- Spain death toll tops 20k, joining US & Italy
- Report claims 7,500 died uncounted in UK nursing homes
- US total cases passes 700k, deaths near 40k
- NYPost claims nursing home deaths in NY went uncounted
- South Africa reports largest daily increase so far
- LA reports record jump in deaths
- Spain extends lockdown by 2 weeks
- Saudi Arabia reports record new cases for 4th day in a row
- Cali releases data on nursing home outbreaks
- NJ Gov: “we’re flattening the curve”
- Sweden reports 606 new cases
- Belgium reports 1,000+ cases
- Cali reports latest update
- Cuomo reports fewer than 500 deaths in NYS
- Japan case total passes 10k
- Italy reports drop in new cases, deaths, hospitalizations
- Phoenix TV station warns of undercounting of deaths
- Dr. Fauci says tests ‘aren’t everything’ when reopening states
- Iran death toll crosses 5k as country’s reopening begins
- UK reports another ~900 deaths
* * *
Update (1910ET): No sooner did we highlight the rash of new deaths and cases reported in California nursing homes than LA County revealed that it suffered its deadliest streak yet during the last 24 hours, reporting 81 deaths, along with a huge jump in cases (642).
In a statement, Dr. Barbara Ferrer, the director of the Department of Public Health, specifically cited nursing homes as a source of particular concern for county health officials.
“Today marks a very sad milestone for our county, we are reporting the highest number of COVID-19 deaths for any one day since the beginning of the pandemic, and our deepest condolences go out to each and every person grieving the loss of their loved ones,” she said in a statement.
She also pointed out that the number of deaths in the county have doubled in a week, a trend that has been seen in other hot spots around the country.
“In this last week we have doubled the number of deaths that occurred among L.A. County residents,” she said. “We are especially concerned about the overwhelming number of residents residing in our nursing homes who have passed away.”
Ferrer noted that she’s requested additional support from the state and federal governments to ensure that nursing homes are as safe as possible for residents and employees.
“This includes asking for supplementary staffing and PPE, increased ability to test residents and employees, and improvements in infection control capacity at nursing homes,” she explained.
Of the total 576 deaths, 89% had underlying health conditions, Ferrer said. Information about race and ethnicity was available for 498 victims or about 93%. Of the deceased, 36% were Latinx residents, 29% were white, 17% were Asian, 16% were African American, and 3% identified as other races.
Outside of the US and Europe, South Africa reported 251 new COVID-19 infections, its largest single-day jump yet, bringing its total to 3,034 cases.
Coronavirus update, Africa:
– South Africa: 251 new cases
– Ghana: 193 new cases
– Egypt: 188 new cases
– Morocco: 121 new cases
– Algeria: 116 new cases
– Ivory Coast: 113 new cases
– Nigeria: 49 new cases
– Mali: 45 new cases
– Sudan: 33 new cases
– Kenya: 16 new cases
— Norbert Elekes (@NorbertElekes) April 18, 2020
* * *
Update (1600ET): California reported 87 new deaths, bringing its statewide total to 1,072.
TUNE IN NOW. https://t.co/3UyYQD1o6a
— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) April 18, 2020
California has confirmed 28,963 cases of COVID-19, Newsom said. Of those, 3,221 of those cases are in our hospitals, with 1,173 of those in the ICU.
Meanwhile, as the issue of outbreaks in nursing homes and the lack of transparency and accountability becomes an international issue, the LAT reported earlier on Saturday that the Department of Health for the state of California has released new numbers on nursing home outbreaks, mirroring a move earlier by the State of New York.
More than 30% of patients who died in LA County were residents of assisted-care facilities, while more than 70% of deaths in Long Beach were nursing home residents. The California Health Department listed the names of 261 skilled-nursing facilities across the state with more than 3,000 positive cases among residents and staff. However, the “snapshot” only included 86% of the state’s 1,224 skilled-nursing facilities that have reported data within the last 24 hours.
One of the worst-hit homes was Brier Oak on Sunset in LA, where 80 residents and 62 staff members have tested positive. The Country Villa South Convalescent Center in Palms has had 58 patients and 15 staff infected, while the Garden Crest Rehabilitation Center in Silver Lake has had 35 each of patients and staff.
Earlier, we noted today’s giant jump in Singapore’s case total illustrating how ridiculous the idea of reopening the economy seems right now.
* * *
Update (1545ET): Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker is holding today’s press briefing..
— Governor JB Pritzker (@GovPritzker) April 18, 2020
The state also reported 1,259 new cases and 125 new deaths, bringing its total cases closer to 30k, and its death toll closer to 1.5k.
As we wait for more news out of Springfield, as well as the capitals of other midwestern and west-coast states, here’s a reminder of today’s good news from NY:
Good news from New York:
– Number of new cases down
– Number of new deaths down
– Number of hospitalized down
– Number of ICU patients down
– Number of intubations down
– Number of new people tested up
— Norbert Elekes (@NorbertElekes) April 18, 2020
* * *
Update (1540ET): Cuomo has finally released the new case numbers for Saturday, reporting 7,090 new cases, bringing the total to 13,362. As we reported earlier, the state confirmed only 540 coronavirus-linked deaths on Thursday, the lowest number since April 1.
Total of 236,732 cases and 13,362 deaths.
* * *
Update (1445ET): Once again, as expected, Spain has officially extended what has been a five-week coronavirus lockdown until May 9, adding another 2 weeks, but plans to relax the lockdown, one of the most strict in the world, to allow children out of their homes before the end of this month.
Meanwhile, in yet another alarming acceleration in new cases, Sweden reported 606 cases of COVID-19 over the last 24 hours, and 111 deaths, bringing its totals to 13,822 cases and 1,511 deaths.
Sanchez said Saturday night in an address that he would ask the Parliament to extended the state of alert, which have given Sanchez the extraordinary – some might say almost fascist – unilateral power to impose and enforce the lockdown, which Spain has down, dramatically lowering the number of newly confirmed cases, even if deaths have remained stubbornly high.
In New Jersey, the spread of coronavirus continued to slow, as hospitals reported more patients leaving than entering.
During a Saturday press conference, Gov. Phil Murphy said: “We are flattening the curve”…adding that NJ has recorded a slower rate of new infections and a slower rate of new hospitalizations…progress, even if there’s still a long way to go.
As we look around for more signs that the death toll or case count in the US might be undercounting by thousands, we found a report aired by a Phoenix area news station claiming that first responders don’t have a protocol for reporting dead bodies suspected of dying from COVID-19, meaning dozens of these cases – the city’s firefighters have reported an unprecedented spike in dead body reports, likely due to COVID-19 – aren’t being marked as COVID-19-linked deaths.
* * *
Update (1350ET): In his latest troll to Democratic states like NY demanding more from the federal government (and, it seems, Republicans in general), President Trump tweeted this photo of a shipment of ventilators to be distributed to the states.
Great news, thank you! https://t.co/hp4TCZQW9r
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 18, 2020
Update (1330ET): Even as the number of new cases in Italy have slowed, a jump in the UK and France has helped push the European case total past 1,000,000 on Saturday.
France looks set to be the next country to see its case total pass 150k and confirmed deaths past 20k.
France saw 642 more deaths over the past 24 hours health officials said Saturday, bringing the countrywide total to 19,323, the fourth-highest tally in the world, although the number of people in hospital declined for a fourth day running. France’s public health authority said in a statement that the total number of patients in ICU units across the country also declined for the 10th day in the row to 5,833 – the lowest level since March 31.
France has been in virtual lockdown since March 17 as part of efforts to curb the outbreak.
As South Korea prepares for the start of baseball season with the prospect of winning over legions of new American fans, the country’s health officials on Saturday reported 18 new cases of coronavirus, 9 of which were purportedly imported. It was the lowest total since February, and the latest evidence that the local officials in Westchester County, Suburban Seattle, and parts of California can and have taken the right states to suppress the outbreak. China also reported a low total on Saturday, with more than half the cases imported, while Singapore, in its most alarming report yet, confirmed 942 new cases of coronavirus, bringing its total to 5,992 cases in total, a roughly 15% increase in one day and the biggest single-day jump by far. Just when observers think the outbreak has finished accelerating, even more cases are reported as officials begin to fear that nearly all of the migrant workers living in densely populated highrises in parts of the city state have been infected.
Over in NY, Cuomo said there were “about” 2k cases confirmed in the last day, about even with the last few weeks. Cuomo also continued to bash the federal government over what he described as a critical shortage of tests.
* * *
Update (1240ET): Some good numbers were just reported out of Italy.
Countrywide, officials reported 3,491 new cases and 482 new deaths, bringing the totals for cases to 175,925 and deaths to 23,227. Compared with yesterday, that marks a drop in new cases and deaths, while the number of patients hospitalized and the number in the ICU also declined.
Meanwhile, 45k have now recovered from the illness – including a handful of centenarians – across Italy.
Looking back at Cuomo’s press conference, it seems the most important number reported overnight was the continued decline in hospitalizations.
Though, to be sure, the pace of new hospitalizations remained steady compared with yesterday, but more deaths and recoveries, combined with fewer new cases, means less stress on NYC’s hospitals, most of which were seeing capacity stretched pretty thin.
Once again, Belgium on Saturday reported more than 1,000 new cases in 24 hours, with 1,045 new cases of the virus, and 290 new deaths, for a total of 37,183 cases and 5,453 deaths, as Belgium, the Netherlands and several other countries in Europe, as well as Russia, report a startling acceleration in the virus.
In the US as a whole, more than 700k cases have been confirmed, along with more than 35,000 deaths.
* * *
Update (1220ET): President Trump probably managed to kill two birds with one stone by delegating control of the reopening process to the governors: He made what truly appears to be the best move for the country, and the move that was most politically palatable. For once during Trump’s presidency, those two imperatives were obviously and dramatically aligned, and the president – likely feeling a ton of pressure from the public during a legacy-defining moment (this is all for the history books) – overcame his natural inclination toward sometimes-reckless confrontation, and took a step back.
However, by sticking his nose in the process and commenting – as he did yesterday with a series of tweets calling on governors to “LIBERATE!” certain states – he is putting what was truly a big win for him and his campaign (not to mention the country) at risk.
Asked about the demonstrations taking place at state capitols across the country, the president offered a tacit word of encouragement, calling the crowds “very responsible people.”
President Trump said this about demonstrators across the country protesting stay-at-home orders: "They seem to be very responsible people" pic.twitter.com/slYYkelqfn
— QuickTake by Bloomberg (@QuickTake) April 18, 2020
While these crowds are likely packed with his supporters, and Trump has never shied away from a shoutout in exchange for gestures of loyalty, right now, he’d probably be better served by staying quiet, and focusing on the real task at hand: How is his administration going to replenish the ‘PPP’ and work with the states to reopen the US in a way that doesn’t cause the outbreak to come roaring back.
* * *
Update (1215ET): New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is holding Saturday’s daily press briefing.
— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) April 18, 2020
In keeping with established practice, Cuomo revealed the number of COVID-19-linked deaths recorded across the state over the last 24 hours. Fortunately, he reported a less than 500 deaths, marking a slowdown from highs reached over the prior week.
* * *
Update (1155ET): As expected, the US and Canada have agreed to extend the closure of their shared border as the global coronavirus outbreak has now sickened more than 2.2 million people, and killed roughly 155,000.
Here’s more on that from the FT:
Canada and the US will extend their border closure agreement for at least another 30 days, the prime minister Justin Trudeau said. The nearly 9,000km frontier is closed except to trade, essential workers and citizens returning home. The deal is “another example of the excellent collaboration between our two nations,” Canada’s Mr Trudeau said on Saturday at his daily briefing.
In the UK, health officials reported almost 900 more COVID-19-linked deaths over the last 24 hours, according to the Department of Health and Social Care.
As of 9am 18 April, 460,437 tests have concluded, with 21,389 tests on 17 April.
357,023 people have been tested of which 114,217 tested positive.
As of 5pm on 17 April, of those hospitalised in the UK who tested positive for coronavirus, 15,464 have sadly died. pic.twitter.com/yZmas1wSvS
— Department of Health and Social Care (@DHSCgovuk) April 18, 2020
Though the rate of new cases remained steady at roughly 5k.
* * *
Investors cheered and pundits dared to speculate that the worst just might be over Friday evening after US stocks finished the week with a blowout rally into the close (a rally that, sadly, appears to have been driven by misplaced optimism among retail investors, while hedge funds that were long GILD have cashed out).
A sketchy report touting unexpectedly promising results from one leg of an international study of Gilead’s anitviral remdesivir, a drug that was developed to treat ebola but hasn’t been approved by the FDA to treat…well…anything. Which is why several patient trials are being conducted around the world, to try and determine ASAP whether this might be the ‘miracle cure’ Trump and everybody else has been hoping for. Just days after CPC officials shut down two trials in mainland China because of a ‘shortage’ of ‘eligible patients’ (likely a hilarious ruse), Statnews reported late Thursday that a trial at the University of Chicago had essentially cured every patient in the trial except for 2.
The market took that story and ran with it, ignoring warnings from Gilead itself that the connotations of the data had been exaggerated by the story, and that this is only one trial out of many, with evidence of the drug’s efficacy remaining mostly ‘anecdotal’. Remdesivir has been given to enough COVID-19 patients at this point that, if the drug truly were a ‘miracle cure’, doctors would have known by now.
Thanks to a revision in new numbers coupled with a rash of deaths in the US and UK that have cleared out hospital beds and ICUs, while still likely falling well short of the ‘real’ numbers, it appears that the world about to experience a rapid rise in the virus’s global death toll, which topped 150k as of Friday. Late Thursday evening, the US reported a massive jump in deaths over the last 24 hours, driven by NJ, NY and Michigan, along with several other of the worst hit states.
Splashed across the front-page of the Saturday edition of the Telegraph is a story claiming the number of deaths in nursing homes is ~3,700% higher than government figures reflect.
Citing a seemingly authoritative – if ‘unofficial’ – survey of patients from one of the UK’s largest care-home associations, the Telegraph claimed that as many as 7,500 elderly patients have passed away from COVID-19 in nursing homes and other assisted-living facilities across the UK. That contrasts with the roughly 217 care-home deaths recorded by the Office of National Statistics, which is responsible for compiling data for the Department of Health and Social Care. It’s also roughly 5x higher than a previous estimate of 1,400 released by the organization earlier this week.
Around the world, more than 2.2 million cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed, and nearly 155k have died, as of Saturday morning in the US. And deaths have continued to accelerate, even as the pace of newly reported cases has slowed.
That initial report helped spark a national conversation about undercounting at UK nursing homes that has become a huge problem for Health Secretary Matt Hancock as Boris Johnson continues to recover from COVID-19 (Hancock was also infected).
The number of care home residents who have died of suspected coronavirus may have reached 7,500, according to the latest estimate, The Telegraph has learned.
New data collated by Care England, the country’s largest representative body for care homes, suggests the number of deaths from Covid-19 is far higher than its previous estimate of 1,400 from earlier this week.
The number is also far in advance of the official figure from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), which has recorded 217 care home deaths from the virus up to April 3 – the most recent date for which official data is available.
Of course, without testing, it’d be extremely difficult to say with any degree of certainty exactly how many have died. The only thing that seems almost certain is that the official number is a serious under-representation.
The notion that deaths have almost certainly been undercounted not just in the UK, but also in the US, Spain and around the world has become a major scandal in some countries because it makes so much sense. The US isn’t alone in not having enough tests: Shortages abound; even China struggled for months and is still likely exaggerating its real testing capacity. Earlier this week, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio added nearly 4k deaths to the roll that included patients who died at home, or who died in the hospital of COVID-19-liked symptoms, but were never tested.
When supplies are limited, wasting precious resources on the dead solely for record-keeping purposes hardly seems sensible, and we can understand why hospitals wouldn’t want to waste those resources. We understand it – and so should everybody else. De Blasio’s revision followed pressure from the NYT. And just yesterday, health authorities in Wuhan “revised” its official numbers, claiming the decision was made as officials reconcile numbers across different data sets and so forth, stuff they didn’t have time to do when the crematoriums were running at full tilt back in February and March.
The WHO quickly stepped up to defend the decision, claiming Beijing simply won’t rest until it accounts for every single COVID-19 related death. Much of the world, including – of course – President Trump, but also many who have been persistent Trump critics, suspect that China has undercounted the number of cases and deaths in Wuhan by several orders of magnitude, not by a few thousand. You saw the pictures, remember? People were literally dropping dead in the streets – that’s how overwhelmed Wuhan’s hospitals were at the time. Video showed dying patients lying in hospital hallways and splayed out across packed rooms. The evidence was so glaringly obvious that not even the CPC, which had permitted thousands of foreign journalists into the city, could hide it. In fact, in terms of information suppression, it seems the best the part could do in Wuhan was “disappear” a few local citizen journalists.
In Spain, the opposition is accusing the socialist-led government of PM Pedro Sanchez of being reckless in reopening the country, a process Spain has already tentatively started, and accusing the government of deliberately lying about the deaths. The country’s health ministry reported more dismaying news on Saturday as the country’s death toll has climbed above 20k, even as the number of new cases reported each day is half what it was two weeks ago. With a mortality rate of roughly 10%, Spain’s outbreak has become one of the deadliest in the world.
And it’s only the third country (after the US and Italy) to report more than 20,000 deaths.
As one Twitter wit points out:
No country in Europe is really certain how many people are lost to the pandemic due to a large number of nursing homes for elderly not filing reports. In Spain, the count has become unfairly political.
Spain’s official death toll, remains among the world’s highest, 20,000.
— HollieTheCard (@HollieTheCard) April 18, 2020
Per the Health Ministry, the number of new coronavirus cases in Spain rose by 4,499 people in the last 24 hours, pushing the countrywide total to 191,726 as the government continues to “review” its process for reporting the data. The official death toll is now 20,043 deaths, since another 565 people have reportedly died in the last 24 hours. That’s roughly in line with this week’s data, although the ministry hasn’t clarified discrepancies in the number of deaths reported yesterday.
Across the Atlantic, the New York Post reported in its Saturday edition that the outbreak has ravaged the city’s nursing homes to such a horrifying degree that even de Blasio’s revisions earlier this week didn’t fully cover it. Citing new data released Friday by the New York State Department of Health (likely, we suspect, handed to the NYP to undercut de Blasio), the paper cited several alarming examples that we imagine the mayor will be forced to address during his next press briefing.
In one Brooklyn facility – the Cobble Hill Health Center – 55 patients have died during the outbreak, the highest single-facility number in the whole state. 45 patients at the Kings Harbor Multicare Center in the Bronx have died, the next highest death toll among the city’s nursing homes. Another 40 people died at the Holliswood Center for Rehabilitation in Queens. Starting to get the picture?
Here’s the latest data broken down by the NYP…
The partial breakdown only includes 72 nursing homes across the state that reported more than five deaths. Of those, 42 reported at least 10 deaths. There are more than 600 nursing homes in New York State.
More than 1,100 residents cumulatively died just at these 72 facilities.
Overall, 3,316 elderly nursing resident residents died at either nursing homes, adult day care facilities or hospitals from COVID-19. Of that total, the virus killed 2,056 nursing residents in New York City.
There are 6,475 confirmed COVID-19 positive cases in licensed nursing homes.
…and to prove that even these numbers are still woefully incomplete, the Post added that several homes in the city that reportedly suffered dozens of deaths weren’t even listed in the state database.
But two other nursing homes highlighted by The Post as having dozens of deaths combined amid the pandemic — the Chateau at Brooklyn Rehabilitation & Nursing Center in Sheepshead Bay and the King David Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation in Gravesend — were not listed in the tally.
Cuomo signed an executive order Friday requiring these facilities report deaths to families within 24 hours to prevent the kind of terrible confusion that occurred at one suburban Seattle nursing home in Kirkland that found itself at the center of Washington state’s first outbreak.
While an abundance of tests would certainly have helped health authorities all over the world keep better track of cases and deaths, the fact remains that, looking forward, Dr. Fauci, Dr. Birx and their team believe that the US is now approaching the testing capacity that we need for some parts of the country to enter the initial phases of reopening which, remember, is all that they’re currently planning to do. For all the talk about starting back up before May, it seems May 1 is a real line in the sand for most states. And President Trump has repeatedly attacked Cuomo (during last night’s press conference and in tweets sent earlier in the day) for complaining too much about the ‘lack’ of tests, pointing out that the state did the same complaining about the lack of beds and ventilators, only to find that the social distancing worked better than the projections indicated.
That’s nobody’s fault, and it’s an unmitigated win for America. But do governors and the mainstream media need to make such a massive deal about the shortage of tests? Sen. Angus King, an Independent from Maine who caucuses with the Dems, accused VP Pence of a “dereliction of duty” during a phone call last night, a comment that was promptly leaked and played up in the press.
Speaking of undercounting, health authorities in Japan reported on Saturday that the number of confirmed cases in the country had finally topped 10k, NHK reports.
The case count continues to climb by stunning margins just days after PM Abe extended a state of emergency to the entire nation in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus and promised to hand out nearly $1,000 in Japanese yen to the entire country. He pleaded with Japanese to stay indoors as cases reported in Tokyo hit a record high. Abe, too, expressed fears about the virus spreading in nursing homes, but given Japan’s large population of elderly, its official death rate – well below 1% – seems far too low to be realistic.
Finally, one new study out of Santa Clara County found some astonishing data suggesting the number of cases that weren’t counted among the county’s residents could be many times higher than currently believed.
And in Iran, officials reported another 73 deaths on Saturday, raising the official death toll to 5,031, breaking above 5k, just as officials warn that the country’s return to work doesn’t mean citizens should cease taking social distancing precautions. Overall, Iran has reported 80,868 cases, though the totals for both deaths and cases are suspected of being much higher.