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Each week, HealthDay's Physician's Briefing division rounds up the most important COVID-19 developments in the medical field. See this week's edition below for June 22-June 26.

Black Americans More Likely to Know Someone Who Has Died of COVID-19

FRIDAY, June 26, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Far more black Americans say they know someone personally who has died of COVID-19 than whites, a new poll finds.

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U.S. Has Second Day of Record Rise in COVID-19 Cases; Young People Fueling Trend

FRIDAY, June 26, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- As the United States reported yet another record-breaking number of COVID-19 cases on Thursday, public health officials warned that younger Americans now account for an ever-growing percentage of infections.

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Older Age, Obesity, Disability Tied to Severe COVID-19 in MS

FRIDAY, June 26, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- For patients with multiple sclerosis, age, obesity, and high Expanded Disability Severity Scale score are significantly associated with increased risk for severe COVID-19, according to a study published online June 26 in JAMA Neurology.

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CDC Updates List of Who Is at Highest Risk for COVID-19

FRIDAY, June 26, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- The list of conditions that put people at risk for severe COVID-19 illness has been expanded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Colchicine May Improve Time to Clinical Deterioration in COVID-19

FRIDAY, June 26, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Hospitalized patients with COVID-19 receiving colchicine have significantly improved time to clinical deterioration, according to a study published online June 24 in JAMA Network Open.

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Genomewide Level Associations Identified for Severe COVID-19

FRIDAY, June 26, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Patients with COVID-19 and severe disease have associations at locus 3p21.31 and 9q34.2, which are significant at the genomewide level, according to a study published online June 17 in the New England Journal of Medicine.

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Neonatal COVID-19 Uncommon, Not Linked to Mode of Delivery

FRIDAY, June 26, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Neonatal COVID-19 is uncommon and the rate of maternal transmission is not increased with any particular mode of delivery or type of infant feeding, according to a review published online June 12 in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.

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Texas Pauses Reopening as COVID-19 Cases Rise

THURSDAY, June 25, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- As COVID-19 cases surge in Texas, the state is pausing its reopening process and freeing up hospital beds for COVID-19 patients.

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Risk for Hospitalization Up for Pregnant Women With COVID-19

THURSDAY, June 25, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Among women of reproductive age with COVID-19, pregnant women are more likely to be hospitalized and to be admitted to the intensive care unit, according to research published in the June 26 issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

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Sex, Ethnic Differential Patterns of COVID-19 Unexplained

THURSDAY, June 25, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Sex and ethnicity differential patterns of COVID-19 positivity are not explained by cardiometabolic, socioeconomic, or behavioral factors, according to a study published online June 19 in the Journal of Public Health.

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Model May Help Predict Risk for Testing Positive for COVID-19

THURSDAY, June 25, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- It is possible to predict the likelihood of testing positive for COVID-19, according to a study published online June 10 in CHEST.

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Sanofi Speeds COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

WEDNESDAY, June 24, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- French drugmaker Sanofi has shortened its timeline to get a COVID-19 vaccine on the market.

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Experts Weigh in on Pace of Reopening, Preventive Measures

WEDNESDAY, June 24, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- As states across the country continue to move into different phases of reopening, many are questioning whether the rush to stabilize the economy will result in an influx of new COVID-19 infections. HD Live! sat down with Marjorie Jenkins, M.D., dean of the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Greenville, and Thomas Giordano, M.D., section chief of infectious diseases at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, to discuss the health care and economic uncertainty that faces the nation.

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Quality of Life Worse for Cancer Patients During COVID-19

WEDNESDAY, June 24, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Patients with stage III and IV cancer have worse quality of life during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a research letter published online June 17 in Psycho-Oncology.

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ED Use Down for MI, Stroke, Hyperglycemic Crisis in COVID-19

WEDNESDAY, June 24, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Following declaration of the COVID-19 pandemic as a national emergency, there was a decrease in visits to the emergency department for myocardial infarction, stroke, and hyperglycemic crisis, according to research published in the June 22 early-release issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

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Tocilizumab Shows Promise for Treatment of COVID-19

WEDNESDAY, June 24, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Use of tocilizumab to target cytokine release syndrome seems beneficial for patients with COVID-19, according to a study published online June 15 in CHEST.

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Patients With COVID-19 Mount Acute Cortisol Stress Response

WEDNESDAY, June 24, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Patients with COVID-19 mount a marked and appropriate acute cortisol stress response, according to a research letter published online June 19 in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology.

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Older Age, Black Race, Diabetes Up Hospitalization in COVID-19

WEDNESDAY, June 24, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Characteristics that are independently associated with hospitalization for COVID-19 include older age, black race, and having diabetes mellitus, according to research published in the June 17 early-release issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

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COVID-19 Vaccine May Be Available by Late 2020, Early 2021: Fauci

TUESDAY, June 23, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- There could be a COVID-19 vaccine by the end of this year or early next year, according to Anthony Fauci, M.D., infectious diseases chief at the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

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Black, Hispanic Medicare Patients Much More Likely to Be Hospitalized With COVID-19

TUESDAY, June 23, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Black Medicare recipients are nearly four times more likely and Hispanics are nearly two times more likely than whites to be hospitalized with COVID-19, according to the U.S. government.

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RN Staffing Linked to COVID-19 Incidence in Nursing Homes

TUESDAY, June 23, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Higher registered nurse staffing is associated with a reduced number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in nursing homes, according to a study published online June 18 in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

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Convalescent Plasma Safe for Diverse Patients With COVID-19

TUESDAY, June 23, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Convalescent plasma seems safe for COVID-19 patients based on data from the first 20,000 transfused patients, according to a study published online June 9 in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

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Asthma Seems Not to Be Linked to COVID-19 Hospitalization

TUESDAY, June 22, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Asthma seems not to be associated with COVID-19 hospitalization, according to a study published online June 9 in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

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COVID-19 Hospitalization Up With Prednisone in Rheumatic Disease

TUESDAY, June 23, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- For patients with rheumatic disease with COVID-19, glucocorticoids are associated with increased odds of hospitalization, according to a study published in the July issue of the Annals of Rheumatic Diseases.

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Inhaled Remdesivir May Allow COVID-19 Patients to Be Treated at Home

MONDAY, June 22, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- An inhaled version of the antiviral drug remdesivir will soon be tested outside a hospital setting, Gilead Sciences announced Monday.

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NIH Stops Hydroxychloroquine Trial

MONDAY, June 22, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- The National Institutes of Health announced Saturday that a clinical trial evaluating hydroxychloroquine for the treatment of COVID-19 has been stopped because the drug likely provides no benefit.

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Costs for COVID-19 High With Consumer-Directed Health Plans

MONDAY, June 22, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- COVID-19 hospitalizations could result in high out-of-pocket spending for commercially insured consumer-directed health plan enrollees, according to a study published online June 15 in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

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No Big Increase Seen in Loneliness During U.S. COVID-19 Outbreak

MONDAY, June 22, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic has not led to an overall increase in loneliness among Americans, according to a study published online June 22 in American Psychologist.

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Taste, Smell Dysfunction With COVID-19 Can Be Severe

MONDAY, June 22, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- COVID-19 should be suspected when patients present with a severe reduction of taste and smell in the absence of severe nasal obstruction, according to a study published online June 18 in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery.

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Transmissibility of SARS-CoV-2 High Within Households

MONDAY, June 22, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 has high transmissibility within households, according to a study published online June 17 in The Lancet Infectious Diseases.

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Many U.S. Counties Lack Infectious Disease Specialists

MONDAY, June 22, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- The distribution of infectious disease (ID) physicians in the United States is geographically skewed, with 90 percent of U.S. counties having below-average ID physician density or no ID physicians at all, according to a research letter published online June 3 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

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Join us Friday, July 10th at 2:30 p.m. ET for our latest HD Live! discussion on how countries have contained COVID-19 and whether the United States can do the same with universal masking and certain other health strategies.

On everyone's mind is the topic of face masks. How can universal masking help control COVID-19 numbers? How can we most effectively use masks? What can we learn from places like Taiwan, where the wearing of face masks has helped the country successfully prevent the spread of COVID-19?

Mabel Jong from our liveblog team will speak with Dr. Robert Brook, a professor of medicine at UCLA and the distinguished chair in the health care sciences program at the RAND Corporation, and Dr. May Chu, a clinical professor of epidemiology at the Colorado School of Public Health.

Join us July 10th for the discussion, and see our past HD Lives and other videos on our YouTube channel.

HD Live! Videos

They contend that much smaller exhaled droplets can travel the length of a room and cause infection when inhaled.

Scientists Say New Coronavirus Can Linger in Indoor Air

MONDAY, July 6, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- The new coronavirus can linger in indoor air and infect people, 239 scientists in 32 countries say in an open letter to the World Health Organization that challenges the WHO's position on how the virus is spread.

The WHO says the virus is spread primarily by large respiratory droplets expelled by infected people in coughs and sneezes but that those droplets fall quickly to the floor instead of remaining in the air, The New York Times reported. But the scientists' letter contends that much smaller exhaled droplets can travel the length of a room through the air and cause infection when they are inhaled. They plan to publish their letter next week in a scientific journal.

If this type of airborne transmission plays a significant role in the pandemic, there are major implications, according to The Times. Masks may be required indoors, building ventilation systems may need to minimize recirculating air, ultraviolet lights may be required to kill airborne viral particles, and health care workers may need masks that filter out even the smallest respiratory droplets as they care for COVID-19 patients.

Read the full HealthDay story.

Methanol can be toxic when absorbed through the skin and life-threatening when ingested.

FDA Warns About Hand Sanitizers With Methanol

MONDAY, July 6, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- A warning about hand sanitizer products that contain methanol (wood alcohol), a substance often used to create fuel and antifreeze, has been issued by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Methanol can be toxic when absorbed through the skin and life-threatening when ingested, and it is not an acceptable active ingredient for hand sanitizer products, according to the FDA. The agency said it has seen an increase in hand sanitizer products that are labeled to contain ethanol (also known as ethyl alcohol) but that have tested positive for methanol. Methanol exposure can result in nausea, vomiting, headache, blurred vision, permanent blindness, seizures, coma, permanent damage to the nervous system, or death.

State officials have reported recent harm among adults and children who ingested hand sanitizer products contaminated with methanol, including blindness, hospitalization, and death, the FDA said. Consumers who have hand sanitizers with methanol should immediately stop using them and dispose of the bottle in a hazardous waste container, if available, or dispose of it as recommended by their local waste management and recycling center. There is a list of FDA-tested and recalled hand sanitizers on the agency's website.

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In many cities, a combination of factors are fueling the problem: a shortage of key supplies, backlogs at laboratories that perform the tests, and surging infection counts as cases climb in almost 40 states.

U.S. Coronavirus Cases Near 3 Million as Hospitals in Sun Belt Fill Up With Patients

TUESDAY, July 7, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- With the number of coronavirus cases in the United States approaching 3 million on Monday, hospitals across the Sun Belt continued to be flooded with COVID-19 patients.

Arizona reached 89 percent capacity for ICU beds, as Alabama, California, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Texas also reported unprecedented numbers of hospitalizations, the Washington Post reported.

For the 28th day in a row, the country's rolling seven-day average of daily new cases obliterated previous records, though the number of deaths nationwide has remained relatively stable, the newspaper reported.

Read the full HealthDay story.

Authors say self-assessment tool could ease burden on health care system and collect useful information.

Most Using Online COVID-19 Tool Report Mild, Moderate Symptoms

MONDAY, July 6, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- The majority of individuals using an online COVID-19 self-assessment tool report mild or moderate symptoms possibly associated with COVID-19, according to research published online June 15 in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

William M. Mehring, from the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, and colleagues developed a web-based COVID-19 self-assessment tool, available in English and Spanish, and report the results of 276,560 digital self-assessments.

The researchers report that of the 5,611 users who entered optional demographic data, 61 percent were female (mean age, 39 years). In more than two-thirds of self-assessments (69.6 percent), users reported symptoms potentially attributable to COVID-19. Among the reported symptoms potentially attributable to COVID-19, the majority (80.5 percent) reported mild or moderate symptoms that could likely be managed with home self-care, while 19.5 percent reported severe symptoms for which the tool recommended immediate medical attention. Of individuals reporting mild symptoms, 7.1 percent said they had direct exposure to someone with confirmed COVID-19.

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Soluble thrombomodulin concentration >3.26 ng/mL linked to lower rates of hospital discharge and survival.

Endotheliopathy ID'd in COVID-19, Tied to Higher Mortality Risk

MONDAY, July 6, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Endotheliopathy is present in COVID-19 and is associated with critical illness and death, according to a study published online June 30 in The Lancet Haematology.

George Goshua, M.D., from the Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, Connecticut, and colleagues conducted a single-center study involving hospitalized adult patients with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 from the medical intensive care unit (ICU) or a specialized non-ICU COVID-19 floor (48 and 20 patients, respectively); 13 asymptomatic nonhospitalized controls were recruited as a comparator group. Markers of endothelial cell and platelet activations were assessed and the levels were compared for ICU patients, non-ICU patients, and controls.

The researchers found that compared with non-ICU patients, in ICU patients, markers of endothelial cell and platelet activation were significantly elevated, including von Willebrand Factor (VWF) antigen (mean, 565 percent in ICU patients versus 278 percent in non-ICU patients) and soluble P-selectin (15.9 versus 11.2 ng/mL). In 16 of 20 non-ICU patients, VWF antigen concentrations were also elevated above the normal range. Among all patients, there was a significant association between mortality and VWF antigen and soluble thrombomodulin. Soluble thrombomodulin concentrations greater than 3.26 ng/mL were associated with lower rates of hospital discharge (88 versus 52 percent) and a lower likelihood of survival (hazard ratio, 5.9).

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See what experts have to say about the toll of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health.

Will the COVID-19 Pandemic Leave a Mental Health Crisis in Its Wake?

MONDAY, July 6, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Stressed from home-schooling your kids? Lonely from lockdown? Worried about a sick loved one isolated in a nursing home? Worried you might lose your job?

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is affecting everyone's mental health in ways small and large, and experts are concerned that for many, today's anxiety will become a tidal wave of mental health problems in the years ahead.

The pandemic is adding to what already was an underrecognized mental health crisis in the United States, according to Dr. Don Mordecai, national mental health and wellness lead at Kaiser Permanente in Oakland, Calif.

Read the full HealthDay story.

In a small study, all 10 patients who had severe COVID-19 symptoms produced T-cells that worked with antibodies to try to kill the virus and stop the infection.

How Immune System Fights COVID-19 May Be Key to Vaccine Success

MONDAY, July 6, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Even the sickest COVID-19 patients make T-cells to fight the infection, a new study finds.

This means that a COVID-19 vaccine will have to cause the body to make T-cells along with antibodies, researchers say.

The immune response to the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19, was the same in American and Dutch patients in the study.

Read the full HealthDay story.

Each week, HealthDay's Physician's Briefing division rounds up the most important COVID-19 developments in the medical field. See this week's edition below for June 29-July 3.

Some Say Allow Family Access to Dying Patients With COVID-19

THURSDAY, July 2, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Allowing adult family member presence at the bedside of dying patients during COVID-19 is feasible, and could have multiple benefits, according to an editorial published online June 8 in Intensive Care Medicine.

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Point-Prevalence Surveys in SNFs Help Cut COVID-19 Transmission

THURSDAY, July 2, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Conducting point-prevalence surveys in skilled nursing facilities can inform cohorting and infection prevention and control activities to reduce transmission, according to research published in the July 1 early-release issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

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EMS Calls Down Early in COVID-19 Outbreak

THURSDAY, July 2, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Early in the COVID-19 outbreak there was a significant decrease in the number of emergency medical services responses across the United States, according to a study published online June 17 in Academic Emergency Medicine.

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Neurological Symptoms Described in Children With COVID-19

THURSDAY, July 2, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Children with COVID-19 may present with new neurological symptoms involving the central and peripheral nervous systems, and splenial changes on imaging, according to a study published online July 1 in JAMA Neurology.

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Evidence Poor for Accuracy of Serological Tests for COVID-19

THURSDAY, July 2, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Existing evidence on the diagnostic accuracy of serological tests for COVID-19 is characterized by high risks of bias and heterogeneity, according to a review and meta-analysis published online July 1 in The BMJ.

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Homeless More Likely to Need Ventilators for Respiratory Illness

THURSDAY, July 2, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Homeless people in New York state are more likely to be hospitalized and treated with mechanical ventilators for respiratory infections than people who are not homeless, according to a study published online June 4 in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

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U.S. Grab of Only COVID-19 Treatment Outrages Health Experts

WEDNESDAY, July 1, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- The United States' deal with Gilead Sciences to scoop up nearly all of the world's supply of the only drug licensed to treat COVID-19 has outraged health experts.

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Promising Results for Experimental COVID-19 Vaccine in Early Testing

WEDNESDAY, July 1, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- An experimental COVID-19 vaccine yielded promising results in early testing, according to Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech.

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COVID-19-Related Death Count Likely Higher Than Official Tallies

WEDNESDAY, July 1, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Official COVID-19 death tallies underestimate the full increase in deaths associated with the pandemic in many states, according to a study published online July 1 in JAMA Internal Medicine.

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Model Estimates Herd Immunity Threshold for COVID-19

WEDNESDAY, July 1, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- A mathematical model shows that severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 disease-induced herd immunity level may be lower than the classical model assuming homogenous immunization, according to a report published online June 23 in Science.

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Spectrum of Imaging Findings Described in COVID-19 MIS-C

WEDNESDAY, July 1, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- The spectrum of imaging findings in children with post-COVID-19 inflammatory condition (multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children) is described in a case series published online June 25 in Radiology.

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Social Vulnerability Linked to COVID-19 Diagnosis, Death

WEDNESDAY, July 1, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Social vulnerability is associated with increased risk of COVID-19 diagnosis and death, according to research published online June 23 in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

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Elastomeric Mask Program Saves Money

WEDNESDAY, July 1, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Establishing an elastomeric mask program is feasible and less expensive than programs focused on reusing and disinfecting disposable N95 masks, according to a report published online June 11 in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons.

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U.S. Could See 100,000 New Cases of COVID-19 Each Day, Fauci Says

TUESDAY, June 30, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Top U.S. infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci, M.D., warned Congress on Tuesday that COVID-19 infections could climb to 100,000 new cases daily unless ongoing outbreaks are contained.

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FBI Warns of Scammers Selling Fake COVID-19 Antibody Tests

TUESDAY, June 30, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Fake or unapproved COVID-19 antibody tests are being sold by scammers, the Federal Bureau of Investigation warns.

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ID, Isolation of SARS-CoV-2 Vital in Correctional Facilities

TUESDAY, June 30, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Prompt identification and isolation of individuals infected with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 is important for reducing transmission in correctional and detention facilities, according to research published in the June 29 early-release issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

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Latinos Have High Rate of Positivity for SARS-CoV-2

TUESDAY, June 30, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- The rate of positivity for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 is over 40 percent for Latinos in the Baltimore-Washington D.C. region, according to a research letter published online June 18 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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Mild Fever, Little Respiratory Illness Seen With COVID-19-Positive Infants

TUESDAY, June 30, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Babies with COVID-19 generally have mild illness, with mostly fever, according to a brief report published online June 17 in The Journal of Pediatrics.

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Heart Rhythm Disorders Seen in Critically Ill COVID-19 Patients

TUESDAY, June 30, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Critically ill patients with COVID-19 are more likely to develop heart rhythm disorders than other hospitalized patients, according to a study published online June 22 in Heart Rhythm.

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COVID-19 Drug Remdesivir Could Cost Up to $3,120 Per Patient

MONDAY, June 29, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Gilead Sciences, the maker of remdesivir, the first drug that showed promise in treating COVID-19 infections, will charge U.S. hospitals $3,120 for a patient with private insurance, the company announced Monday.

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Many Practice Unsafe Household Cleaning Against COVID-19

MONDAY, June 29, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- More than one-third of U.S. adults admit to unsafe cleaning practices in the hopes of disinfecting against COVID-19, according to research published in the June 12 issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

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CDC: U.S. COVID-19 Rates Much Higher Than Reported

MONDAY, June 29, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Actual COVID-19 infection rates in many areas of the United States are more than 10 times higher than reported rates, a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study suggests.

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Factors Linked to Severe COVID-19 in Children Identified

MONDAY, June 29, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- COVID-19 generally causes mild disease in children, with 8 percent of children requiring intensive care unit admission, according to a study published online June 25 in The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health.

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Altered Mental Status Not Uncommon in Severe COVID-19

MONDAY, June 29, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Altered mental status is the second most common neurological presentation for patients with COVID-19, according to a study published online June 25 in The Lancet Psychiatry.

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Antibody Tests ID COVID-19 Two to Three Weeks After Symptoms

MONDAY, June 29, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Antibody testing may detect severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 infection, with sensitivity peaking at three weeks since symptom onset, according to a review published online June 25 in the Cochrane Library.

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NYC Health Care Workers Report Distress Related to COVID-19 Care

MONDAY, June 29, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Many New York City health care workers are experiencing COVID-19-related psychological distress, especially nurses and advanced practice providers, according to a study published in the upcoming September-October issue of General Hospital Psychiatry.

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