Coronavirus News – April 16

U.S. investigating if virus was accidentally released from Chinese lab

The U.S. government is exploring the possibility that the novel coronavirus was accidentally released from a Chinese lab in Wuhan, China. The Chinese government denied that the lab was to blame early on, instead saying the outbreak started at a wet market in Wuhan. However, a Yahoo News article said the “patient zero” and other multiple early cases did not have any connection to the market, and the market did not sell bats, which is the animal considered in the virus transmission to humans. Wuhan is home to some of China’s top research laboratories, including the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which has done research on coronaviruses that originate in bats. The U.S. is investigating if a Wuhan lab accidentally released the virus to the public, possibly through a worker who unknowingly became infected. Read more.

Americans show trust in U.S. government to handle coronavirus pandemic

Americans, in polls conducted since early March, have trust or confidence in the federal government to handle the coronavirus pandemic or to disseminate reliable information about it. According to research by the website Five Thirty Eight, 56% of Americans said they were at least somewhat confident in the government on the coronavirus, compared with 39% who said they were not very or not at all confident. Read more.

White House to unveil new federal coronavirus guidelines for reopening country

President Donald Trump will unveil new federal guidelines on Thursday meant to begin the process of reopening the country. President has said the final decisions will fall to individual governors, but he still plans to provide some guidelines and benchmarks to help advise states on easing social distancing measures. Some state health leaders said they see no immediate relief for Americans locked down to try to slow the spread of COVID-19. “Hygiene, social distancing – the behavior changes will need to be sustained for some time, certainly until we get a vaccine,” said John Wiesman, Washington state Secretary of Health. Read more.

President Trump creates Dynamic Ventilator Reserve

President Donald Trump announced this week a new public-private partnership, called the Dynamic Ventilator Reserve, aimed at allowing hospitals to lend unused ventilators to areas that need them to treat patients who have contracted the novel coronavirus. “Hospitals throughout the country currently have 60,000 unused ventilators,” said President Trump. “Through this initiative, your hospitals are committing to lend unused surplus ventilators to other hospitals if they have an immediate need, and you’ve been doing that. We appreciate it.” Trump said the initiative would be supported by FEMA and HHS. Read more.

New York is being hit harder than other U.S. states by COVID-19 and why

New York is being hit the hardest by COVID-19 with more cases and more deaths per capita than any other state. New York’s death rate was 513 deaths per 1 million people, compared to California’s 17 deaths per 1 million people. Studies have shown that dozens of people brought the virus to New York, mainly from Europe, while California had about eight initial introductions. Additionally, a man in New Rochelle, NY, was a “super-spreader,” which can infect many more people than expected for a particular pathogen. The result is a large initial number of people infected in the state. Read more.

Amazon employee testing plans for coronavirus detailed in shareholder letter

Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, provided information to Amazon shareholders on Amazon-built testing labs that were announced last week. In a shareholder letter, Bezos stated the company is considering “regular testing of all Amazonians, including those showing no symptoms.” Amazon is building a testing lab designed specifically to test its own employees, in order to inhibit the virus’ spread. The company has implemented temperature checks at its buildings globally. Read more.

Emirates is carrying out COVID-19 blood tests on passengers prior to boarding flights

Dubai-based airline Emirates has begun carrying out COVID-19 blood tests on passengers at the airport prior to flights. The first rapid blood tests took place on Wednesday at Dubai International Airport, with passengers on a flight to Tunisia all reportedly tested before departure. The tests were conducted by the Dubai Health Authority and results were available within 10 minutes. Read more.