By Ciara Linnane, MarketWatch
The U.S. death toll from the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 rose above 87,000 on Saturday, a day after new outbreaks were reported in states where stay-at-home orders are set to expire and others that never imposed them.
Minnesota is due to lift lockdown measures in mid-May even as cases continue to climb. Iowa, which did not implement restrictions on movement, recorded another 386 cases on Thursday, and its infection curve is not flattening, according to a New York Times tracker. Nebraska has seen cases more than double since April 30, while major cities such as Los Angeles and Chicago are still suffering from high death tolls.
Health officials, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious-disease expert, continue to caution that moving too quickly to reopen plants, offices and shops could cause unnecessary deaths and suffering — and also disrupt any economic recovery. Fauci and others have consistently warned that reopening should be conducted using testing and contact tracing to avoid a second wave of infections that is worse than the first.
President Donald Trump said late Thursday that testing is “overrated.”
More than 30 countries rank higher than the U.S. in terms of per capita testing.
“We have more cases than anybody in the world, but why? Because we do more testing,” Trump said in comments to workers at an Owens & Minor Inc. /zigman2/quotes/204317691/composite OMI +1.43% medical-supply plant in Allentown, Pa. “When you test, you have a case. When you test, you find something is wrong with people. If we didn’t do any testing, we would have very few cases. They [the media] don’t want to write that. It’s common sense. We test much more.”
Critics on social media noted a flaw in the president’s logic:
Others observed that the U.S. has lagged in testing when measured on a per capita basis, and is far behind such countries as South Korea and Germany that have successfully contained their infection rates. More than 30 countries rank higher than the U.S. in terms of per capita testing, according to Worldometers.info.
“The [Trump administration] is obsessed with magic bullets — vaccines, new medicines, or a hope that the virus will simply disappear,” medical journal the Lancet wrote on Friday. “But only a steadfast reliance on basic public health principles, like test, trace, and isolate, will see the emergency brought to an end, and this requires an effective national public health agency,” it said in an article on how the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control has been sidelined and had its reputation battered during the pandemic.
The CDC’s initial batch of tests were faulty and had to be replaced, delaying the initial effort. Since then, the agency has been at odds with federal government advisers, including Dr. Deborah Birx, head of the U.S. COVID-19 task force, who was reported by the Washington Post recently to have said: “There is nothing from the CDC that I can trust.”
That is an “unhelpful statement,” according to the Lancet, “but also a shocking indictment of an agency that was once regarded as the gold standard for global disease detection and control. How did an agency that was the first point of contact for many national health authorities facing a public health threat become so ill-prepared to protect the public’s health?”
There was more bad news from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which said late Thursday that it is investigating preliminary data suggesting Abbot Laboratories /zigman2/quotes/203724446/composite ABT +0.73% 15-minute test can miss COVID-19 cases, falsely clearing patients of infection, as the Associated Press reported. The test is used daily at the White House to test President Donald Trump and key members of his staff, including the coronavirus task force.
It is also used at thousands of hospitals, clinics and testing sites across the U.S.
Abbott Labs said Friday that it stands by the test.
There are now 4.57 million cases of COVID-19 worldwide, and 308,843 people have died from it, according to data aggregated by Johns Hopkins University. At least 1.7 million people have recovered.
The U.S. has the highest case toll at 1.45 million and the highest death toll at 87,643.
Russia has 272,043 cases, after another huge overnight spike. Russia had 252,245 cases early Friday. Its death toll is 2,537, according to official numbers.
The U.K. has 241,454 cases and 34,546 deaths, the highest death toll in Europe and second highest in the world after the U.S.
Spain has 230,698 cases and 27,563 deaths, while Italy has 223,885 cases and 31,610 deaths. Brazil saw another spike in cases overnight and now has 220,291 cases and 14,962 deaths.
France has 179,630 cases and 27,532 deaths, while Germany has 175,715 cases and 7,931 deaths.
Turkey has 146,457 cases and 4,055 deaths and Iran has 118,392 cases and 6,937 deaths.
India has 86,595 cases and 2,760 deaths.
Peru has moved past China by case number at 84,495 cases and 2,392 deaths. China, where the disease was first reported late last year, has 84,038 cases and 4,637 deaths.
New York is still the U.S. epicenter with 350,951 cases and 27,755 deaths, according to the New York Times data. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has announced a gradual reopening of the state that starts with five regions where the rate of infection can be managed, according to a checklist of metrics that the state has asked regions to monitor daily.
The state’s pause order is in place through May 28, as the Buffalo News and others have reported.
What’s the latest medical news?
The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) launched a clinical trial testing hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin in 2,000 patients with mild and moderate cases of COVID-19.