Health Highlights: May 5, 2020

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

U.S. COVID-19 Death Estimate Doubled

The number of COVID-19 deaths in the United States predicted by a model often cited by the Trump administration has doubled.

The model from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IMHE) at the University of Washington had predicted 72,433 deaths as of Monday morning, but later increased that toll to 134,000, CNN reported.

In related news, a Trump administration model projects a rise in COVID-19 deaths to about 3,000 a day nationwide by June 1, according to an internal document obtained by The New York Times.

About 2,000 people died of COVID-19 each day in the United States over the past week, Johns Hopkins University data show.

One reason for the steep increases in number of deaths in the models is the easing of social distancing and other restrictions in some states.

Another factor is the rising number of cases in some meatpacking plants in the country, IHME director Dr. Christopher Murray told CNN.


Face Mask Policies Being Introduced by Uber, Lyft

Ride-sharing companies Uber and Lyft are introducing face mask policies.

In coming weeks, Uber will begin requiring drivers and passengers in certain markets to wear face masks or coverings but it did not identify specific locations where it would apply. The company is also developing a technology to detect if a driver is wearing a mask or face covering before they pick up passengers, according to CNN, CBS News reported.

Lyft said it’s contacted drivers to make sure they’re aware of U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines on how to protect themselves, which includes a recommendation to use face coverings.

“We’ve also ordered hundreds of thousands of cloth face coverings for drivers and have been making them available to drivers at no cost to them,” a Lyft spokesperson told CNN. “We’ve made drivers aware that it’s required by law to wear a face covering in certain regions, and we’re prioritizing distribution in regions where additional guidance about face coverings has been given.”


International Summit Raises $8 Billion to Fight New Coronavirus

About $8 billion (7.4 billion euros) in funding for research to develop a vaccine and treatments against the new coronavirus, as well as better tests, was pledged by world leaders, organizations and banks, but the United States and Russia will not contribute.

The funding promises made during a video-conference summit hosted by the European Union fell just short of the objective of 7.5 billion euros, but more money could be added in coming days, according to the Associated Press.

Monday’s goal was only enough to provide a “down-payment” on the tools that will be needed to fight the virus, according to U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

“To reach everyone, everywhere, we likely need five times that amount,” Guterres said, the AP reported.


Carnival to Resume Some U.S.-Based Cruises

Even though some of its ships’ crews are banned from disembarking in the U.S. due to coronavirus fears, Carnival Cruise Lines says it plans to resume some cruises on its North American Lines on Aug. 1.

In April the U.S. Centers for Disease Control in April extended a “no sail order” for all cruise ships. It forbids cruise ship workers from staying in a hotel, using public transportation, taking a commercial airline flight or interacting with the public for 14 days upon arrival on land, CBS News reported.

Currently, 120 cruise ships in U.S. waters with about 80,000 crew members are being monitored by the Coast Guard.

Carnival said that eight ships will operate from three U.S. cities as of Aug. 1: Galveston, Texas, Carnival Dream, Carnival Freedom, Carnival Vista; Miami, Carnival Horizon, Carnival Magic, Carnival Sensation; Port Canaveral, Florida, Carnival Breeze, Carnival Elation, CBS News reported.

The company said all of its other North American and Australian cruises are canceled through August 31.