Looming lab supply shortage could set back COVID-19 testing as US cases surpass 1,000

As of 11 a.m., March 11, the U.S. has reported 1,040 COVID-19 cases and 29 deaths. Worldwide, 121,564 cases have been confirmed, along with 4,373 total deaths. In total, 66,239 people have recovered from the illness.

Key outbreak updates:

1. U.S. residents who break self-quarantines could be jailed, USA Today reports. A Missouri man accused of breaking a self-quarantine after a family member contracted COVID-19 was told if it happened again, he and his family would be put in a federally mandated quarantine. 

"Isolation for public health purposes may be voluntary or compelled by federal, state, or local public health order," the CDC website says. The standard length of quarantine or active monitoring currently used is 14 days.  

2. The CDC is in the process of developing a public tracker for COVID-19 testing that could be available this week, said CDC Director Robert Redfield, MD, according to the American Hospital Association. The tool will track when and where testing is conducted and what percentage of the tests are positive. 

3. The FDA's emergency use authorization allows healthcare staff to use respirators past their shelf life. Healthcare workers can also use face masks regulated by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, unregulated by the FDA, while the outbreak lasts.    

4. Infection-related deaths have now been reported in California, Florida, New Jersey, South Dakota and Washington for a total of 29 U.S. deaths. 

5. Massachusetts infections more than doubled in one day, USA Today reports. Republican Gov. Charlie Baker declared a state of emergency after 51 cases were reported, more than doubling the state total to 92. Seventy cases are tied to a Biogen conference held in Boston in February. 

6. Washington state could see 64,000 COVID-19 cases by May if the outbreak isn't contained, Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee said, according to CNBC. The state has confirmed 273 cases as of March 11, but experts believe the actual number could be closer to 1,000.

"Looking at the characteristics of this virus, people who are infected will double anywhere from five to eight days," Mr. Inslee said. "If you do that math, it gets very disturbing."

7. A looming lab supply shortage threatens to set back COVID-19 testing in the U.S., Politico reports. Dr. Redfield told Politico he is confident in the actual test, but not in the available stock of kits used to extract genetic material from a virus — a critical step in testing.

8. New CMS guidelines allow face masks instead of respirators for healthcare workers amid shortage. "Facemasks are an acceptable temporary alternative when the supply chain of respirators cannot meet the demand," the memo reads. 

9. The Trump administration will likely extend the April 15 tax deadline as part of an effort to mitigate the effects of the outbreak, according to The Wall Street Journal. The decision has not been finalized, and it is unknown how far the deadline would be pushed back.  

10. The National Guard is helping create a 1-mile containment area in New York to stop a growing cluster of COVID-19 cases, CNN reports. The area will be in New Rochelle, N.Y., where 108 cases have been reported, and will surround a synagogue believed to be the epicenter of the outbreak.

11. President Donald Trump was in contact with now-quarantined politicians, but the White House insists he doesn't need testing, according to CNN. Several members of the president's political circle are self-quarantining after coming into contact with a man later diagnosed with COVID-19. The events highlight the fact that the three older men vying for the presidency all have higher risk factors for coronavirus complications.


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