White House freezes WHO funding, unveils ventilator-sharing program: 9 COVID-19 updates

The U.S. accounts for more than one-fourth of the nearly 2 million COVID-19 cases reported globally. The nation has reported 609,685 cases as of 8:30 a.m. CDT April 15.  

Worldwide, 1,999,628 COVID-19 cases and 128,011 deaths have been reported, while 500,996 people have recovered.

Nine updates:

1. The U.S. has frozen World Health Organization funding, pending an investigation, President Donald Trump said in an April 14 news briefing.  

"The WHO fail[ed] to adequately obtain, vet and share information in a timely and transparent fashion," President Trump said. He said the organization must be held accountable for delaying a public health emergency declaration and for "pushing China's misinformation about the virus." However, the U.S. will continue to work with the WHO to see if it makes "meaningful reforms," President Trump concluded.

The American Medical Association released a statement April 14, urging the president to reconsider. The association warned that cutting funding instead of focusing on solutions is a "dangerous move at a precarious moment."  

The WHO "regrets" President Trump's decision, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, PhD, said in an April 15 briefing. WHO works to protect vulnerable populations worldwide from many other diseases and conditions, not just COVID-19, Dr. Tedros said.

2. Social distancing measures may have to be in place until 2022, according to a study published April 14 in Science. The study predicts recurrent winter outbreaks of the virus after the initial, most severe wave. To avoid exceeding the capacity of the healthcare system, prolonged or intermittent social distancing may be necessary into 2022, researchers write. Surveillance of the virus should also continue, since a resurgence of the disease is possible as late as 2024, the authors conclude.

3. Eight hospital executives met with President Trump April 14 to discuss a new ventilator-sharing program for hospitals. The public-private program will allow hospitals to lend unused equipment to facilities facing COVID-19 surges. President Trump said hospitals have more than 60,000 unused ventilators for the "Dynamic Ventilator Reserve" program, which will be supported by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and HHS.

4. At least 9,282 healthcare employees have contracted COVID-19 in the U.S., according to CDC data released April 14. The CDC noted this figure is likely an underestimate, since healthcare employee status was only available for 16 percent of cases reported nationally. The median age of sickened healthcare professionals was 42, and 73 percent were female. A majority (90 percent) did not require hospitalization, but severe illness occurred among all age groups. Twenty-seven deaths among healthcare professionals were reported to the agency between Feb. 12 and April 9.

5. Anthony Fauci, MD, told the Associated Press April 14 that the U.S. is not ready to open yet. The nation still needs to expand testing and establish contact tracing procedures before reopening the economy, the nation's top infectious disease physician said.

"I'll guarantee you, once you start pulling back there will be infections. It's how you deal with the infections that's going [to] count," Dr. Fauci told the AP. "We have to have something in place that is efficient and that we can rely on, and we’re not there yet."

He added that the White House's May 1 target to reopen some parts of the country is "a bit overly optimistic," according to AP.

6. Antibody tests may have a high rate of false positives, and it is still unclear if people who recover from COVID-19 have immunity, NPR reports. The FDA does not regulate the blood tests, and tests that meet informal government standards may fall below a touted 90 percent accuracy in practical use. For many other diseases, people do have a period of immunity after exposure and recovery from illness, but that has not yet been demonstrated for COVID-19.

7. California Gov. Gavin Newsom outlined how he will decide when to gradually loosen stay-at-home policies in guidelines released April 14. The report outlines six indicators state leaders use to determine when social distancing efforts can end. The indicators focus on expanded testing, isolating and contact tracing; infection prevention for at-risk populations; healthcare surge capacity; the creation of COVID-19 therapeutics; the ability for public institutions to support physical distancing; and the ability to reinstate social distancing measures, if need be.

8. More than 10,000 people with COVID-19 have died in New York City as of April 13, according to new data on confirmed and probable cases from the city's health department.

9. "Governors will be reopening their states," President Trump said April 14, after announcing April 13 that he had authority over all lockdown regulations. Governors from both East and West coast states are developing two separate plans to reopen parts of the U.S. after the pandemic peaks. 

Editor's note: This article was updated April 15 at 11:21 a.m. CDT.

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1.  

Nine updates:

The U.S. has frozen World Health Organization funding, pending an investigation, President Donald Trump said in an April14 news briefing.

"The WHO fail[ed] to adequately obtain, vet and share information in a timely and transparent fashion," President Trump said. He said the organization must be held accountable for delaying a public health emergency declaration and for "pushing China's misinformation about the virus." However, the U.S. will continue to work with the WHO to see if it makes "meaningful reforms," President Trump concluded.

The American Medical Association released a statement April 14, urging the president to reconsider. The association warned that cutting funding instead of focusing on solutions is a "dangerous move at a precarious moment."

Social distancing measures may have to be in place until 2022, according to a study published April 14 in Science. The study predicts recurrent winter outbreaks of the virus after the initial, most severe wave. To avoid exceeding the capacity of the healthcare system, prolonged or intermittent social distancing may be necessary into 2022, researchers write. Surveillance of the virus should also continue, since a resurgence of the disease is possible as late as 2024, the authors conclude.

Eight hospital executives met with President Trump April 14 to discuss a new ventilator-sharing program for hospitals. The public-private program will allow hospitals to lend unused equipment to facilities facing COVID-19 surges. President Trump said hospitals have more than 60,000 unused ventilators for the "Dynamic Ventilator Reserve" program, which will be supported by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and HHS.

Healthcare employees make up 16 percent of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., according to CDC data released April 14. The median age of sickened healthcare professionals was 42, and 73 percent were female. A majority (90 percent) did not require hospitalization, but severe illness occurred among all age groups. Twenty-seven deaths among healthcare professionals were reported to the agency between Feb. 12 and April 9.

Anthony Fauci, MD, told the Associated Press April 14 that the U.S. is not ready to open yet. The nation still needs to expand testing and establish contact tracing procedures before reopening the economy, the nation's top infectious disease physician said.

"I'll guarantee you, once you start pulling back there will be infections. It's how you deal with the infections that's going [to] count," Dr. Fauci told the AP. "We have to have something in place that is efficient and that we can rely on, and we’re not there yet."

He added that the White House's May 1 target to reopen some parts of the country is "a bit overly optimistic," according to AP.

Antibody tests may have a high rate of false positives, and it is still unclear if people who recover from COVID-19 have immunity, NPR reports. The FDA does not regulate the blood tests, and tests that meet informal government standards may fall below a touted 90 percent accuracy in practical use. For many other diseases, people do have a period of immunity after exposure and recovery from illness, but that has not yet been demonstrated for COVID-19.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom outlined how he will decide when to gradually loosen stay-at-home policies in guidelines released April 14. The report outlines six indicators state leaders use to determine when social distancing efforts can end. The indicators focus on expanded testing, isolating and contact tracing; infection prevention for at-risk populations; healthcare surge capacity; the creation of COVID-19 therapeutics; the ability for public institutions to support physical distancing; and the ability to reinstate social distancing measures, if need be.

More than 10,000 people with COVID-19 have died in New York City as of April 13, according to new data on confirmed and probable cases from the city's health department.

"Governors will be reopening their states," President Trump said April 14, after announcing April 13 that he had authority over all lockdown regulations. Governors from both East and West coast states are developing two separate plans to reopen parts of the U.S. after the pandemic peaks.

 

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