Some physicians reconsider widespread ventilator use; DEA boosts production quotas for high-demand drugs — 6 COVID-19 updates

The U.S. has confirmed 401,166 COVID-19 cases as of 12:15 p.m. CDT April 8. Nationwide, 13,007 Americans have died from the virus, while 22,556 have recovered. 

Six updates: 

1. President Donald Trump said the U.S. may end funding to the World Health Organization.

"They've been wrong about a lot of things," President Trump said during an April 7 White House news briefing. "We're going to put a hold on money to the WHO."

President Trump later clarified that his administration has not yet decided to end funding for the agency, but will be looking into it.  

The U.S. has provided $893 million during WHO's current two-year funding period, nearly 15 percent of its total funding, according to the organization's website, cited by STAT. 

In response, WHO asked the U.S. and China in an April 8 briefing for "honest leadership" regarding the pandemic. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, PhD, warned against politicizing the COVID-19 pandemic "if you don't want to have many more body bags" and emphasized a need for unity.

2. Black people appear to be dying from COVID-19 at disproportionately high rates across the U.S., though many states and officials haven't been tracking or reporting racial data, USA Today reports. Emerging studies found that black people accounted for 29 percent of confirmed cases and 41 percent of deaths in Illinois as of April 6, despite only making up 15 percent of Illinois' population, according to STAT. Similar trends appear in Michigan and Wisconsin.

The White House, civil rights groups and lawmakers have urged federal health officials to publish racial data as deaths soar in cities with significant black populations, such as Detroit, New Orleans and New York, according to USA Today.

3. Ventilators may be being overused for COVID-19 patients, some physicians say, according to STAT. Many critical care physicians are reevaluating the widespread use of ventilators after observing that some COVID-19 patients with fatally low blood oxygen levels aren't gasping for air. That, as well as noting that these patients' hearts are not racing and their brains don't show signs of oxygen deficiency, is making some physicians suspect that blood oxygen levels might be misleading care for COVID-19 patients and perhaps numerous patients could instead be treated with less intensive respiratory support.

4. The Drug Enforcement Administration will increase production quotas for several drugs in high demand amid the pandemic, according to an April 7 announcement. The agency is increasing quotas for pharmaceutical manufacturers producing medications in high demand, as well as increasing imports of necessary medications for patients on ventilators.

5. New York City reported 731 COVID-19 deaths in one day, along with an 'unusually high' increase in related cases and hospitalizations between April 6-7, NPR reports. The spike is due to both a lag in reports from labs and a large transfer of data from patients hospitalized before April 6. 

New data from New York state also revealed that 61 percent of 5,489 COVID-19 deaths in the state were among men, and 86 percent of the deaths were among individuals with  underlying illnesses. Additionally, 63 percent of deaths were among those 70 years and older. 

6. General Motors will build 30,000 ventilators for the national stockpile under a $489.4 million contract with the federal government, CNBC reports. The company will deliver the first 6,123 ventilators by June 1, according to the contract invoked under the Defense Production Act. 

Worldwide, 1,452,378 COVID-19 cases and 83,615 deaths have been reported, while 308,757 people have recovered from the illness as of 12:00 p.m. CDT April 8. 

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