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Health Highlights: April 20, 2020

Last Updated: April 20, 2020.

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

Pence Holds Teleconference With Governors on Coronavirus Testing Supplies

In a teleconference on Monday morning, state governors and U.S. Vice President Mike Pence discussed the need to obtain supplies like testing swabs and chemical reagents in order to increase coronavirus testing.

A significant boost in testing infrastructure is needed for the U.S. to safely ease social restrictions and reopen businesses, according to experts and officials, the Associated Press reported.

White House officials have said that the nation currently has enough testing capacity to safely implement the first phase of a plan to begin a slow return to normal life.

They've also insisted that states could conduct twice as many tests as they are now if they used all the equipment they already have access to, the AP reported.

About 1.5-2 million tests are being conducted in the U.S. a week, but "we really need to get up to, at least, you know, maybe two times that, three times that," Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious diseases official, told ABC's "Good Morning America" on Monday, the AP reported.


Coronavirus Pandemic Changing Some Anti-Vaxxers Minds

The coronavirus pandemic may be leading some anti-vaxxers to change their minds about vaccines, according to CNN.

There is no vaccine for the new coronavirus and scientists are striving to develop one. Life many not fully return to normal until a vaccine is available, some officials have warned.

The situation has led some people who were opposed to mandatory vaccination to reconsider their stance.

As the number of coronavirus deaths rose and public awareness about its threat increased, people became more willing to accept a vaccine, according to Heidi Larson, director of the Vaccine Confidence Project, a research group at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

"I think it definitely is provoking people to rethink a lot of things," she said, but added that more data is needed to track reaction over time, CNN reported.

Haley Searcy, 26, from Florida, said she was "fully anti-vax" when her daughter was born in 2019. She eventually allowed her daughter to be vaccinated but still had doubts and concerns about vaccines.

The coronavirus pandemic has changed her opinion.

"Since COVID-19, I've seen firsthand what these diseases can do when they're not being fought with vaccines," Seary told CNN.


People Flock to Reopened Beaches in North Florida

Many of the people who swarmed to beaches in Jacksonville, Fla., after they were reopened on Friday ignored social distancing warnings and didn't wear face masks, triggering "Florida morons" to trend on Twitter across the United States.

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry reopened beaches and parks in the city after receiving permission from Governor Ron DeSantis, despite the state reporting more than 26,000 coronavirus cases, CBS New reported.

Jacksonville Beach, Neptune Beach and Atlantic Beach are now open from 6-11 a.m. and 5-8 p.m. for "essential activities" that follow coronavirus safety measures.

According to Curry, those essential activities include walking, biking, hiking, fishing, running, swimming, taking care of pets and surfing. Activities such as sunbathing, grilling, and gathering in large groups are prohibited, CBS News reported.


Lab Protocol Failures Led to Ineffective Coronavirus Tests From CDC

The United States' first coronavirus tests were ineffective due to poor laboratory practices at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said.

The CDC's own manufacturing standards were violated by two of the agency's three labs in Atlanta that created the coronavirus test kits. As a result, the CDC sent ineffective tests to nearly all of the 100 state and local public health labs, according to the FDA, The New York Times reported.

A major problem was that researchers entered and left coronavirus laboratories without changing their coats, officials said.

That resulted in contamination of tests sent to public health labs, making them unusable, The Times reported.

"CDC did not manufacture its test consistent with its own protocol," FDA spokeswoman Stephanie Caccomo said in a statement.

As a result of the manufacturing problems with the tests, the CDC had to delay the launch of a nationwide coronavirus detection program for a month, and the United States lost ground in its fight against the coronavirus, The Times reported.


Defense Production Act Invoked to Increase Swab Output

The Defense Production Act will be invoked to boost the output of swabs used for coronavirus testing, U.S. President Donald Trump said Sunday.

Vice President Mike Pence said he'll speak with state governors to discuss how implementation of the Defense Production Act would impact future coronavirus testing, CBS News reported.

The testing now available will enable states to "move into phase one" of reopening, according to Pence.

The White House has outlined three phases for states to reopen, and some governors have said they'll begin gradually reopening as soon as this week, CBS News reported.

Previous: States Mull Reopening as U.S. Coronavirus Cases Pass 728,000 Next: White House, Congress Near Deal on Yet Another Coronavirus Aid Package

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