5 Pandemic Updates You Need To Know Now

by Kroger Health Staff

Last Updated: April 12, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic is an evolving situation, but here is the latest news:

The virus continues to spread. To date, COVID-19 has sickened more than 2 million people worldwide, and countries on six continents have confirmed cases. In the United States, at least 609,600 people have tested positive for the virus, the most of any country in the world. According to the latest data, symptoms are mild in approximately 80 percent of patients and critical in roughly 6 percent.

Yes, it is time to wear a mask. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently updated its guidance regarding face masks. New studies have found that many individuals carry the COVID-19 virus but don’t have any symptoms. These asymptomatic carriers can transmit the virus to others before showing any signs of infection. As a result, the CDC now recommends Americans wear a cloth face mask in public. While social distancing and handwashing should still be practiced, a mask will offer some protection from coughs and sneezes, which may carry the virus. The virus can remain in tiny droplets for hours, and a single sneeze can produce up to 10,000 droplets. But there’s no need for a medical-grade mask or N-95 respirator; those are best for medical workers. A simple scarf or homemade cloth mask will provide adequate protection for most Americans. For more information on the CDC’s new recommendation on masks, click here.

The hunt for treatments and a vaccine continues. Several teams around the globe are now testing potential vaccines in animal experiments, as well as human clinical trials. The National Institutes of Health is conducting a clinical trial of remdesivir, an antiviral therapy drug that could potentially treat patients who contract COVID-19. While these trials offer hope, the search for the solution continues, and it could be 12 to 18 months before a vaccine is widely available. For a more detailed analysis of the search for a vaccine, click here

New data shows African-Americans are hard hit by the virus. According to new data on the victims of COVID-19, it appears African-Americans are being infected at disproportionately high rates. And, the death toll for African-Americans in many cities far exceeds the population ratio. For instance, in Chicago, African-Americans are approximately 30 percent of the overall population in the Windy City, and yet, they accounted for 72 percent of deaths. In Louisiana, one-third of the population is African-American, and they account for 70 percent of deaths in that state.

And now, the good news. Wuhan, the Chinese city where the COVID-19 pandemic started, is getting back to normal after an 11-week lockdown to prevent the spread of the virus. The government has lifted restrictions on the city’s 11 million residents, and many of them went outdoors for the first time since January.

Disclaimer: The information in this story is accurate as of its publication. However, the situation surrounding COVID-19 is ever-evolving. We are working to keep our stories up-to-date as changes occur, but we also encourage everyone to check news and recommendations from the CDC, WHO, and their local authorities.