The United States reported its deadliest day yet in the fight against the novel coronavirus, with at least 12,911 people killed and nearly 400,000 infections as of Wednesday morning. With nearly 2,000 people dying over the last 24 hours, the U.S. has become the one of the hardest hit countries in the world by the pandemic, even as the number of global infections rises. Worldwide, more than 1.4 million people have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and 83,424 people killed, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University.
Some experts have suggested the true number of infections is even higher than reported thanks to inadequate testing and unreported cases by some governments accused of hiding the true extent of the coronavirus outbreaks in their nation.
Here is your COVID-19 for Wednesday, April 8, 2020:
"Early Signs of Hope" Seen By White House Coronavirus Coordinator, But Second Wave of Infections Possible
In an interview with NBC's "TODAY" show, Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator said Wednesday that some parts of the United States have seen the infection rate flattening thanks to social distancing practices.
Birx cited California and Washington's response to their coronavirus outbreaks, which mandated social distancing and stay-at-home orders early on. That's resulted in infection rates that are "persistently flat." Birx compared that to New York and New Jersey, which has seen a logarithmic rise in the number of new cases since the outbreak began. Those states have also seen their rates of infection flattening as stay-at-home policies were adopted there.
"We're seeing that stabilizing and that gives us great encouragement," Birx said.
However, Birx warned that people shouldn't take these signs as a reason to go back to normal.
“What's really important is that people don't turn these early signs of hope into releasing from the 30 days to stop the spread — it's really critical,” she warned. “If people start going out again and socially interacting, we could see a very acute second wave very early.”
Birx was asked whether 30 days was enough for social distancing, and whether the Trump administration might extend the guidelines. She said they're still analyzing the data coming out of places like California and Washington, "how different releases could occur by geographic area."
Los Angeles Mandates Face Coverings For Essential Workers
Residents in Los Angeles who want to venture outside amid a statewide stay-at-home order will need to wear some type of face covering beginning Friday, Mayor Eric Garcetti said Tuesday.
"Every Angeleno will share this responsibility with employers: to keep workers and everybody else safe, which is why we are requiring customers to wear face coverings to enter those businesses," Garcetti said during his daily coronavirus press briefing.
"If you're shopping for groceries, picking up a prescription or visiting any other essential business, and if you're not covering your face, by Friday morning an essential business can refuse you service," the mayor added.
The face covering mandate for L.A. residents goes into effect on Friday. Workers at essential businesses will also be required to wear face coverings. Employers will be required to provide the masks for their employees, or reimburse them for any costs.
Businesses will also be allowed to refuse entry/service to anyone who is not wearing a mask, Garcetti said.
"These critical places where we do come into contact with each other — those workers also must wear a facial covering," Garcetti said.
Employers will also be required to must also make sure that their employees have access to a clean and sanitary restroom along with proper cleansing products like soap and sanitizer and allow their employees to wash their hands every 30 minutes.
Dr. Barbara Ferrer, the head of the county's Department of Public Health, said Tuesday that there have been at least 6,910 cases of the coronavirus in L.A. County and 169 deaths since the pandemic began. Residents in L.A. County were asked to stay at home on March 19
“Our idea is not to be arresting and fining people for the face coverings. This is about self-enforcement,” Garcetti said.
Garcetti added that he's been in contact with other local leaders around the Southland, urging them to adopt the face covering mandate as well.
"Cover up, save a life. It's that simple," Garcetti said.
CDC Removes Guidance About Hydroxychloroquine and Chloroquine From Website
The website for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was updated this week, removing guidelines for doctors on how to prescribe hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, two drugs recommended by President Donald Trump to treat COVID-19.
After anecdotal evidence of the anti-malaria drug offering benefits for coronavirus patients emerged, the FDA issued a limited Emergency Use Authorization that allowed it to be distributed from the national stockpile.
Previously, the CDC's website offered guidance for doctors on dosages of hydroxychloroquine, with a caveat that the "optimal dosage and duration" of the treatment was still unknown.
The updated, and now slightly shorter, guidance on the CDC's website states that “Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine are under investigation in clinical trials” for use on patients diagnosed with COVID-19.
President Trump has touted the drug as a potential treatment for those confirmed to have COVID-19, but many experts, including Trump's infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, have casted doubt on the drug's effectiveness, warning that prescribing the drug without more data is dangerous.
China Lifts Lockdown in City Where Pandemic Began
After several months of living under a coronavirus-imposed lockdown, residents in Wuhan, China, are being allowed to leave the city after the government's strict travel restrictions were lifted Wednesday.
Wuhan, which saw more than 3,300 deaths from COVID-19, went into lockdown on Jan. 23 in an effort to control the spread of the virus. Strict travel restrictions were placed on the city's 11 million residents, preventing people from leaving their homes or the city. Those restrictions on outbound travel were lifted on Wednesday, prompting thousands of people to leave the city by planes, trains and automobiles.
Residents will be tracked via smartphone apps to help them prove they are healthy and haven't engaged with anyone infected with the coronavirus.
China's National Health Commission on Wednesday said no new cases of the coronavirus were detected in the Hubei province, where Wuhan is located. The source of the virus in Wuhan remains under investigation, however, many of the first cases of the coronavirus first confirmed back in December, were linked to an outdoor food market located in the city.
To keep up to date on the latest news about the coronavirus and to understand what you need to stay safe and healthy, check out the Coronavirus: Fact vs Fiction podcast from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
Photos: Getty Images