Trump adds confusion on COVID-19 treatments as US deaths top 50,000

Exhausted healthcare workers
Exhausted healthcare workers

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Direct sunlight, injected disinfectants, heat. Those were some of the remedies for coronavirus infection President Donald Trump mentioned during yesterday's White House task force briefing. Today the manufacturers of Lysol and Dettol cleaners, as well as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), issued statements and warnings contradicting Trump's remarks.

"As a global leader in health and hygiene products, we must be clear that under no circumstance should our disinfectant products be administered into the human body (through injection, ingestion or any other route)," said RB, the maker of Lysol and Dettol, in a statement. "As with all products, our disinfectant and hygiene products should only be used as intended and in line with usage guidelines. Please read the label and safety information."

At the press briefing, William Bryan, acting head of the US Department of Homeland Security's Science and Technology Directorate, presented new preliminary research that shows the coronavirus dies quickly in direct sunlight. The research was conducted on the strength of the COVID-19 virus on non-porous surfaces, and showed direct, high heat reduced the virus' half-life within 2 minutes, compared with18 hours in a dark, low-humidity environment. The study was not conducted on humans.

For months experts have gone back and forth as to whether the COVID-19 virus will act like seasonal influenza, which sees transmission rates slow during warm summer months.

The study also showed isopropyl alcohol was more effective than bleach in killing the virus, which prompted Trump to ask, "Is there a way we can do something like that by injection, inside, or almost a cleaning? It would be interesting to check that."

Today the president said his remarks were sarcastic. According to The Hill, Trump said the question was meant to toy with reporters.

"I was asking a question sarcastically to reporters like you just to see what would happen," Trump said in the Oval Office.

US reaches 50,000 fatalities

Only 10 days after hitting 25,000 deaths due to COVID-19, the US reached another milestone today: 50,000 deaths from the novel coronavirus. New York state accounts for more than 40% of the deaths, followed by New Jersey, Michigan, Massachusetts, and Illinois.

So far the US has recorded 884,004 cases and 50,360 deaths, according to the tracker maintained by USA Today.

But there are some signs the virus is slowing and on the descent in the nation's first major hot spots. New York state recorded 422 deaths, the lowest daily total since Apr 1, Governor Andrew Cuomo said today in his briefing. As of today, New York state has 271,590 cases and 16,162 deaths.

80% of Americans agree to shelter-in-place rules

The death toll news comes the same day Georgia is set to reopen salons, gyms, tattoo parlors, and other businesses. The Washington Post reports Georgia's top doctors and scientific advisors were blindsided by the decision to open up.

Though protests against state shelter-in-place orders have cropped up in the past 10 days in places such as Michigan and Minnesota, a new poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) shows most Americans believe the worst is yet to come when it comes to the current COVID-19 pandemic in the US.

The poll results were split down political lines, with a majority (64%) of democrats and independents (56%) saying they believe "the worst is yet to come," a sentiment shared by only 27% of republicans.

Eighty percent of Americans polled say strict shelter-in-place policies are worth it and needed to prevent the spread of the virus.

"The vast majority of adults (84%) say their lives have been disrupted at least some by the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. This is up 12 percentage points from the KFF Health Tracking Poll conducted March 25-30 and up 44 percentage points from the March 11-15 poll," KFF said in a summary of the most recent poll.

Those polled also said they are willing to stay home for more than 1 more month, with 37% stating they can stay home between 1-3 months, and 34% saying 6 more months. Just 14% said they could maintain stay-at-home orders for less than 1 month.

COVID-19 healthcare costs in billions

Yesterday Health Affairs published a study estimating the potential costs of COVID-19 in the United States, which experts say could top $600 billion just in direct medical costs.

Using a Monte Carlo model, the authors of the study suggest a single case of symptomatic COVID-19 would cost a median of $3,045 in direct medical costs incurred only during the course of the infection.

Most experts agree that 80% of SARS-CoV-2 infections will be mild or moderate enough to be treated at home, without medical intervention or office visits. But if 80% of the US population were to be infected, there could still be as many as  44.6 million hospitalizations, 10.7 million intensive care unity (ICU) admissions, 6.5 million ventilators used, and 249.5 million hospital bed days, costing $654.0 billion in direct costs over the course of the pandemic, the study says.

If only 20% were to become infected, there would be a median of 11.2 million hospitalizations, 62.3 million hospital bed days, and 1.6 million ventilators used, costing $163.4 billion.

"Our results show … the direct medical costs of a symptomatic COVID-19 case tend to be substantially higher than other common infectious diseases," the authors said. "For example, the cost on average is four times that of a symptomatic influenza case ($696 in medical costs in 2020 values) and 5.5 times that of a pertussis case ($412–$555 in 2020 values)."

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