The novel coronavirus, COVID-19, continues to wreak havoc on people's lives across the globe as the death toll climbs above 43,000 worldwide. In the United States, the number of infections continues to spike, with as many as 26,000 new cases confirmed in the U.S. over the last twenty-four hours. At least 4,080 people have died from the respiratory disease in the U.S. alone, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University.
Here is your COVID-19 update for Wednesday, April 1, 2020:
Between 100,000 and 240,0000 People Could Die From COVID-19 Over Next Few Weeks, Trump Administration Warns
With more than 80% of Americans under some kind of 'stay-at-home' order, a senior health official warned Tuesday that between 100,000 and 240,000 people in the U.S. could die from the coronavirus over the next few weeks.
"I want every American to be prepared for the hard days that lie ahead. We're going to go through a very tough two weeks," President Donald Trump said during Tuesday's White House Coronavirus Task Force briefing.
The Trump administration also extended the nationwide social distancing measures for another thirty days after some dire statistical models showed hundreds of thousands of Americans could die if those measures were not extended. Polls also showed strong support for the social distancing. Trump explained his decision to extend the social distancing guidelines as necessary to protect millions of lives.
The coordinator for the White House's response, Dr. Deborah Brix said Tuesday that even if the federal guidelines were followed, between 100,000 and 240,000 deaths would still occur. If social distancing was lifted, the models showed the potential for millions of deaths in America.
"As sobering a number as that is, we should be prepared for it," Dr. Anthony Fauci told reporters on Tuesday. "We're going to do everything we can to get it significantly below that."
Officials were quick to state that those figures were not pre-determined and could go down significantly in the coming weeks, noting that the high number of cases in states like New York and New Jersey were pushing their projections higher. Tuesday's press conference was the first time government leaders offered any official projections for the spread and death toll of the novel coronavirus in the U.S.
Not everyone in the White House believes the models that Fauci and Brix are relying on, CNN reported. Epidemiological models rely on assumptions and are not perfectly accurate - especially when so little is known about the virus's spread and a lack of testing has hampered efforts to get good data.
Fauci added that the projections could change based on how the pandemic in the United States continues to unfold.
"We don't accept that number, that that's what it's going to be," he said. "We want to do much better than that."
Bill Gates Calls For National 10 Week Shutdown to Curb COVID-19 Outbreak
Billionaire philanthropist and founder of Microsoft, Bill Gates, called for a nationwide shutdown of the United States in an effort to help curb the coronavirus outbreak.
In a Washington Post op-ed, Gates wrote that through his foundation, he'd spoken with infectious disease expects and leaders in Washington D.C. who laid out what might be necessary to help prevent hundreds of thousands of deaths over the next few weeks.
Gates said that the first thing leaders in the U.S. needed to do was call for a consistent nationwide approach to shutting down.
“Despite urging from public health experts, some states and counties haven’t shut down completely. In some states, beaches are still open; in others, restaurants still serve sit-down meals,” Gates wrote.
"This is a recipe for disaster. Because people can travel freely across state lines, so can the virus. The country’s leaders need to be clear: Shutdown anywhere means shutdown everywhere,” he wrote. "Until the case numbers start to go down across America — which could take 10 weeks or more — no one can continue business as usual or relax the shutdown. Any confusion about this point will only extend the economic pain, raise the odds that the virus will return, and cause more deaths."
Second, Gates said testing needed to be expanded immediately, with priority given to healthcare workers and first responders. He said tests like the one developed by the Seattle Coronavirus Assessment Network, which allows patients to test themselves, lowering the risk to healthcare workers, should be distributed nationwide.
Third, the billionaire philanthropist called for the federal government to step up their efforts and begin constructing the necessarily facilities that will be able to make vaccines in bulk once it becomes available - which could be as soon as 18 months from now.
"We can start now by building the facilities where these vaccines will be made," Gates wrote. "Because many of the top candidates are made using unique equipment, we’ll have to build facilities for each of them, knowing that some won’t get used."
"Private companies can’t take that kind of risk, but the federal government can. It’s a great sign that the administration made deals this week with at least two companies to prepare for vaccine manufacturing. I hope more deals will follow," he added.
Loss of Taste, Smell, Strong Predictors for COVID-19 U.K. Researchers Find
Researchers at King's College London say a patient's loss of smell and taste is a strong predictor that they have the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, with as many as 59 percent of people who've tested positive for the virus reporting those symptoms.
The data appears to track previously reported studies on COVID-19 symptoms. Patients around the world have reported losing their senses, but, the World Health Organization does not yet consider them key symptoms of the virus.
At least 53 percent of patients who tested positive for the coronavirus reported feeling tiredness and fatigue. At least 29 percent of patients reported a persistent cough, while 28 percent of respondents reported shortness of breath. At least ten percent of patients recorded a high fever as one of their symptoms.
Researchers used data collected by the University between March 24 and 29 via a tracking app launched by scientists to help them better understand the progress of the disease.
Turkmenistan Reportedly Bans the Word "Coronavirus"
Leaders in Turkmenistan have banned citizens and government officials from saying or using the word "coronavirus" according to a report from Reporters Without Borders.
The Central Asian country, run by Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, a dentist/rapper turned politician, has reportedly forbidden state run media from writing or using the word "coronavirus" in its reports, and has ordered that the word be removed from health brochures found in hospitals, schools and workplaces.
According to correspondents with Radio Free Europe, plainclothes police officers are also arresting any citizens who are wearing face masks or talking about COVID-19 in public.
“This denial of information not only endangers the Turkmen citizens most at risk but also reinforces the authoritarianism imposed by President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov," Jeanne Cavelier, head of the Eastern Europe and Central Asia desk of the media rights group, said on March 31. "We urge the international community to react and to take him to task for his systematic human rights violations."
So far, the Turkmen government has not reported even one case of COVID-19, while other countries bordering Turkmenistan have all confirmed dozens of infections. Iran, which is south of Turkmenstian, is one of the hardest hit countries in the world, with more than 47,000 infections.
To keep up to date on the latest news about the coronavirus and to understand what you need to stay safe and healthy, check out the Coronavirus: Fact vs Fiction podcast from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
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