U.S. COVID-19 Crisis Deepens as Deaths Top 250,000

Emergency Use for First Self-Test
In other quickly moving developments, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) yesterday issued an emergency use authorization (EUA) for the first COVID-19 device for self-testing at home. The Lucira All-In-One Test Kit is available by prescription for single use and provides rapid results at home.

Authorized for at-home use in those ages 14 and older, individuals collect a nasal swab sample, swirl it in a vial, then place it in the test unit. The unit’s light-up display shows a result in 30 minutes or less.

The authorization also allows the test to be used by health providers, who must collect the sample when testing those younger than 14.

Jeff Shuren, MD, JD, who directs the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health, said in the statement that the test’s authorization is a significant step forward in the nation’s pandemic response. “Now, more Americans who may have COVID-19 will be able to take immediate action, based on their results, to protect themselves and those around them,” he said.

In other US headlines:

·  In a letter to President Trump yesterday, leaders of the American Medical Association, the American Hospital Association, and the American Nurses Association urged full cooperation and sharing of critical COVID-19 with President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team, and yesterday Biden met with frontline healthcare workers in a virtual event, NBC News reported yesterday.

·  New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio yesterday announced that public schools will transition to all-remote learning tomorrow, now that the 7-day average test positivity has reached the 3% threshold. Elsewhere, Illinois Governor JB Pritzker yesterday announced new state restrictions to curb the spread of the virus, including tighter capacity on retail stores and caps on funeral attendance, WBEZ reported.

·  Overall US totals rose to 11,468,739 cases and 250,029 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins online dashboard.

Europe’s Cases Slow, but Deaths Rise
In its weekly COVID-19 situation update yesterday, the World Health Organization (WHO) said Europe is still reporting the most new cases, but the number has declined 10% in the past week due to tightened public health and social distancing measures. It added, however, that Europe’s deaths rose sharply last week, with 29,000 new fatalities reported.

Cases in the Americas rose sharply last week, up 41%. And the Eastern Mediterranean, African, and Western Pacific regions also reported increased numbers, though not as steep.

In other global developments:

·  Though cases in France have slowed, the country became the first in Europe to top 2 million cases. Switzerland said its ICUs have reached capacity, and Turkey become the latest country in the European region to tighten its restrictions to slow the spread of COVID-19.

·  South Australia state, which is battling a cluster in Adelaide that has grown to 36 cases, yesterday announced a 6-day “circuit breaker” lockdown, the BBC reported.

·  Japan’s COVID-19 cases yesterday topped 2,000 for the first time, with infections increasing steadily over the past 6 days, according to the London-based Independent.

·  The global total yesterday topped 56 million, less than 2 days after passing 55 million, rising to 56,075,527 with 1,345,851 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins online tracker.

Lisa Schnirring is news editor at CIDRAP. This article  is published courtesy of the University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Diseases Research and Policy (CIDRAP).