CDC adds 6 symptoms; young COVID-19 patients dying from strokes — 8 updates

COVID-19 cases in the U.S. are soon expected to surpass 1 million, with 965,951 cases and 54,877 deaths reported as of 10 a.m. CDT April 27. Worldwide, 2,990,559 COVID-19 cases and 207,446 deaths have been confirmed, while 875,497 patients have recovered. 

Eight updates:

1. The CDC added six new potential COVID-19 symptoms to its initial three. Originally only listing fever, cough and shortness of breath as virus symptoms, the agency has now added chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat and new loss of taste or smell. 

2. "Social distancing will be with us through the summer," said Deborah Birx, MD, response coordinator for the White House coronavirus task force. On April 26, Dr. Birx told NBC's "Meet the Press" social distancing measures will continue to be used in an effort to protect everyone as areas of the U.S. move through the phased reopening.

3. Young and middle-aged COVID-19 patients with mild symptoms are dying from strokes, The Washington Post reports. Researchers with Philadelphia-based Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals, New York City-based NYU Langone, and New York City-based Mount Sinai Beth Israel Hospital are all intending to publish data regarding COVID-19 patients in their 30s to 40s suffering strokes. Though there are only a few dozen cases per location, the data suggests COVID-19 patients are mostly experiencing large vessel occlusions — the deadliest kind of stroke — which can destroy parts of the brain responsible for movement, speech and decision-making. 

Many researchers believe the strokes may be a direct consequence of COVID-19 related blood clots, while others wonder whether they are seeing more young patients because they are more resistant to respiratory problems caused by COVID-19.

The virus appears to result in mild illness for the majority of young adults. However, COVID-19 stroke patients at New York City-based Mount Sinai were an average of 15 years younger than stroke patients without COVID-19, according to J. Mocco, MD, neurosurgeon and researcher.

"These are people among the least likely statistically to have a stroke," Dr. Mocco told the Post, adding that the link between COVID-19 and stroke "is one of the clearest and most profound correlations I've come across."

4. The WHO is leading a global initiative to develop new drugs, tests and vaccines for COVID-19, reports STAT. Called the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator, its goal is to ensure low-income countries receive equal access to these medical products. Participating countries and organizations are encouraged to start pledging funds May 4, with the goal of raising $8 billion in initial funding. Nine countries have joined the effort, along with philanthropic organizations like the Wellcome Trust and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The U.S. has not yet joined the initiative. 

5. There is no evidence that people who've recovered from COVID-19 are protected from a second infection, the World Health Organization said in an April 24 guidance on "immunity passports." Many countries are considering giving these passports to people who've already gotten the virus, allowing them to return to work or other activities. This proposal relies on the assumption that previously infected individuals will be protected by antibodies. However, the WHO said not enough evidence exists to warrant the passports' use, as it's unknown how much protection COVID-19 antibodies offer and for how long. 

6. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo outlined on April 26 a phased reopening plan for the state. New York will follow CDC's recommendation to only reopen once state and regional hospitalization rates fall for two consecutive weeks. The first phase of the plan will reopen construction and manufacturing work. Mr. Cuomo did not share a specific timeline for this reopening, but suggested that some parts of upstate New York could begin to reopen as early as May 15, when his executive order requiring all nonessential workers to stay home ends, according to NBC New York.

7. Wuhan doesn't have any more hospitalized COVID-19 patients, Chinese officials said April 26, according to Business Insider. Wuhan, the pandemic's origin site, has recorded about 46,000 COVID-19 cases since December, or about half of all cases in China. As of April 25, Wuhan had just 12 COVID-19 cases and no new infections. The city ended its lockdown April 8, although some restrictions are still in place and schools remained closed.

8. The second wave of stimulus payments is set to go out this week, directed at those who recently provided direct-deposit information, the Wall Street Journal reports. Checks are also being sent to people who don't file tax returns but receive Social Security or disability benefits. As of April 17, the IRS has distributed $158 billion of the program's total $292 billion. It may take months for individuals without direct-deposit information to receive their check, with the government's check-printing capacity capped at about 5 million a week.


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