While vaccine development leaps ahead, two leading testing companies say they’re overwhelmed.
While the pandemic feels as if it’s been a long ordeal in a flurry of news updates and political debates, the world is still learning about the new coronavirus and trying to formulate vaccine solutions at the same time. The United States continues to have the worst outbreak globally, constantly breaking records and experiencing state outbreaks worse than in the spring.
Here are the latest developments and informational updates Americans should know about the pandemic, in no particular order:
1. Vaccine development reaches a positive milestone.
Moderna Inc. developers and National Institute of Health scientists found out an experimental vaccine they’ve been working on helped boost immune systems. Young volunteers in a 45-person study took two doses and developed neutralized antibodies to fend off COVID-19. Results regarding older adults will be released after regulator review.
2. Coronavirus testing systems are overwhelmed.
Two leading testing companies, Quest Diagnostics and LabCorp, report lengthened coronavirus test result times as infections rise. “The surge in COVID-19 cases affects the laboratory industry as a whole,” Quest Diagnostics said in a statement. The company can return results within seven days—except for priority patients—while LabCorp has test results sent between four to six days. This delay presents a serious hurdle in ensuring those who have been infected can isolate quickly to prevent further spread of the virus.
3. Young people—especially smokers—are at greater risk.
University of California, San Diego, researchers found that at least one in three young Americans between 18 and 25 years old are in danger of experiencing severe COVID-19 complications. The study, however, found that the risk was lowered when smokers were removed from the results, making it clear that cigarette smokers are at especially high risk in fighting coronavirus.
4. Infections continue to break records.
At least 22 states and two U.S. territories have set a record regarding their coronavirus outbreaks at least once since July 1, NBC News reports. An analysis done by USA TODAY finds almost half of all U.S. states are seeing outbreaks spiking at a faster speed than in the spring.
5. Deaths are rising along with infections.
The number of documented U.S. deaths due to COVID-19 tends to lag behind cases—and that’s especially prevalent in today’s outbreaks. The country was averaging less than 500 daily deaths before July, and that’s trending higher now two weeks into the month. Florida beat its state record for the most COVID-19 deaths in one day, reporting 132 deaths. Alabama and North Carolina have also reported record death numbers.
University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, frequently cited by the White House, predicts the U.S. will see more than 224,000 deaths by November.
6. The CDC suggests all Americans should wear masks.
More than four months into the pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is calling for all citizens to wear face coverings to slow the spread of coronavirus. Leaders of the agency, including Director Robert Redford, wrote an editorial in the Journal of the American Medical Association stating that universal masking could help the U.S. get a handle on its outbreak.
“If we can get everybody to wear a mask right now, I really do think over the next four to six, eight weeks, we can bring this epidemic under control,” Redfield said Tuesday.
7. The World Health Organization says the coronavirus may be an airborne virus.
The world is still learning about the virus, and the WHO said in a recent statement that the coronavirus could be spread through the air. The global health organization previously said airborne spread wasn’t a risk outside hospital settings, but changed its advisory to consider recent research that suggested otherwise. This poses a clear challenge in safely opening more indoor activities or businesses.
8. Coronavirus-fueled unemployment persists.
Another 1.3 million Americans claimed unemployment in the last week, along with 17.3 million people making continued requests for jobless benefits. The claims are trending lower but it’s still markedly high.
A special pandemic weekly benefit of $600 for people unemployed due to the pandemic is set to expire at the end of the month.