Researchers from the NIH and the University of Oxford have a produced a vaccine that appears to protect animals from developing pneumonia or an immune-enhanced disease when it was given to rhesus macaque monkeys to fight COVID-19. The animals who had been given the vaccine and were then exposed to SARS-CoV-2 had less of the virus in their lungs and airways. That’s compared to the control group of monkeys which was not given the vaccine. Rhesus macaque monkeys have similar immune systems to humans. Read more.
Counterfeit masks continue to reach U.S. frontline healthcare workers
Counterfeit goods continue to pour into the U.S., including masks that reach the frontline healthcare workers. To date, Operation Stolen Promise, spearheaded by Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, has netted 11 arrests and 519 seizures. “It’s just unprecedented,” said Steve Francis, HIS’s assistant director for global trade investigations. “These are really bad times for people who are out there trying to do the right thing and be helpful, and they end up being exploited.” Federal trade law enforcement agencies were focused on busting knockoffs such as luxury goods and computer software before the pandemic. But the goal shifted to medical supplies during the pandemic. Read more.
U.S. shifts to reducing infection risks as most states ease social distancing
With nearly all states easing social distancing, the U.S. is now focusing on ways to reduce the infection risk of the coronavirus. Dr. Leana Wen, an emergency room physician and former health commissioner for Baltimore, MD, told a town hall this week that the strategy was to reduce the number of infections and build up our capabilities to test, trace and isolate. “We know that’s going to be effective, but we are reopening before those capabilities are in place,” said Dr. Wen. “So, in essence, we’re saying it’s too hard. We’re not going to be able to get there. And so, we’re switching to a new phase.” New strategies include ways to slow the spread of the coronavirus such as social distancing, avoiding unnecessary gathering, changing ventilation systems and increasing time outdoors. Read more.
CDC offers brief checklist to guide businesses, schools and others reopening
The CDC issued six pages of recommendations as businesses, childcare centers, schools, restaurants and bars reopen. The “decision tools” the agency released recommend all workplaces hold off on reopening unless they are ready to protect employees at higher risk for severe illness, including those 65 and older and people of all ages with underlying medical conditions. The CDC recommends intensifying cleaning and sanitation and establishing health and safety actions such as hand washing, wearing a cloth face covering and social distancing. Read more.
New Jersey opens beaches, governor says he will “pull back” if cases spike
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said he’s taking a big step by allowing New Jersey beaches to be open this summer. But he stressed he would be forced to “pull back” if cases spike after people begin to gather at the Jersey shore. New Jersey has been one of the nation’s hot spots with at least 9,946 total deaths since March 4. Only New York has more deaths and cases among U.S. states. Read more.