It’s been about 3 months since the coronavirus came onto the scene. Stat looks at what scientists know about it and where there are still question marks. In other news: smoking found to increase risk, why the coronavirus is not like the flu, the life of a scientist during an epidemic, the threat to older Americans, and more.
Stat: What We’ve Learned About The Coronavirus — And What We Need To Know
As we approach the three-month mark since we all learned about a new virus triggering serious respiratory infections in China, the amount of information that’s been gained about the new coronavirus is staggering. In 2003, when SARS first emerged in China, it took weeks for laboratories to figure out what was causing new and sometimes deadly cases of pneumonia there and elsewhere. This time, rumors of a possible new coronavirus were reported in China at the end of December, roughly the same time the country alerted the World Health Organization that it had a dangerous outbreak on its hands. By Jan. 10, the full genetic sequence of the virus had been shared with scientists around the globe. (Branswell, 3/26)
Reuters: Smokers Likely To Be More At Risk From Coronavirus: EU Agency
Smoking can make people more susceptible to serious complications from a coronavirus infection, the European Union agency for disease control said on Wednesday, citing scientific studies, although available data is still limited. In its updated assessment of the risks caused by the coronavirus, or SARS-CoV-2, the European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (ECDC) included smokers among those potentially most vulnerable to COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus. (3/25)
ABC News: Vaping And E-Cigarettes: Adding Fuel To The Coronavirus Fire?
New data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last week warns that young people may be more impacted by COVID-19 than was initially thought, with patients under the age of 45 comprising more than a third of all cases, and one in five of those patients requiring hospitalization. Although scientists still don’t have good data to explain exactly why some young people are getting very sick from the novel coronavirus, some experts are now saying that the popularity of e-cigarettes and vaping could be making a bad situation even worse. (Nunneley, 3/26)
ProPublica: Why This Coronavirus Is Not Like The Flu, Or Even The Swine Flu
COVID-19 is unlike anything in our lifetime. But the president has repeatedly compared it to the H1N1 swine flu outbreak of 2009. Here’s why it’s different, and much more dangerous. (Waldron, 3/25)
Stat: What It’s Like To Go Into The Lab Amid The Coronavirus Pandemic
Like grocery store clerks and Amazon delivery drivers, they’re among the essential workers of the coronavirus pandemic: the biopharma employees who must still go in to the lab or the manufacturing plant. But for these employees, going to work means facing elevated risk that they might be infected while taking public transportation, passing a colleague in the hallway, or peering over a Petri dish. (Robbins and Sheridan, 3/26)
The Wall Street Journal: Coronavirus Leaves Older Americans Cut Off: ‘We Have Been Trying To Fill That Void’
Every afternoon, Larry Levine, 94, took the bus 2½ miles from his senior-care apartment to visit his wife of 70 years, Claire Levine, who has Alzheimer’s. He usually brought flowers and stayed for dinner at the memory-care community where she lives. His visits have stopped. Twelve days ago, Mrs. Levine’s residence banned all visitors to protect them from the new coronavirus sweeping the country. That same day, Mr. Levine’s apartment building asked seniors to stay put for their own safety. “She’s there and I’m here,” he said. “She doesn’t understand this virus, why I don’t come to see her, why her children don’t come to see her.” (Ansberry, 3/25)
CBS News: Coronavirus Lockdown Meant Watching My Uncle’s Funeral From Hundreds Of Miles Away
The new coronavirus pandemic isn’t just changing people’s lives, it’s also changing their deaths. My elderly uncle in Ireland died earlier this week. He didn’t have the virus — but the pandemic changed everything after he died. (Cobbe, 3/25)
Los Angeles Times: How To Care For Someone With Coronavirus
Has someone in your home tested positive for the coronavirus or started showing symptoms? Here’s how to care for your loved one and keep yourself safe. First, remember that most people who get sick with COVID-19 will have mild symptoms. Experts say those people should stay home and leave only for medical care. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends five steps for caring for a person with COVID-19: monitor the person for worsening symptoms, prevent the spread of germs, treat their symptoms and, finally, decide when to end home isolation. (Cruz, 3/25)
The New York Times: Coronavirus Symptoms Full List: What Are They? Is There A Cure?
As the coronavirus continues to spread across the globe, the news is coming at a fast and furious pace. But don’t let the volume send you into a panic about your health and that of your loved ones. “The mantra is, ‘Keep calm and carry on,’” said Dr. Marguerite Neill, an infectious disease expert at Brown University. Here’s a list of frequently asked questions about the coronavirus outbreak and its symptoms. (3/25)
CBS News: Pregnant Women Are Being Forced To Give Birth Alone As Hospitals Restrict Visitors During Coronavirus
The birth of a child is a pivotal moment. One that is often shared between spouses, even grandparents and siblings. Now, however, due to the rapidly spreading coronavirus pandemic, women across the United States are finding themselves forced to go through labor and delivery alone – a reality that, for many, would have once been unthinkable. (Capatides and O’Kane, 3/25)
The New York Times: How To Prevent A Coronavirus Depression
There is little doubt that economic data in the weeks to come will obliterate all modern records in their awfulness. One Federal Reserve official has said the unemployment rate could hit 30 percent, three times its level at the worst point of the 2008-2009 Great Recession. And he has suggested that G.D.P. could fall at a 50 percent annual rate next quarter, which would be five times worse than the worst single quarter on record. Economic forecasters at major banks differ in degree, not direction, of the disaster facing the American economy. (Irwin, 3/25)
Philadelphia Inquirer: Many Of Philly’s Coronavirus Cases Are In Young People. Experts Explain Why Those Numbers May Be Skewed.
Public health experts and officials agree the surprising number of cases among millennials is likely due to the fact that young people socialize often with others, increasing their chances of contracting the virus. But, experts caution that the existing numbers do not fully capture the situation. Kathleen Bachynski, an assistant professor in public health at Muhlenberg College, said that she was a “little surprised” at the high numbers of young people being hospitalized in the U.S. (Aio, 3/26)
This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.