Three members of the White House’s coronavirus task force are self-quarantining after coming into contact with a White House staff member who has tested positive for the coronavirus.
Stephen Hahn, commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, and Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have decided to quarantine for two weeks. Neither of the men have tested positive for coronavirus.
Dr. Fauci, who also tested negative for COVID-19, is beginning a “modified quarantine” after he made a “low risk” contact with the coronavirus. He will continue to be tested regularly and telework from home.
Redfield, Hahn and Fauci will testify before a Senate committee on Tuesday by video conference.
The three senior public health officials are latest members in President Trump’s camp to be exposed to the virus this week.
Vice President Pence’s press secretary, Katie Miller, tested positive for the virus on Friday and a personal valet of the President also tested positive earlier in the week.
A key coronavirus model often cited by the White House now predicts more deaths in the U.S. due to “explosive increases in mobility in a number of states.”
The model, from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington, now foresees 137,000 deaths in this country by August, up from an earlier prediction of about 134,000.
“We’re seeing just explosive increases in mobility in a number of states that we expect will translate into more cases and deaths in ten days from now,” Dr. Christopher Murray, director of the IHME, said in an interview on CBS on Sunday.
“What’s driving the change is, simply put, the rise in mobility. And that’s the key driver,” Murray said. “We’re seeing in some states a 20-percentage point increase in just 10 days in mobility. And that will translate into more human contact, more transmission.”
The top five states in terms of increasing mobility are Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota and Georgia, according to the IHME report. Other states that have seen a 15-20% percentage point in mobility, are: Alabama, Alaska, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
The city of Wuhan, China, where the coronavirus is believed to have originated, on Sunday reported its first symptomatic COVID-19 case in more than a month. The patient, an 89-year-old man who hasn’t left his home since the end of January, was previously asymptomatic but developed symptoms over time.
Dr. Thomas File, the president of the Infectious Diseases Society of America, says that people should continue to wear masks even as states reopen.
“We still have to use the personal practices that have led us to the present state now where we’re starting to at least, you know, flatten the curve,” he told CNN on Sunday.
He stressed continuing to use physical distancing and wearing masks in public to avoid making the pandemic’s devastation on the economy worse.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo outlined new guidelines that nursing homes and hospitals must follow in order to protect the elderly. The new safety measures include restricted visitation, except for end-of-life visits, required use of personal protective equipment for staff, daily health screenings for coronavirus symptoms and bi-weekly testing for staff, and notification of sick patients to all residents and family members within 24 hours of a positive COVID-19 test or death.
If nursing homes do not follow these guidelines, Cuomo said they will lose their license.
About 90% of the state of Ohio is set to open even after a recent uptick in new Covid-19 cases, Gov. Mike DeWine announced on Fox News on Sunday.
DeWine said, “it’s really a risk no matter what we do” but also stressed the need to continue physical distancing, wearing masks and hand washing.
BUSINESS & ECONOMY
Trump administration officials continue to predict depression era-level unemployment numbers for the month of May. This prediction follows Thursday’s April unemployment rate report of 17%.
White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett believes the unemployment rate will “probably” be “close to 20%” in the May jobs report, adding the rate will depend on what happens with the virus and with the economy as some states begin to reopen.
Officials also predicted a “bounce back” of the economy during the last six months of the year.
American Airlines and the Hyatt Hotels Corporation announced a partnership to offer free vacations to New York City health care employees working on the frontlines of the pandemic. More than 4,000 workers, including doctors, physician assistants and nurses, as well as facilities and food service teams of the NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst, will be treated to round-trip vacations across the U.S. and the Caribbean once they are able to “take time for themselves.” Hyatt will provide free hotel accommodations once they arrive.
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