Coronavirus headlines: New wave of infections threatens to collapse Japan hospitals


April 17, 2020

(WJW) – South Korea reports 2% of its coronavirus recoveries have tested positive a second time. 

The director for the country’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the patients on average were 13.5 days removed from their release when they tested positive again, although the longest gap was 35 days.

South Korea had just over 10,000 cases and 230 deaths.

They’re monitoring people who have been in contact with the patients, but so far are not seeing any additional spread from these specific infections. 

This is certain to be monitored by Ohio’s top health officials as the state looks at ways to slowly reopen.

Health authorities are working to determine if this is a mutation of COVID-19 or if the virus simply stayed dormant in patients. 

10:30 P.M.

TOKYO (AP) — Hospitals in Japan are increasingly turning away sick people in ambulances as the country braces for a surge in coronavirus infections. The Japanese Association for Acute Medicine and the Japanese Society for Emergency Medicine say emergency medicine has already collapsed with many hospitals refusing to treat people including those suffering strokes, heart attacks and external injuries. Japan initially seemed to have successfully controlled the outbreak by going after clusters of infections in specific places, usually enclosed spaces such as clubs, gyms and meeting venues. But the spread of infections outpaced this approach and most new cases are untraceable. 

8:00 P.M.

(CNN) — At least four states may be able to loosen social distancing measures next month, an influential model tracking the coronavirus pandemic says.

The model’s new projections show that Vermont, West Virginia, Montana and Hawaii could open as early as May 4.

Other states including, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Utah, Arkansas and Oklahoma may need to wait until late June or early July.

Dr. Christopher Murray, the model’s maker and director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, said the challenge will be figuring out how to reopen the US economy and allowing people to get back to work without sacrificing mitigation.

“Each state is different,” Murray said. “Each state has a different public health system, and different capabilities. This is not a ‘one decision fits all’ situation.”

The model is now estimating a total of 60,308 deaths in the US by August 4. That’s about 8,500 fewer deaths than predicted on Monday.

As of Friday, the pandemic has killed more than 36,700 people in the US and infected more than 692,000, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

The university’s daily death tallies have surged recently, after some states began to report probable Covid-19 deaths. These are deaths where patients had symptoms of the disease but no lab test confirming it. It’s not always clear when those deaths happened, so it is difficult to compare JHU’s death count day by day.

As some states extended their stay-at-home orders earlier this week, Jacksonville, Florida, beaches and parks reopened on Friday.

Beaches will be open from 6 to 11 a.m. and from 5 to 8 p.m. daily with some restrictions, according to the city’s website. Activities such as sunbathing or any type of group activity will not be allowed at beaches during the restricted hours and items like towels, blankets, chairs, coolers and grills will not be permitted on the beach.

Texas and Vermont have announced plans to reopen some sectors in the coming weeks.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced a statewide task force of medical and economic experts to oversee the reopening of the state, with early May as a target date. Schools will be closed for the remainder of the school year.

“We have demonstrated that we can corral the coronavirus,” Abbott said, pointing to a statistic that Texas has the “second-most recoveries from Covid-19 of all states in America.”

There are more than 17,300 coronavirus cases reported so far in the state of 29 million people, and 428 coronavirus-related fatalities. An estimated 4,190 patients have recovered from the virus.

Some states ‘can’t wait for feds any longer’

Vice President Mike Pence said there are enough Covid-19 tests to reopen states under the White House guidelines as governors have been asking for federal help for testing.

“Our best scientists and health experts assess that states today have enough tests to implement the criteria of phase one if they choose to do so,” Pence said Friday during a White House coronavirus briefing.

Pence said that the administration is going to continue to scale testing as needed, calling on states to manage testing.

While the American Clinical Laboratory Association, which represents commercial labs such as LabCorp and Quest Diagnostics, has said capacity is not an issue, others said critical shortages are hampering testing.

Laboratories are “working day and night to expand testing capacity but are severely hampered by shortages of needed reagents, swabs for testing, PPE, and specialized equipment designed by companies to be used with their own machines,” the Association of American Medical Colleges said in a a Monday letter to the White House Coronavirus Task Force.

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont said he’s taking it upon himself to make sure his state has everything they need to make it happen.

“I can’t wait for the feds any longer,” Lamont said.

Earlier, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said states generally don’t have enough money to pay for testing and his state doesn’t have a “system” to deal with the kind of volume needed.

New York has by far the most coronavirus cases in the US. Unlike hospitalizations and ICU admissions, the number of deaths — 630 Thursday, against 606 the day before — “refuses to come down dramatically,” the governor said.

The White House gave all 50 governors a suggested three-phase approach to easing social distancing. President Donald Trump, in a retreat from his earlier claims that it was his call, told governors that when and how to reopen is up to them.

On Friday, Trump tweeted that Minnesota, Michigan and Virginia should “liberate” which may be in reference to stay-at-home orders that he feels are overly restrictive. Those states have Democratic governors.

Michigan had a large protest earlier this week over its stay-at-home order.

How the federal guidelines would work

The federal three-phase guidelines to reopen the economy rely on “gating” criteria that states would have to pass before starting each phase.

The criteria include a “downward trajectory” of Covid-19 cases in a 14-day period, and a return to pre-crisis conditions in hospitals, according to a document outlining the plan.

In the first phase, schools currently closed should remain so, and employees who are able to telework should keep working from home. Large venues, including some restaurants and gyms, could operate under strict social-distancing protocols, but bars should remain shuttered.

Phases 2 and 3 would gradually decrease the recommended restrictions. Vulnerable populations would remain sheltered in place until phase 3.

The phased approach encourages all individuals to “strongly consider” using face coverings in public. And the document encourages employers to use social distancing, temperature checks, testing and sanitation practices in their workplaces.

The guidelines are “sound,” Dr. Tom Frieden, former director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said during a Vital Strategies webinar.

He and many other experts and officials, including governors, are stressing that more detailed plans about diagnostic testing, antibody testing and contact tracing are needed before the economy can reopen safely.

“We need to find a way to have testing (that is) widely, easily accessible, it is agnostic to your insurance status, and it is … aggressive … where there are potentially no cases,” Dr. John Lynch, board member of the Infectious Diseases Society of America, said in a separate webinar.

The CDC plans to build “surveillance sites” in some of its clinics and indigenous population clinics, to “identify and understand how much asymptomatic infection is there,” CDC director Dr. Robert Redfield told NBC’s “Today” show.

Several CDC’s teams will be traveling to eight states to expand testing, bolster contact tracing efforts and contain the virus, a federal health official told CNN. They will go to New Mexico, Wyoming, Idaho, Alaska, North Dakota, Kentucky, West Virginia and Ohio.

States are warily looking into easing restrictions

Some states already have said they’re banding together in regional groups to decide when to reopen. That includes states on the West Coast; seven states in the Northeast; and a group encompassing Ohio, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Indiana and Kentucky.

Some governors are warning about the dangers of easing restrictions too soon after Trump unveiled his reopening guidelines and said a shutdown is not a sustainable, long-term solution.

“We must get this right because the stakes are very high. If we don’t do it right, the consequences are horrendous,” Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said Thursday. “It’s going to be gradual. It’s going to be rolling it out one thing after another.”

Vermont will start to ease restrictions Monday — but very slowly and with lots of caveats.

Certain workers — construction, home appraisers, property management and municipal clerks — can restart jobs Monday. But only two workers would be allowed per location, and they’d need to wear cloth masks and maintain 6 feet of space, Gov. Phil Scott said.

On May 1, farmers markets will be able to operate with strict social-distancing guidelines in place, Scott said.

The number of new cases is dropping in some states, but health officials have also identified new outbreaks. In New Hampshire, for example, clusters were identified at three long-term care facilities.

Nationally, the backbone of the $2 trillion stimulus designed to keep workers employed shuttered after only two weeks, with tens of thousands of businesses not able to get money before it went dry. Talks to refill it have stalled, so far.

In total, 22 million people have filed first-time unemployment claims since mid-March as the pandemic forced businesses to close.

Florida’s unemployment system has been so overwhelmed, hundreds of people have been added to the state’s call centers to process claims. Staffing is up to 2,000, from 30 a month ago, Gov. Ron DeSantis said.

Where all 50 states stand on reopening

New York and other hot spots are getting longer peaks than expected, expert says

New York and other hot spots are experiencing prolonged peaks of the coronavirus pandemic while Southern states may not get hit as hard as earlier projected, experts say.

Murray, the IHME’s director, said updated projections will show decreasing cases on a national level but extended peaks in hard-hit areas.

Americans are social distancing more than expected, even in some states without strong mandates, which factors into the new estimates, Murray told CNN’s global town hall on coronavirus Thursday night.

“We made a big push trying to take into account how people move around, like direct measurement through cell phone data,” he said. “There’s more social distancing across the country than I think we expected. A number of states in the South will have smaller epidemics than expected.”

With growing social distancing, death rates among confirmed cases in some Southern states will come down, which will mean lower national numbers overall, he said.

“Counterbalance to that is that places like New York seem to be stuck at the peak for longer than we originally expected,” he added. “… It’s not something that I think anybody expected to see where people would, instead of two or three days to peak, they’re spending a longer period and then cases will start to come down.”

6:00 P.M.

WASHINGTON, D.C. (WJW) — President Trump and the White House Coronavirus Task Force held their daily briefing to discuss the nation’s efforts to battle COVID-19.

Here are some highlights from the press conference:

  • Federal government to provide aid to farmers impacted by pandemic.
  • President Trump said they are giving ventilators to other countries in need. 
  • He said states have to get better about testing for COVID-19. 
  • “The surge seems to be over,” said Trump.
  • Government produced 2,900 hospital beds for New York. Didn’t need them all.
  • He said we will be hearing about reopenings in the coming weeks and months.
  • The country could reach 60,000 deaths. “One is too many,” he said.
  • He said vaccines being tested are coming along really well. 
  • Vice President Pence commended health care workers for their efforts.
  • Also thanked citizens for coopering with stay at home orders.
  • He hopes states will follow the three phase plan created by White House.
  • As of April 16, FEMA has coordinating the pieces of millions of equipment, including more than 10,000 ventilators.
  • Pence believes states could double their testing if they activated all labs.
  • FDA is currently working on a new antibody test.
  • He said states today have enough tests to implement phase 1 of White House plans if they want to. 
  • Dr. Fauci said testing isn’t everything in order to reopen, he said mitigating efforts are extremely important and will play a big role.
  • He said the private sector has the capability to make tests.
  • Another federal official said country has done more tests in one month with COVID-19 than with HIV, which has been around for years.
  • He said there are enough tests to start reopening the country, despite some concerns from lawmakers, the public, and some in the media.

4:00 P.M.

PARIS (AP) — More than 1,000 crew members of a French aircraft carrier and its escort ships have tested positive for COVID-19. One person is in intensive care. Testing for all members of the group is not yet complete. Two of four American sailors aboard are among those who tested positive. A French navy spokesman says officials are determined to trace back to the cause of the infections and disinfect the Charles de Gaulle. Did the coronavirus enter the vessel in Cyprus during an anti-terror mission, during a stop in Brest, in the Atlantic or elsewhere? The French navy is investigating.

12:00 P.M.

  • 33,325 deaths are reported in the US, according to Johns Hopkins University
  • 147,632 deaths are reported around the globe
  • 74,840 people have been tested in Ohio, which is about .63% of the population

11:30 A.M.

  • Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, Ohio Lt. Governor Jon Husted, and Ohio Department of Health Director Amy Acton, M.D. MPH will update the state’s coronavirus response at 2 p.m.

  • The White House Coronavirus Task Force briefing is scheduled for 5 p.m.

  • (AP)  Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says coronavirus social distancing efforts are still insufficient 

9:30 A.M.

  • New York residents are required to wear face coverings when leaving the house starting at 8 p.m. today
  • New York’s Stay-at-Home order has been extended through May 15

6:45 A.M.

6:15 A.M.

  • (AP) Former Leeds defender Norman Hunter has died after being diagnosed with COVID-19. He was 76.
  • (AP) The BMW International Open in Germany and the Open de France golf tournaments have been canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic and the Scottish Open has been postponed.
  • (AP) Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte threatened martial law-style enforcement of a monthlong coronavirus lockdown

5:45 A.M.

  • CCBH reports 41 deaths and 1,263 coronavirus cases
  • Cuyahoga County has the most deaths reported in the state of Ohio
  • Mahoning County reports 41 deaths
  • Statewide, Ohio is reporting 389 deaths and 8,414 coronavirus cases
  • 33,286 people have died of coronavirus in America
  • There are 671,425 coronavirus cases confirmed from 3,420,394 tests in the US
  • 145,705 have died from coronavirus across the globe
  • There are 2,165,500 confirmed coronavirus cases


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