Breaking Science News

Here you will find some short highlights of some of the hottest current science news stories. Be sure to follow us on Twitter, @science, where you can also get the latest science news. You can also find new science news stories on the homepage of Science, Space & Robots.

Massachusetts Set New Daily High for Coronavirus Deaths with 252 (April 29, 2020):

Massachusetts has set a new daily high for coronavirus deaths with 252 deaths in one day. The state's previous daily high was 221 deaths.

The Boston Herald says Massachusetts also reported 1,963 new cases.

Here are some more Covid-19 statistics for Massachusetts:

  • Total Cases - 60,265
  • Total Deaths - 3,405
  • Current ICU Patients - 1,011
  • Deaths in Long-Term Care Facilities - 1,982

Los Angeles County Records Highest Daily Coronavirus Death Toll (April 18, 2020):

Los Angeles County has recorded its highest one day death toll from the Covid-19 coronavirus. 81 deaths were recorded in the last 24 hours. Los Angeles County also added 642 new cases.

Barbara Ferrer, PhD, MPH, MEd, Director of Public Health, says in a statement, "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. In this last week we have doubled the number of deaths that occurred among LA County residents. We are especially concerned about the overwhelming number of residents residing in our nursing homes who have passed away. I have requested additional support from our state and federal partners so we can work together to ensure that our 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."

The increase comes despite closings, restrictions and social distancing efforts in L.A. and California. The number of cases would have been much higher without these continued efforts to slow the spread.

Los Angeles County now has 12,021 cases and 576 deaths. You can find the latest information on

New York City Covid-19 Death Toll Passes 10,000 After Inclusion of At Home Deaths (April 15, 2020):

The death toll in New York City from the Covid-19 coronavirus has passed 10,000 after 3,700 at home deaths were added. These were deaths that happened at home and had never been included. 10,367 people have died in New York City from the virus through yesterday.

Hundreds of people in New York City have been dying from the coronavirus at home each day. These deaths were going uncounted because they did not occur at hospital and were not tested. However, it is clear they are due to the virus because at home deaths have climbed from around 20 per day in New York City to well over 200 a day during the outbreak.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio's Press Secretary Freddi Goldstein told the New York Post, "We knew the number of lives lost would be greater than originally reported, but that doesn’t make it any less painful. We’re committed to being as transparent as possible with New Yorkers as we continue to fight our way through this."

There is hope that the deaths in New York may be at or near a peak because new cases appear to have leveled off. Governor Andrew Cuomo has also said that the rate of new hospitalizations from the coronavirus has been falling.

Newborns Wear Tiny Face Shields at Bangkok Hospital (April 13, 2020):

Even newborns get face shields at a hospital in Bangkok. The cute baby-sized face guards were made to protect newborn babies from the coronavirus. The video shows a baby wearing one of the face shields at the Param 9 Hospital in Bangkok. Thailand has over 2,500 active cases of the deadly virus.

Covid-19 Kills 806 in New York City in Single Day (April 8, 2020):

The Covid-19 coronavirus killed 806 people in New York City yesterday. This is by far the highest one day total yet for New York City.

Gothamist and KTLA are among the news resources reporting the record high. At least 4,000 have died in New York City since the outbreak began.

New York City's grim coronavirus fatality totals are likely to climb higher in the coming days due to a combination of the peak hitting and the inclusion of people dying in their homes. Hundreds of people are reportedly not making it to the hospital and dying in their homes. Deaths at home in New York City have climbed from in the 20s per day (before the pandemic) to over 200 per day. These additional deaths have not been counted as coronavirus due to a lack of testing. Gothamist reports that these deaths will be reported in future totals. It is likely to add thousands of additional coronavirus deaths.

Tiger at Bronx Zoo Tests Positive for Covid-19 Coronavirus (April 5, 2020):

A 4-year-old Malayan tiger at the Bronx Zoo in New York has tested positive for Covid-19 coronavirus. Three other tigers and three lions have also developed a dry cough. The lions and tigers are all expected to recover.

The announcement was made in a press release from the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bronx Zoo. The tiger's name is Nadia. The zoo says they tested Nadia "out of an abundance of caution and will ensure any knowledge we gain about COVID-19 will contribute to the world’s continuing understanding of this novel coronavirus."

The zoo says the big cats have also experienced some decrease in appetite.

Though they have experienced some decrease in appetite, the cats at the Bronx Zoo are otherwise doing well under veterinary care and are bright, alert, and interactive with their keepers. It is not known how this disease will develop in big cats since different species can react differently to novel infections, but we will continue to monitor them closely and anticipate full recoveries.
There are other tigers, leopards and a puma at the zoo that have shown no signs of illness. The zoo says the person caring for the big cats was asymptomatically infected with Covid-19.

There have been other reports that cats can get the coronavirus but they don't seem to get as sick some humans - see Nature and CNN.

Photo: WCS

Los Angeles Mayor Tells Citizens to Wear Masks (April 2, 2020):

There has been a growing interest in having people wear masks in the U.S. to slow the spread of the virus. There are reports the virus spread easily just from infected people talking and that it can be spread by asymptomatic people. Many experts say wearing masks could be another step to help slow the spread of the virus.

Los Angeles Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti starting recommending yesterday that citizens wear masks. He says use "cloth face coverings" but not surgical and N95 masks which are needed for first responders and medical workers.

There were rumors last week that the CDC would start recommending all citizens wear masks but so far the CDC only recommends wearing one if you are sick or caring for a person who is sick.

Garcetti put on a black face mask during the press conference. He says, "This will be the look."

Institute for Health Metrics Site Provides Covid-19 Hospital Projections (April 1, 2020):

The Institute for Health Metrics (IHME) recently launched a website called IHME Covid-19 Projections. The website provides projections for coronavirus Covid-19 deaths and excess demand for hospital services. This includes the number of hospital beds, ICU beds and ventilators that will be needed.

The IHME projections for each state include the peak demand, peak deaths and forecast curve. The IHME state pages also show what current goverment-mandated social distancing orders are in place.

The charts for many states show that hospital resources will be over capacity. For example, the projection for New York shows a bed shortage of over 60,000 beds.

The forecasting model is updated every morning at 6 a.m. The IHME says data for its models comes from " local and national governments, hospital networks like the University of Washington, the American Hospital Association, the World Health Organization, and a range of other sources."

Spain Records Fifth Consecutive Day with 800+ Coronavirus Deaths (April 1, 2020):

Spain has recorded its fifth day in a row with 800 or more Covid-19 coronavirus deaths. The virus started hitting Spain hard around the middle of March.

The Worldometer Spain tracker has over 9,000 deaths in Spain from the virus and over 102,000 cases. The tracker shows the cases and deaths fairly level over the past several days. However, it is not clear Spain has reached a peak because they could be hitting a testing limit.

BBC News says the death toll could even be greater because some people are dying in their homes and some people have not been tested. BBC News says the death toll could be several thousands of higher. On the plus side, there are likely to be many milder and asymptomatic cases that have not been recorded.

Washington D.C. Issues Coronavirus Stay-at-Home Order (March 30, 2020):

Washington D.C. has joined Virginia, Maryland and many other states and cities with a stay-at-home order to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. WTOP reports that residents are directed to stay in their homes except to get food, medical care and a few other exceptions.

The news follows a surge in the D.C. area with 16 coronavirus deaths in a single day. NBC Washington reports that this is the most deaths from the virus in a single day for the D.C. area.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser says in a statement, "Our message remains the same: stay home. Staying at home is the best way to flatten the curve and protect yourself, your family, and our entire community from COVID-19. Many people want to know how they can help right now, and for most people this is how — by staying home."

CDC Guidance May Soon Recommend Americans Wear Masks to Slow the Spread of Coronavirus (March 28, 2020):

Dr. Matt McCarthy, author of Superbugs, says in a tweet that the CDC will soon start advising Americans to wear masks in everyday life. This has been the practice in many other countries. People are frequently seen wearing masks in China, Japan, Singapore and other Asian countries.

Americans are not used to wearing masks in public but we suspect they would wear them if this was the CDC guidance. Unfortunately, masks are not currently easy to find. Even healthcare workers are having trouble obtaining enough of them.

Dr. McCarthy does not reveal his CDC or government source for the change in guidance. He says in the tweet, "CDC guidance on masks expected to change in next 10 days. Americans will be advised to wear masks in everyday life. Current recommendation is for high-risk groups only."

The CDC's current advice is to wear a facemask if you are sick.

If you are sick: You should wear a facemask, if available, when you are around other people (including before you enter a healthcare provider's office).

If you are caring for others: If the person who is sick is not able to wear a facemask (for example, because it causes trouble breathing), then as their caregiver, you should wear a facemask when in the same room with them. Visitors, other than caregivers, are not recommended.
The CDC also has a note about the lack of facemasks. It says, "During a public health emergency, facemasks may be reserved for healthcare workers. You may need to improvise a facemask using a scarf or bandana."

Hopefully, the U.S. will find a way to provide masks for everyone to go along with the potentially updated guidance.

U.S. Now Has Most Confirmed Coronavirus Cases (March 26, 2020):

The U.S. now has the most confirmed coronavirus cases in the world. The U.S. has over 81,500 confirmed cases which is large than China's 81,285 cases and Italy's 80,589 cases.

Both the BNO tracker and Worldometer tracker now show the U.S. with the most cases followed by China, Italy, Spain and Germany. This was expected as the U.S. has been adding over 13,000 new cases daily for the past couple days. This number is expected to continue to increase over the coming days.

The John Hopkins Tracker still shows China and Italy with more cases than the U.S. but that is likely to change soon.

Note: There are rumors that China's 81,285 case total and 3,287 death toll are undercounted. China changed its criteria for testing more than once and early pneumonia deaths may have been missed. Iran has also been accused of having more cases than reported.

Image: BNO News

Over 2.6 Billion on Lockdown Over Coronavirus (March 26, 2020):

Over 2.6 billion people are on lockdown around the world because of the Covid-19 coronavirus according to a BBC News report. About half of these people are India, which has a population of 1.3 billion.

There are lockdowns in Europe, the U.S., the UK, New Zealand and many other nations. Europe has become the new epicenter of the outbreak with Italy and Spain catching up to China's total cases according to the Worldometer. Italy and Spain have already passed China's reported death toll.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that the U.S. may soon become the next coronavirus epicenter. The U.S. looks like it will pass Italy and China in total cases by Friday at the latest. Cases are increasing daily in the U.S. and the Worldometer U.S. data shows the U.S. added over 13,000 cases yesterday. The U.S. will likely become the first country with over 100,000 confirmed cases.

If the U.S. continues to add cases at this ever increasing pace it will reach 250,000+ cases in early April and over 1 million before April is over. A Time story from last week contained a chart showing this possibility. Some U.S. states have shelter-in-place orders to try and slow the spread but many U.S. states are forgoing these types of orders. Meanwhile, transportation across the U.S. remains open with no U.S. cities being isolated from the rest of the country.

Surgeon General on Coronavirus: This Week It's Going to Get Bad (March 23, 2020):

The U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams was on the Today show this morning with a warning about the Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak. He says this week the outbreak is going to get bad.

Dr. Adams says, "I want America to understand this week, it's going to get bad." He says enough people are not taking the virus seriously enough and they are not staying at home.

He also says that people seem to think they are not vulnerable. He says, "a lot of people think this can't happen to them." He says people are still on the beaches in California and still looking at the cherry blossoms in Washington D.C.

He also warned young people that they get can get the disease, they can be hospitalized from the disease and they can die from the disease. He also said they can spread it to others.

New York State Coronavirus Cases Pass 10,000 Mark (March 21, 2020):

The state of New York continues to report increasing daily Covid-19 coronavirus figures. New York now has 10,356 confirmed cases. This is both due to an increase in testing for the virus and the continuing spread of the virus. New York has tested about 45,000 people.

New York City has the most cases with 6,211. There were 1,803 new cases in New York City since yesterday evening.

1,603 of the cases in New York are hospitalizations or 15% off the cases. This large percentage is why the virus threatens to overwhelm hospitals. Some coronavirus patients also require weeks of intensive care.

New York Gov. Cuomo also noted that people ages 18-49 are 55% off the confirmed coronavirus cases.

Major London Hospital Overwhelmed by Coronavirus, Declares Critical Incident (March 20, 2020):

A major London hospital is the first in the UK to become overwhelmed by the coronavirus. The HSJ is reporting that the hospital has declared a "critical incident" because of a surge in coronavirus patients that exceeds its capacity to treat them.

Hospitals in Italy have been way over capacity because of the coronavirus and people are dying that may have survived if more resources were available. This has led to major concerns that the UK, US and other European countries would soon suffer the same fate. As USA Today puts it simply in a recent headline, "Too many coronavirus patients, too few ventilators."

These concerns have become a reality at the Northwick Park Hospital in Harrow. HSJ reports that the hospital says, "we currently do not have enough space for patients requiring critical care."

The Northwick hospital is in touch with nearby hospitals to help transfer patients needing critical care. Unfortunately, this is the early start of coronavirus cases and it likely won't be long before every hospital is over capacity.

In the U.S., there are similar warnings from mayors and governors about the need for more ventilators and beds. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a recent press conference that New York could need as many as 37,000 ventilators in a few weeks and they only have 3,000 statewide.

New York Adds Over One Thousand New Covid-19 Coronavirus Cases (March 18, 2020):

New York has added over 1,000 new Covid-19 coronavirus cases in a single day. The total number of cases in New York is 2,382 cases. New York City has 1,339 cases - an increase of 695 since yesterday. There have been 20 deaths in New York.

A high percentage of the cases are requiring hospitalization. New York Governor Cuomo says 549 (23% of the cases) are requiring hospitalization. This percentage is a major reason why Covid-19 could end up overwhelming local hospitals in the days ahead.

New York has the most coronavirus cases in the U.S. They have over twice as many as Washington, the state with the second highest number of cases. California is third with 722 cases.

U.S. Coronavirus Cases Pass 5,000 (March 17, 2020):

The number of Covid-19 coronavirus cases in the U.S. has passed the 5,000 mark. Most of the cases are in New York (1,374 cases), Washington (904 cases) and California (567 cases). There have been 97 deaths in the U.S.

The Worldometer Coronavirus Chart lists the U.S. as having 5,696 cases and 97 deaths. It says nearly 1,000 cases have been added in the past 24 hours. Just over a week ago the U.S. was adding around 100 cases a day and in early March there were only a couple dozen cases added daily. This is partially due to the lack of testing. Coronavirus was spreading the U.S. in February but cases were going unreported.

Many U.S. cities and states are closing bars and restaurants are switching to take-out. San Francisco has taken the strictest measures with a stay at home oder. The U.S. is advising residents to avoid groups of 10 or larger. Even tighter measures to slow the spread of the virus are likely in the U.S. in the coming days and weeks.

U.S. Hospitals Prepare for Surge of Coronavirus Patients (March 16, 2020):

U.S. hospitals are preparing for a large crush of coronavirus patients. Some hospitals are conducting drills and setting up tents to handle an expected surge in patients with serious breathing problems.

Ventilators are needed to treat patients suffering from shortness of breath due to pneumonia caused by the coronavirus. There are not enough ventilators in the U.S. to take care of all the patients if there is a big surge in cases. This is why there is so much discussion of "flattening the curve" and slowing down the spread of the virus so hospitals can handle the patient load.

It is not clear yet that the U.S. is being restrictive enough to lockdown the country to prevent a huge surge in cases. Italy has implemented much stricter measures and hospitals there are still getting overwhelmed by coronavirus patients.

UK Plan Will Have Every Person Over 70 in Self-Isolation for Months (March 15, 2020):

A UK emergency plan will have every UK resident 70 and older in self-isolation. They will be told to stay at home for months.

A BBC News report says the UK is playing wartime measures that include this extreme isolation plan for seniors. Young people with certain health conditions will also be isolated at home. Food and medication will be delivered to those in isolation. The plan is set to be implement within weeks.

The BBC says other wartime-measures include turning hotels into hospitals, locking down cities and having car manufacturers make medical equipment.

European nations have been taking the pandemic increasingly seriously. The strict measures are aimed at flattening the curve and enabling overwhelmed hospitals to have more capacity to treat sick patients. The latest report on UK cases is 1,372 cases and 35 deaths.

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