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As the global death toll tops 2,100, COVID-19 infections continue to spread in countries across the world, including in the U.S. The region with the most infections is the West Coast, with 11 confirmed cases out of 15 total. In comparison, the East Coast has confirmed only one case.
There are nine confirmed COVID-19 cases in California, including one patient recently evacuated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan. Another case was reported last week in Arizona involving a man in his 20s, according to The Arizona Republic. The first confirmed case in the U.S. appeared in Washington state.
Other people have tested positive elsewhere in the US. Two cases have been confirmed in Illinois, one in Wisconsin, and one in Texas. The only East Coast state with any confirmed COVID-19 cases is Massachusetts, which reported a Boston man in his 20s was infected earlier this month.
An additional 13 evacuees from the Diamond Princess were taken Monday to health facilities in Omaha. These patients are in quarantine. The CDC does not reflect these cases in its official statistics, but confirmed in a statement that these Americans have tested positive for the disease. Their home states have not yet been identified.
While the number of US cases is rising, several states and county health departments with confirmed cases have said the virus is not spreading within their communities. Those with confirmed cases are generally under quarantine or have been released from treatment, and the small number of cases contracted on U.S. soil have been limited to close family members of those infected.
Scientists Criticize China's Official Reports
As American health departments scramble to tally the latest COVID-19 health stats, some researchers are criticizing the case reports coming from China's health officials.
Currently the Chinese government is not reporting cases in which a person tests positive for the disease but shows no symptoms, according to the journal Nature.
While some argue that this approach helps prioritize patients who show signs of illness, others said this practice could obscure the true scope of the epidemic. China's chief epidemiologist, Wu Zunyou, told Nature that positive tests don't necessarily mean that a person has been infected, as a nasal swab or throat swab could pick up coronavirus material before any infection has begun to replicate.
But usually a virus cannot be detected before it has established itself in a host body, virologist Angela Rasmussen told Nature.
In response to Zunyou's hypothetical scenario, in which a patient who tests positive shows no symptoms, Rasmussen said, "I'm skeptical that virus in a nasal swab from this type of exposure would be detectable."
This practice could overstate the true number of COVID-19 infections, virologist Ian Mackay told Nature.
MedicineNet author Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD said COVID-19 causes flu-like symptoms that worsen to fever, coughing, and shortness of breath. "Complications may include high fever, severe cough, difficulty breathing, pneumonia, organ failure, and death," he states.
"People may prevent or lower the risk of this viral infection by good hygiene, avoiding contact with infected people, not going into an outbreak area, and by leaving an outbreak zone," Dr. Davis concludes.
Anyone who has flu-like symptoms should reach out to their health care team for proper evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment.
COVID-19 Treatment, Complications, Prevention
There is currently no specific antiviral drug or vaccine to treat infected individuals. Treatment is supportive in nature, and it may be necessary for a medical professional to administer treatments in a hospital. Complications may include:
People may prevent or lower the risk of this viral infection, Dr. Davis writes, with good hygiene, avoiding contact with infected people, not going into an outbreak area, and by leaving an outbreak zone.