National PPE stockpile depleted; CMS updates infection control guidelines — 9 COVID-19 updates

The U.S. has reported 432,438 COVID-19 cases as of 8:30 a.m. CDT April 9. Nationwide, 14,808 Americans have died from the illness, while 24,125 have recovered. 

Worldwide, 1,498,833 COVID-19 cases and 89,733 deaths have been reported, while 337,074 people have recovered from the illness as of 8:30 a.m. CDT April 9. 

Nine key updates: 

1. Democrats have proposed another economic relief package for hospitals, The Hill reports. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer are asking that $250 billion for a small-business loan program requested by Republicans include an additional $100 billion for hospitals, community health centers and health systems.  

2. The government's emergency stockpile of personal protective equipment is depleted, HHS employees told the House Oversight and Reform Committee, according to The Hill. About 90 percent of the stockpile's personal protective equipment has been distributed to states. The remaining 10 percent will be reserved for federal employees. Therefore, the government will not be sending any more shipments of PPE to states, the staffers said. 

The House committee issued a report April 8, outlining PPE disbursement. At present, the White House has sent 11.7 million N95 respirators and 7,920 ventilators to states from the stockpile, far smaller numbers than what federal estimates suggest hospitals will need during the pandemic.

3. The U.S. is seeing a "stabilization and decrease in hospitalizations" this week, Anthony Fauci, MD, told Fox News, even though COVID-19 deaths are growing. The deaths tend to lag behind hospitalization rates, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said. 

4. A Chicago jail is the largest known source of infections in the country, according to data compiled by The New York Times. As of April 8, 238 inmates and 115 employees at Cook County (Ill.) Jail had known cases of COVID-19, the Cook County Sheriff's Office said. Hundreds of inmates convicted of nonviolent crimes were released early in efforts to prevent further disease spread. Officials in New York City have also said inmates may be released early as infection rates in local jails rise.

5. CMS issued an updated guidance on infection control April 8 to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in all care settings. The guidance offers expanded recommendations on the following topic areas for hospitals: screening and discharging COVID-19 patients, visitor restrictions, staff screening and testing and return-to-work policies. The document also includes new instructions on how dialysis centers can protect patients with end-stage renal disease, as these individuals are immunocompromised and must regularly visit healthcare facilities, putting them at heightened risk of severe COVID-19 illness.

6. President Donald Trump is preparing a second coronavirus task force, according to The Washington Post. The smaller task force will be aimed at combating economic ramifications of the virus, four people familiar with the plans told the newspaper. The White House declined to comment, but an announcement could come as early as this week, the insiders said.

7. Pfizer plans to launch clinical trials for a COVID-19 treatment in August or September, about three months earlier than its original timeline, reports STAT. The experimental antiviral treatment is a protease inhibitor that works by blocking a crucial enzyme viruses need to replicate. The intravenous drug is based on numerous compounds Pfizer previously created to protect against SARS, an illness caused by a virus similar to the one responsible for COVID-19. Pfizer is also working to develop a COVID-19 vaccine with Germany's BioNTech and is slated to begin human trials this month.  

8. Warmer weather won't end the pandemic, members of a National Academy of Sciences committee wrote in an April 7 letter to the White House. Data are mixed regarding the effect temperatures have on COVID-19 spread, though the scientists say it may not matter since most people in the world are not immune to the virus. 

9. About 6.6 million Americans applied for unemployment last week, according to new data from the U.S. Department of Labor. In total, more than 17 million Americans have filed unemployment claims in the last month, reports The Washington Post.

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