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Now You Know

The Latest From the CDC on COVID-19

A media briefing provides important perspective on the pandemic, from preexisting conditions to pregnancy.

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Preexisting Conditions

  • The CDC expanded the list of preexisting conditions that make you more vulnerable to COVID-19, emphasizing that THESE, not necessarily age (though the elderly are more prone to preexisting conditions) are crucial factors in severe cases.
  • 60% of Americans have at least one preexisting condition.
  • Obesity is among the most prevalent – 40% of Americans are obese.
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Pregnancy

  • Pregnant women with COVID-19 are more likely to be hospitalized, admitted to the ICU, and require a ventilator than women who are not pregnant.
  • However, right now, pregnant women are not at a higher risk of death.
  • Information on the lingering impacts of COVID-19 on the unborn remain unknown. The CDC says after 5 mos of the pandemic, they simply don’t have information on full-term pregnancies.
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Prevalence

The CDC says research shows an estimated 10 additional cases for each *known* case of COVID-19 in America,

Consequently, the CDC estimates a small portion of the entire nation – under 8% – have been exposed to COVID-19.

CDC Dir. Dr. Redfield says estimates for asymptomatic spread are btwn 20-80%.

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Dr. Redfield says in March, about 27% or 1 in 4 deaths in America were attributed to a pneumonia, flu or COVID-19; now the percentage is more "normal," around 7%. Still he says this latest "significant increase" of cases is important and still part of the "first wave" of this pandemic in America.

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Happy Father’s Day

A beloved single dad inspired it.

A president made it official.

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BACKSTORY

  • William Jackson Smart: Civil War vet. His wife died in childbirth & he raised 6 children alone.
  • His daughter Sonora felt inspired to honor him after listening to a Mother’s Day sermon (1909) and rallied local support.
  • First Father’s Day: Spokane, WA, June 19, 1910. The date was inspired by William’s birthday on June 5th.
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Interesting To Note

  • While Mother’s Day became official in 1914, Father’s Day did not become *official* until 1972.
  • That said, Father’s Day was observed in various ways around the country in the decades in between.
  • Pres. Johnson proclaimed the 3rd Sunday in June Father’s Day.
  • Pres. Nixon signed legislation making Father’s Day a national holiday in 1972.
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Flowers For Fathers?

Original Fathers Day Gift

  • 1910, children gifted red roses to living fathers; white roses honored deceased.
  • Americans expect to spend $148 on average on Father’s Day – an increase of about $10 dollars from last year’s record number despite the pandemic. Americans were expected to spend $205 for Mother’s Day.

 

Now You Know

"To have a father - to be a father - is to come very near the heart of life itself." Pres. Richard Nixon, 1972, in his proclamation making Father's Day a permanent national holiday. Sonora Dodd who had lobbied for the day since 1910 was alive to see it happen. She passed away in 1978. Read Pres. Nixon's by clicking on the source page.

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Is America Happy?

A snapshot on how Americans feel in 2020.

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What To Know:

  • The New Research: Survey facilitated by the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago & focused on how Americans feel during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The analysis pulls from previous research, asking similar questions, collected over the past five decades.
  • Nearly 2,300 American adults, representing every state & D.C., answered questions, mostly online.
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Historical Context

The COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t necessarily made us more sad (historically speaking) but perhaps more hot under the collar.

“…fewer Americans report crying or feeling dazed than after either the Kennedy assassination in 1963 or the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001, but more report having lost their temper or feeling bored during the pandemic.”

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HAPPINESS

  • The survey asks: are you very happy? pretty happy? or not too happy? 
  • Over the past 50 years, the majority of Americans have never described themselves as “very happy” but the response has consistently hovered around 30%.
  • The number of Americans *now* reporting as “very happy” dropped to a historic low of 14% – the lowest since the survey began in 1972.
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Money Doesn’t Buy You Happiness (Or Optimism)

“More Americans than in previous decades are unhappy and pessimistic about the future, and at the same time, more are relatively satisfied financially.”

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THE FUTURE

In 2018, nearly 6 out of 10 Americans believed their children would exceed their current standard of living.

Today, about 4 in 10 Americans feel their children will exceed their current standard of living.

That’s the lowest percentage since the question was first added to the survey in 1994.

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This survey concluded days before the death of George Floyd in police custody. Consequently, the answers do not include any reflection of the last several weeks of civil unrest in America. How do you think that impacts the results?

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What We’ve Learned

The CDC’s latest report compiles what we’ve learned about COVID-19 in America from the very first case in January through the end of May.

Here’s what you should know.

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BIG PICTURE

January 22: First case of COVID-19 confirmed in Washington State. The patient was a man who had recently traveled to Wuhan, China – the site of the first outbreak.

~ just over 4 months later ~

May 30: 1.7M+ confirmed cases.
*The CDC has *some* demographic information on an est. 1.3M cases.

 

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BASICS

“…pandemic continues to be severe.”

  • While your risk of exposure differs on your specific community, nationwide incidents of COVID-19 is 403 cases per 100,000 people.
  • Women and men have roughly equal incidents of COVID-19.
  • However, men are more likely to have “severe outcomes” – i.e. higher rates of hospitalizations and death.
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YOUR BODY

Those with pre-existing conditions were 6x more likely to require hospitalizations and 12x more likely to die than those without pre-existing conditions.

The most common pre-existing conditions: heart disease, diabetes and chronic lung disease.

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AGE

Median age: 48 years

*NEW DATA*: Incidents of COVID-19 HIGHER among 40-59 year-olds (and specifically among 50-59-year-olds) than those 60-79 years old.

Overall: Highest incidents among those older than 80 and lowest in children younger than 9.

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Symptoms / No Symptoms

Most common symptoms: 70% reported fever, cough or shortness of breath.

  • Those with no symptoms of COVID-19 = 4% of cases.
  • The CDC theorizes one of the reasons why those under 19 have dramatically lower known rates of infection may be because of unreported, “undiagnosed milder or asymptomatic illnesses.”
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The big takeaways: Pre-existing conditions remain a major factor for serious cases of COVID-19. Data continues to show Hispanic and Black Americans are disproportionately affected by the new coronavirus. Limits on data (less than half of all cases included info on race, fewer on health conditions) inhibit CDC's explanation as to why.

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MEMORIAL DAY

A day honoring those who made the ultimate sacrifice likely began with grieving women honoring their loved ones (and their once-enemies) in the exact same way, at the exact same time.

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Did You Know?

  • Memorial Day tradition dates back to just after the Civil War.
  • Specifically honors those killed in action.
  • Commonly called “Decoration Day” at the time, as flowers or other items were used to decorate graves.
  • May 30th reportedly chosen because it’s the time of year when ample flowers bloom nationwide.
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Here’s The Backstory

  • About 25 cities claim ties to the first Memorial Day.
  • In one well-publicized story, women in Columbus, Mississippi visited a cemetery in April 1866 to decorate the graves of Confederate soldiers and saw neglected graves of Union soldiers. They decided to place flowers on ALL the graves despite the war ending just a year earlier.
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“They start to see these Union graves that are just laying there, kind of barren….Their hearts start to feel bad for the mothers who have lost these children. So, they start to throw flowers on the Yankee graves. And then that story gets published everywhere.”

Dr. Richard Gardiner, co-author of "The Genesis of the Memorial Day Holiday," argues the women in Mississippi were simply following a proposal by a women's association in Georgia weeks earlier.
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The Official Beginning

  • First “Memorial Day” at Arlington was spearheaded by Maj. Gen. Logan – a Civil War veteran & lawmaker who advocated for others who had served.
  • Fmr. Union General & soon-to-be-elected President Ulysess S. Grant attended.
  • About 5,000 people gathered & put small American flags on graves; about the same # of people attend in modern times and do exactly the same thing.
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Federal Holiday

  • Memorial Day designated a federal holiday in 1971 ~ last Monday of May.
  • MEMORIAL DAY: “a day for remembering and honoring military personnel who died in the service of their country, particularly those who died in battle or as a result of wounds sustained in battle.”
  • VETERANS DAY (Nov 11): “largely intended to thank LIVING veterans for their service…”
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"We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance...Let no vandalism of avarice of neglect, no ravages of time, testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten, as a people, the cost of free and undivided republic." Maj. General John A. Logan

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COVID-19
Weekend Wrap-Up

What We Learned

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“I put China on there so you could see how basically unrealistic this could be.”

Dr. Deborah Birx provided a graph Saturday showing America's COVID-19 fatality rate of 11 deaths per 100,000 cases: three times lower than Italy's. She emphasized the need & moral obligation for information sharing during a health emergency, thanking Europe for early warnings passed to Americans. China, where the COVID-19 outbreak originated, has the lowest *reported* fatality rate at .33 per 100,000 cases.
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“This isn’t going to be like a light switch. It’s more like a sunrise.”

Seema Verma, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, on new guidelines for the "reopening" of America’s healthcare system. Elective procedures and some care/treatment have been on hold due to expectations of a flood of COVID-19 patients. She explained some hospitals have had to lay off staff or had unused capacity. Verma emphasized facilities need to have the resources/equipment to address potential COVID surges.
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“I don’t think anyone is out of the woods right now.”

Former FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb to CBS voicing concerns specifically about America's Sun Belt (lower southern states like Georgia and Texas) and southeast region, such as the panhandle of Florida, where specific counties are experiencing an uptick in cases. He said those states that entered the epidemic later will naturally see a delay in cases.
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“We could double or triple the number of tests we could be doing daily, if we had the swabs and reagents.”

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, one of several Democrat governors criticizing the Trump administration for a lack of leadership on COVID-19 testing and availability of critical test components, such as swabs. During a Sunday morning interview, she asked the government to use the Defense Production Act to insure supplies are available.
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“Testing is a local thing.”

Pres. Trump announced Sunday evening the federal gov't will help increase swab production by 20M a month by using the Defense Production Act; the law allows the gov't to work with private companies to prioritize the production of urgently needed supplies/equipment. The President said VP Pence will hold a call with governors on Monday to help source tests & supplies - saying at times, states are not using their full capacity and/or have lost track of supplies.
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Check out how COVID-19 is developing in your hometown by clicking through to our source page.

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Pandemic vs. Peace

While the U.S. embraces “wartime” footing against COVID-19, here’s the latest on the pandemic’s impact on America’s longest war.

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Backstory

On February 29, America announced the framework for a “peace deal” with the Taliban, effectively providing a pathway to ending America’s longest war.

In exchange for the eventual withdrawal of U.S. troops, the Taliban agreed to cut ties with terrorist groups like al-Qaeda, negotiate with the current Afghan government, and “reduce violence.”

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“Both sides should accelerate efforts to meet targets specified in the US-Taliban agreement as soon as possible. The potential for COVID-19 outbreaks in prisons poses a real threat and all the more reason to move urgently.”

U.S. Special Rep for Afghanistan Reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad, on prisoner release plans as part of "peace deal." Reportedly, up to 5,000 Taliban prisoners are set to be released by the Afghan gov't while the Taliban is set to release 1,000 Afghan prisoners.
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Why This Matters

  • Progress has been slow after the “peace deal” was announced.
  • The prisoner release is a precursor to other items such as a political agreement between the Taliban & Afghan gov’t.
  • Initial withdrawal of 5,000 U.S. soldiers (out of approx. 13,000) is set in next few months if certain goals are met; the challenges of meeting these goals cannot be understated.

 

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Something To Consider:

  • The Taliban recently reportedly promoted photos of their well-equipped, armed “special ops” unit. The “Red Unit” has led attacks on Afghan forces.
  • Local al-Qaeda affiliates shared the photos.
  • Why It Matters: As part of the peace deal, the Taliban agreed to cut ties with terrorist groups. Taliban attacks on Afghan forces have continued.

 

 

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The first American soldiers landed in Afghanistan in October 2001. Reportedly, Taliban members are being recruited by al-Qaeda, the terrorist group behind the 9/11 attacks. In the meantime, 3 American contractors were evacuated from Afghanistan this weekend after testing positive for COVID-19.

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WHO

What To Know About The World Health Organization

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ORIGINS

WHO: World Health Organization

Founded: 1948 – as a specialized agency of the United Nations (founded 1945 after WWII).

Headquarters: Geneva, Switzerland

Team: 7,000+ people in 150+ countries

Mission: Provide healthcare and respond to public health emergencies.

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Who pays for the WHO?

Similarly to the UN, member nations contribute dues (based on a formula including factors such as population) & voluntary funds (from member nations OR private donors, e.g. nonprofits).

  • Based on the formula, the U.S. contributes more than any country both to the WHO and also to the UN.
  • America contributes approx. $110M in dues and $400M in voluntary funds.
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Top Five Areas of U.S.’s WHO Funding 2018 – 2019

  • Polio eradication
  • Increasing access to essential health & nutrition services
  • Vaccine & preventable diseases research
  • Establishing effective coordination & operations support
  • Infectious Hazard Management (prevent & control disease outbreaks)
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THE LATEST

Pres. Trump accused the WHO of mismanaging the COVID-19 crisis by being too differential to China where the virus emerged. He said his administration will stop America’s funding of the WHO pending an investigation.

Something To Note: Congress allocates taxpayer money. It’s a legal debate whether the President can *permanently or unilaterally* halt funding.

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“One of the most dangerous and costly decisions from the WHO was its disastrous decision to oppose travel restrictions from China and other nations.”

Pres. Trump announcing halting funds to the WHO on April 14. On January 30, the Pres. issued America's first travel ban due to COVID-19 regarding travel from China into the U.S. The WHO advised against travel restrictions, citing bans as ineffective & detrimental to transporting needed health resources.
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“WHO’s role is to provide rational & science-based recommendations to countries. But at the end of the day, a sovereign country has the autonomy to do what it thinks is right, and based on the situation.”

WHO Dir. General, Dr. Tedros, on Jan 20. The WHO praised China for its "cooperation and transparency," cautioning the outbreak was "evolving." On April 15, WHO said they first learned of pneumonia cases from a press release from Wuhan's health agency.
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“The World Health Organization leads and coordinates the fight against pandemics. It’s what they do. You don’t stop firefighters from doing their jobs during a five-alarm fire.”

U.S. Representative Don Beyer (D-VA) who called Pres. Trump's move to withdraw funds "dangerous" for Americans.
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“There are certainly flaws with the way WHO handled this pandemic… If we step away and cease funding because we’re worried about WHO being unduly influenced by Chinese funding and Chinese influence, by stepping away we’re only ensuring that China will have more influence.”

Victor Cha, National Security Council director of Asian affairs 2004 - 2007.
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A new report from the Associated Press suggests China withheld critical information about the severity of COVID-19 as it gained speed. China's Foreign Minister said that "allegations of a cover-up or lack of transparency in China are groundless."

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White House
COVID-19 Task Force

What We Learned Today

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“We’re very concerned… It’s very sad. There’s nothing we can do about it right now except to try & give them the best possible care.”

Dr. Fauci speaking about the higher number of COVID-19 cases among the African American population. He added that pre-existing conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, and obesity) that often lead to a "bad outcome" with COVID-19 disproportionately impact the African American community. Dr. Birx later clarified that African Americans are not more susceptible to the virus.
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“It’s really given us great heart.”

Dr. Deborah Birx on seeing some *early* stabilization in *new* COVID-19 case numbers in areas of concern (such as Chicago and Detroit) outside of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. She says this reflects hope that households are succeeding in their social distancing efforts.
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“No absolute prediction, but I think we’re going to be in good shape.”

Dr. Fauci says he feels "humbly" confident about children returning to school in the fall. However, he warned America will be different, and that we will need to adjust as information becomes available, adding that COVID-19 "is not going to disappear."
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A reminder of the historic times: Dr. Birx emphasized the mitigation efforts attempted by America has never been attempted before.

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The FDA streamlined a treatment for COVID-19.

What it is & why it matters.

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What’s Going On

The FDA approved emergency use of the following drugs for treating COVID-19: chloroquine phosphate & hydroxychloroquine sulfate.

This allows the drugs to be used in ways in which they haven’t been tested & originally approved.

You may hear about hydroxychloroquine used with the antibiotic azithromycin.

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What You Should Know

A small but recent study in France showed some positive results of using a combination of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin for patients with COVID-19.

The study examined 80 patients who received the drugs. They ranged in age from 18 to 88-yrs-old, more than half had preexisting conditions. ALL RECOVERED except two: an 86-yr-old died & a 74-yr-old remained in ICU.

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“We believe other teams should urgently evaluate this cost-effective therapeutic strategy, to both avoid the spread of the disease and treat patients as soon as possible before severe respiratory irreversible complications take hold.”

The research team emphasized the patients tested "clear" of COVID-19 (known formally as SARS-CoV-2) in just over a week, shortening hospital stays, and hopefully preventing future transmission.
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Hydroxychloroquine

First approved by FDA in 1955.

Prescribed for malaria & autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis.

The new coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) is very similar to the 2003 SARS virus. After that outbreak the CDC studied a “relative” of hydroxychloroquine (chloroquine) that showed promise for shortening or even preventing infection.

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Azithromycin

Developed by a medical team in Croatia – patented in 1981.

Common dosage often called a “Z-Pak.”

Prescribed frequently in 3 or 5 day-doses.

Often used to battle bacterial infections, like sinus and ear infections.

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Something To Consider

The FDA issued a warning after a married couple ingested chloroquine phosphate, an ingredient in fish food, to prevent COVID-19; the husband died and the wife was hospitalized.

Doctors have raised concerns about the use of hydroxychloroquine & azithromycin ~ especially in combination ~ as a rare side effect in *some people* can lead to cardiac arrest.

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Why would the combination of drugs work? And what's the potential side effects for those with COVID-19? Two big, important, and unanswered questions. We'll keep you posted. You can check out the French study on our source page.

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White House
Covid-19 Task Force

WHAT WE LEARNED TODAY

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“Nothing would be worse than declaring victory before victory was won.”

President Trump on extending nationwide social distancing guidelines to April 30th. The White House will present a strategy for the next several weeks on Tuesday, March 31st. The President added he expects the country will be "well on its way to recovery" by June 1st.
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“We really built this on scientific evidence and the ability to save hundreds of thousands of lives.”

Dr. Deborah Birx explaining how the Task Force develops its recommendations. One model showed an estimate of more than 2.2 million deaths if America did NOT put public health measures in place. Another model noted by Birx, considers that WITH public health measures, est. deaths will top 81,000+. For context, the number of flu deaths estimated so far this year is 24,000.
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“A model is as good as the assumptions you put into the model.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci on the complex scientific estimates he uses to help inform policies. Dr. Fauci said "instead of getting overly anxious about the extremes" or worst case scenarios that models have to consider, he aims to use the models to inspire policies that accomplish results better than the predictions.
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View one of the models used by the White House on our source page.

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CORONAVIRUS
PANDEMIC

In less than 90 days, the whole world changed.

As we look ahead to what’s next, here’s how we got here.

 

 

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DECEMBER

12/31: World Health Organization (WHO) informed of viral pneumonia in Wuhan, China, reminiscent of SARS. First patients *reportedly* emerged in beginning of December.

The source of the first infection remains unknown. Initial reports point to a seafood/wild animal market, where humans come in close contact w/animals known to carry coronaviruses (ex: bats).

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JANUARY

1/13: First case outside China (Thailand)

1/21: First travel-related case confirmed in U.S. (Washington state)

1/30: First instance of person-to-person spread in U.S. (Illinois); WHO issues “public health emergency”

1/31: First cases in Italy; U.S. bans entry by most foreign nationals who traveled to China within the past 14 days

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“We understand that this may be concerning, but based on what we know now, we still believe the immediate risk to the American public is low.”

CDC Director Robert Redfield, M.D. on January 31st when the CDC confirmed the first case of person-to-person spread of the new coronavirus - reportedly a wife, who recently traveled to Wuhan, returned home and spread the virus to her husband, who had not traveled.
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FEBRUARY

2/5: U.S. begins distribution of tests

2/11: WHO officially unveils name “COVID-19” for “coronavirus disease 2019”

2/26: First case of community spread in U.S. (California); CDC warns Americans of potential disruptions to everyday life

2/29: First U.S. death (Washington); First state declares emergency (Washington)

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“I understand this whole situation may seem overwhelming and that disruption to everyday life may be severe.  But these are things that people need to start thinking about now.”

Dr. Nancy Messonnier, Director of the Center for the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD) who said during a February 26th CDC media briefing that she started talking to her own family about "preparing for significant disruption of our lives" due to COVID-19.
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MARCH

3/11: WHO characterizes the outbreak as a “pandemic” as virus spreads to 114 countries outside China.

3/13: Pres. Trump declares “national emergency”

3/16: Pres. Trump announces 15-day social distancing guidelines.

3/26: For the first time, the U.S. ranks #1 in cases worldwide with 85,000+

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On March 29, a day before the "15 Days to Slow The Spread" campaign was set to come to an end, Pres. Trump extended the social distancing guidelines for another 30 days, through at least April 30th.

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