3,000 health departments push back on revised testing guidance; Hurricane Laura may boost infection rates, experts say — 5 COVID-19 updates

New COVID-19 cases in the U.S. have increased for the fourth consecutive day, climbing above 40,000 for the second day in a row, according to The Wall Street Journal

The trend isn't apparent in all areas of the country, however, as Aug. 27 marked New York state's 20th consecutive day with an infection rate below 1 percent.  

Five updates: 

1. Two advocacy groups that represent nearly 3,000 public health departments nationwide are urging the CDC to withdraw its revised testing guidance, which says people without symptoms don't necessarily need to be tested, reports The New York Times. The National Association of County and City Health Officials and the Big Cities Health Coalition penned a letter to CDC Director Robert Redfield, MD, and HHS Assistant Secretary for Health Adm. Brett Giroir, MD, citing numerous concerns, including a lack of data to support the change. Dr. Redfield addressed widespread criticism around the changes this week, clarifying that testing "may be considered" for all close contacts of known COVID-19 patients. However, the advocacy groups say this verbal clarification is not enough and urged CDC to pull the revised guidance, which was still posted on the agency's website as of Aug. 28.

2. Hurricane Laura could worsen outbreaks in Texas and Louisiana, several officials say, according to NBC News. Before Laura's landfall Aug. 27, scientists at New York City-based Columbia University and the Union of Concerned Scientists warned that widespread evacuation may increase the likelihood of virus spread. "We're basically going to be blind for this week because we'll have to discontinue much of our community-based testing," Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said. Darrell Pile, CEO of the Southeast Texas Regional Advisory Council, said social distancing will be more difficult for those evacuating, but encouraged Texans to wear masks and "do their best to minimize being too close to other people." 

3. The White House inked a $760 million deal with Abbott to provide 150 million rapid COVID-19 tests, which produce results in 15 minutes. The White House did not outline how the tests will be distributed, but said they could potentially be used in schools and "other special needs populations."

4. Enrollment for Pfizer and Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine trials in the U.S. is more than halfway complete, though patient populations are lacking in diversity, reports The Washington Post. About one-fifth of participants in the 30,000-person trials are from Black and Hispanic communities, which have been hit hardest by the pandemic. To ensure a vaccine works for everyone, vaccine trials should reflect the racial and ethnic make-up of the U.S. population, which is about one-third Black, Hispanic and Native American, experts said. 

5. Pink eye may be a COVID-19 symptom in children, a small study published in JAMA Ophthalmology found. Researchers in Wuhan, China, tracked the symptoms of 216 children ages 2-11 who tested positive for the virus. Nearly 23 percent of children had "various ocular manifestations," the most common of which was conjunctival discharge, a common symptom of pink eye. Neil Bressler, MD, an ophthalmologist and editor of JAMA Ophthalmology, said the study's findings were "clinically relevant" and could aid physicians in diagnosing kids with COVID-19, according to USA Today.

Snapshot of COVID-19 in the U.S.

Cases: 5,870,185
Deaths: 180,862
Recovered: 2,101,326 

Counts reflect data available as of 8:55 a.m. CDT Aug. 28.


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