Cases flattening in hot spots; masks may lessen severity of symptoms — 6 COVID-19 updates

While several states saw record-setting days July 27, new COVID-19 cases are starting to flatten in hard-hit areas like Texas and Florida. 

Six updates:

1. Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Florida all had record-setting days this week. Texas became the fourth state to record more than 400,000 COVID-19 cases July 27, alongside California, Florida and New York, reports The New York Times. Oklahoma and New Mexico also reported record single-day case increases yesterday, with 1,401 and 467 new cases, respectively. On July 28, Florida confirmed a record number of new deaths (186) and hospitalizations (585), bringing total deaths to 6,117 and cumulative hospitalizations to 24,917, according to state data cited by Bloomberg.

2. Seven-day averages show cases are starting to level off in hot spots, according to CNBC. Arizona's seven-day average of new cases was down 13 percent as of July 26, according to CNBC's analysis of data from Baltimore-based Johns Hopkins University. Texas' seven-day average was down nearly 19 percent compared to a week prior. Florida reported an 8 percent decrease in its seven-day average of new cases week over week. 

3. Masks may lessen the severity of COVID-19 symptoms, or stave off infection entirely, some researchers suggest, according to The New York Times. Different types of masks "block virus to a different degree, but they all block the virus from getting in," said Monica Gandhi, MD, an infectious disease physician at the University of California, San Francisco. If any virus particles do get past a mask, the disease might be milder, Dr. Gandhi and colleagues argue in a new paper set to be published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine. Other experts warn that the link between masks and milder disease may only be a correlation, not causation.   

4. Senate Republicans unveiled a nearly $1 trillion COVID-19 relief bill July 27, reports CNBC.The legislation would reduce unemployment payments to $200 a week through September before replacing the payments with a process in which laid off workers would receive 70 percent of their previous wages. The bill also includes a second round of $1,200 direct payments for Americans and a $2,400 payment for couples. For a full breakdown of the relief package, click here.

5. California Gov. Gavin Newsom is sending "strike teams" to aid virus hot spots in the Central Valley, citing a high percentage of Latinos disproportionately harmed by the disease's spread, according to The Los Angeles Times. The teams are set to be deployed to eight counties later this week, Mr. Newsom said during a July 27 news briefing. He is also asking the California Legislature to approve $52 million to improve testing, tracing and isolation protocols in the area.

6. The FDA authorized the first diagnostic test for asymptomatic patients and second to use pooled sample testing. On July 24, the FDA reissued emergency use authorization to the LabCorp COVID-19 RT-PCR Test to expand test use after the company provided scientific data showing the test could detect the virus in asymptomatic individuals. The reissuance also authorizes LabCorp to test pooled samples of up to five individual swab samples. 

Snapshot of COVID-19 in the U.S.

Cases: 4,294,770
Deaths: 148,056
Recovered: 1,325,804

Counts reflect data available as of 8 a.m. CDT July 28.

More articles on public health:
21 states where COVID-19 is spreading fastest, slowest: July 28
State agency tells Florida hospitals to exclude COVID-19 patients with other conditions from case count
COVID-19 deaths rise for first time since April: 4 CDC updates

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