HHS to secure 35K+ ventilators by June 1; governors create joint reopening plans — 5 COVID-19 updates

The global COVID-19 case count is expected to surpass 2 million, with 1,934,583 cases reported as of 8:30 a.m. CDT April 14. The U.S. case count is the highest in the world, with 582,594 COVID-19 cases and 23,649 deaths reported. 

Worldwide, 120,863 COVID-19 deaths have been reported, while 464,398 people have recovered from the illness. 

Five key updates: 

1. Governors from both East and West coast states have announced two separate working plans to reopen after the pandemic peaks, according to The Los Angeles Times and The New York Times. 

New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Delaware governors said April 13 that they would plan the reopening of the region. Massachusetts joined the coalition shortly after. The governors emphasized the importance of unity so one state didn't inadvertently hurt another, according to the NYT.

Governors in California, Washington and Oregon also announced "a regional pact to recovery" April 13 and will develop a joint plan to lift lockdown regulations, according to The Los Angeles Times.

"COVID-19 doesn't follow state or national boundaries," California Gov. Gavin Newsom, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said in a statement. "It will take every level of government, working together, and a full picture of what's happening on the ground."

When asked about reopening, President Donald Trump said April 13 he had 'total' authority over the lockdown. The president is expected to announce April 14 the members of a second coronavirus task force aimed at determining when and how to reopen the U.S., according to NPR. 

2. HHS will add 35,700 ventilators to the U.S. stockpile by June 1. The agency announced seven new contracts April 13, five of which were invoked under the Defense Production Act with General Electric, Hill-Rom, Medtronic, ResMed and Vyaire Medical. The remaining two contracts are with Hamilton Medical and Zoll Medical Corp. Combined with contracts with General Motors and Philips made earlier this month, HHS has finalized contracts to produce 6,190 ventilators by May 8 and 29,510 by June 1. In total, HHS said it expects to provide 137,431 ventilators by the end of 2020.

3. The 'worst is over' if New Yorkers continue social distancing, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said April 13, according to The New York Times. 

"I believe the worst is over if we continue to be smart," Mr. Cuomo said. However, he cautioned that reckless behavior could "turn those numbers" in two or three days.

4. At least 100,000 new public health employees would be needed for contact tracing in the U.S., according to a recent estimate by Baltimore-based Johns Hopkins' Center for Health Security.  

Contact tracing — the process by which the people who have had contact with an infected patient are identified — will be key during the next stage of the pandemic, STAT reports. Contact tracing will be the only way to mitigate further spread of the virus after the initial phase, Tom Frieden, MD, former CDC director, told STAT. 

5. The FDA has authorized emergency use of a saliva COVID-19 test, one of the first of its kind. The test, developed at New Brunswick, N.J.-based Rutgers University in partnership with Spectrum Solutions and Accurate Diagnostic Labs, will allow for broader screening than the current nose and throat swabs.


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