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Health Highlights: April 10, 2020

Last Updated: April 10, 2020.

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

Fauci Says 'Large Number' of Coronavirus Antibody Tests Available Soon

Antibody tests to verify whether a person has had the coronavirus may be available within a week, according to U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci.

People with antibodies to the coronavirus may be protected from re-infection, so the tests are crucial for health providers and others at the forefront of the pandemic, CNN reported.

"Within a period of a week or so, we're going to have a rather large number of tests that are available," Fauci said on CNN's "New Day" Friday morning.

"If their antibody test is positive, one can formulate strategies about whether or not they would be at risk or vulnerable to getting re-infected," he explained.


FDA OKs New Way to Decontaminate N95 Face Mask

The second emergency use authorization to decontaminate N95 face masks and equivalents for reuse by hospital healthcare workers has been issued by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The measure will result in the decontamination of about 750,000 N95 face masks a day nationwide, according to the FDA.

The authorization "will allow hospitals to decontaminate compatible N95 respirators using vaporized hydrogen peroxide sterilizers that are readily available in approximately 2,000 U.S. hospitals," FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn said in an agency news release.

"It's another important step forward in helping to reduce shortages in critical N95 respirators, by allowing for these important devices, when decontaminated, to be reused by health care personnel on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic," according to Hahn.


No Sail Order For Cruise Ships Extended by CDC

A No Sail Order for all cruise ships was extended Thursday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"We are working with the cruise line industry to address the health and safety of crew at sea as well as communities surrounding U.S. cruise ship points of entry," CDC Director Robert Redfield said in an agency news release.

"The measures we are taking today to stop the spread of COVID-19 are necessary to protect Americans, and we will continue to provide critical public health guidance to the industry to limit the impacts of COVID-19 on its workforce throughout the remainder of this pandemic."

At least 10 cruise ships have reported crew or passengers who've tested positive for the new coronavirus, or had respiratory symptoms or flu-like illness. Currently, about 100 cruise ships with nearly 80,000 crew members are at sea off the U.S. East Coast, West Coast, and Gulf Coast, according to the CDC.

It's also aware of 20 cruise ships at port or anchorage in the United States that have crew members who have known or suspected COVID-19 and remain aboard the vessels.


No Surprise Billing By Hospitals That Get Federal Stimulus Money

U.S. hospitals that tap into the federal government's $2 trillion stimulus package must pledge not to send "surprise" medical bills to COVID-19 patients they've treated, the White House said Thursday.

Surprise bills, which can range from hundreds of dollars to tens of thousands, typically occur when a patient with health insurance receives care at an out-of-network emergency room, or when an out-of-network doctor helps with a hospital procedure, the Associated Press reported.

Congress had promised to rein in surprise bills, but that doesn't appear likely to happen soon.

The stimulus bill provides $100 billion for the health care system, and the first $30 billion, directed at hospitals, is expected to be issued soon, the AP reported.


California Has First Daily Drop in ICU Coronavirus Patients

The first daily decline in intensive care hospitalizations during the coronavirus outbreak in California was reported Thursday by Gov. Gavin Newsom.

The number of ICU patients fell 1.9% on Wednesday, to 1,132, and the state also had a decline in the rate of all coronavirus-related hospitalizations this week, the Associated Press reported.

"I caution anybody to read too much into that," Newsom said of the decline in ICU patients. "But nonetheless, it is encouraging. It reinforces the incredible work all of you are doing."

California is into its fourth week of a stay-at-home order that's closed schools and non-essential businesses across the state, the AP reported.

Previous: A Funeral, a Birthday & 3 Deaths: ‘Super Spreader’ Events Show Why Social Distancing Is Key Next: As Coronavirus Shows First Signs of Peaking, White House Looks to Ease Restrictions in May

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