Coronavirus continues to gain steam

TEXAS GOV. PAUSES REOPENING AS CORONAVIRUS CASES, HOSPITALIZATIONS RISE:Texas Governor Greg Abbott yesterday (June 25th) paused reopening in his state, which was among the earliest to begin to lift the coronavirus shutdowns, as cases of the virus and hospitalizations in Texas continue to rise. Abbott also reimposed a ban on elective surgeries in some places, as hospitalizations more than doubled in two weeks. In Arizona, another of the Southern and Western states that have been seeing worrisome coronavirus increases, 23 percent of tests conducted over the past seven days have come back positive, nearly triple the national average. There are currently seven states that are seeing more than 10 percent of tests come back positive, the threshold that experts say is concerning. Nevada became the latest state to mandate mask-wearing as its cases rise, with Governor Steve Sisolak ordering that they be worn in public, including in Las Vegas casinos.

Even as cases have been climbing over the past few weeks, the death toll nationally has continued to drop. Experts point to several possible reasons, including: more cases among younger people, who are less likely to get severely sick and die; the development of some treatments; and better infection prevention at nursing homes. There's also a more pessimistic possibility that since deaths usually occur several weeks after infection, the death rate just hasn't started to rise yet.

  • There have been more than 124,400 deaths as of last night, according to Johns Hopkins University's count, and more than 2,422,000 confirmed cases.

20 Million Estimated Infected:The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated yesterday that 20 million Americans have been infected with the coronavirus since it first arrived in the U.S., some 10 times the 2.3 million confirmed cases. That represents only about six percent of the nation's population, and CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield told reporters, "It’s clear that many individuals in this nation are still susceptible." The estimate is based on CDC studies of blood samples collected nationwide. 

List of Those at Risk for Severe Illness Revamped:The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has revamped its list of those at high risk of getting severe illness from the coronavirus, creating categories of those at high risk and those who might be at high risk, and making changes that included lowering the obesity threshold, adding pregnant women, and removing those 65 and older as a high risk group.

High Risk:Those at high risk include people with chronic kidney disease, chronic inflammatory lung disease, obesity, serious heart conditions, sickle cell disease, Type 2 diabetes, and weakened immune systems because of organ transplants. The threshold for high risk from obesity was lowered from a body mass index of 40, which is severe obesity, down to 30, the lowest BMI that crosses into obesity from being overweight. The CDC also said people are at increasing risk of severe illness as they get older, but removed people 65 and older as a high risk group.

Might Be at High Risk:Those who might be at high risk include pregnant women, smokers, and those with asthma, high blood pressure, diseases that affect blood flow to the brain, cystic fibrosis, dementia, liver disease, scarred or damaged lungs, Type 1 diabetes, the blood disorder thalassemia, and people who have weakened immune systems, including from HIV.