Covid-19 Latest News

Here are some of this week's top stories (Updated May 28, 2020):


CDC issues new guidelines about contact with others

The CDC has released new guidance about when it is safe to be around others and end home isolation. The timing depends on different factors for different situations. Learn more.

Wastewater testing gains support as early warning for COVID-19

In the absence of rapid, accurate, and widely available swab tests, examining wastewater for the presence of the virus that causes Covid-19 is increasingly becoming a more plausible way to track community spread. As early as this fall, communities around the U.S. could be testing sewage samples for coronavirus particles, a method that was only recently shown to be a viable approach. Read more.


 (Updated May 25, 2020)

COVIDCHECK helps  patients assess symptoms, find tests

Virginians may now use a VDH website to assess their risks for COVID-19, check any noticeable symptoms and connect with the appropriate health care resources, including testing. Click here for the new VDH resource.

Red Cross urges halt to cyberattacks amid COVID-19 

The Red Cross called for an end to cyberattacks on healthcare and medical research facilities during the coronavirus pandemic, reports Reuters. Over the last several months cybercriminals have targeted hospitals with computer viruses, usually in schemes to extort them or hold their data ransom. More sophisticated hacking groups, such as those associated with governments, have also targeted medical research centers to steal valuable data about COVID-19 treatments.

(Updates May 22, 2020)

Models predict uptick in cases as Virginia reopens 

COVID-19 deaths and infections could skyrocket in Virginia in the coming months if left unchecked, according to updated modeling from the University of Virginia, reports VPM. But researchers at UVA’s Biocomplexity Institute said the most dire predictions will almost certainly be avoided as people and governments change behavior to cope with new cases. Their latest update on May 19 models a lifting of public health restrictions on May 15. It projects a statewide peak of between 101,000 and 145,000 weekly cases in July, depending on the amount of social distancing practiced.


(Updates May 21, 2020)

Virus does not spread easily from touching surfaces 

The CDC said today that human-to-human contact is the most common way the coronavirus spreads, and that transmission is possible but not as likely from contaminated surfaces or animals. 

Virginia nears testing goal 

Virginia has nearly reached its goal of 10,000 tests per day, recording 9,782 new diagnostic tests Wednesday. That is the first time diagnostic tests have neared the 10,000-per-day goal since the health department separated out less-reliable antibody tests.


(Updates May 19, 2020):

Local startup tapped to build ingredient stockpile

Seeking to secure the nation's supply of critical medications, the Trump administration has signed a $354 million contract with a Richmond-based startup that would create the nation's first strategic stockpile of key ingredients needed to make medicines. NBC News reports.


(Updates May 18, 2020)

Moderna: Initial vaccine results are positive

Moderna said human subjects in a Phase 1 trial of a candidate COVID-19 vaccine produced immune responses that were a positive sign of the vaccine’s potential to prevent infection with the coronavirus, reports The Wall Street Journal.

COVID toes and other rashes a possible virus sign

Skin doctors suddenly are looking at a lot of toes — whether by emailed picture or video visit — as concern grows that for some people, a sign of COVID-19 may pop up in an unusual spot, reports the AP.

(Updates May 14, 2020)

Hospitals turn to online matchmakers to swap supplies 

The Associated Press reports that in response to coronavirus pandemic-related PPE shortages, online platforms have popped up to match hospitals that need masks, gowns, ventilators and even doctors with those that have extras, while other projects have been started to link hospitals with nontraditional sources of equipment.

Virginia test reporting methods questioned. VDH responds 

The state is combining results from viral and antibody tests in the same statistic. This threatens to confound America’s understanding of the pandemic, says The Atlantic. However, this morning the Virginia Department of Health released disaggregated data that said combining the tests did not change the trends.


(Updates May 13, 2020)

Phase One of reopening will begin Friday

Gov. Ralph Northam announced today that most of Virginia can begin Phase One of reopening beginning Friday, May 15. Click here for the details of what that entails.

(Updates May 11, 2020):

State looks to differentiate reporting of test types 

Virginia health officials are working to separate as-yet unreliable antibody test results from the state’s broader COVID-19 test count, say Virginia officials. The Times-Dispatch reports.

Organization presents guidelines for testing

As many parts of the country slowly reopen businesses and other sectors of daily life, there are still are many questions about the state of testing and how places will keep the virus in check. Check out guidelines from the Infectious Disease Society of America, including who ought to get tested and which kind of test is best.  

(Updates May 8, 2020):

FDA paves the way for home testing

In a move that could significantly expand the nation’s testing capacity, the FDA has posted new guidelines that could pave the way for millions of people to test themselves for the coronavirus at home. The guidelines allow companies to develop and market testing kits with the tools to swab their noses and mail the specimens to any lab in the country. Read more.

Poll: One quarter of Americans not likely to get vaccine

Even if a safe and effective vaccine is developed to counter the novel coronavirus, findings from an ABC News-Ipsos survey say many people don't want it. This comes as health experts say the nation is not likely to fully recover from the outbreak until treatments and a vaccine are developed. According to the poll, 74 percent of U.S. adults say they would probably get vaccinated, while 25 percent say they would not. About equal proportions of Democrats and Republicans say they are likely to get the vaccine.

(Updates May 7, 2020):

VCU begins clinical trial of drug to reduce dangerous inflammation 

VCU Medical Center has begun a clinical trial to test a drug that is meant to tame a dangerous overreaction of the immune system in response to COVID-19, reports the Times-Dispatch.

Doctors lambaste federal process for distributing remdesivir 

As the federal government starts to dole out its limited supply of remdesivir for COVID-19 patients, hospitals and physicians across the U.S. are criticizing the distribution process as uneven and opaque, reports Stat.

Amid hiring spree, Virginia can't say how many contract tracers it has

Virginia is rushing to hire 1,000 contact tracers — public health workers who help contain the spread of infection diseases by tracking down people who came in contact with a sick person. But for now, state officials are unable to say exactly how many people they’re paying to do a job that public health experts agree will be essential to slowing the spread of COVID-19. The Virginia Mercury reports.   

Blood thinners could reduce deaths 

Preliminary data from a team at Mount Sinai in New York suggest that giving COVID-19 patients blood thinners may reduce deaths among those of them who need to be placed on ventilators, especially since data from different hospital groups have suggested that COVID-19 patients may suffer from abnormal clotting in their lungs or legs. 

(Updates May 5, 2020) 

Researchers double death forecast, citing easing of restrictions

A newly revised coronavirus mortality model predicts nearly 135,000 Americans will die of COVID-19 by early August, almost double previous projections, as social distancing measures for quelling the pandemic are increasingly relaxed, researchers said.

(Updates May 4, 2020)

Virginia denied 300,000 swabs as testing lags

Six weeks after Virginia first requested medical swabs necessary for COVID-19 testing, the first shipments finally arrived last week. But it’s still only a fraction of what the state originally ordered. As of last Friday, a total of 29,000 swabs across two separate shipments have been received from FEMA., reports VPM.

State receives Critical Care Decontamination systems

Virginia is receiving three decontamination systems that can sterilize 240,000 units of personal protective equipment a day for reuse, Gov. Ralph Northam announced Saturday. N95 masks can sustain up to 20 of these decontamination cycles without it affecting their quality.


(Updates May 1, 2020)

VDH tool helps you find testing sites

The Virginia Department of Health announced a new feature on its website that allows physicians to easily find COVID-19 testing sites. Click here for information.

U.S. Senate lacks capacity to test all senators

The Capitol’s attending physician says that coronavirus tests will be available for staffers and senators who are ill, but not enough to proactively test all 100 senators as the chamber comes back in session, reports Politico.

(Updates April 29, 2020)

Liability protection for health care workers secured

Gov. Northam signed Executive Order Sixty, which reinforces certain existing statutory liability protections for Virginia health care workers. Due to COVID-19, public and private healthcare providers are operating with limited resources and may be forced to serve patients outside of conventional standards of care. Read the order.

State testing rates rise

Last week, from Sunday to Saturday, Virginia averaged 2,892 new tests per day, up from an average of 1,990 the week before. But, according to an analysis by the Harvard Global Health Institute for Stat News, Virginia would need to average 4,791 daily tests as of May 1 to be able to safely begin reopening the state. The governor said Monday he was open to a regional approach to lifting restrictions on business.


(Updates April 27, 2020)

Tracker lists drugs, vaccine candidates in the pipeline

Drug makers and companies are trying all sorts of different ways to curb the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus behind COVID-19. Some are reaching back to previously approved drugs to repurpose them for COVID-19, while others are exploring completely novel avenues. Others are focused on therapeutics, while some companies are setting their sights on coming up with a vaccine. To help you keep track of all the novel efforts underway, Stat launched a tracker that lists all drug and vaccine candidates in the pipeline. Check it out here. 

(Updates April 23, 2020)

Governor extends elective procedure ban

Gov. Ralph Northam today extended the current ban on elective surgeries by one week, until May 1. The ban on elective surgeries will continue while the Governor and State Health Commissioner M. Norman Oliver continue to evaluate, in conjunction with hospitals and other medical facilities, how to safely ease restrictions on non-essential medical procedures, and the availability of personal protective equipment. Read more.

(Updates April 21, 2020)

U.S. OKs first coronavirus test that allows self-swab at home

U.S. health regulators on Tuesday approved the first coronavirus test that allows people to collect their own sample at home, a new approach that could help expand testing options in most states. The test from LabCorp will initially only be available to health care workers and first responders under a doctor’s orders. The sample will still have to be shipped for processing back to LabCorp, which operates diagnostic labs throughout the U.S.

(Updates April 20, 2020):

COVID-19 testing stalls in Virginia

Testing for COVID-19 in Virginia has lagged in the past week, even as experts and state officials tie widespread testing to the possibility of lifting public restrictions during the pandemic, says the Richmond Times-Dispatch. However, new cases have dropped for the third straight day.


(Updates April 17, 2020):

Governor issues order impacting health professionals

Today, Gov. Ralph Northam issued Executive Order 57, implementing policies to bolster Virginia’s health care workforce to assist with the Commonwealth’s COVID-19 response, estimating up to 30,000 additional workers are needed in Virginia’s hospitals, long-term care facilities, and public health departments in case of a surge in cases. Read it here.

(Updates April 15, 2020)

Governor issues call for additional volunteers to help with COVID-19 health care demand

Gov. Ralph Northam today announced additional details of a statewide effort in collaboration with the Virginia Department of Health’s Virginia Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) to recruit medical and non-medical volunteers in the fight against COVID-19. It is estimated up to 30,000 volunteers are needed to provide support for the expected surge in hospitals and long-term care facilities throughout the Commonwealth.

Sign up at

(Updates April 14, 2020):

Study: Telemedicine scores high marks as replacement for in-office visits

As the use of telehealth services surges in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, a new study finds that the majority of doctor visits conducted via telemedicine are an appropriate replacement for in-person care.

(Updates April 13, 2020):

VCU develops process to reuse PPE

VCU Health has developed a process and equipment to decontaminate and clean N95 masks, so healthcare workers can safely reuse them, reports VPM. The process starts by placing the masks on iron racks and sterilizing them with high-intensity ultraviolet light, which is also used for patient and operating rooms. Teams at VCU Health are working in two shifts and will be able to process up to 12,000 masks a day.

Big Tech moves into government vacuum on COVID-19

As the coronavirus pandemic drags on, tech companies are stepping into the void left by a reluctant or incapable federal government — enabling contact tracing, wrestling with testing and ramping up the capacity of government operations like unemployment services, Axios reported.

(Updates April 9, 2020):

HHS: Federal stocks of PPE nearly depleted

The Strategic National Stockpile is nearly out of the N95 respirators, surgical masks, face, shields, gowns and other medical supplies desperately needed to protect front-line medical workers treating coronavirus patients, reports the AP. The Department of Health and Human Services said that the federal stockpile was in the process of deploying all remaining personal protective equipment in its inventory. The HHS statement confirms federal documents released Wednesday by the House Oversight and Reform Committee showing that about 90% of the personal protective equipment in the stockpile has been distributed to state and local governments. 


(Updates April 6, 2020)

Testing, supply shortages top hospitals' concerns

Hospitals reported that their most significant challenges centered on testing and caring for patients with known or suspected COVID-19 and keeping staff safe, according to a new government watchdog report released Monday.

Mysterious heart damage, not just lung troubles, befalls COVID-19 patients

While the focus of the COVID-19 pandemic has been on respiratory problems and securing enough ventilators, doctors on the front lines are grappling with a new medical mystery, reports Kaiser Health News. In addition to lung damage, many COVID-19 patients are also developing heart problems — and dying of cardiac arrest. As more data comes in from China and Italy, as well as Washington state and New York, more cardiac experts are coming to believe the COVID-19 virus can infect the heart muscle.






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