US coronavirus death toll surpasses 80K

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The U.S. reached a grim milestone on Monday as the novel coronavirus death toll surpassed 80,000. Globally, COVID-19 has been linked to more than 283,000 fatalities, and over 4.1 million cases. The number of deaths in the U.S. is more than double that of the U.K., which has the second-highest fatalities nationwide, according to the Johns Hopkins University heat map.

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The news comes as a number of states begin reopening their economies to a number of businesses, while in other regions, where lockdown measures have largely been left in place, unrest has given way to protest. Ohio, Washington, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Maryland have seen people take to the streets to urge local officials to reopen the economy, but the concern is doing so would cause a spike in new cases.

In Raleigh, N.C., over the weekend a group of armed anti-lockdown demonstrators walked the streets. In Michigan last month, armed anti-lockdown protestors headed to the Capitol building as lawmakers were debating an extension of stay-at-home orders. Many governors have voiced a need for widespread testing to better determine how to safely reopen their states.

Both nationally and locally there has been a push to expand testing capabilities for COVID-19 infection as well as for the virus’ antibodies in order to better trace the spread. On Saturday, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted emergency authorization for a new antigen test that can quickly detect coronavirus proteins from the swabs of infected patients.

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The test, developed by Quidel Corp. in San Diego, Calif., examines samples from the patient’s nasal cavity and is the third such test to be authorized by the FDA. The company claims results can be turned around in as little as 15 minutes.

Dozens of companies have also been racing to develop a vaccine, with several already entering phases involving human trials. As of April 30, a potential 102 vaccines were in development.

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President Donald Trump recently claimed that he believes the pandemic will be resolved without a vaccine, but Dr. Tom Inglesby, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Disease Security, pushed back while appearing on “Fox News Sunday.” Inglesby said that despite the president’s optimism, COVID-19 will likely remain an issue until a vaccine is developed.

“Hopefully, over time, we’ll learn to live with it and we’ll be able to reduce the risk of transmission, but it’s going to stay as a background problem in the country and around the world until we have a vaccine,” he said.