WHERE THINGS STAND
The race to come up with more supplies, treatments, and testing for COVID-19 is on.
What are the updates?
Yesterday, the Trump admin released a grim projection: the coronavirus outbreak could lead to as many as 240,000 deaths. As states anticipate a surge in infections, there's a growing need for more resources to help treat coronavirus patients. Here's where things stand:
Masks…as in, there's still a shortage for health care workers. But there's growing evidence that people without symptoms may be driving the spread of the virus. Now, the CDC is reconsidering its guidelines on who should cover their face. While N95 masks should be reserved for health care workers, the CDC may recommend people start using things like homemade masks.
Tests...as in, the FDA just approved one that provides results in as little as two minutes. The company that created it reportedly said it's ready to "have millions of test kits" in dozens of states by mid-April and is working with federal agencies on distribution.
Treatments...as in, the FDA gave emergency approval to two antimalarial drugs (hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine) to be used as treatment for COVID-19 patients. Despite limited studies on its benefits, the FDA said the possibility of it being effective outweighs the risks. Millions of doses will be shipped out to hospitals nationwide, and a trial on its effectiveness is underway.
Vaccines…as in, more than a dozen companies worldwide are working to develop one. And three of them have reportedly started Phase 1 of the clinical trial with human volunteers. A vaccine isn't expected for at least a year, but the quick turnaround could be unprecedented – the vaccine process usually takes years.
The US has seen more than 185,000 infections and over 3,800 deaths. But experts are warning of an even greater loss of life and millions of infections, making the race for more resources to battle COVID-19 even more crucial.
Dozens of states have implemented stay-at-home orders to try to slow the spread of COVID-19. That isn't an option for the more than 500,000 people in the US experiencing homelessness.
People in tent communities are believed to be especially at risk. That's because thousands lack the ability to self-quarantine, receive medical attention, or stay informed on the virus without access to things like the internet. Closures of coffee shops and public libraries have made getting that access even harder.
But help is on the way: While some shelters are operating at capacity, the CDC has shared some guidelines for homeless service providers that could help prevent the spread at places like shelters. The coronavirus relief law passed last week also includes billions for homelessness assistance. And if you'd like to help, reach out to your local shelter. Many are in need of donations (like cleaning products and hand sanitizer).
What's hitting reverse on guidelines…
The Trump admin. Yesterday, it rolled back an Obama-era policy intended to combat climate change by curbing carbon emissions. The rule had urged car makers to produce more fuel-efficient vehicles by 2025. Now, the Trump admin is lowering the standard to try to make it cheaper for Americans to afford cars. But critics pushed back on the money claim, arguing the Trump admin's move would cause consumers to pay more for gas in the long run. It could also worsen air quality, which some public health advocates worry could lead to asthma and other health problems.
Idaho. This week, Gov. Brad Little (R) signed two bills into law limiting the rights of transgender people. The first bans transgender girls and women from playing in women's sports leagues. The second bans transgender people from changing their gender on their birth certificate. Supporters say the state laws are necessary, claiming transgender female athletes have physical advantages and that the state needs to maintain accurate birth records. But the ACLU of Idaho says 'discrimination much?' and is threatening to sue. The bills were signed on Monday, the day before International Transgender Day of Visibility.
The census. Today is Census Day, aka when you could be filling out the form that's been saying 'yoo hoo, open me' on your table for weeks. It's important because the census determines how many seats each state gets in the House. And how federal funding should be divided for things like schools and hospitals. Also, because the gov could fine you up to $5,000 for ignoring it. It takes 10 minutes and you can do it online. "Tiger King" will still be there when you finish.
Skimm More: We explain the history of the census, why filling it out matters, and what to expect this year.
Dolly Parton. Tomorrow, she kicks off her new bedtime story series, "Goodnight with Dolly."
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