May 2020
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The United States leads the world in cases of COVID-19. We'll provide the latest updates on  coronavirus  cases, government response, impacts to our daily life, and more.

Based on its success, the president said via Twitter, “the Task Force will continue on indefinitely with its focus on SAFETY & OPENING UP OUR COUNTRY AGAIN. We may add or subtract people to it, as appropriate. The Task Force will also be very focused on Vaccines & Therapeutics. Thank you!”

A day earlier, Trump and Vice President Mike Pence acknowledged that the White House Coronavirus Task Force would be phased out.

Speaking to reporters at an N95 respirator mask factory in Arizona, Trump didn’t discuss the proposed change in detail, but he said he was ready to put full focus on the restoring the national economy. He said that’s what the American people want, even though the coronavirus has not been quelled.
"The people of our country are warriors,” Trump said. “Will some people be affected? Yes. Will some people be affected badly? Yes. But we have to get our country open, and we have to get it open soon.”

Pence told reporters in Washington that administration officials have discussed shifting task force response efforts to individual departments and agencies,  The Wall Street Journal reported . The phase-out was to occur in late May or early June.

The task force has advised Trump in how the administration responds to the pandemic, which as of Tuesday has killed about 70,000 Americans, according to Johns Hopkins University. On Sunday, Trump said the number of COVID-19 deaths could reach 100,000, which is higher than he previously estimated during daily news briefings.

The best-known members of the task force are Anthony Fauci, MD, and Deborah Birx, MD, who regularly appeared with Trump at the televised daily task force news briefings. Those televised briefings have occurred less often in recent weeks.

When pressed by reporters, Trump said the White House would still be advised by Fauci and Birx, as well as other doctors, if the task force disbands, The Journal reported.
Trump said the task force has done a good job, with testing numbers going up and new cases decreasing. Now, he said, it’s time to focus on “other phases.”

French Doctors: First COVID-19 Patient Admitted in December
May 5, 3:39 p.m. 

The coronavirus may have been in France a month earlier than official reports suggested, according to a  new article published in a medical journal  on Sunday.

The article, written by several Paris doctors, says the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 was spreading in France in late December 2019. The article is a preprint in the International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents.

“Identifying the first infected patient is of great epidemiological interest as it changes dramatically our knowledge regarding SARS-CoV-2 and its spreading in the country,” the authors wrote.
The first patients with COVID-19 in France were originally reported on Jan. 24.

However, doctors at Groupe Hospitalier Paris Seine Saint-Denis, located north of Paris, began checking the records of earlier patients to understand whether the virus has been spreading before then. They looked at patients admitted to the hospital between Dec. 2 and Jan. 16 with flu-like illness who weren't diagnosed with the flu. They tested frozen samples from those patients, which are stored in a hospital freezer “in case of a need for further analysis.”

Of the 14 samples, one tested positive for COVID-19. The sample came from a 42-year-old man who was born in Algeria in northern Africa and lived in France. His last reported travel was to Algeria in August 2019, they wrote.

The patient went to the hospital on Dec. 27 with a cough, mucus, a headache, and a fever. He was admitted to the intensive care unit, given antibiotics, and discharged on Dec. 29, the doctors wrote.
“The absence of a link with China and the lack of recent travel suggest that the disease was already spreading among the French population at the end of December 2019,” they wrote.

More studies are needed to confirm the actual date that the first coronavirus case came to France, they said, and how the virus may have spread in the country in December and January.

“Since these results change our understanding of the dynamic of the epidemic, it also means that several models used to predict the evolution and outcomes of the SARS-CoV-2 propagation might be based on biased data and would need to be adjusted to the actual profile of the epidemic,” they wrote.
Former FDA Chief: U.S. May Not Lower Infection Rate

The U.S. may not be able to lower the transmission rate of the coronavirus below the current level, which is about 30,000 new cases per day, former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said Tuesday during an interview with NBC's  Today show .
“I think that we need to understand this may be the new normal,” he said. “We may not be able to get transmission down much more. I hope we can.”

Instead, cases will likely go up.

“As we go through May, we're likely to see the case count start to creep back up again,” Gottlieb said.

On Monday, a  new federal document  projected that COVID-19 deaths could reach 3,000 per day by June 1. The document was produced by the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The forecast also said new cases could reach 200,000 per day by the end of May.

In about 20 states, cases and hospitalizations are going up on a daily basis, Gottlieb said.

As the country begins to reopen, that will likely mean major changes to “get back to some sense of normalcy,” he said.

Vulnerable people will need personal protective equipment at work and in public, for instance. Those who work where social and physical distancing isn't possible, such as meat processing plants, will need extra precautions.

“We still have a high level of infection in this country,” Gottlieb said. “We've reached a plateau, but we haven't seen the kind of declines that we were expecting to see at this point.”
Wendy's Changes Menu in Some Locations Due to Meat Shortage

May 5, 11:33 a.m. 
Wendy's restaurants in California, South Carolina, and Kentucky have removed hamburgers from their menus due to a supply chain shortage, according  to the Today  show. The changes should be temporary, the company has said.

Restaurants and fast-food chains that use fresh beef may face shortages as meat processing plants across the country temporarily close due to the high number of workers infected with the coronavirus. About 5,000 meat and poultry plant workers in 115 processing facilities in 19 states have tested positive for COVID-19,  the CDC reported  on Friday.
“As you've likely read, there have been challenges among protein suppliers across North America,” Heidi Schauer, a Wendy's spokesperson, told the  trade publication Restaurant Business . “We are working closely with our supplier partners and restaurant teams to minimize the impact to our customers and continue to monitor this closely.”

Several meat processing plants have closed, halting about 25% of pork production and 10% of beef production in the country, according  to Bloomberg .
Last week, President Donald Trump  signed an executive order  that requires meat processing plants to stay open, calling them “critical infrastructure” for the food supply chain.

But on a Monday morning call with investors, Tyson Foods said pork production capacity has dropped 50%, according  to The Washington Post . Three of Tyson's six main processing facilities in the U.S. are closed, and three others are at reduced capacity. Tyson has closed or reduced operations at beef processing plants as well, the newspaper reported.
Tyson Foods placed full-pages ads in the Post, New York Times, and Arkansas Democrat-Gazette last week that warned the U.S. food supply chain is “breaking.” Chairman John Tyson also wrote a  post on the Tyson website  on April 26, saying the supply chain is “vulnerable."
How many people have been diagnosed with the virus, and how many have died?

According to  Johns Hopkins University , there are more than 3.69 million cases and more than 258,000 deaths worldwide. Over 1.21 million people have recovered.

How many cases of COVID-19 are in the United States?
There are more than 1.21 million cases in the U.S. of COVID-19, and over 71,000 deaths. More than 190,000 Americans have recovered from the disease, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University .  See a map of cases and deaths by state  here

What travel restrictions are there?
The State Department has urged all U.S. citizens to avoid any international travel due to the global impact of the new coronavirus.
If you are currently overseas, the department wants you to come home, “unless [you] are prepared to remain abroad for an indefinite period,” according to a statement.

There are supply chain issues elsewhere, too. Kroger has announced it will limit ground beef and poultry purchases in some of its stores, according  to CNN . Costco  announced Friday  that fresh meat purchases are “temporarily limited to a total of three items per member among the beef, pork and poultry products.”

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