National coronavirus updates: US curve leveling with peak expected soon, as death toll tops 100,000 worldwide

The latest:There are more than 496,000 cases in the United States, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally.The U.S. death toll has surpassed 18,000 people.Globally, the number of cases has surpassed 1.6 million with more than 100,000 deaths, Hopkins reports.Antibody tests that would verify whether a person recently had the coronavirus could be available within a week, Dr. Anthony Fauci says.Dr. Deborah Birx said for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic hit, she is seeing a leveling of the curve in the United States. The main U.S. model is now showing fewer projected deaths, down to about 60,000 people by August.The U.S. is set to reach its highest daily number of deaths on or around Sunday, according to models by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington in Seattle. Fauci: US should not “be pulling back at all”Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, commended the steps Americans are taking to socially distance but warned that the country as a whole should not “be pulling back.””This is the end of the week — that famous week that we spoke about last weekend,” Fauci said during a White House coronavirus task force briefing Friday. “It’s important to remember that this is not the time to feel that since we have made such important advance in the sense of success of the mitigation that we need to be pulling back at all.”Dr. Deborah Birx, an HIV researcher and the White House coronavirus response coordinator, struck a similar tone. She commended the Washington and Baltimore areas for their adherence to social distancing guidelines, while cautioning that the U.S. has “not reached the peak” of coronavirus infections.”I know last week, we asked a lot of people in the Washington and Baltimore area to consolidate, not go out frequently to grocery stores or pharmacies. You can see that’s having a huge impact, so it’s really about the encouraging signs that we see. But as encouraging as they are, we have not reached the peak, and so every day, we need to continue to do what we did yesterday and the week before and the week before that. So in the end, that will take us across the peak and down the other side,” Birx said.PGlmcmFtZSBpZD0iaHR2LWNvdmlkLW1hcCIgc3JjPSJodHRwczovL2NvdmlkLTE5LWFzc2V0cy5odHZ0b29scy51cy9pbmRleC5odG1sIiBzY3JvbGw9Im5vIiBzdHlsZT0iYm9yZGVyOm5vbmU7Ij48L2lmcmFtZT4=Antibody tests for the coronavirus could soon be available Antibody tests that would verify whether a person recently had the novel coronavirus could be available within a week, the nation’s top infectious disease expert said as the worldwide death toll surpassed 100,000.”Within a period of a week or so, we’re going to have a rather large number of tests that are available,” Fauci said on CNN’s “New Day” Friday morning.Having antibodies to the coronavirus could mean someone is protected from getting re-infected, making such tests important for medical workers and others on the front lines fighting the pandemic.”If their antibody test is positive, one can formulate strategies about whether or not they would be at risk or vulnerable to getting re-infected,” Fauci explained.Tests that would identify a current infection would still be important, he said, and used in parallel with antibody tests, which still need to be validated.”But as we look forward, as we get to the point of at least considering opening up the country as it were, it’s very important to appreciate and to understand how much that virus has penetrated this society,” Fauci said. “Because it’s very likely that there are a large number of people out there that have been infected, have been asymptomatic and did not know they were infected.”At least 18,000 people have died of coronavirus in the United States — nearly half of them in New York state. According to data from Johns Hopkins University, of the more than 475,000 total confirmed cases nationwide, about 170,000 are in New York state. That means it has more reported cases than any country in the world.The U.S. is set to reach its highest daily number of deaths on or around Sunday, according to models by the prominent Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington in Seattle.US model is now showing fewer projected deathsIt estimated that 60,415 in the U.S. would die of coronavirus by August, assuming social distancing policies continue through May. That projection is down from the 82,000 it predicted earlier this week.Antibody tests are used in other clinical scenarios, said Dr. Colleen Kraft, associate chief medical officer of Emory University Hospital in Atlanta. Soon, she said, we’ll learn whether a coronavirus antibody test “tells us that somebody can go back to work, for instance, tells us that somebody is no longer infectious, and tells us that somebody cannot get the virus again.”As officials begin discussing what it would take for the U.S. to reopen, there could be “merit” to the idea of Americans carrying certificates of immunity that prove they have tested positive for coronavirus antibodies, Fauci said.Fauci told CNN, “It’s one of those things that we talk about when we want to make sure that we know who the vulnerable people are and not.” Social distancing appears to be working, officials sayWhile states prepare for the peak period, experts say it appears social distancing is working.In New York, Cuomo said Thursday that the number of people hospitalized in the state is going down but deaths have gone up, citing the possibility of lag times. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, echoed a similar sentiment.”At the same time as we’re seeing the increase in deaths, we’re seeing a rather dramatic decrease in the need for hospitalizations,” Fauci said. “That means that what we are doing is working and therefore we need to continue to do it.”Social distancing is playing a crucial role in the fight against coronavirus, said Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”We’re not defenseless. This virus has a very significant weakness: It can’t swim 7 feet,” he said.Some states remain cautiously optimistic with the latest developments. In Connecticut, Gov. Ned Lamont said new hospitalizations are dropping while Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced that the state has the lowest number of hospitalizations per 100,000 people compared to other neighboring states.In Ohio, while the number of coronavirus-related deaths continues to increase, the number of people impacted by the virus is lower than previously projected, Gov. Mike DeWine said.California Gov. Gavin Newsom said the state has seen a 1.9% drop of people in ICU, and the stay-at-home order appears to be working.”I think we’re seeing the consequences of that when we see that our mortality rate is really a lot lower than what have been predicted, and it really shows that this mitigation works,” Redfield said. “I think we’re coming to the peak, as we sit here today, where we’re able to see the other side of the curve, and we’ll see this outbreak continue to decline over the weeks ahead.”While maintaining social distancing measures appears to be holding down the spread in some areas, reopening the country will require a strategy and understanding the extent of the transmission, experts say.”It’s not going to be one size fits all. It’s going to be using the data that we have from surveillance to really understand where it is the most important places for us to begin to reopen,” Redfield said.Americans have the potential to take summer vacations this year — as long as they continue aggressive mitigation efforts now and get to a place where they can be modified, Fauci said. CDC won’t recommend hydroxychloroquine, director saysPresident Donald Trump on Thursday said more than 2 million coronavirus tests have been completed in the U.S. But he also suggested mass testing would not happen.”We want to have it and we’re going to see if we have it. Do you need it? No. Is it a nice thing to do? Yes,” the president said. “We’re talking about 325 million people and that’s not gonna happen, as you can imagine, and it would never happen with anyone else, either.”States are also rushing to get hydroxychloroquine, an antimalarial drug that President Trump has touted as potential treatment and a “game changer.”The drug has not been fully tested but some states are gathering doses for their patients. The CDC’s Redfield said he does not recommend the drug.”At this stage, at this moment in time, we’re not recommending it, but we’re not, not recommending that,” Redfield said. “We’re recommending for the physician and the patient to have that discussion.”The CDC removed its website guidelines for doctors on how to prescribe hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine. Trump has pressed federal health officials to make the drugs more widely available despite little reliable evidence that they are effective at treating the virus.”We’re very comfortable in responding when we have data that is compelling,” Redfield said Thursday on CNN’s Global Town Hall. “CDC, as an organization … we’re not an opinion organization. We’re a science-based data-driven organization. So I do think this is going to be an independent decision of these health care providers and patients.”Despite the lack of a vaccine, the CDC is preparing for what could happen next year, which is expected to be challenging as well, Redfield said, adding that proactive steps will change the way the country deals with another outbreak.”That includes early case identification, isolating people who are sick and tracing those that the person has come into contact with while they were contagious,” he said. “We don’t have to go through the serious mitigation steps that we’re taking to get us under control.” W2lmcmFtZSBzcmM9Imh0dHBzOi8vZDJjbXZicTdzeHgzM2ouY2xvdWRmcm9udC5uZXQvZW1haWwvcHJvZF9jb3JvbmF2aXJ1c19pZnJhbWVfYXJ0aWNsZS5odG1sIiBoZWlnaHQ9IjQxNCIgc3R5bGU9IndpZHRoOjEwMCU7Ym9yZGVyOm5vbmU7b3ZlcmZsb3c6aGlkZGVuIiBzY3JvbGxpbmc9Im5vIiBmcmFtZWJvcmRlcj0iMCIgYWxsb3dUcmFuc3BhcmVuY3k9InRydWUiXVsvaWZyYW1lXQo=CNN contributed to this report.

The latest:

  • There are more than 496,000 cases in the United States, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally.
  • The U.S. death toll has surpassed 18,000 people.
  • Globally, the number of cases has surpassed 1.6 million with more than 100,000 deaths, Hopkins reports.
  • Antibody tests that would verify whether a person recently had the coronavirus could be available within a week, Dr. Anthony Fauci says.
  • Dr. Deborah Birx said for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic hit, she is seeing a leveling of the curve in the United States.
  • The main U.S. model is now showing fewer projected deaths, down to about 60,000 people by August.
  • The U.S. is set to reach its highest daily number of deaths on or around Sunday, according to models by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington in Seattle.

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Fauci: US should not “be pulling back at all”

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, commended the steps Americans are taking to socially distance but warned that the country as a whole should not “be pulling back.”

“This is the end of the week — that famous week that we spoke about last weekend,” Fauci said during a White House coronavirus task force briefing Friday. “It’s important to remember that this is not the time to feel that since we have made such important advance in the sense of success of the mitigation that we need to be pulling back at all.”

Dr. Deborah Birx, an HIV researcher and the White House coronavirus response coordinator, struck a similar tone. She commended the Washington and Baltimore areas for their adherence to social distancing guidelines, while cautioning that the U.S. has “not reached the peak” of coronavirus infections.

“I know last week, we asked a lot of people in the Washington and Baltimore area to consolidate, not go out frequently to grocery stores or pharmacies. You can see that’s having a huge impact, so it’s really about the encouraging signs that we see. But as encouraging as they are, we have not reached the peak, and so every day, we need to continue to do what we did yesterday and the week before and the week before that. So in the end, that will take us across the peak and down the other side,” Birx said.

Antibody tests for the coronavirus could soon be available

Antibody tests that would verify whether a person recently had the novel coronavirus could be available within a week, the nation’s top infectious disease expert said as the worldwide death toll surpassed 100,000.

“Within a period of a week or so, we’re going to have a rather large number of tests that are available,” Fauci said on CNN’s “New Day” Friday morning.

Having antibodies to the coronavirus could mean someone is protected from getting re-infected, making such tests important for medical workers and others on the front lines fighting the pandemic.

“If their antibody test is positive, one can formulate strategies about whether or not they would be at risk or vulnerable to getting re-infected,” Fauci explained.

Tests that would identify a current infection would still be important, he said, and used in parallel with antibody tests, which still need to be validated.

“But as we look forward, as we get to the point of at least considering opening up the country as it were, it’s very important to appreciate and to understand how much that virus has penetrated this society,” Fauci said. “Because it’s very likely that there are a large number of people out there that have been infected, have been asymptomatic and did not know they were infected.”

At least 18,000 people have died of coronavirus in the United States — nearly half of them in New York state. According to data from Johns Hopkins University, of the more than 475,000 total confirmed cases nationwide, about 170,000 are in New York state. That means it has more reported cases than any country in the world.

The U.S. is set to reach its highest daily number of deaths on or around Sunday, according to models by the prominent Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington in Seattle.

US model is now showing fewer projected deaths

It estimated that 60,415 in the U.S. would die of coronavirus by August, assuming social distancing policies continue through May. That projection is down from the 82,000 it predicted earlier this week.

Antibody tests are used in other clinical scenarios, said Dr. Colleen Kraft, associate chief medical officer of Emory University Hospital in Atlanta. Soon, she said, we’ll learn whether a coronavirus antibody test “tells us that somebody can go back to work, for instance, tells us that somebody is no longer infectious, and tells us that somebody cannot get the virus again.”

As officials begin discussing what it would take for the U.S. to reopen, there could be “merit” to the idea of Americans carrying certificates of immunity that prove they have tested positive for coronavirus antibodies, Fauci said.

Fauci told CNN, “It’s one of those things that we talk about when we want to make sure that we know who the vulnerable people are and not.”

Social distancing appears to be working, officials say

While states prepare for the peak period, experts say it appears social distancing is working.

In New York, Cuomo said Thursday that the number of people hospitalized in the state is going down but deaths have gone up, citing the possibility of lag times. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, echoed a similar sentiment.

“At the same time as we’re seeing the increase in deaths, we’re seeing a rather dramatic decrease in the need for hospitalizations,” Fauci said. “That means that what we are doing is working and therefore we need to continue to do it.”

Social distancing is playing a crucial role in the fight against coronavirus, said Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“We’re not defenseless. This virus has a very significant weakness: It can’t swim 7 feet,” he said.

Some states remain cautiously optimistic with the latest developments. In Connecticut, Gov. Ned Lamont said new hospitalizations are dropping while Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced that the state has the lowest number of hospitalizations per 100,000 people compared to other neighboring states.

In Ohio, while the number of coronavirus-related deaths continues to increase, the number of people impacted by the virus is lower than previously projected, Gov. Mike DeWine said.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom said the state has seen a 1.9% drop of people in ICU, and the stay-at-home order appears to be working.

“I think we’re seeing the consequences of that when we see that our mortality rate is really a lot lower than what have been predicted, and it really shows that this mitigation works,” Redfield said. “I think we’re coming to the peak, as we sit here today, where we’re able to see the other side of the curve, and we’ll see this outbreak continue to decline over the weeks ahead.”

While maintaining social distancing measures appears to be holding down the spread in some areas, reopening the country will require a strategy and understanding the extent of the transmission, experts say.

“It’s not going to be one size fits all. It’s going to be using the data that we have from surveillance to really understand where it is the most important places for us to begin to reopen,” Redfield said.

Americans have the potential to take summer vacations this year — as long as they continue aggressive mitigation efforts now and get to a place where they can be modified, Fauci said.

CDC won’t recommend hydroxychloroquine, director says

President Donald Trump on Thursday said more than 2 million coronavirus tests have been completed in the U.S. But he also suggested mass testing would not happen.

“We want to have it and we’re going to see if we have it. Do you need it? No. Is it a nice thing to do? Yes,” the president said. “We’re talking about 325 million people and that’s not gonna happen, as you can imagine, and it would never happen with anyone else, either.”

States are also rushing to get hydroxychloroquine, an antimalarial drug that President Trump has touted as potential treatment and a “game changer.”

The drug has not been fully tested but some states are gathering doses for their patients. The CDC’s Redfield said he does not recommend the drug.

“At this stage, at this moment in time, we’re not recommending it, but we’re not, not recommending that,” Redfield said. “We’re recommending for the physician and the patient to have that discussion.”

The CDC removed its website guidelines for doctors on how to prescribe hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine. Trump has pressed federal health officials to make the drugs more widely available despite little reliable evidence that they are effective at treating the virus.

“We’re very comfortable in responding when we have data that is compelling,” Redfield said Thursday on CNN’s Global Town Hall. “CDC, as an organization … we’re not an opinion organization. We’re a science-based data-driven organization. So I do think this is going to be an independent decision of these health care providers and patients.”

Despite the lack of a vaccine, the CDC is preparing for what could happen next year, which is expected to be challenging as well, Redfield said, adding that proactive steps will change the way the country deals with another outbreak.

“That includes early case identification, isolating people who are sick and tracing those that the person has come into contact with while they were contagious,” he said. “We don’t have to go through the serious mitigation steps that we’re taking to get us under control.”

CNN contributed to this report.