Daily COVID-19 Briefing: 3/14/20

  1. Yesterday, President Trump declared a national emergency, removing administrative roadblocks to facilitate national response and making emergency funding available. Today, the President extends travel restrictions into the U.S. from the U.K. and Ireland. Those restrictions are effective at midnight on Monday and do not apply to Americans returning home. Domestic travel restrictions are now being considered, but details are not yet available. The President says he has now been tested and that results will be available within days.
  2. The U.S. Congress overwhelmingly passed legislation on Saturday to make coronavirus testing free and require paid sick leave for those effected by the virus.
  3. If you recover from COVID-19, can you get it again? This has been a hot potato for weeks. Experts say it should not happen. But the LA Times reports that concerns are rising that we might be wrong. Officials from Guangdong, China, announced on February 25th that 14% of patients declared recovered later tested positive. While the numbers remain small, similar cases have been noted in Japan and South Korea. It is unclear whether patients testing positive after being “recovered” are due to errors in testing, administrative mistakes or true re-infection. For now, it makes sense to assume that re-infection or resurgence of the original infection are possibilities.
  4. The U.S. now has 2,500+ cases with 55 deaths and ranks 8th in total cases among nations. Looking at the daily trends shows that the U.S. is following in the path set by Italy and South Korea. I prepared the graph below to show just what exponential growth in the epidemic curve looks like. This indicates that COVID-19 is spreading in the U.S. (what epidemiologists call sustained transmission) and that hopes that the outbreak will be ended quickly appear increasingly unrealistic. Caution should be taken however because we can’t tell yet how much of this is true spread of the disease vs. a ramping up of testing.
  1. Maryland now reports 26 lab-confirmed cases. There is no doubt that this is an under-estimate of the true number of cases in circulation. The Governor’s office has announced an emergency order to extend access to child care for critical personnel during the state of emergency. The state has taken aggressive steps to control the outbreak, including:
    1. Mobilization of Maryland emergency management assets.
    2. The National Guard has been activated to its highest level.
    3. State employees are required to telework.
    4. Public access to state buildings will be limited.
    5. Public events of more than 250 people in close proximity will be canceled or postponed across the state.
    6. All senior activity centers will be closed.
    7. All state buildings and programs with more than 250 participants must follow social distancing procedures.
    8. The cruise ship terminal in Baltimore is closed (two ships are exempt).
    9. Extensions are granted to waive expirations of state-issued certifications and licenses.
    10. All hospitals across the state required to enact new visitor policies.
    11. All Maryland state prisons will restrict visitors.
    12. Effective Monday, March 16th – March 27th, all Maryland public schools and events will be closed or canceled. All public schools and busses will be cleaned and disinfected. Spring break days are to be used for make-up days for this closure.

Updated 3/14/20 at 5:00 pm EDT.

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