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The Road to Flattening the Curve: This Week’s COVID-19 Updates

This week has been historical for COVID-19, with the number of infected people passing one million and the first vaccine successfully passing animal trials. Here are some of the major events that took place between March 30th and April 3rd, 2020.

Monday, March 30th, 2020

As New York becomes increasingly overwhelmed with the amount of coronavirus patients and patient deaths, they’ve started using eighty-five refrigerated trucks as temporary holding facilities for dead bodies surrounding their make-shift hospitals in Central Park. New York is one of the most heavily affected American states by coronavirus, having a total of 113,706 cases and 3,565 deaths.

The US officially has the most COVID-19 cases worldwide, with 160,000 confirmed cases and approaching 3,000 deaths. Consequently, President Trump extended coronavirus guidelines to April 30th, encouraging US citizens to continue to stay home, avoid social gatherings and nursing homes, eschew discretionary travel, and practice good hygiene.

Photo by Macau Photo Agency

The Japan Medical Association is continuing to call on Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to declare a state of emergency. Japanese citizens are being urged to avoid going outside of their homes as a pre-declaration effort to prevent the collapse of the healthcare system but without any legal backing for COVID-19 preventative efforts, they are only suggestions.

After India declared a twenty-one-day lockdown that included the shutting down of transport, a humanitarian crisis emerged as many migrant workers from big cities began returning to villages on foot. These workers provide the backbone of the big city Indian economy, doing work such as construction, food service, plumbing, newspaper deliveries, and more. Due to their lack of wages and living facilities from the shutdown, hundreds of thousands of them will be attempting to make it home by walking, the trekkers ranging from newborn babies carried on backs to ninety-year-old men and women.

Tuesday, March 31st, 2020

After being met with protests from pro-gun rights groups and a lawsuit from the National Rifle Association, Los Angeles County decided to reopen public gun shops when they were deemed an essential business by a federal memo. A large spike in gun and ammunition sales has been seen as the coronavirus pandemic continues, with ammunition website seeing a 222% increase in transactions between February 23rd and March 15th, the state of Delaware having a 4,529% increase in sales alone. 

The United States’ death toll passed 3,000 people (which has now risen to 8,347 as of 4/4/20), surpassing China’s current total of 3,326. The attitudes of many government health organizations remain speculative of China’s numbers, citing unstandardized counting practices, a paucity of testing in certain regions, and unreported mild cases that would affect the official total.

Wednesday, April 1st, 2020

News Corp, an Australian flagship media group, reported that it would cease the printing of sixty regional newspapers due to a severe downturn in advertising because of COVID-19.  Newspapers in the states of Victoria, Queensland, New South Wales, and South Australia will make the change from print-form and move online. News Corp Australasia Executive Chairman Michael Miller was quoted by the group’s Australian newspaper title that although this was a difficult decision to make, “the coronavirus crisis has created unprecedented economic pressures and we are doing everything we can to preserve as many jobs as possible.”

Governor Ron DeSantis announced that he would at last sign an executive order that would limit operations in Florida to essential services for the rest of April. Effective midnight on April 3rd, Florida will be joining thirty-eight US states, Washington, DC, Puerto Rico, and twenty-seven countries in partial or complete lockdown.

Photo by Talha Atif

Thursday, April 2nd, 2020

The coronavirus has officially infected more than one million people. The United States is the most heavily hit, followed by Spain, Italy, Germany, France, then China. The death toll is about half of the total number, clocking in at 64,084, and the number of patients recovered is 245,949.

Dr. John Nkengasong, who is the head of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, claimed that the coronavirus pandemic poses an “existential threat” to Africa. Many African countries, such as Cameroon, Ivory Coast, and Burkina Faso, reached out to the center because they need tents due to a lack of hospital beds to accommodate patients. But on the positive side, sub-Saharan African countries have substantially increased their testing capabilities, with an increase from two countries reporting capability to a total of forty-three over the course of a month.

The Democratic National Convention was postponed to August 17th, as announced by the planning committee. This change is just one of many that are affecting the American political scene right now, as campaigning and many state primaries have been put to a stop due to COVID-19, creating an air of uncertainty around the upcoming presidential election in November.

Photo by Max Anderson

Alas, not all hope is lost. The University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine reported an initial success in animal trials attempting to develop a vaccine for coronavirus. Their findings were published in a research paper in a leading British medical journal, The Lancet. The team hopes to receive investigatory new drug approval from the United States Food and Drug Administration so that they can begin human trials in the next few months.

Friday, April 3rd, 2020

France now has more confirmed cases than China as their number rises above 83,000, sitting at 89,953 according to the most recent Johns Hopkins data. This pushes China, the origin of COVID-19, out of the top five infected countries in the world, although the validity of China’s data is still being disputed. 

The Supreme Court has officially canceled its April oral arguments because of health threats. The March arguments had already been postponed, which include twenty cases- one of them being whether or not Trump will have to show his financial records to congressional committees- with questions left unanswered. The Court is attempting to find alternative scheduling options for some of the cases before the new term that starts in October.

An exhibition center, ExCeL in East London, which usually hosts conferences, expositions, and lifestyle shows, has been temporarily transformed into the NHS Nightingale hospital with space for 4,000 beds. Over the course of just nine days, the center was converted into a facility with more than 80 wards that each have 42 beds. This hospital was constructed in such a short period of time with the help of more than 160 contractors and more than 200 army engineers who were working up to fifteen-hour shifts. If the hospital were to be filled to full capacity, it would become one of the largest hospitals on Earth. Click here to see a timelapse of the NHS Nightingale being built.

The Center for Disease and Prevention is urging Americans to wear nonmedical cloth face masks to prevent the spread of coronavirus. This may prove to be difficult for many citizens, as the US is facing a critical shortage of masks, gloves for medical professionals, medical gowns, and eye gear that would be protective against the contraction of coronavirus. President Trump stated that he has chosen not to follow this guideline, saying, “I just don’t want to wear one myself, it’s a recommendation. Somehow sitting in the Oval Office behind that beautiful Resolute Desk, the great Resolute Desk, I think wearing a face mask as I greet presidents, dictators, kings, queens, I don’t know, I don’t see it for myself.” 

Though, the President is still encouraging that the American public follows the advice of the CDC, and wear masks.

Featured Image via Markus Spiske on Unsplash

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