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    "Social distancing" makes planet Earth look like a ghost town. The global response to the novel coronavirus pandemic is so intense that it's visible from space.

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    As the new coronavirus spreads across the globe, people are staying 6 feet (1.8 meters) apart, washing their hands and avoiding touching their faces. Or at least they're trying to. Ignoring an itchy nose or hair in your eyes is easier said than done. Even professionals who should know better get caught by the impulse. Medical school students being trained in infectious disease prevention, for example, touched their faces 23 times an hour during a lecture, according to a 2015 study in the American Journal of Infection Control.

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    The rapidly expanding coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) (SARS–CoV-2) acute respiratory pandemic has assaulted all aspects of daily life (1, 2). As of 25 March 2020, there were more than 450 000 cases worldwide. In the absence of a vaccine or a therapeutic agent, a “social distancing” strategy is the primary intervention to hamper the spread of infection (1). A major fear of most governments and individuals is the heavy impact on the health care delivery system. Cumbersome diagnostic testing, inadequate protective supplies for frontline providers and first responders, and limited hospital capacity—including intensive care—have all conspired to create an environment compared to warfare (3).

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    There aren't enough ventilators in the United States to keep alive the hundreds of thousands of people who will need them during the COVID-19 pandemic. There may be a stopgap, however. 

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    The coronavirus pandemic circling the globe is caused by a natural virus, not one made in a lab, a new study says. The virus’s genetic makeup reveals that SARS-CoV-2 isn’t a mishmash of known viruses, as might be expected if it were human-made. And it has unusual features that have only recently been identified in scaly anteaters called pangolins, evidence that the virus came from nature, Kristian Andersen and his colleagues report March 17 in Nature Medicine.

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    Doctors in New York will soon test an experimental therapy for COVID-19 that uses blood from people who recover from the disease, according to news reports.

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    Staying home isn’t the only way to help fight the coronavirus pandemic. Hundreds of thousands of volunteers have added their home computers to a vast network that forms a virtual supercomputer called Folding@home. The Folding@home project, which uses crowdsourced computing power to run simulations of proteins for researchers studying diseases, announced in February that it would begin analyzing proteins found in the coronavirus behind the ongoing pandemic (SN: 3/4/20). These proteins are tools that help the virus infect human cells. Using computer simulations, researchers are mapping the coronavirus’s proteins, in hopes of revealing vulnerabilities that can be attacked with new drugs.

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    Like some other respiratory viruses such as the flu, is there a chance that the new coronavirus will spread less as temperatures increase? A new study has found that the new coronavirus, named SARS-CoV-2, didn't spread as efficiently in warmer and more humid regions of the world as it did in colder areas. Though the early analysis, published in the journal Social Science Research Network, is still under review, it provides a glimpse into what we might expect in the warmer months to come. 

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    As the novel coronavirus causing COVID-19 spreads across the globe, with cases surpassing 284,000 worldwide today (March 20), misinformation is spreading almost as fast. One persistent myth is that this virus, called SARS-CoV-2, was made by scientists and escaped from a lab in Wuhan, China, where the outbreak began. A new analysis of SARS-CoV-2 may finally put that latter idea to bed.

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    The world is now desperate to find ways to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus and to find effective treatments. As of Friday (March 20), 86 clinical trials of COVID-19 treatments or vaccines that are either ongoing or recruiting patients. New ones are being added every day, as the case count in the U.S. (and globally) skyrockets. The drugs being tested range from repurposed flu treatments to failed ebola drugs, to malaria treatments that were first developed decades ago. Here, we take a look at several of the treatments that doctors hope will help fight COVID-19.

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