Coronavirus death toll passes 2,000; Nebraska hospital treats 13 patients

As of 10 a.m., Feb. 19, the disease COVID-19 has sickened 75,282 and resulted in 2,012 deaths. Globally, 15,084 people have recovered from the illness.

Key outbreak updates:

1. University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha is treating 13 patients who either tested positive or were highly likely to test positive for the disease, according to CNN. The U.S. Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness Response asked UNMC early Feb. 17 to treat 13 patients who had been evacuated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship docked in Japan. Hospital staff wear gowns, gloves and facial indemnifying respirators when they interact with patients, who are under surveillance in quarantine in units equipped with exercise bikes or treadmills, as well as TVs and Wi-Fi. 

2. COVID-19 could be 20 times deadlier than the flu, USA Today reports. The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimated the fatality rate for the virus at 2.3 percent. This season's flu death rate in the U.S. is currently about 0.1 percent, according to the CDC.

Separate studies have found that COVID-19 is more fatal in men than women, though most cases are mild, according to CNBC and Science Alert.  

3. The drugmaker Sanofi Pasteur, along with the HHS' Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, will work to develop a vaccine against the new coronavirus, announced Feb. 17. The company previously developed a vaccine for the coronavirus SARS and plans to use its recombinant DNA platform for the COVID-19 vaccine. It will likely take three to four years for a vaccine to be fully licensed, even with emergency approval, John Shiver, Sanofi's head of vaccine research and development, told STAT

Johnson & Johnson's vaccine division, Janssen, is also working to produce a vaccine, announcing a partnership with the HHS Feb. 18.

4. Nearly 350 Americans were released from a California quarantine Feb. 18, NPR reports. The U.S. citizens were evacuated from Wuhan, China, and quarantined for 14 days at two military bases in California. All U.S. evacuees, except for one with a confirmed COVID-19 case, were medically cleared by the CDC.  

5. COVID-19 cases in China have slowed, though many cases may go undetected, according to CBS News. Current data shows the virus to be fatal in 2.3 percent of people, but experts have said that figure could be even lower, citing potentially thousands of undetected infections, many of them mild or asymptomatic. All but five of the deaths have occurred in China, with one of the most recent fatalities being the director of a Wuhan hospital, Liu Zhiming.  

6. The CDC issued more travel restrictions for Americans on a quarantined cruise ship in Japan, ABC News reports. The Diamond Princess ship is the largest center of infection outside China, with nearly 200 passengers infected with COVID-19. More than 100 Americans were either released from quarantine Feb. 19 or are hospitalized in Japan. All individuals must wait another 14 days before returning to the U.S. 

More articles on public health:
South Korea is tracking, publishing detailed travel logs of coronavirus patients
14 new US coronavirus cases; patients with flu symptoms will be tested in 5 US cities
WHO, tech leaders meet to address coronavirus misinformation

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