Coronavirus update: Virus spreading in NW US; US-bound cruise ship barred from port

By Paul Basilio, MDLinx
Published March 5, 2020

Key Takeaways

The number of confirmed US cases of COVID-19 has increased to 129, with 11 deaths. Positive or presumptive cases have been identified in Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas, Washington state, and Wisconsin. The number of confirmed cases worldwide is now 96,788, with 3,303 deaths. The number of patients who have recovered is 53,610.

  • At least eight deaths from COVID-19 in the United States have been linked to a nursing home in Seattle, WA. Some residents blame a shortage of testing kits, which only allowed testing of the most vulnerable patients. The virus has also been confirmed in an independent contractor for Facebook and an employee at Amazon. In nearby Redmond, WA, Microsoft has asked its employees to work from home in an effort to reduce viral exposure and transmission. 

  • More than 20 passengers and crew aboard The Grand Princess are showing symptoms consistent with COVID-19 infection, according to California governor Gavin Newsom. The cruise ship is anchored near San Francisco, and will not be allowed into port until testing can take place.

  • Officials in Hong Kong report that a dog that had tested positive for COVID-19 is under quarantine but is not showing signs of infection. The virus was likely transmitted to the dog from a human, but the CDC and the World Organization for Animal Health advise that there is no evidence that companion animals can spread the virus to humans.

  • In a new study published in JAMA, researchers found extensive environmental contamination caused by COVID-19. Samples obtained from a toilet and sink tested positive for the virus, suggesting that viral shedding in stool may be a route of transmission. Swabs of air exhaust outlets also tested positive, which may indicate viral-laden droplets may be displaced by airflow and be deposited in vents. The study only involved three patients with mild disease, so authors state that more research is needed.

  • Many patients with COVID-19 present without pneumonia and with normal radiologic findings, according to a new study published in The New England Journal of Medicine. According to the authors, severe illness occurred in 15.7% of patients after admission, and the infection was detected before the onset of viral pneumonia in 8.9% of patients.

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