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About a month ago, the U.S. began implementing social distancing measures and mandating that people shelter in place to combat the spread of COVID-19, the novel coronavirus. Since then, people have continued to only leave their homes for essential goods, and some reports suggest that these changes have helped to curb the spread of the virus (or “flatten the curve”). Other developments suggest that many more challenges lie ahead. Here’s the latest COVID-19 news.
China reports highest number of new cases in over five weeks
Last week, China lifted its 76-day lockdown on Wuhan province, where COVID-19 was first detected. There, the virus infected more than 50,000 people and killed over 2,500. Last month, new infections began slowing to just a few per day.
However, today, China has reported its highest number of new COVID-19 cases in over five weeks. These 169 new cases have caused officials to worry that a second wave of infections could overtake China, though 98 of these new cases (58 percent) are in people who arrived in China from other countries, and 61 of these cases (36 percent) are asymptomatic.
South Korea reports recovered patients testing positive again
South Korea has deservedly earned a reputation as one of the very few countries that implemented a timely, appropriate, effective response to COVID-19. Today, the country has reported only 25 new cases, but it has simultaneously reported that at least 116 people who had previously battled and then been cleared of COVID-19 had tested positive again. The director of the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said that these second positive tests may reflect the virus reactivating in patients rather than reinfecting them, and it remains unclear whether people who test positive again will be symptomatic or contagious.
The U.S. may be nearing COVID-19 peak, but testing is needed
In an interview today, Robert R. Redfield – director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – said that the country may reach its COVID-19 peak this week and described national cases as “stabilizing.” Redfield nevertheless did not hold out hope for reopening the economy or returning to old ways of life any time soon. In his interview, he emphasized that rapid testing for both infected people and those who might be immune will be needed before the country reopens. This way, current social distancing guidelines can be slowly replaced with rapid isolation and contact tracing – the exact tactics behind South Korea’s success.
Trump allegedly could have acted earlier
Last week, a major report accused President Donald J. Trump of rebuffing expert advice to begin implementing social distancing measures in February, a full month before the virus took hold in the U.S. In an interview days later, Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and arguably the face of the American COVID-19 response, said that “there was a lot of pushback about shutting things down back then.” Trump has since retweeted Twitter users calling for Fauci’s firing and continued to insist that, despite expert advice to maintain social distancing for the foreseeable future, the economy will reopen in early May.
What recent COVID-19 news has worried you the most or given you the most hope? Share any other updates you’ve seen in the comments.