Top news, reports and insights for today:
- Daily headline summaries for Monday:
- Coronavirus deaths in Western nations: most look to have peaked, Canada and the U.S. show continued sustained mortality (Mother Jones, see graph below)
- Doctors without borders deployed to the Navajo nation in New Mexico, signaling inadequate resources on tribal lands (CNN)
- Experts now recommend waiting 72 hours before opening packages (Independent)
- FDA grants emergency use authorization (EUA) to Abbott Laboratories coronavirus antibody test, which boasts 99% specificity and 100% specificity, 30 million tests to be delivered in May (Axios)
- SARS-CoV-2 virus found in some patient’s tears, suggesting one more way the virus may be spread and supporting the importance of eye-related symptoms (Ladders)
- U.S. deaths and new cases are down, hot spots in the mid-west persist
On Sunday, both new cases and deaths dropped in the U.S., however hot spots persist in the mid-west in particular. Just over 20,000 cases were reported on Sunday, a lower total than we have seen since March 31. For the first time since May 4, fewer than 1,000 deaths were reported. Overall, cases are declining, while deaths remain fairly stable pending the expected rise in deaths from the Tuesday report. The overall trends are being driven by the clear declines seen in the hard-hit states of New York, New Jersey and Michigan (see graph below); all reported less than 10% cumulative case growth last week. Very low case growth was also reported in Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Louisiana and Vermont. These are the states where the evidence in favor of reopening is strongest. On the other side, wide-spread community transmission remains in place in 35 states and Guam. The region of greatest concern continues to be the mid-west where 5 states reported 30% growth in new cases last week (Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska and South Dakota).
- The top hot spot in the U.S.: A closer look at Minnesota
Minnesota has seen the most intense growth in new cases with a cumulative increase of 69% last week. Minneapolis leads the state with 3,744 cases, however the map below shows 2 standout counties with more than 1,200 cases each (Nobles and Stearns Counties). According to the COVID TRACKING PROJECT, Minnesota has done over 115,000 tests, about 2% of its population, which ranks in the bottom third of states. The test positivity rate remains about 10%, an indication that more testing will be needed to more accurately reflect the scope of the outbreak. The stay-at-home order has been in effect since March 27 and is set to expire on May 17. The epidemiology says this would be a mistake. Some offices and certain agricultural and industrial businesses have reopened. The lower plot shows states in the mid-west as of yesterday on Aatish Bhatia’s site. It shows that Minnesota is among a cluster of mid-west states with vigorous transmission. Minnesota and South Dakota are growing the fastest among these states, with Oklahoma, Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska and Kentucky looking like they have turned a corner. Wisconsin, Indiana and North Dakota may go either direction in the next week.
What this means: It’s not clear why but Minnesota is the top hot-spot of virus transmission at the moment. There is no sign the epidemic is slowing there or in South Dakota. Deaths grew by 38% last week, a number we would expect to rise substantially given that deaths lag new cases.