Fauci optimistic of vaccine by year’s end; states slow reopenings; Gilead Sciences sets price for remdesivir

Eufemia Didonato

More states were slowing reopening plans Monday amid a national boom in coronavirus cases while the nation’s leading infectious diseases expert remained “cautiously optimistic” that a vaccine could be widely available by year’s end.

And a drug company’s steep price for remdesivir, a drug that has proved to shorten recovery times by about 31% for severe COVID-19 patients, is drawing criticism.

Nashville, Tennessee, is requiring masks as of Monday. California Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered bars in eight counties to close Sunday, days after governors in Florida and Texas issued similar, wide-ranging edicts. San Francisco Mayor London Breed halted its plans for businesses that were scheduled to reopen Monday. The state of Washington paused its fourth and final reopening phase. 

In Arizona, the number of confirmed cases increased by more than 3,850 on Sunday. Meanwhile, the mayor of a town in an eastern part of the state said that he has no plans to cancel a slew of upcoming summer events or require masks.

“It is somewhat alarming how many expect and almost invite a more drastic infringement on their freedoms,” Eagar Mayor Bryce Hamblin said in a statement. “My response from the onset of COVID-19 pandemic has been that we will err on the side of freedom.”

Here are the most significant developments of the day:

  • Worldwide coronavirus cases surpassed 10 million while more than 500,000 across the globe have died from the virus.

  • Nashville residents are required to wear a mask at all times in public as of Monday. Starting July 3, residents who violate the order will be cited with a Class C misdemeanor.

  • New York state reported its lowest single-day coronavirus death toll – five – since March 15, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.

📈Today’s stats: As of Monday, the number of confirmed cases were more than 10 million, and the death toll was more than 502,000. There are more than 2.5 million cases in the U.S. and over 125,000 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins University data dashboard.

📰 What we’re reading: A Detroit woman dropped her husband off at a hospital on the night of March 28. Less than 24 hours later, a doctor called to tell Denise Chandler that her husband died. Chandler finally gets answers from a nurse who saw her husband die.

Our live blog will be updated throughout the day. For first-in-the-morning updates, sign up for The Daily Briefing.

NASA necklace could keep you from touching your face

NASA has developed a necklace dubbed PULSE designed to alert users when they’re about to touch their face. The round pendant is worn around the neck, and when you raise your hands toward your head, it will vibrate, reminding you to stop. NASA isn’t selling the contraption, but the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory has made building instructions available online. To create one, you’ll need a 3D printer, wire, a motor and other small materials. Health officials warn that touching your face can help fuel the spread of the coronavirus.

“We hope individuals or companies will replicate, refine or enhance PULSE and make it easily available for distribution,” NASA said. 

– Dalvin Brown

California, 7 other states could join New York’s quarantine order

Travelers from eight additional states — including California — could soon be added to New York, New Jersey and Connecticut’s mandatory quarantine order, which would push the total to 16 states representing nearly half the country’s population. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office is analyzing each state’s COVID-19 data to determine which states will join the original eight subject to the order, which requires travelers from places with high infection rates to isolate for 14 days upon arrival. California, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi,  Nevada and Tennessee could be joining the original list: Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas and Utah. 

– Joseph Spector

Virus found in Barcelona wastewater before Chinese outbreak revealed

The virus blamed for killing more than a half million people worldwide was detected in wastewater in Spain months before it emerged on the world stage in China in late 2019, researchers say in a study submitted to the journal MedRxiv. The study, led by the University of Barcelona, could alter the “chronology on the evolution of the disease,” said Albert Bosch, president of the Spanish Society of Virology. Bosch said the SARS-CoV-2 genome was present in samples of Barcelona wastewater collected in March 2019. That suggest the infection was present before COVID-19 cases had been discovered anywhere in the world, he says.

“It is possible for a similar situation to have taken place in other parts of the world,” Bosch said. “Those cases could have been disguised as an undiagnosed flu.”

Fauci: Vaccine could be ready soon, but might not be enough to halt pandemic

Dr. Anthony Fauci said he remains hopeful that a vaccine will be available as soon as November but warned that it might only be 70% effective. He added that, because a significant segment of the population won’t want the vaccine, it’s not likely the pandemic will be eradicated completely. Fauci blamed a “general anti-science, anti-authority, anti-vaccine feeling among … an alarmingly large percentage of people.”

Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on CNN that the most effective vaccine, for measles, is 97 to 98% effective. “That would be wonderful if we get there. I don’t think we will,” Fauci said. “I would settle for 70, 75% effective.”

COVID-19 drug remdesivir to cost up to $3,120 per patient

The maker of a drug shown to shorten recovery time for severely ill COVID-19 patients said Monday it will charge $2,340 for a typical treatment course for people covered by government health programs in the United States and other developed countries. Gilead Sciences said the price at $390 per vial, with the vast majority of patients expected to receive a five-day treatment course using six vials. The price would be $3,120 for patients with private insurance.  The amount that patients pay out of pocket depends on insurance, income and other factors.

 Peter Maybarduk, a lawyer at the consumer group Public Citizen, called the price “an outrage,” saying the drug received at least $70 million in public funding toward its development.

“The price puts to rest any notion that drug companies will ‘do the right thing’ because it is a pandemic,” Dr. Peter Bach, a health policy expert at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York

Arizona mayor: Town will move host events, won’t require masks

The mayor of an eastern Arizona town says he has no plans to cancel a slew of upcoming summer events or require masks, even as COVID-19 cases soar throughout the state. Eagar Mayor Bryce Hamblin said in a statement Thursday that the town’s upcoming Fourth of July parade will continue as planned and residents will not be required to wear masks. 

“Over the past several weeks, I have been asked repeatedly what the Town of Eagar plans to do about COVID-19, masks, visitors, riots, etc. It is somewhat alarming how many expect and almost invite a more drastic infringement on their freedoms,” Hamblin said in the statement. “My response from the onset of COVID-19 pandemic has been that we will err on the side of freedom.”

On Sunday, coronavirus cases increased by more than 3,850 – the highest number of cases in a single day, according to data released by the Arizona Department of Health Services. The state has 73,908 cases with 1,588 known deaths, according to the most recent state figures. That’s an increase of 3,857 confirmed cases, or 5.5%, since Saturday.

– Audrey Jensen and Chelsea Curtis, Arizona Republic

Nashville residents required to wear masks

The Metro Health Department has released initial details for Nashville’s face mask mandate that went into effect Monday. Nashville residents are advised to wear face coverings while in public at all times with certain exemptions, such as eating and drinking at restaurants or while engaging in certain outdoor activity.

Dr. Michael C. Caldwell, Metro’s medical director, signed the order Sunday afternoon, after the Metro Board of Health approved a policy to require face coverings Friday to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Health officials stress that face coverings are not a substitute for social distancing and frequent hand washing. 

Resident violating the order can be cited with a Class C misdemeanor, but that will only go into effect after July 3. 

As virus keeps spreading, California bars in seven counties to close

California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Sunday that he is ordering bars in certain counties to close, while recommending closures in others. The counties ordered to close bars are Los Angeles, Fresno, Imperial, Kern, Kings, San Joaquin and Tulare.

Newsom also said that he is recommending bars close in Contra Costa, Riverside, Sacramento, San Bernardino, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara, Stanislaus and Ventura counties. This came as cases in California are once again surging. The state’s confirmed cases surpassed 206,000 on Friday, including an increase of 5,972. 

According to the Johns Hopkins University data dashboard, Los Angeles County is the one with the most confirmed coronavirus cases in the United States: more than 95,000, as of Sunday.

“COVID-19 is still circulating in California, and in some parts of the state, growing stronger,” Newsom said in a statement. “That’s why it is critical we take this step to limit the spread of the virus in the counties that are seeing the biggest increases.”

Washington governor halts final stage of reopening plan

The state of Washington has paused the final stage of its reopening plan as coronavirus cases surge across the state. Gov. Jay Inslee and state Secretary of Health John Weisman announced Saturday that the state isn’t ready to fully reopen the economy.

“Phase 4 would mean a return to normal activity and we can’t do that now due to the continued rise in cases across the state. This is an evolving situation and we will continue to make decisions based on the data,” Inslee said in a statement.

Before the announcement, eight counties were eligible to move on to the fourth and final reopening phase. Counties had to prove that their confirmed cases were declining and that it had enough personal protective equipment, testing, hospital capacity and a contract tracing system. The state has more than 31,000 confirmed cases and 1,300 deaths.

As global deaths pass 500,000, confirmed cases exceed 10 million

More than 500,000 people have died from the coronavirus and global cases have now surpassed 10 million, according to the Johns Hopkins University data dashboard. The milestones Sunday come as the United States continues to break single-day records of new cases, one quarter of those confirmed cases have come in the U.S.

That pattern also applies to global deaths resulting from the virus; of the nearly half a million worldwide deaths, the U.S. accounts for more than 125,000.

Brazil is the next closest country: more than 1.3 million confirmed cases.

What we’re reading

Pittsburgh churches welcome back parishioners after attendee tests negative

The Pittsburgh Catholic Diocese said masses could resume at several churches after a parishioner tested negative for the coronavirus, CBS local affiliate KDKA 2 reported. The parishioner may have been exposed through a relative.

In-person masses resumed Sunday and weekday masses will begin again on Monday, reported the news station. Father Kevin Poecking, pastor of the churches of Oakmont, Plum and Verona, said that the church has and will continue to follow all CDC and Diocesan guidelines and state regulations. Previous guidelines from the Diocese put church capacity for mass at 25%. 

“We had been praying for a negative test result, and were so happy to receive the news,” Poecking said.

– Elinor Aspegren

New York had lowest single-day death toll since March 15

New York went from having as many as 800 coronavirus deaths a day to a new low on Saturday: just five fatalities.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the total marked the fewest daily deaths from COVID-19 since March 15, a roughly three-month turnaround for a state that had been the epicenter of the nation’s death toll from the coronavirus.

The state’s five deaths were coupled with 869 hospitalizations on Saturday, and of the 61,906 tests conducted in New York State on Saturday, 616, or 0.99%, were positive.

The news came one day after Cuomo signed an executive order Saturday banning paid sick leave protections for New York employees who voluntarily travel to high-risk states after June 25.

New York still leads in the nation with 24,835 deaths from the virus, and nearly 392,000 people in the state have tested positive.

– Joseph Specter

Houston hospitals stop reporting ICU capacity after reaching maximum

Data released by the Texas Medical Center, a hospital system in Houston, no longer includes information about the hospital system’s ICU capacity, a change made after charts online previously showed the hospitals reaching 100% capacity, reported the Houston Chronicle.

Charts updated daily by the network warned of an “upward trajectory of new daily cases” on Sunday, but did not supply information beyond that.

“Currently TMC institutions are able to serve all patients requiring intensive care,” the charts said.

The Houston Chronicle reported that the data was changed to exclude this information  after a conversation “between Gov. Greg Abbott and hospital executives in which the governor expressed displeasure with negative headlines about ICU capacity.”

Texas reported recent spikes in daily numbers of coronavirus cases, and last week slowed plans to reopen the state, tightening restrictions on restaurants and masks.

Elinor Aspegren

More on the coronavirus from USA TODAY

Coronavirus Watch: Sign up for our daily coronavirus newsletter here. And come together and share the latest information about coronavirus, coping with lifestyle changes and more by joining our Facebook group.

How long can the coronavirus live on surfaces? The numbers seem to keep changing, but new research has found that the virus that causes COVID-19 is undetectable on books and other common materials after three days.

Contributing: The Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Coronavirus updates: Fauci hopeful of vacccine; California closes bars

Source Article

Next Post

Harvey Price taken to hospital for urgent treatment

Katie Price with her son Harvey leaves Portcullis House in London after giving evidence to the Commons Petitions Committee where she called for online abuse to be made a specific offence. (Photo by Nick Ansell/PA Images via Getty Images) Harvey Price was taken to hospital after becoming unwell during little […]