Majority of Americans know someone who’s had Covid-19

WASHINGTON — A majority of American adults say they know someone who has been diagnosed with Covid-19, according to new data from the NBC News|SurveyMonkey Weekly Tracking Poll.

Sixty-eight percent of adults say they know someone who has had the coronavirus since December, while 31 percent say they don’t know someone who has been diagnosed with the virus. Thirty-four percent of adults say either they or someone in their household hse been tested for the coronavirus in the past month, while 64 percent say no one in their home has.

While older adults are more at risk of severe symptoms from Covid-19, there was little difference across age demographics when people were asked whether they know someone who had contracted the coronavirus. Sixty-five percent of adults ages 18 to 34 know someone who had the virus, 71 percent of Americans age 35 to 64 say the same and, in the most at-risk age category, 65 and older, 63 percent say they know someone who had been diagnosed.

The United States is experiencing spikes in the numbers of coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths. The number of new daily coronavirus cases has stayed above 60,000 since Oct. 19, reaching a record 79,303 on Friday. Daily deaths have been increasing, too, hitting a recent high of 1,245 on Wednesday, according to NBC News data.

The national seven-day average of current hospitalized cases is also on the rise, according to The COVID Tracking Project, with current hospitalizations hitting 41,776 on Sunday, the highest since late August.

Despite President Donald Trump’s rhetoric that increased testing is to blame for the spike in case numbers, there was nearly no discrepancy among people’s getting tested when the data are broken down by party.

Thirty-three percent of Republicans and those who lean Republican report that either they or someone in their household has been tested for Covid-19 in the last 30 days; 36 percent of Democrats and those who lean Democratic say the same. Thirty-four percent of independents say they or someone in their home has been tested in the last month.

Sixty-six percent of Republican and those who lean Republican say they know someone who has been diagnosed, and 72 percent of Democrats and those who lean Democratic say they know someone who has contracted the disease. Sixty-one percent of independents say they know someone who has been diagnosed.

The same trend is true when it comes to people’s income brackets and race.

Fifty-eight percent of adults who make under $50,000 a year say they know someone who has been diagnosed, and 34 percent say they or someone in their home has been tested in the last month. Among adults making $50,000 to $99,999, 71 percent say they know someone who has been diagnosed, and 33 percent say they or someone they live with has been tested in the last 30 days. And 78 percent of Americans making more than $100,000 a year say they know someone who has contracted Covid-19, and 37 percent of

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WHO’s Tedros Says Countries on ‘Dangerous Track’ in Pandemic | Top News

GENEVA (Reuters) – The world is now at a critical juncture in the COVID-19 pandemic and some countries are on a dangerous path, facing the prospect of health services collapsing under the strain, the head of the World Health Organization said on Friday.

“We are at a critical juncture in the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly in the Northern hemisphere,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a news conference. “The next few months are going to be very tough and some countries are on a dangerous track.”

“We urge leaders to take immediate action, to prevent further unnecessary deaths, essential health services from collapsing and schools shutting again. As I said it in February and I’m repeating it today: This is not a drill.”

Tedros said too many countries were now seeing an exponential increase in infections, “and that is now leading to hospitals and intensive care units running close or above capacity — and we’re still only in October”.

He said countries should take action to limit the spread of the virus quickly. Improving testing, tracing of contacts of those infected and isolation of those at risk of spreading the virus would enable countries to avoid mandatory lockdowns.

(Writing by Peter Graff; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

Copyright 2020 Thomson Reuters.

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CDC broadens definition of who’s at risk of getting coronavirus

The CDC on Wednesday ramped up its criteria for who’s at risk of contracting the coronavirus, in a move with major implications for school and workplace reopenings.

The updated guidance defines a “close contact” as anyone who spends at least 15 minutes within six feet of an infected individual over a 24-hour period. The agency previously applied that designation to people who spent 15 consecutive minutes within six feet of someone with Covid-19.

“Individuals who had a series of shorter contacts but over time added up to more than 15 minutes became infected,” CDC Director Robert Redfield said at a briefing, citing a study of multiple non-consecutive exposures. Redfield was joined by HHS Secretary Alex Azar and Jay Butler, the CDC’s deputy director for infectious diseases, who warned that the U.S. is showing a “distressing trend” with cases surging over 75 percent of the country.

The details: The guidance is based on a study out today showing brief exposures to infected individuals and resulted in virus spread. The study involved a Vermont correctional facility employee who tested positive after short interactions with multiple inmates who were infected.

The study said the correctional officer was never with the inmates for 15 consecutive minutes. The Vermont Department of Health said the officer wore a cloth mask, gown and goggles and had 22 interactions totaling about 17 minutes with six unmasked inmates who tested positive for the virus.

What’s next: The updated guidance could change how public health departments across the country conduct their contact tracing, by increasing the pool of potentially infected individuals. It also could upend plans to reopen schools and businesses that had been based around the earlier guidance, as President Donald Trump continues to call for a return to pre-pandemic conditions. The CDC in May released guidelines for reopening schools that Trump later disavowed, saying they were too burdensome.

The U.S. is reporting an average 60,000 cases per day with the Midwest seeing the largest increases in cases. Officials warned conditions could get worse as the cold weather sends people indoors, where the virus can spread more rapidly.

So far, there have been 8.3 million reported cases in the U.S. and more than 221,000 deaths.

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EU medicine regulator seeks full results of WHO’s remdesivir trial

The EU’s medicines regulator has requested the complete results of the World Health Organization’s remdesivir trial, the European Commission said, after the study found the Covid-19 treatment to have no substantial effect on rates of survival.

The European Commission announced last week that it had signed a deal with the developer, Gilead Sciences, to supply 500,000 treatment courses of the drug, worth more than €1bn. Trial data had shown the treatment cut the time to recover from Covid-19 by as much five days, while Gilead had said the drug may also reduce the likelihood of death.

But the results from the WHO’s highly anticipated Solidarity trial, first reported by the Financial Times, found that remdesivir and other three other potential drug regimens “appeared to have little or no effect on 28-day mortality or the in-hospital course of Covid-19 among hospitalised patients”.

According to WHO officials, the organisation told Gilead of the findings of the Solidarity trial in September, as long as two weeks before the European Commission announced its deal to procure the drug.

“[The WHO] made a presentation to Gilead and other companies [on the results of the trial] on September 23,” Ana Maria Henao-Restrepo, a medical officer at the WHO, said at a briefing on Friday. “On the following Monday, September 28, [the WHO] forwarded [to Gilead] not only the graph, figures and tables, but the first draft of the manuscript”.

Ms Henao-Restrepo said the manuscript was “not exactly” the same as the one published late on Thursday, but that it contained the same numbers and conclusions.

Richard Peto, emeritus professor of medical statistics and epidemiology at Oxford university and chief statistician on the Solidarity trial, said the preliminary results “came to the same conclusions that you now see”.

In response to a request for comment, Gilead said the initial manuscript it had received from the WHO in September had been “heavily redacted”.

“As of today, Gilead has still not received the underlying data sets or statistical analysis plan necessary to validate the results,” it said. “We received the full manuscript, which included materially different information than what was included in the initial draft, only hours before it was published yesterday.”

The European Commission told the FT it had not made any payments under the October 8 Gilead agreement, which gives 36 European countries, including the UK, the option to buy future remdesivir supplies.

“[European Medicines Agency] will look at the Solidarity data . . . to see if any changes are needed to the way these medicines are used,” it said.

Gilead has priced remdesivir at $2,340 per five-day course on the basis that it cuts the cost of care by reducing the length of hospital stays, though the Solidarity results may have damaged that thesis.

Yannis Natsis, a policy manager at the European Public Health Alliance and a board member at the EMA, said the situation with remdesivir felt like “déjà-vu”, citing the large sums of money spent on past antivirals, such as Tamiflu, only

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