COVID-19 Updates: Cases and Hospitalizations Continue to Drop Dramatically, and Other Coronavirus News

Two healthcare workers wearing PPE talking in the ICU

At least 109 million cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) have been diagnosed worldwide as of Monday evening, February 15, 2021, including at least 2.41 million deaths. Healthcare officials in the United States have reported at least 27.7 million positive COVID-19 cases and at least 485,000 deaths. Source: Johns Hopkins University & Medicine

At least 175 million individual doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered worldwide as of Monday evening, including nearly 53 million in the United States. Source: GitHub 

WHO finding proof virus may have originated earlier

Investigators with the World Health Organization (WHO) have reportedly learned that the original Wuhan, China, outbreak in December 2019 was larger than previously thought. According to a recent report by CNN, more than a dozen strains of the virus in Wuhan already existed in December 2019, and that the virus may have been spreading in China long before its first official emergence that month.

Investigators continue to look for clues about the geography and timing of the outbreak, and the discovery of the many different possible variants of the virus could likely be the first physical evidence to emerge internationally to bolster the theory that some experts have been claiming about the virus having been known about longer than it has currently reported to have been known about.

More evidence of peak decline continuing

The most recent data continue to suggest that the peak of COVID-19 is now behind us. Coronavirus cases and hospitalizations in the United States have dropped dramatically since peak numbers from the middle of January, according to the COVID Tracking Project.

There were 71,844 new cases reported on Feb. 14, a drop of nearly 19,000 from the cases reported on the day prior. The number of new daily cases reached more than 225,000 in January.

The seven-day average of new cases since Jan. 12 has decreased by nearly 64% while hospitalizations have dropped as well, with 67,023 people hospitalized with COVID-19 after more than 130,000 were hospitalized with the virus in January. Despite the positive trend, the declines have not been uniform across the country. For example, South Carolina is reporting a slower decline than other states and currently has the most cases per capita over the previous week, according to the tracking project’s data.

CDC updates mask-wearing guidance

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) have updated their guidance for mask wearing, including how to wear two masks when the situation calls for two masks. According to information shared Feb. 13, healthcare providers can encourage patents to assess for a mask’s fit, filtration, and layers when choosing what to wear. The two most important ways to ensure that a mask will be effective is to check the mask for a snug fit against your face and to choose a mask with layers to keep respiratory droplets in for the wearer and out from others.

Other tips include choosing a mask with a nose wire; using a mask fitter or brace; checking the mask to see that it fits snugly over the nose, mouth, and chin; wearing a cloth mask that has multiple layers of fabric or a disposable mask underneath a cloth mask; and “knotting and tucking ear loops of a 3-ply mask. Directions on how to “knot and tuck” are available online. If wearing a second mask, it should push the edges of the inner mask against one’s face, but patients should be reminded that they should be able to see and breathe easily.

Things to avoid include wearing two disposable masks together because disposable masks are not designed to fit tightly, and so wearing more than one will not improve fit, or combining a KN95 mask with any other mask—only one KN95 mask should be worn at a time, according to the CDC.

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