out from a coronavirus-infected cell.


The discovery that the coronavirus initiates the sprouting of filopodia in infected cells suggests that it has, at some point in its evolution, developed more than one way to ensure it gets passed quickly from cell to cell.

Typically, a rapid rise in infected cells will raise a victim’s viral load, make her feel sick and promote the transmission of the virus to other people. UC San Francisco’s Nevan Krogan, one of the paper’s senior authors, said there is much about the coronavirus that doesn’t match scientists’ expectations.

But the discovery of filopodia in coronavirus-infected cells suggests that this virus has developed more than one way to wheedle its way into cells and establish itself as a force to be reckoned with.

“It’s just so sinister that the virus uses other mechanisms to infect other cells before it kills the cell,” Krogan said. Other researchers include scientists from Mt. Sinai in New York, Rocky Mountain Labs in Montana (where these electron microscopy images were made), the Pasteur Institute in Paris and the University of Freiburg in Germany.

Another cell infected by the coronavirus.

Another cell infected by the coronavirus.

(UC San Francisco )

Cells sprouting filopodia not only look creepy. They keep some pretty nasty company as well.

Vaccinia, a member of the poxvirus family that causes smallpox, uses filopodia that sprout from infected cells to “surf” toward those cells and inject them with more viral particles, a 2008 study found. HIV and some influenza viruses have been known to use filopodia to enhance their ability to break and enter into cells. Many viruses alter the exoskeleton of the cells they infect, and inducing filopodia is one way they do it, said Columbia University virologist Angela L. Rasmussen. And while enhancing infection is one role they often play, there are many others.

But Krogan said even those viruses do not seem to set off the prolific growth of filaments that was seen by his colleagues on coronavirus-infected cells. The branching tentacles protruding from those cells were highly unusual, he said.

A coronavirus-infected cell reaches out to new hosts.

A coronavirus-infected cell reaches out to new hosts.

(UC San Francisco)

Columbia University microbiologist Stephen P. Goff urged caution in assuming that filopodia are necessarily behaving as a second mode of infecting cells with virus.

“It’s intriguing and a really cool observation,” Goff said. The study’s striking images show that the filopodia contain a lot of virus and that in the lab, inhibiting their growth seemed to reduce viral replication. This strongly suggests that filopodia are somehow amping up the virus’ ability to infect cells, he acknowledged.

“But we don’t yet know what stage [of infection] is affected” by the strange protrusions, he said. “It will be great fun to find out.”


61 new cases of COVID-19 in Allegheny Co.; Second-highest daily total since outbreak began – WPXI Pittsburgh

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New Yorks Contact Tracers Are Still Facing Challenges – Gothamist

Answer your freakin’ phone.

That’s the message contact tracers are trying to get through to people they’re calling who have tested positive for the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. One public service announcement tweeted out by the state Department shows two iphones side by side, one with an incoming call from “Your Ex” and another from “NYS Contact Tracing”—with instructions above one “Don’t Pick Up” and above the other, “Please Pick Up.”

Close to 100 percent of those in New York City who tested positive and shared an accurate number upon intake have been picking up the phone. And people appear to be getting used to sharing information of those they might have exposed: of those who complete interviews, about three-fourths provided tracers with information for their secondary contacts.

But getting people to pick up the phone has been just one of several challenges facing the city and state contact tracing programs. Hiring and training people, getting the technology to work, and getting different agencies to exchange information smoothly has been difficult.

Leaders of both programs say they had to ramp up their systems quickly and have had to fix problems as they emerged, but they’re already making progress.

“We stood up in a matter of a few weeks, an organization with thousands of people, from scratch—the I.T. infrastructure, the management infrastructure, the training infrastructure,” said Dr. Ted Long, a physician and administrator at the and Hospitals Corporation who is running the city’s Testing and Tracing Corps. “We didn’t want to lose even one minute to get this up and running for New York City.”

But some experts say the city’s program, which got underway at the beginning of June, should have started much earlier. One veteran epidemiologist for the city faults the Department for not doing contact tracing at the peak of the outbreak.

“Yes, the numbers were overwhelming, and, yes, they would only have reached a fraction of the people infected, but that still could have provided useful information that potentially could have slowed down transmission,” the insider said, withholding their name to speak candidly about debates within the Department and de Blasio administration.

“We should have been a lot further along with this many, many weeks ago,” said Dr. Irwin Redlener, director of Columbia University’s National Center for Disaster Preparedness. “Like with testing, we weren’t prepared—and we’re still not prepared to do either of those tasks sufficiently, to make sure that people are tested and to have a robust, effective contact tracing system.”

Many public health observers—including the chairs of the state Assembly and Senate health committees—have criticized Mayor de Blasio for handing over testing and tracing efforts to the public hospital system from the city Department, which works closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and is well regarded internationally for its ability to contain outbreaks. Dr. Denis Nash, who has worked for both agencies and is now a professor of epidemiology at the CUNY Graduate School of Public, said there has been a “disconnect between what we hear and what I think of as the larger public health goals of the contact tracing program.”

Nash said the city program, in its statements, is emphasizing how many people it’s reached, how many secondary contacts tracers have spoken with, and other figures, but is not speaking about patterns that can help inform both decision-makers and average citizens.

“What goes hand-in-hand with contact tracing is gaining epidemic intelligence,” he said. “Who’s actually getting COVID now? And if contact tracing is reaching out to every single new diagnosis, shouldn’t we be learning something about their likely mode of acquisition? And shouldn’t we be telling everyone about that every few days, so that we can all do our part in trying to close the gaps in prevention?”

One newly-hired contact tracer cited problems with training and management.

“There’s a lot of conflicting information,” a woman who identified herself as Dee told Dr. Long on the Brian Lehrer Show on Thursday. “There’s our agency [ and Hospitals], but then there’s the contractor, and we have many different supervisors…and our training schedules are even a little bit short and hard to understand.”

Long replied that he was eager to hear more from her.

“We’re fully committed to that,” he said. “I think there’s evidence of how things have improved, through your hard work, between the first two weeks and last week, has already been really, really encouraging.”

Outside New York City, individual counties run their own contact tracing programs, coordinated by the state Department. Several counties have complained about “heavy handed” guidance from Albany, according to one veteran observer, and are criticizing a contact tracing software program the state procured, called CommCare. Some have said they refuse to use it and threatened to completely go their own way.

“Local health departments have been responsible for contact tracing for decades and are very good at what they do,” said Sarah Ravenhall, executive director of the New York State Association of County Officials. ”So it is natural that some local health departments want to use a system that they believe is best suited for contact tracing in their communities.”

Ravenhall said counties share the same goals with the state of ensuring “that the work is done consistently, and the data is generally standardized.”

Larry Schwartz, Governor Andrew Cuomo’s point person on contact tracing, said he has not heard complaints and that any software or other problems are simply part of putting together a new statewide program so quickly.

“I think we’re moving at the speed of light,” Schwartz said. “Like any new program, like any new technology, there’s always a couple of problems and glitches…many of them have been resolved, and the remaining few are being beta-tested with solutions.”

Schwartz said the counties will need to fall in line or risk losing money to help pay for their expanded contact tracing obligations.

“In order to be eligible to receive federal funding, the federal government is requiring a unified surveillance system to be able to monitor and track the success of the program,” Schwartz said, recounting a recent conference call with county leaders. “I had zero complaints and zero anyone telling me that they’re not going to participate.”


Gyms Reopening May Not Facilitate Coronavirus Infections, Study Finds – The Wall Street Journal

European countries that have allowed gyms to reopen have reported no uptick in coronavirus infections, suggesting fitness studios might be relatively safe.

A study sponsored by the Norwegian government and published this week provided the latest indication that with certain hygiene rules, people who exercise at the gym might not be at a higher risk of infection than those who don’t.