Pharmaceutical company Moderna announced positive results on Monday from the early stages of its trial for a potential vaccine and said it would continue on with the next stages.
Meanwhile, Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar blasted the World Health Organization Monday during its two-day assembly. The WHO and China signaled support for an investigation into the handling of the response to the coronavirus pandemic in the early days of the outbreak. Appearing by video link, Azar criticized the WHO’s failures, saying it had cost “many lives.”
The U.S. has the largest coronavirus outbreak in the world by far. There are more than 90,000 deaths and almost 1.5 million confirmed cases, according to the Johns Hopkins University data dashboard. Worldwide, the virus has killed more than 317,000 people and has infected more than 4.7 million.
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Here are some highlights to know Monday:
Stocks rebounded from losses last week on optimism that the U.S. economy might start to recover after drugmaker Moderna released promising early results for a vaccine.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren said watching her oldest brother die from a distance after was something she will never get over. “In any other state of the world, I would have been there with him. We all would have been there with him. And instead he was by himself.”
So far, the CDC has officially listed nine symptoms of COVID-19: cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fever, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, sore throat and new loss of taste or smell. However, there are many weird, unofficial symptoms being reported.
What we’re talking about: A Wyoming strip club reopened this weekend with a “masks on, clothes off” party. Also if you are on the hunt for disposable gloves, you can buy them online.
Something to smile about: Photos of a 70-year-old priest with a squirt gun trying to give kids a safe blessing have inspired a Reddit photoshop battle and viral memes. The church described it as “pretty clever” in a Facebook post.
Staying Apart, Together: USA TODAY brings a newsletter about how to cope with the coronavirus pandemic straight to your inbox. 📥
Azar slams WHO; China supports investigation into virus response
Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar critiqued the World Health Organization during its annual meeting Monday, saying it failed “to obtain the information that the world needed.”
“In an apparent attempt to conceal this outbreak, at least one member state made a mockery of their transparency obligations, with tremendous costs for the entire world,” he said, apparently referring to China, though he did not name the country.
China’s Xi Jinping signaled support for an independent inquiry into the origins of and response to the coronavirus.
The WHO also announced it will would evaluate the response to the outbreak “at the earliest appropriate moment” as Australia, European nations and others backed the investigation. Here’s what else has come up and is expected at the meeting:
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said it was a “false dichotomy” to assume governments would choose between saving their citizens or their economies.
Xi Jinping also pledged $2 billion over two years to fight the coronavirus pandemic and the economic fallout from it.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that there is still “a long road to travel” before the pandemic is contained and a majority of the world’s population remains susceptible to the virus.
Cuomo wants pro sports (without fans) back soon; NYC ramps up testing
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he would like to see professional sports return as soon as possible without fans.
“If they can make the numbers work, I say great. Come back,” Cuomo said during his briefing in Buffalo on Monday.
“The state will work with you because, remember, government rules could stop a team from coming back. I’m saying the state will work with them to come back.”
In New York City on Monday, Mayor Bill de Blasio said a partnership between the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and local businesses Print Parts and Collab will be producing 60,000 test kits weekly by the week of June 1.
Testing will be available at more than 150 sites citywide, de Blasio said, ensuring, “every New Yorker who needs a test gets one.”
– Joseph Spector
Prince William, Duchess Kate join celebs in mental health message
Prince William and Duchess Kate took to the radio Monday, joining a clutch of celebrities in a “Mental Health Minute” broadcast urging people to reach out for help if they’re feeling overwhelmed during the coronavirus pandemic.
Their message: Whoever you are and whatever you’re going through, you are not alone – and there’s no shame in reaching out for help.
“We’re all connected,” Will said during the one-minute broadcast at the start of the annual Mental Health Awareness Week. “And sometimes just talking about how you’re feeling can make a big difference. So right now, let’s join together across the UK and reach out to someone.”
“If you’re struggling, it’s important to talk about it,” Kate added. “Or if someone you know is acting differently, it’s OK to ask how they are. Use this moment to send a message.”
– Hannah Yasharoff and Maria Puente
New, grim milestones: 90K dead, 1.5M infected
Monday brought two grim milestones: America passed the mark of 90,000 dead from coronavirus and also recorded its 1.5 millionth confirmed case.
In the latest week, America added a new confirmed coronavirus case every 4 seconds, and recorded another death every 60 seconds, a USA TODAY analysis of Johns Hopkins University data show.
The United States now accounts for one-quarter of the world’s recorded coronavirus deaths and about one-third of the confirmed cases. America is on a path to record the 100,000th death from coronavirus in about a week. In the next few days, American will have likely recorded more deaths from the coronavirus than died in the Korean and Vietnam wars. Read more about why it is so contagious.
– Mike Stucka
More on US cases: Coronavirus curve may be flattening, but estimated death toll keeps rising. What does this mean?
Vaccine trial sees positive phase 1 data
Scientists conducting a trial for one of the leading vaccine candidates for the new coronavirus reported positive results Monday from the initial stages of their research.
Moderna, the drugmaker working on the potential vaccine alongside the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said eight participants who received either low or medium doses of the vaccine had levels of antibodies in their blood at similar or greater levels than patients who have recovered from the virus.
The results are a positive sign, however scientists have said more research is needed to determine what level of antibodies in the blood could provide immunity to the virus.
Moderna said the trial will continue, and there are plans to start a larger phase of the trial by July. U.S. stocks ticked up shortly after the trial results were announced, and shares of Moderna surged 25%.
The news comes just days after President Donald Trump formally unveiled Operation Warp Speed, a federal effort in partnership with private industry to try to develop a vaccine at an accelerated timeline – by the end of the year. Many infectious disease experts, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, say it would take between a year to 18 months to develop a vaccine in a best case scenario.
Dr. Tom Inglesby, director of the Center for Health Security of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, said Sunday that a vaccine is possible by the end of the year “if everything goes in the right direction,” but cautioned, “there are many ways that it might not work. … So, I don’t think we should bank on it.”
Who will be first in line? When a coronavirus vaccine is developed, who would actually get it?
Study: Most people didn’t have home office before coronavirus
Most people didn’t have a home office set up for remote work before the coronavirus caused governments to curb non-essential gatherings and sent people to work from home, according to a survey conducted by YouGov in partnership with USA TODAY and LinkedIn.
Almost three in four professionals age 18 to 74 say they’re now working from home, which has caused increased expenses like higher electricity bills and new furniture and computer equipment.
Several states such as California, Illinois, Minnesota and South Dakota have laws that require some sort of reimbursement for necessary work-related expenses. That means companies are more likely to cover the cost of hardware that you need to fulfill your job, like a computer or laptop, said Lara Shortz, a labor attorney at Michelman & Robinson.
Upgrades to your home Internet typically wouldn’t qualify for reimbursement under state laws, Shortz added.
– Dalvin Brown
Will US be ready if coronavirus second wave hits? Probably not
Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, said that if a “big peak” of coronavirus floods hospitals this winter, “we have the potential here to go through days we have not seen since World War II. … As a nation, we will not be ready.”
Many scientists believe the pandemic likely will dissipate over the summer only to return late this year in a second wave that could be worse than the first. While that outlook is no certainty – just one of several plotted by public health experts – epidemiologists, economists and futurists say the U.S. is probably not ready for what’s to come.
“What we’re experiencing is a massive global destabilization of all our systems,” said Brian David Johnson, a futurist and director of the Threatcasting Lab at Arizona State University. The destabilization described by Johnson is glaringly evident in three realms: Medicine, the economy and emotional damage.
– Dennis Wagner
Report: CDC official rebukes White House adviser for critical comment
A senior official at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention fired back at White House adviser Peter Navarro, CNN reported. after Navarro said the CDC’s efforts on coronavirus testing “really did set us back.”
“We should remind Mr. Navarro that the CDC is a federal agency part of the administration. The CDC director is an appointed position, and Dr. (Robert) Redfield was appointed by President (Donald) Trump,” the unnamed official told CNN.
“If there is criticism of the CDC, ultimately Mr. Navarro is being critical of the President and the man who President Trump placed to lead the agency,” the official told the network.
The comment comes after Navarro appeared on NBC News’ “Meet the Press” Sunday and criticized the CDC for keeping testing for the virus in the early days of the outbreak within the bureaucracy and providing a faulty test.
“The CDC, which really had the most trusted brand around the world in this space, really let the country down,” Navarro, the national Defense Production Act policy coordinator, said on the TV show.
‘Pharma Bro’ request to leave prison to research virus gets denied
A judge ruled that Martin Shkreli, the pharmaceutical executive convicted of defrauding investors and known for raising the price of an AIDS drug by 5,000 percent, cannot leave prison to work on vaccine development for the new coronavirus.
A federal judge called Shkreli’s request to leave prison to do lab work in his fiancee’s apartment “delusional self-aggrandizing behavior” that led him to prison in the first place.
“Disappointed but not unexpected,” said Shkreli’s lawyer, Benjamin Brafman.
Elvis Presley’s Graceland reopens Thursday after coronavirus closure
Graceland, Elvis Presley’s Memphis mansion, will reopen Thursday for the first time since March 20. Of course, the coronavirus pandemic that closed it will change the way visitors see the home of the King of rock ‘n’ roll.
Staff will be required to wear face coverings, and visitors will be encouraged to. Visitors and employees will have their temperature checked, and no one with a temperature of 100.4 degrees will be permitted to enter.
Employees will be required to take regular hand-washing breaks, and hand sanitizer will be available for employees and visitors. Commercial-grade cleaning will take place continuously, including with UV light sanitizer wands.
HHS Secretary says it’s safe to reopen, downplays need for vaccine
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar defended the push to reopen the U.S. economy by championing testing and said that “everything does not depend on a vaccine.”
Azar said on CNN’s “State of the Union” that “almost half of our reporting counties haven’t had a single death” and added that more than 60% of confirmed coronavirus cases are in only 2% of reporting counties.
But as several states have lifted stay-at-home restrictions, images of crowded bars, restaurants and public outdoor areas have led to concerns that there could be a resurgence of new cases.
“In any individual instance you’re going to see people doing things that are irresponsible,” Azar said. “That’s part of the freedom we have here in America.”
Azar lamented every death as tragic but said “we have maintained our health care burden within the capacity” to treat the outbreak. When pressed further on the death toll, as the U.S. approaches 90,000, Azar pointed to “significant unhealthy comorbidities” that make minority communities “particularly at risk.”
It’s a massive reopening day all across America
Auto plants in Michigan. Restaurants in Maine. Malls in Minnesota. Gyms in South Carolina. Monday is a big day for reopening in America. State and localities are easing stay-at-home restrictions across the country but encouraging social distancing and face masks by residents. Meanwhile, the number of Americans who say they are social distancing has dropped since late March, according to a Gallup poll released last week. But the drop isn’t just from individuals who live in states where they can now dine in restaurants, get haircuts at barbershops or visit parks. More people in states that still have stay-at-home restrictions are also no longer social distancing.
NASCAR returns to track at Darlington Raceway
NASCAR became the latest professional sports league to resume competition, following in the footsteps of German Bundesliga soccer restarting its season with matches this weekend.
The Real Heroes 400 NASCAR Cup Series race was held Sunday at the Darlington Raceway in South Carolina. Kevin Harvick won the race, which was his 50th career victory. Drivers received health checks upon arriving at the facility, and various crew members have been wearing face masks and other protective coverings. The race was held without fans and social distancing directives are required.
An aggressive schedule calls for four more races to be held in the next two weeks as the series attempts to get back on schedule after being stopped in March with just four of its 36 events held.
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Contributing: The Associated Press
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Coronavirus updates: Moderna vaccine test; weird symptoms; China, WHO