Trump admits to downplaying COVID-19; nearly half of Americans have misconception about virus — 6 updates

More than 900,000 people have died from COVID-19 worldwide as of Sept. 9, with the U.S. accounting for about 21 percent of recorded deaths.  

Six updates:

1. President Donald Trump on Sept. 9 acknowledged that he downplayed the threat of COVID-19 in February to reduce public panic, reports The Washington Post. His remarks came hours after the release of audio recordings and an excerpt from Post reporter Bob Woodward's upcoming book "Rage." The book details a Feb. 7 call in which President Trump acknowledged to Mr. Woodward that COVID-19 was much deadlier than the flu and could spread through the air. A month later, President Trump publicly compared the virus as equivalent to the flu and said the pandemic was well under control, according to the Post. When asked about the book's claims that he downplayed COVID-19's threat during a Sept. 9 news briefing, President Trump said, "I think if you said 'in order to reduce panic,' perhaps that's so. The fact is, I’m a cheerleader for this country. I love our country, and I don't want people to be frightened." Critics, on the other hand, question the distinction between reducing panic and intentionally misrepresenting the severity of the virus and its method of transmission.

2. U.K. researchers created a scoring system to better stratify COVID-19 patients' mortality risk, which is detailed in The BMJ. The system is based on data from more than 35,000 COVID-19 patients and stratifies them into four groups using a 21-point scale. Patients with nine points or more have a 40 percent higher death risk. This figure jumps to 62 percent for those with 15 points or more. Researchers confirmed that the tool accurately categorized patients' mortality risk through a validation process and said it could be used to help guide clinical decision-making.

3. AstraZeneca halted its COVID-19 vaccine trial earlier this summer after a patient experienced neurological symptoms, which turned out to be unrelated to the vaccine, AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot said during a Sept. 9 investor call, according to STAT. The drugmaker paused its clinical trial again this week after a woman in the U.K. developed neurological symptoms consistent with an inflammatory condition called transverse myelitis. As of Sept. 9, her diagnosis had not been confirmed. However, Mr. Soriot said her condition is improving and she will likely be discharged from the hospital this week.

4. Young adults with COVID-19 experience substantial rates of adverse outcomes, according to a study published Sept. 9 in JAMA Internal Medicine. Researchers analyzed data from the Premier Healthcare Database for COVID-19 patients aged 18 to 34 and discharged between April 1 and June 30. In total, 21 percent of the young adults required intensive care, 10 percent required mechanical ventilation and 2.7 percent died. This in-hospital mortality rate is lower than that reported for older COVID-19 patients, though young adults with multiple preexisting health conditions (morbid obesity, hypertension and diabetes) faced risks comparable to those of middle-aged adults. More than half of the young adult COVID-19 patients requiring hospitalization were Black or Hispanic, consistent with prior findings of disproportionate illness severity in these demographic groups.

5. Nearly half of all Americans have at least one misconception about virus prevention and treatment, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation poll. Conducted among 1,199 Americans from Aug. 28 to Sept. 3, one in five respondents said wearing a face mask is harmful to one's health, while one in four said hydroxychloroquine is an effective treatment. In regards to a vaccine, only 42 percent of respondents would get one if it was ready by November, while 62 percent reported concern that political pressure would prompt hasty approval of the vaccine without making sure it is safe and effective.

6. The pandemic is taking a significantly higher emotional and economic toll on Black and Latino Americans, according to a Commonwealth Fund survey. Conducted from March 30 to May 25, more than half of Latino and nearly half of Black respondents reported experiencing an economic challenge because of the pandemic, compared to the 21 percent of white respondents who said the same. A third of all respondents reported mental health concerns, such as stress and anxiety, since the beginning of the pandemic, with Black and Latino individuals, women or those with below-average income at the most risk.

Snapshot of COVID-19 in the U.S.

Cases: 6,363,729
Deaths: 190,887
Recovered: 2,387,479

Counts reflect data available as of 9:05 a.m. CDT Sept. 10.

More articles on public health:
26 states where COVID-19 is spreading fastest, slowest: Sept. 10
Number of COVID-19 hospitalizations by state: Sept. 10
Number of COVID-19 patients in ICU, state by state: Sept. 9

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