Antibody testing up; US coronavirus cases near 1 million

Antibody testing up; US coronavirus cases near 1 million

But some parts of the country are already doing so — even if some cities and states are at odds with each other.

Miami Mayor Francis Suarez announced a road map to reopen the city in phases. While he did not announce the rollout date of this phased plan, he said that Miami-Dade county will reopen parks, waterways and golf courses before the city is ready for phase one.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said he’s not putting a date on when the state will reopen, even though its stay-at-home orders are set to expire Thursday.

“We are going to do everything in a smart way,” DeSantis said. “I am less concerned about the date and more concerned about getting it right.”

Other states have already started reopening, including Georgia, Texas, Michigan, Hawaii and Alaska.
On Monday, restaurants in Georgia — where the state health department says the seven-day average of new cases had been rising until mid-April but has fallen since — were allowed to offer dine-in services for the first time in weeks.

And Friday, most counties in Iowa will be allowed to reopen restaurants, retail stores and gyms at 50% capacity, Gov. Kim Reynolds said Monday. Reynolds said she’s also lifting a ban on religious gatherings of more than 10 people.

But New York state won’t be lifting restrictions this week, despite declines in the rates of hospitalization, intubation and deaths, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Sunday.

The earliest the state will begin its first phase of reopening is May 15, but only in places that have seen a 14-day decline in hospitalizations, Cuomo said.

He said the state’s multiphase reopening will start with construction and manufacturing at “businesses that have a low risk.”

Antibody testing ramps up

In Boston, Mayor Martin Walsh said 1,000 asymptomatic residents will undergo diagnostic and antibody testing to evaluate exposure to the virus in the city. The testing is expected to be done by Friday.

And beginning Tuesday, health workers will start visiting randomly selected homes in Fulton and DeKalb counties in the Atlanta area to conduct antibody testing through blood samples.

What are antibody tests, and what good do they do?

“This investigation will help us estimate the percentage of people in the community who have been infected with the virus that causes Covid-19,” the Georgia health department said.

“All members of the households selected will be asked to participate, including children. Participation is voluntary, and you can ask investigation teams any questions you have before agreeing to participate.”

But health officials stress it’s not clear whether having antibodies means someone can’t get reinfected.

The virus is too new, and “four months into this pandemic, we’re not able to say that an antibody response means that someone is immune,” said Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, technical lead for the World Health Organization’s coronavirus response.

“This is a very active area of research.”

Van Kerkhove said that those infected with Covid-19 will likely have some level of protection.

“What we don’t know right now is how strong that protection is, and if that’s seen in everybody that is infected, and for how long that lasts.”

Reports of overexposure to disinfectants increase

Several states are grappling with a new problem: a surge in calls to their poison control centers.

The calls came after President Donald Trump’s spoke about the possibility of injecting or ingesting disinfectants during a White House news conference Thursday. Trump later said he was being “sarcastic.”
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Maryland has received hundreds of calls from people asking if they can effectively fight coronavirus by injecting or ingesting disinfectants, Gov. Larry Hogan told CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday.

Michigan had 65 reported overexposure cases between April 1 and April 25 — a 400% increase from the same time last year.

In Tennessee, in addition to cleaning supply overexposure, the state’s poison control center has seen a jump in the number of people hospitalized from exposure to hydrogen peroxide — a common ingredient in disinfectants, according to The Tennessean newspaper.

In Illinois, calls to poison control included someone who used a detergent based solution for a sinus rinse and another who gargled a mixture of mouthwash and bleach to kill germs, Illinois Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said.

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Researchers are looking into possible treatments

Preliminary results of a clinical trial for heartburn medicine in coronavirus treatment could come in the next few weeks, said Dr. Kevin Tracey, president of Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research at Northwell Health.
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“We don’t know if it has any benefit. We really don’t. I swear we don’t,” he said. “People are hoping for anything. But we need to do this clinical trial.”

Separately, preliminary results for a clinical trial of the experimental antiviral drug remdesivir could come out in a week or two, said Dr. Andre Kalil, a principal investigator in the trial. But final results are not expected until mid-to-late May.
And in Florida, at least two patients are seeing “drastic improvements” after convalescent plasma transplants, which uses the antibodies from recovered patients to treat those who are currently sick, physicians at an Orlando hospital said.

The US is ‘close to the edge’ with meat supply

Will consumers feel the impact of meat processing plant closures?

The US food supply has taken another hit from the pandemic as a Wisconsin meat production plant shuts down.

A JBS USA beef production plant in Green Bay will temporarily close due to the pandemic, the company said Sunday.

The county where the plant is located has at least 776 confirmed cases and two deaths from coronavirus.

Across the country, processing plants and slaughterhouses have shut down in recent weeks.

Three of the largest pork processing plants in the country have already closed indefinitely: Smithfield Foods in Sioux Falls, South Dakota; JBS pork processing in Worthington, Minnesota; and Tyson Fresh Foods in Waterloo, Iowa.

“It is impossible to keep our grocery stores stocked if our plants are not running,” Smithfield Foods CEO Ken Sullivan said.

“The closure of this facility, combined with a growing list of other protein plants that have shuttered across our industry, is pushing our country perilously close to the edge in terms of our meat supply.”

CNN’s Amanda Watts, Tina Burnside, Konstantin Toropin, Devan Cole, Chuck Johnston, Elizabeth Cohen, Sheena Jones, Laura Ly and Erica Henry contributed to this report.

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