Italy announced stronger measures to control the outbreak of COVID-19 as cases rise to over 10,000 and deaths approaching at 631. Across all Italian provinces, schools are closed until April 3rd, travel is restricted, sporting and cultural events are suspended, and the public is told to stay home. WSJ reports outbreak of violence in prisons and notes that no European nation has imposed such restrictions since WWII.
Significant case increases are reported in Iran (12%), Italy (11%), Spain (37%), Germany (19%), France (26%), Denmark (191%), Switzerland (33%), Norway (51%) and Sweden (37%). This shows that the next waves of the epidemic outside China are well underway.
There are 873 cases reported in the U.S. which includes 169 new cases, an increase of 24%. The U.S. now ranks 8th among nations with the most cases. The New York Times reports that President Trump said the epidemic “will go away” while on Capitol Hill.
New York state surpass 170 cases. Mayor de Blasio said that New York City’s public health apparatus “is already planning on the assumption that we will be at hundreds of cases over the next two or three weeks.” New York has created a one-mile “containment zone” in New Rochelle. Schools and houses of worship will be closed while food stores will remain open. This is among the first efforts to impose a community containment strategy in the U.S. It will be important to learn how such strategies will work in the U.S.
Testing now ramping up in the U.S. The CDC has restarted its reporting of testing totals. They report that 8,554 tests have been done. Curiously, CDC reports they have done zero tests in CDC labs from March 7th through March 9th. Testing now being done in all 50 states. The CDC does not currently report the rate of positive vs. negative tests.
Nursing homes and assisted living centers are taking unprecedented control measures by barring visitors.
Major sports leagues including MLS, NBA and NHL have announced that player locker rooms will now be closed to media access. Sporting events are canceled or restricted in California, Washington State and Ohio. This shows how the outbreak is impacting a wider range of economic activities.
An article in Mic by epidemiologist Tom Duszynski argues that airport screening (now underway in 20 U.S. airports) has limited success at finding cases based on past epidemics due to shortcomings in equipment, training and staffing. However, airport screening has value as a tool for a) discouraging sick patients from traveling, b) providing services, and c) raising awareness.
Shortages in supplies of needed protective equipment are mounting. A leading manufacturer of masks is forced to ration supplies due to lack of production in China. Countries are stockpiling masks and other PPE, putting significant pressure on supply chains.
What has changed in the U.S. in the last ten days? The following screen grabs from the HealthMap website (accessed 3/10/20) describes the spread of the disease in the U.S. as testing ramps up.