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What you need to know about coronavirus on Wednesday, June 17

Andrew Cuomo

It’s the White House versus reality.

The number of new Covid-19 cases reached a record high in several US states yesterday. In 10 states, infections surged more than 50% week-on-week. And infectious disease experts have increased their forecast of how many Americans will die.

But the Trump administration is insisting that the pandemic is under control. Vice President Mike Pence, who leads the nation’s coronavirus task force, has dismissed worries about a potential second wave of infections and accused the media of inciting panic. He also claimed, falsely, that the number of cases in Oklahoma has “declined precipitously.”

Pence’s claim was easily disproved by publicly available data. Oklahoma’s department of health said in its latest situation report that the state had seen “an increase in the number of cases and hospitalizations due to COVID-19” in the past two weeks.

Despite the growing crisis in Oklahoma, President Donald Trump is still pushing ahead with plans to hold a rally in Tulsa on Saturday. Social distancing and masks won’t be required at the indoor event, even as the administration’s top public health officials continue to stress the importance of both measures in preventing the spread of the virus.

Dr. Jonathan Reiner, the cardiologist for former Vice President Dick Cheney and a professor of medicine at George Washington University, told CNN that the Trump administration was “peddling an alternative reality that just doesn’t jibe with what is truly happening in this country.” And an official familiar with the work of the White House task force told CNN that Trump, Pence and other top officials were “in denial” and “just don’t want to deal with the reality of it.”

That reality is grim. As of today, the novel coronavirus has killed 116,963 people in the United States, which is more than the 116,516 Americans who died during World War I.


Q: Can I have flu and coronavirus at the same time?

A: Yes. Testing positive for either doesn’t exempt you from having the other at the same time.

The flu and the coronavirus share some common symptoms, such as fever and cough.

But many coronavirus patients suffer from shortness of breath, and some people with coronavirus lose their senses of taste and/or smell. But it’s important to note many people with coronavirus have no symptoms at all.

Learn more about the differences between flu, coronavirus and allergy symptoms here.

Send your questions here. Are you a health care worker fighting Covid-19? Message us on WhatsApp about the challenges you’re facing: +1 347-322-0415.


“Life-saving scientific breakthrough”

The widely available steroid drug dexamethasone may be key in helping to treat the sickest Covid-19 patients who require ventilation or oxygen, according to researchers in the United Kingdom. The researchers say that among hospitalized patients requiring ventilation in the trial, the drug reduced the risk of death by a third.

Their findings, which are preliminary, are still being compiled and have not been published in a peer-reviewed journal. But the World Health Organization has called the initial results a “lifesaving scientific breakthrough.”

Beijing steps up fight against threat of second wave

The Chinese capital canceled 70% of commercial flights from two of its major airports as part of its efforts to contain a new outbreak that’s infected more than 130 people in the past five days.

Authorities have imposed a soft lockdown on the entire city following the outbreak at Xinfadi, the city’s largest wholesale food market.

All residents living in communities deemed medium or high risk, as well as people connected to the Xinfadi market, have been banned from leaving the city. Beijing officials said around 356,000 people linked to the cluster have been tested so far.

They came to Canada as essential workers. Hundreds were infected on the job

When Canada closed its borders because of the pandemic in early spring, the Trudeau government announced an important exception: a subsidy program that would allow foreign manual laborers to come into the country before the growing season.

The government said it would put protocols in place to make sure they were protected, but since their arrival, 600 have tested positive for Covid-19 and two have died, Paula Newton reports.

Pandemic puts Americans held in Venezuela in ‘mortal danger’

The families of six US oil executives detained in Venezuela without trial since November 2017 are pleading for their release as concerns mount over their health. Two of the men “now have flu symptoms on top of other health issues,” according to the US Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs Roger Carstens.

Their families say the men, who were detained on corruption charges, are in “mortal danger.” And despite calls from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to release the men, there are no indications that embattled President Nicolas Maduro — with whom the US has severed diplomatic ties — is any closer to ending their two-and-a-half-year plight.

People under 20 half as likely to catch Covid-19, study finds

Children and teenagers are estimated to be about half as likely to get infected by the coronavirus as those aged 20 or over, according to a study by epidemiologists at London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

The researchers estimated that clinical symptoms of Covid-19 manifest in around 21% of those aged between 10 and 19. This estimate rises to around 69% in people aged 70 or over. However, the authors were not able to answer one key question: are young people also less infectious?


  • Juan Orlando Hernández, the president of Honduras, has tested positive for the coronavirus.
  • A group of 16 friends all tested positive for coronavirus after a night out at a recently reopened Florida bar. Now they want to remind the public that the pandemic is not over yet.
  • Human trials are expected to start next month for a Covid-19 treatment derived from the blood of cows.
  • Brazilian health authorities said they will now recommend hydroxychloroquine to treat Covid-19 in children and pregnant women. They criticized the US Food and Drug Administration’s recent decision to revoke the emergency use of the drug.
  • Airlines including Easyjet and KLM in Europe, Delta Air Lines and American Airlines in the United States, and Asia’s Virgin Australia are suspending all or part of their alcoholic drinks service in response to Covid-19.
  • Royal Ascot will be held behind closed doors for the first time in its history. Even Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II won’t be allowed to attend, for the first time in her 68-year reign.
  • The Queen is just one of millions of sport fans to be denied the in-person experience this year. The US Open will be held without fans in New York this summer. Even Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest will be sans fans this year.
  • Portugal and Greece have opened their doors wider to international visitors. They are trumpeting relatively low infection rates and widespread measures to keep the virus in check.


Put the lid down before you flush: a new computer modeling study shows how a flushing toilet can send a cloud of little particles containing fecal matter into the air — fecal matter that could carry coronavirus.

Doctors have shown that the virus can live and replicate in the digestive system, and evidence of the virus has been found in human waste.


“I mean, this disease doesn’t just kill you. It guts you. It f**king tries to smother you. And then it tears through your body and it takes chunks out of your various organs.” — Dr. Nick Boulis, Emory University School of Medicine

CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta talks to his long-time friend and colleague Dr. Nick Boulis about what it was like to volunteer inside Emory’s Covid-19 intensive care unit. What he saw first-hand drives home the deadly power of the virus. Listen Now.

Article Topic Follows: US & World

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