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International Medical Corps COVID-19 Situation Report #20, July 1, 2020

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FAST FACTS

  • According to the Johns Hopkins University tracker, which consolidates data from a range of sources, as of July 1 there have been 10,507,983 confirmed cases of COVID-19 reported in 188 countries and regions.

  • In the US, we are supporting more than 20 health facilities in Los Angeles, New York City, Puerto Rico, Chicago, Boston and Detroit with emergency medical field units, equipment, supplies and volunteer staff.

  • We have screened more than 626,000 individuals for COVID-19 at our global missions and have distributed more than 9.8 million pieces of personal protective equipment and infection prevention and control items to supported health facilities.

  • We have trained more than 64,127 frontline healthcare professionals on COVID-19 prevention and control measures.

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread throughout the globe. In the past week, the world crossed two grim milestones of morbidity and mortality, surpassing both 10 million confirmed cases and 500,000 confirmed deaths from COVID-19. Last week saw the highest growth rates yet of confirmed cases, with the western hemisphere continuing to see sustained increases—although North and South America account for less than 20% of the world's population, they are contributing more than 50% of the new cases on a day-to-day basis.

In the past two weeks, the United States has seen substantial growth in confirmed COVID-19 cases, along with an increase in the percentage of individuals testing positive for the virus. Though this growth is driven by outbreaks in Florida, Texas, Arizona and California, many other states are also experiencing an upward trajectory of new cases. In response to evidence of where the latest outbreaks originated, the governors of Florida and Texas closed all bars in their states, while the governor of California ordered bars to close in seven counties3. To avoid a recurrence of their outbreaks, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut have begun to require anyone traveling from at least 16 states with high rates of COVID-194 to quarantine for 14 days. As the situation continues to escalate in the US, the European Union has announced that it will block all travel from US passport holders until the outbreak is under control.

The United Nations, national governments, the scientific and medical communities, and NGOs continue to vet possible vaccines, treatments and strategies for fighting the virus across different local contexts. For the first time, in China, a vaccine candidate generated antibodies in nearly all human volunteers with no severe side effects. On the treatment side, a study showed that dexamethasone, a common steroid, could decrease mortality by one-third for the sickest COVID-19 patients. Though these biomedical breakthroughs are helpful, Dr. Tom Frieden, president and CEO of Resolve to Save Lives and former director of the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, recently offered a different perspective: "We need to look not only at things like what medicines worked, but what's the best way to do contact tracing? What's the best way to diagnose someone who is feeling ill? What's the best way to isolate or quarantine? What's the best way to stop spread in hospitals? I think sometimes we're a little bit too reliant on biomedical solutions, and not relying enough on good management.”

In search of innovative approaches to dealing with the pandemic, some countries have begun to test new strategies. For example, in Pakistan, the government is rolling out a new policy that it hopes will limit the economic fallout from COVID-19 while proving effective at limiting the spread of the virus. The government's plan revolves around "smart lockdowns" in which it will target 500 hotspots for lockdowns rather than imposing a countrywide lockdown. The development of effective and innovative non-pharmaceutical interventions are increasingly crucial in low- to middle-income countries with less developed health systems.