Coronavirus News – April 27

New York clinical trial tests heartburn remedy against coronavirus

Famotidine, the active compound in the over-the-counter heartburn drug Pepcid, is being tested as a possible treatment for the novel coronavirus. The first COVID-19 patients at Northwell Health (New York, NY) began receiving famotidine intravenously on April 7, at nine times the heartburn dose. Northwell Health has kept the famotidine testing under wraps to secure a research stockpile before other hospitals or the federal government started buying it. As of Saturday, 187 COVID-19 patients in critical status, including many on ventilators, have been enrolled in the trial, which aims for a total of 1,174 people. Reports from China and molecular modeling results suggest the drug, which seems to bind a key enzyme in SARS-CoV-2, could make a difference. However, the hype surrounding other drugs has made the trial leaders hesitant of sparking premature enthusiasm. Read more.

Nursing home industry pushes for immunity from lawsuits during coronavirus emergency

The COVID-19 death toll at nursing homes has climbed to nearly 12,000 and the nursing home industry is pushing states to provide immunity from lawsuits to the owners and employees of the nation’s 15,600 nursing homes. Six states have provided explicit immunity from coronavirus lawsuits for nursing homes, and six more states have granted some form of immunity to healthcare providers. Patient advocates are concerned that nursing homes accused of extreme neglect could avoid liability. Read more.

New Jersey governor to reveal plan to reopen

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy is set to unveil his plan to start rolling back restrictions in the state. The plan is expected to outline specific benchmarks including declines in cases or hospitalizations, expanded testing capacity and contact tracing that would trigger the gradual unraveling of the lockdown. New Jersey, New York and five other neighboring states have committed to a regional approach to reopening. Earlier this month, New Jersey, New York and Connecticut jointly reopened marinas and boatyards. Read more.

U.K. doctors identify new coronavirus-related condition in children

Doctors in the United Kingdom have reported a serious new coronavirus-related condition emerging in children including “an apparent rise in the number of children of all ages presenting with a multisystem inflammatory state requiring intensive care,” according to a report by the Health Service Journal. A separate alert, sent by the Paediatric Intensive Care Society, urges doctors to “please refer children presenting with these symptoms as a matter of urgency.” The coronavirus pandemic has so far disproportionately affected older patients and the total number of cases of this as-yet-unidentified condition in children remains small. Read more.

CDC adds six new symptoms for COVID-19

The CDC has added several new symptoms to its existing list of symptoms for COVID-19. It has added chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat and new loss of taste or smell to the list that has long included fever, cough and shortness of breath. The symptoms usually appear within two to 14 days after exposure to the virus, the CDC says. Read more.