As the end of May approaches, all 50 states will have begun the process of partially reopening their economies in the wake of 4-, 6-, 8-, or 10-week stay-at-home orders that mandated non-essential workers, schools, retail, and restaurants close in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.
As of today, the US has 1,523,534 COVID-19 cases, including 91,570 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Texas, North Carolina, Arizona track uptick in cases
As states reopen, governors have prepared residents to expect a case increase, and that was evident over the weekend in Texas, North Carolina, and Arizona — all states that recorded their single daily high on Saturday, according to The Hill. All three states say they are increasing testing, which is resulting in more cases.
Some reports, however, suggest Texas is inflating its testing numbers by including results from antibody tests. Conflating antibody tests, which usually indicate past infections, and viral tests, which reflect current infection, muddle how epidemiologists can interpret a timeline of infection for a region.
Yesterday the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced a new study of 325,000 Americans across 25 major cities which aims to detect COVID-19 antibodies in blood donors and assess how the novel coronavirus is spreading this summer and through the next year.
According to Reuters, the study is expected to launch by July and last for 18 months. Results will be published on a rolling basis. The first cities being surveyed include New York, Seattle, the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, Boston, and Minneapolis.
HHS to expand testing funds, partners with pharma
The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced late yesterday it would deliver $11 billion in new funding to support testing for COVID-19 in US states, territories, and regions via the CDC's existing Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity for Prevention and Control of Emerging Infectious Diseases (ELC) cooperative agreement and the Indian Health Services.
The funding will help to develop, purchase, administer, process, and analyze COVID-19 tests, conduct surveillance, trace contacts, and related activities, the HHS said.
"For the sake of all Americans' health and well-being, we must help Americans get safely back to work and school, and that requires continued expansion of testing, surveillance, and contact tracing," said HHS Secretary Alex Azar. "The Trump Administration stands ready to support and guide states in their life-saving work to combat the virus and reopen our country."
Every state or territory that receives the fund will need to submit to HHS a monthly plan for testing, including monthly goals and monthly estimates of lab equipment and other resource needs.
"Readily accessible testing is a critical component of a four-pronged public health strategy – including rigorous contact tracing, isolation of confirmed cases, and quarantine," said Robert Redfield, MD, director of the CDC.
HHS also announced today a new partnership with private industry to expand pharmaceutical manufacturing in the United States for use in producing medicines needed during the COVID-19 response and future public health emergencies. The private industry partners are led by Phlow Corporation.
According to a press release, the $354 million, 4-year agreement with the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority at HHS, the Phlow team will manufacture the supplies for medicines for patients hospitalized with COVID-19.
The drugs will be produced at facilities in the United States, including a new facility to be built in Virginia.