MEDICAL NEWS | PHYSICIAN’S FIRST WATCH, March 31, 2020, By Kelly Young

Edited by David G. Fairchild, MD, MPH, and Lorenzo Di Francesco, MD, FACP, FHM


New principles and guidance aimed at helping clinicians allocate limited resources during the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic have been issued by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The group notes that implementing the Crisis Standards of Care requires decisions specific to each facility and region.

In other COVID-19 developments:

  • The CDC is considering recommending that people cover their faces when in public, the Washington Post reports. This would not apply to medical masks like N95 respirators or surgical masks. Instead, people could be encouraged to wear homemade cloth masks.
  • SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, can invade the conjunctiva, meaning the virus could potentially spread through the eyes, according to a preliminary study in JAMA Ophthalmology. Of 38 patients in China hospitalized with clinically confirmed COVID-19, roughly a third had conjunctivitis. Some 17% of those with ocular abnormalities tested positive for the virus in both conjunctival and nasopharyngeal swabs.
  • Of 131 patients who presented to a Los Angeles emergency department or urgent care with mild influenzalike illness between March 12 and 15, roughly 5% tested positive for SARS-CoV-2. In a JAMA research letter, the authors write: “These patients had sufficiently mild illness to be active in the community throughout their illness, increasing the possibility of transmission. Such transmission is consistent with the unusual, third countywide influenzalike illness spike that occurred late in the season and with declining rates of influenza positivity.”


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