The week in numbers: 3 new symptoms and $1.4 billion of COVID-19 relief funds sent to dead people

The coronavirus pandemic is impacting the health and well-being of millions of people while severely limiting current and projected economic output. 

And there are still some people who have never heard of it.

Here is the week in COVID-19 numbers.


That’s the amount in billions of dollars that was sent in U.S. coronavirus relief to dead individuals.

According to the Associated Press, more than 130 million of the economic impact payments were sent mistakenly due to a lag of reporting on who is actually deceased. While federal authorities have asked that the money be returned, it’s not clear if the survivors of those deceased have to.

The Internal Revenue Service didn’t use death records to stop payments from being sent to dead individuals for the first three batches of stimulus payments.

RELATED: Virus testing, tracking still plagued by reporting delays

“The number of economic impact payments going to decedents highlights the importance of consistently using key safeguards in providing government assistance to individuals,” according to a June 25 report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO). “IRS has access to the Social Security Administration's full set of death records, but Treasury and its Bureau of the Fiscal Service, which distribute payments, do not.”

“GAO recommends that Congress provide Treasury with access to the Social Security Administration's full set of death records, and require that Treasury consistently use it, to help reduce similar types of improper payments,” the agency stated.

This isn’t the only recent conflict regarding the IRS and economic relief funds. The federal agency is attempting to claw back relief money that was sent to inmates in jails and prisons across the United States. But, similarly to the funds that were distributed to deceased individuals, it’s unclear if the agency actually has any legal authority to retrieve the money.


That’s the number of new symptoms added to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)‘s ongoing list of COVID-19 symptoms. The new symptoms are congestion or runny nose, nausea and diarrhea.

The previous known symptoms were fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, muscle or body ache, headache, new loss of taste or smell, and sore throat.

But just because someone is experiencing one or multiple COVID-19 symptoms listed by the CDC does not mean that they have the virus. Conversely, one may have COVID-19 and not exhibit any of the symptoms listed or no symptoms at all. 

The only way to determine if one has COVID-19 is to get tested. Even if one tests negative for COVID-19, though, it does not mean that they have not had COVID-19 in the past, nor does it mean that they will not contract the novel coronavirus in the future. 

The CDC does provide a list of warning signs for COVID-19 for when to seek emergency care. They include trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion, inability to wake or stay awake and bluish lips or face. The World Health Organization (WHO) also provides a list of common, less common and more serious symptoms.

“This list is not all possible symptoms,” the CDC notes. “Please call your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning to you. Call 911 or call ahead to your local emergency facility: Notify the operator that you are seeking care for someone who has or may have COVID-19.”

5 to 10 

That’s the length in weeks which thousands of people claim they have experienced COVID-19 symptoms, despite health officials generally advising that symptomatic individuals should self-isolate for just two weeks.

“The 14 days passed and I was still sick,” Amy Watson, one of the “long-haul” COVID-19 sufferers, told FOX TV Stations. She was prescribed multiple rounds of antibiotics after she reached three weeks of being symptomatic with the illness.

“These other symptoms that have just been hanging on are the ones that nobody knows how to treat and fix,” said Watson. “I’ve got this fever, I got this crazy burning sensation, nerve pain that’s like under my skin, incredible fatigue.” 

RELATED:, FOX launches national hub for COVID-19 news and updates

Many of those who have been experiencing long-term COVID-19 symptoms have shared their stories in Facebook groups.  

As of June 26, a petition titled “Revise COVID-19 Guidelines to Accurately Reflect Recovery Periods” had received over 9,500 signatures.

“With more patients around the world reporting a wide variety of symptoms with growing complications, this lengthy recovery time in thousands of people of all ages with no or few underlying health conditions will have a large impact on health care and workforces if not acknowledged,” the petition reads. “We ask that the WHO, CDC, NHS, and other health organizations revise the recovery guidelines to reflect a more accurate recovery time to ensure patients are receiving the appropriate care, attention, and respect during their difficult road to recovery.”


That’s the amount in millions of Americans that health officials believe have contracted COVID-19 at some point, according to the Associated Press, despite confirmed cases surpassing 2.4 million in the U.S. as of June 26. That 20 million estimate came from CDC analysis of blood samples collected nationwide.

It’s hard to tell for certain how many people have contracted the novel coronavirus. Health officials have noted that individuals can have COVID-19 but be asymptomatic. Since most people who have had the virus generally recover without experiencing severe symptoms, a person who had COVID-19 in the past may never have known they contracted the virus. 

Early tests conducted in the U.S. also did not catch all infections.

COVID-19 testing efforts nationwide have been an ongoing work-in-progress, with President Donald Trump stating he wanted to slow down testing, falsely asserting that more testing leads to more cases. States and cities have responded by implementing their own testing procedures and protocols, although tests themselves have not and still not are readily available across the entire country.

Dr. Thomas Tsai, a Harvard University health policy researcher, said 20 million seems reasonable, but “most of these estimates exist in a range” and it’s important to know how wide that is.

“It’s hard to interpret this just from a single number and without the context for it,” such as what locations were sampled and whether it was truly a random slice of a population or areas of low or high prevalence, which can skew the results.

RELATED: Tesla workers reportedly fired after staying home over fears of contracting COVID-19

The ongoing ambiguity regarding who may have COVID-19 or not has prompted health officials and organizations to urge individuals to undergo antibody testing, something that can determine if a person has been previously infected. The Red Cross is currently offering free antibody testing on all blood, platelet and plasma donations.

Having COVID-19 antibodies, though, does not mean that one is safe from the virus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that regardless of whether one tests positive or negative on an antibody or viral COVID-19 test, they should still take preventative measures to protect themselves and others. 


That’s the percentage of 3,471 migrants interviewed at Somalia border who said they had never heard of COVID-19 for the week ending in June 20.

According to the Associated Press, monitors from the United Nation interview people at the border in Somalia which lies on one of the world’s most dangerous migration routes. In addition to questions regarding country of origin or where they were headed, migrants were asked by monitors if they had heard of the novel coronavirus. 

Those who had not heard of the virus were then explained the current situation regarding the pandemic, how the coronavirus is contracted, as well as information regarding symptoms and preventative measures.

RELATED: Walmart pays another round of cash bonuses to US hourly employees working during pandemic

The findings, little more than a line in the agency's reports, are a reminder of the huge challenges in reaching everyone in the world with information about the pandemic, much less getting them to wear face masks.

In the weeks since the question had first started to be asked to migrants, there has been a decline of 88% of those who indicated they were not aware of the virus.

A recent assessment by the UN migration agency of displaced people in Somalia’s breakaway region of Somaliland found “very high” levels of misunderstanding, with some people confusing COVID-19 with a mosquito-borne disease or thinking a key symptom of the respiratory disease was diarrhea.

But most respondents were aware of the pandemic, thanks largely to radio broadcasts, word of mouth and messages played by mobile phone services while waiting for someone to pick up a call — a common approach in many countries in Africa.


That was the milestone crossed of confirmed COVID-19 cases across the world as of June 22, according to data available from the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.

As of June 26, there were more than 9.6 million confirmed cases, 490,000 deaths and 4.8 million recoveries attributed to COVID-19 globally. In the United States alone, there were over 2.4 million confirmed cases, 124,000 deaths and 663,000 COVID-19 recoveries, according to Johns Hopkins’ data.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.