LATEST Updates on Coronavirus

Latest Updates on Coronavirus: Older Americans Urged to Continue ‘Distancing’

High-risk individuals should practice precautions as COVID-19 circulates

  • The share of U.S. adults who plan to get a vaccine to prevent COVID-19 is dropping, according to a new national survey from the Pew Research Center. In May, 72 percent of adults said they would definitely or probably get a vaccine if it was available today; now, about 51 percent say they definitely or probably would. What’s more, 49 percent of Americans say they definitely or probably would not get vaccinated at this time. Clinical trials testing the safety and effectiveness of vaccine candidates continue to progress, and experts say it’s likely researchers will know if one works by the end of 2020 or early 2021. 
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has once again updated its coronavirus testing recommendations after a late-August revision drew criticism from many public health experts. The agency now says individuals who have been in close contact with someone who has a coronavirus infection should be tested for the virus, even in the absence of COVID-19 symptoms. “Due to the significance of asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic transmission, this guidance further reinforces the need to test asymptomatic persons, including close contacts of a person with documented SARS-CoV-2 infection,” the CDC wrote in its Sept. 18 update.
  • new analysis of electronic health data for roughly 50 million patients published by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) continues to build on previous reports that reveal minority populations disproportionately bear the burden of COVID-19 in the U.S. The research shows that people of color are more likely to test positive for a coronavirus infection than their white peers. Black, Hispanic and Asian patients also had higher rates of hospitalization and death from COVID-19, even after controlling for certain sociodemographic factors and underlying health conditions. This suggests that “other barriers, including racism and discrimination, are affecting outcomes through avenues not captured by these measures,” KFF said in a news release. 
  • CDC Director Robert Redfield told lawmakers in a Wednesday Senate hearing that even if a vaccine candidate proves to be safe and effective in clinical trials and receives government approval soon, it will still be several months before we see the benefits. “In order to have enough of us immunized so we have immunity, I think it’s going to take us six to nine months,” Redfield said. In the meantime, public health efforts to prevent the spread of the virus — mask wearing and social distancing — will continue to be important. 
  • New research from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) finds that people with substance use disorders are more susceptible to COVID-19 and its complications. “The lungs and cardiovascular system are often compromised in people with [substance use disorders], which may partially explain their heightened susceptibility to COVID-19,” Nora D. Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and study co-author said in a statement. “Another contributing factor is the marginalization of people with addiction, which makes it harder for them to access health care services. It is incumbent upon clinicians to meet the unique challenges of caring for this vulnerable population, just as they would any other high-risk group.”
  • Dining out? A study of 314 U.S. adults found that those who tested positive for a coronavirus infection during July were approximately twice as likely to have reported dining at a restaurant compared to those with negative test results. “Exposures and activities where mask use and social distancing are difficult to maintain, including going to locations that offer on-site eating and drinking, might be important risk factors for SARS-CoV-2 infection,” the report’s authors write.
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) on Sept. 2 issued new guidelines recommending inexpensive and common corticosteroids such as hydrocortisone and dexamethasone for the treatment of patients “with severe and critical COVID-19.” The advice comes after an analysis of several different clinical trials found that corticosteroids cut the risk of death in patients hospitalized with COVID-19. The data was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). The new guidelines emphasize that steroids should not be used to treat patients with mild symptoms of the disease. “The COVID-19 pandemic has brought fear and a sea of change to the world. These studies provide evidence and some hope that an effective, inexpensive, and safe treatment has been identified,” a corresponding JAMA editorial noted.  
  • The FDA issued an emergency use authorization (EUA) for convalescent plasma — a component of blood that contains antibodies from people previously infected with the coronavirus — for the treatment of COVID-19 in hospitalized patients. The EUA is not intended to replace randomized clinical trials that are testing the safety and efficacy of the therapy.

Reprinted from AARP