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DATA: North Carolina – The Skinny – April 27

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By the Numbers:

  • 9,438 known cases in NC (as of 5:31 p.m.)
  • 9,142 positive cases confirmed  by NCDHHS
  • 983,848 cases in the U.S. (as of 5:31 p.m.)
  • 109,920 completed tests in North Carolina
  • 473 people currently hospitalized due to COVID-19
  • 336 deaths in North Carolina
  • 55,735 deaths in the U.S. (as of 5:31 p.m.)
  • 95 counties in NC with cases

 

Latest Developments

  • RedHill Biopharma, a Raleigh biotech company, is submitting an application to the FDA for clinical patients. The study of six patients in Israel who took an oral anti-viral drug called opaganib (no, that’s not a typo) saw “significant measurable clinical improvement” in days following the treatment.
  • NCDHHS will now release details on the locations of outbreaks ofCOVID-19 in living facilities, including nursing homes. The data released today includes the names of facilities, counties, and the number of infections and deaths.
  • NCDHHS is planning to hire 250 additional contact tracers over the next month, doubling the number of people trained to trace COVID-19.
    • Most current tracing is done through phone interviews, but researchers from Apple, Google, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are working on Bluetooth phone apps to detect close proximity to known positive cases.

 Quick Hits

  • As states begin thinking of ways to reopen, testing capacity is still behind.
    • “There are numerous reasons. It has proved hard to increase the production of reagents — sensitive chemical ingredients that detect whether the coronavirus is present — partly because of federal regulations intended to ensure safety and partly because manufacturers, who usually produce them in small batches, have been reluctant to invest in new capacity without assurance that the surge in demand will be sustained. Some physical components of test kits, like nasal swabs, are largely imported and hard to come by amid global shortages. Health care workers still lack the protective gear they need to administer tests on a wide-scale basis. Labs have been slow to add people and equipment to process the swelling numbers of tests.”

  • The latest round of SBA loans started today, but with the applications came new headaches and technology issues.
    • The SBA acknowledged that “unprecedented demand” was “slowing” its system but said that by 3:30 p.m. it had processed 100,000 loans submitted by 4,000 lenders. Twice as many people attempted to access the program Monday as, during any period in the initial phase of funding, SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza said on Twitter.

  • S. Attorney General William Barr told federal prosecutors across the nation to “be on the lookout” for any COVID-19 restrictions that could be unconstitutional. In a two-page memo Barr said, “Many policies that would be unthinkable in regular times have become commonplace in recent weeks, and we do not want to unduly interfere with the important efforts of state and local officials to protect the public. But the Constitution is not suspended in times of crisis.”
  • Japan has could potentially be succeeding in suppressing the COVID-19 outbreak without social distancing and with limited testing.
    • From The Wall Street Journal: “Unlike many Western countries, Japan hasn’t imposed a lockdown backed with fines or other penalties. Instead, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has asked people to reduce their contact with others by 80% and encouraged businesses to reduce hours of operation or close. Restaurants may open but are asked to close by 8 p.m. Japan has also shunned widespread testing for the virus, instead focusing on targeting clusters of infection when they appear in an effort to snuff out any further spread. On Monday, Tokyo reported 39 new cases of infection in the capital, the lowest total since March 30. New cases are often lower on Mondays because they reflect test results from Sunday, when many hospitals are closed, but the latest figure was less than half that of every other Monday in April.”

  • President Trump’s former FDA chief and President Obama’s former Medicare and Medicaid director are advocating for Congress to fund increased contact tracing, including spending $46.5 billion for tracing, housing for infected people who might not be able to self-isolate, and income support for those self-isolating.

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