Health Highlights: April 6, 2020
'Crappy' Coronavirus Tests Flooding U.S. After Trump Rule Changes Cats, Big and Small, Probably Can't Give You Coronavirus 3 in 4 U.S. Hospitals Treating COVID-19 Patients: Report British PM Johnson Hospitalized With COVID-19 FDA Authorizes Use of Chinese-Approved Masks in U.S. WalMart, Target Limit Customers in Stores
Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
'Crappy' Coronavirus Tests Flooding U.S. After Trump Rule Changes
"Crappy" tests meant to identify people who've recovered from COVID-19 are swamping the United States due to regulatory changes made by President Donald Trump's administration, the CEO of the Association of Public Health Laboratories says.
"It's like the wild, wild West out there -- or wild East," Scott Becker told CNN.
The "east" reference is because at least half of the companies making the tests to detect antibodies to coronavirus are in China. It's thought that people with antibodies might be allowed to return to work, since it's possible they might have gained immunity to COVID-19.
Becker's group represents 125 state, county and municipal public health labs in the U.S. and said his labs won't use the tests that are on the market due to concerns about inaccurate results that could result in people mistakenly believing they're immune to coronavirus and returning to work or no longer social distancing, CNN reported.
"It could be quite dangerous," warned Becker, who outlined his concerns to federal officials.
Last month, the Trump administration changed regulations to make it easier for companies to sell coronavirus antibody tests, CNN reported.
Cats, Big and Small, Probably Can't Give You Coronavirus
Seven tigers and lions at the Bronx Zoo developed coronavirus symptoms after exposure to an infected zookeeper who had no symptoms, the zoo says.
It was previously reported that a Belgian woman with COVID-19 may have infected her pet cat, according to CNN.
But while people can pass the new coronavirus to cats big and small, it's extremely unlikely that cats can pass it to people, experts say.
"The bottom line is that there is no evidence that any cat, large or small, can transmit the virus back to humans," veterinarian Dr. Sarah Caddy, a clinical research fellow at the University of Cambridge, U.K., told CNN.
However, experts are suggesting that anyone with COVID-19 avoid contact with their cat, to prevent passing it to their pet.
"If a member of the household becomes sick with Covid-19, they should be isolated from all members of the household, pets included," Jacqui Norris, professor, Sydney School of Veterinary Science, University of Sydney, told CNN.
3 in 4 U.S. Hospitals Treating COVID-19 Patients: Report
Three of every four U.S. hospitals now have COVID-19 patients and they expect to be overwhelmed as the crisis worsens and they struggle with a wide range of problems, a U.S. inspector general's report warns.
It's based on a telephone survey of 323 hospitals nationwide conducted March 23-27. Three-quarters of the hospitals said they already had patients with confirmed or suspected COVID-19, the Associated Press reported.
Hospitals also said they're grappling with numerous challenges, including too few tests, slow test results, shortages of protective gear, lack of breaking machines for seriously-ill patients and exhausted, anxious staff, according to the report due out Monday.
There's this sort of domino effect," Ann Maxwell, an assistant inspector general at the Department of Health and Human Services, told the AP. "These challenges play off each other and exacerbate the situation. There's a cascade effect."
"Hospitals reported that their most significant challenges centered on testing and caring for patients with known or suspected COVID-19, and keeping staff safe," the report said.
"It's likely that every hospital in America is going to have to deal with this," Maxwell said.
The U.S. has more diagnosed COVID-19 cases than any other country, according to Johns Hopkins University data, and projections indicate that U.S. cases will peak later this month, the AP reported.
"Hospitals anticipated being overwhelmed by a surge in COVID-19 patients, who would need specialty beds and isolation areas for effective treatment," according to the inspector general's report.
"Health care workers feel like they're at war right now," a hospital administrator in New York City told the federal investigators, the AP reported. They "are seeing people in their 30s, 40s, 50s dying. This takes a large emotional toll."
British PM Johnson Hospitalized With COVID-19
Ten days after being diagnosed with COVID-19, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was admitted to hospital Sunday for tests because he still had symptoms, according to his office.
It said the 55-year-old's admission to an undisclosed London hospital was on the advice of his doctor and was not an emergency, but rather a "precautionary step," the Associated Press reported.
Johnson was diagnosed with COVID-19 on March 26 and has been quarantined in his Downing St. residence since then.
The first known head of government to develop COVID-19, Johnson remains in charge of the government, the AP reported.
FDA Authorizes Use of Chinese-Approved Masks in U.S.
Emergency use authorization of protective masks that don't meet American standards was announced by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
The KN95 masks meet Chinese standards but not U.S. ones. They are almost identical in performance to U.S.-approved N95 masks, with slight differences in their specifications, The New York Times reported.
KN95 masks are suitable alternative when N95s aren't available, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
U.S. hospitals and other facilities are struggling to find enough N95 masks to provide to healthcare workers on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic.
WalMart, Target Limit Customers in Stores
The number of people allowed in their stores at one time will be limited in an effort to promote social distancing, Walmart and Target say.
People should stay at least six feet apart from each other in order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises.
"To promote social distancing with its team and guests, Target will monitor store traffic, and meter, or limit, the number of guests inside stores, when needed," the company said in a news release, CBS News reported.
Walmart "will limit the number of customers who can be in a store at once. Stores will now allow no more than five customers for each 1,000 square feet at a given time, roughly 20 percent of a store's capacity," a company news release said.