- On the eve of Thanksgiving, the US recorded its highest single-day coronavirus death toll since May — and the timing could not be worse
- The opportunity to 'translocate disease' across the US
- One in 3 Americans aren't changing their plans
- Daily COVID-19 deaths could double in the next 10 days
- New US coronavirus cases top 140,000, a record high for daily count
- North Dakota hospitals are full
- Texas surpasses 1 million total cases
- New treatment and early vaccine data
- Doctors express concerns on rollout plans
- US hits record for daily COVID-19 deaths — again
- Vaccinations slower than officials hoped
- UK variant discovered in Colorado
- More than 2 million children have had COVID-19
On the eve of Thanksgiving, the US recorded its highest single-day coronavirus death toll since May — and the timing could not be worse
Thanksgiving could not be better designed to be a coronavirus superspreading event.
Already, COVID-19 cases, deaths, and hospitalizations are skyrocketing around the US, approaching a new peak. Thanksgiving will ly accelerate that uptick, allowing the virus to enter millions of densely-packed and insufficiently-ventilated homes.
As of Thursday, at least 12.8 million Americans have tested positive for coronavirus, according to Johns Hopkins University. The COVID Tracking Project reported that nearly 90,000 people in the US were hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Wednesday, with hospitalizations breaking national records daily for the past 16 days.
More than 262,400 Americans have died of COVID-19, and more than 2,300 of them died on Wednesday alone. This week marks the first time the US has surpassed 2,000 daily deaths since early May, per The New York Times.
It's been more than 10 months since the first coronavirus case was detected in the US, but these grim milestones are becoming more frequent.
Still, President Donald Trump, who tested positive in October, has repeatedly downplayed the threat of the virus, insisting that the country is “rounding the turn” and that COVID-19 will “just disappear.” The White House is even planning indoor holiday parties over Christmas and Hanukkah, officials told Axios.
The opportunity to 'translocate disease' across the US
Daily new coronavirus cases in the US. Worldometers
Health experts have urged Americans to reimagine Thanksgiving and the 2020 holiday season and avoid situations where they can contract or transmit the virus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has asked people to avoid mixing households and to hold small, brief, and masked gatherings that are outdoors, if possible.
Travel has been a major point of concern with the CDC categorizing medium-sized events with people traveling from outside the area as “higher-risk.”
“Right now, as we're seeing exponential growth in cases and the opportunity to translocate disease or infection from one part of the country to another leads to our recommendation to avoid travel at this time,” Dr. Henry Walke, the COVID-19 incident manager at the CDC, told reporters on November 19.
One in 3 Americans aren't changing their plans
A notice telling people that a COVID-19 vaccine is not yet available is seen on the door of a pharmacy in New Orleans, Louisiana on November 25, 2020. Xinhua/Wei Lan via Getty Images
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, made a “final plea before the holiday” while speaking to ABC News chief anchor George Stephanopoulos on Wednesday.
“We all know how difficult that is because this is such a beautiful, traditional holiday. But by making that sacrifice, you're going to prevent people from getting infected,” said Fauci, whose own daughters declined to travel home for Thanksgiving in a bid to protect their 79-year-old father.
He added: “If we can just hang in there a bit longer and continue to do the simple mitigation things that we're talking about all the time — the masks, the distancing, the avoiding crowds, particularly indoors. If we do those things, we're going to get through it.”
Still, not everyone has heeded this advice. An Insider poll of 1,110 people in the US revealed that nearly one in three people surveyed — or 37% — are not doing things differently this year. And 57% of respondents said they plan to bring different households together around their dinner tables in the absence of masks and open windows.
Airports are also seeing a surge in travelers. The Transportation Security Administration reported screening more than 1 million passengers last Friday and then again on Sunday and on Wednesday. These have been the biggest days for air travel since March 16, per the agency's logs.
Daily COVID-19 deaths could double in the next 10 days
Meanwhile, the CDC published a forecast on Wednesday projecting an increase in coronavirus deaths over the next four weeks, with between 10,600 and 21,400 new deaths ly to be reported the week of December 19.
“The national ensemble predicts that a total of 294,000 to 321,000 COVID-19 deaths will be reported by this date,” the CDC said.
Daily new COVID-19 deaths in the US. Worldometers
Dr. Jonathan Reiner, a professor of medicine at George Washington University, predicted to CNN that daily recorded deaths will not simply jump but double in the coming 10 days. There's about a two-week lag between people getting infected and winding up in hospitals, with symptoms showing up around five to seven days in.
“We'll be seeing close to 4,000 deaths a day,” he said on Thursday.
And as it gets colder and people move indoors, experts are concerned about a “humanitarian crisis,” Dr. John Brownstein from Boston Children's Hospital, told ABC News.
“If we layer in travel and large indoor gatherings which we know are drivers of transmission, we expect to see a massive surge on top of an already dire situation,” he said.
Michael Osterholm, the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, echoed that sentiment.
“I worry that the Thanksgiving Day surge will then just add into what will become the Christmas surge, which will then make this one seem as if it wasn't so bad,” he told CNN, adding, “We have to understand we're in a very dangerous place. People have to stop swapping air. It's just that simple.”
Hospitalization and death rates reflect an increase in cases in the US. Pantheon Macroeconomics
Already, medical resources across the country are being stretched thin, with nurses and doctors working around the clock and risking exposure to the coronavirus themselves.
Dr. Joseph Varon, chief of staff at United Memorial Medical Center in Houston, Texas, told CNN that the pandemic has forced him to work 251 days in a row. His hospital is at maximum capacity, and scrambling to open two new wings in preparation for an influx of patients after Thanksgiving.
Varon described treating people amid the pandemic as “a never-ending story,” and warned of a rapidly deteriorating situation nationwide, without proper precautions.
“My concerns for the next six to 12 weeks is that if we don't do things right, America is going to see the darkest days in modern American medical history,” he said.
Jim Edwards contributed to this report.
New US coronavirus cases top 140,000, a record high for daily count
(CNN)New coronavirus daily cases in the United States hit another record high Wednesday, with 140,543 reported and more expected before the end of the day.
Wednesday was also the ninth straight day of new cases topping 100,000. The second highest number, 136,325, was reported Tuesday.
That's as the White House Task Force this week again alerted states of “accelerating” coronavirus spread and recommended increased testing in its weekly report to states.
“There is continued, accelerating community spread across the top half of the country, where temperatures have cooled and Americans have moved indoors,” reports dated November 8 and distributed to states Tuesday evening said.
The task force, which warned of “significant deterioration in the Sunbelt” in last week's set of reports, said that deterioration has only continued in the past week, “leading to the most diffuse spread experienced to date.”
Hospitalizations in the country also topped records for a second day in a row. On Wednesday, 65,368 people were hospitalized, up from Tuesday's record of 61,964, according to the Covid Tracking Project. That's double the number a month ago.
All over the country, many hospitals are already at their breaking point, with overwhelmed and overworked staff members and a continuing surge of patients.
Wisconsin and 65 counties are at “critically high” levels of Covid-19 spread, and 90% of the state's hospital beds are full, the Health Department said, and the Mayo Clinic Health System said it has no empty beds left at its hospitals in the northwest of the state.
“The public urgently needs to treat Covid-19 as the health emergency it is to prevent the health care system from being overwhelmed,” the health system said in a statement Wednesday.
Wisconsin's Health Department just created the “critically high” level that's almost three times higher than the previous top level, it said Wednesday.
“This new category indicates how alarming COVID-19 activity is in counties and regions throughout Wisconsin,” the department said in a release.
Wisconsin had its second straight day of more than 7,000 new cases Wednesday, the department said.
In North Dakota, staffing shortages are so critical that Gov. Doug Burgum issued an order this week allowing health care workers with active Covid-19 infections to continue working in the Covid unit of hospitals, as long as they are asymptomatic and take extra precautions.
North Dakota hospitals are full
Hospitals in the state, which has no requirement to wear a mask, are at 100% capacity, Burgum said.
“Our hospitals are under enormous pressure now,” Burgum said. “We can see the future two, three weeks out, and we know that we have severe constraints.”
Hospitals are particularly stretched thin across the Midwest, which has led this third wave of infections. The number of people hospitalized for coronavirus doubled in the past month in Wisconsin, South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa and Ohio, among elsewhere.
In Illinois, most regions are seeing “far higher rates” of Covid-19 hospitalizations than they did in the spring, the governor said Tuesday.
“Statewide, we are now averaging more than 4,200 patients with Covid-19 in the hospital. Our highest average in the spring was 4,822 … In short, we're now just hundreds short of our Covid hospitalization numbers last spring,” Gov. J.B. Pritzker said.
The surge is ly to continue. More people will be hospitalized in the coming weeks given that hospitalizations follow several weeks behind new infections, and Tuesday marked the eighth consecutive day that the US reported more than 100,000 new cases. Deaths, which have ticked up in the past week, are expected to then follow.
As case numbers explode, states are putting more measures in place to stem the spread. In Ohio, Gov. Mike DeWine said at a statewide address Wednesday that he will issue a new order that will “place significant new restrictions” on social gatherings such as weddings and funerals.
In New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that indoor and outdoor gatherings in private homes will be limited to 10 people.
Texas surpasses 1 million total cases
The US has now recorded more than 10.39 million infections and almost a quarter of a million deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. At least 1,186 deaths were reported Wednesday.
As the virus continues running unabated across American communities, not a single state is trending in the right direction. And 44 states have reported at least 10% more new cases than the previous week — 11 of which reported at least a 50% increase.
This week, Texas became the first US state to surpass one million known Covid-19 cases, according to data from Johns Hopkins.
In El Paso, one of the hardest-hit communities in the country, officials have requested four more trailers to add to six mobile morgues already on the ground, as cases and hospitalizations spike.
“I've seen more death in the last three weeks than I've seen in a year,” one registered nurse told CNN affiliate KFOX. “I've done compressions on more people in the last three weeks than I have in a year.”
Similarly, the city of Lubbock, Texas, set up mobile medical tents to expand the hospital system's capacity, the city said in a tweet.
California's total number of infections is also inching closer to a million. More than 18,000 Californians have died since the start of the pandemic and infections, positivity rates and hospitalizations are all on the rise in the state, the governor said.
“People are letting their guard down by taking their masks off,” California Gov. Gavin Newsom said earlier this week. “They're starting to get together, outside of their household cohorts.”
Oklahoma's health department reported the state is down to just 7% of adult ICU bed availability, with about 62 ICU beds available.
Hospitals statewide asked for help in a “couple of ways,” Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt said Tuesday.
“One was to reactivate a system called the Regional Medical Response System,” he said. “This system is used in tornadoes or large disasters. It is designed to transfer patients between hospitals. This makes sure Oklahomans are connected to a hospital bed as quickly as possible.”
New treatment and early vaccine data
The US also received some good news this week.
Early data from Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine shows it is more than 90% effective, the drugmaker announced Monday.
In addition, Dr. Anthony Fauci said Wednesday that Moderna's vaccine could soon follow suit. Pfizer's vaccine uses a messenger RNA, or mRNA, platform to produce an immune response, and Moderna's vaccine does, too.
“Moderna has an almost identical mRNA,” Fauci told Financial Times correspondent Hannah Kuchler. “We hope we're going to see a similar kind of result from Moderna. If we do, then we'll have two vaccines in play.”
Also Monday, the US Food and Drug Administration said it had issued an emergency use authorization for Eli Lilly and Co's monoclonal antibody therapy to treat mild to moderate Covid-19 infections in adults and children. The single antibody treatment, called bamlanivimab, must be infused in a hospital or other health care setting.
Distribution of the newly approved treatment will begin this week, US Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said Tuesday, adding it will be provided free of charge.
“Getting new therapeutics this to patients has the potential to save thousands of lives and significantly reduce the disease's burden on our health care system,” Azar said.
This is the first monoclonal antibody to be authorized for use in treating the virus. And it's also an important first step in developing treatments that will help prevent people from being hospitalized with Covid-19, Fauci said Tuesday.
The treatment is “just one of a number of things that we're doing to look at the disease early on and prevent people from being hospitalized,” he told MSNBC.
Doctors express concerns on rollout plans
Still, some doctors have serious reservations about the Trump administration's Covid-19 antibody treatment rollout. Doctors from Harvard shared their concerns in an editorial published Wednesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The editorial focuses on Regeneron's treatment, which has not yet been given an emergency use authorization from the FDA.
Dr. Robert Goldstein, an instructor in medicine at Harvard Medical School, said he believes Regeneron should get the nod soon, and what he knows about the rollout plans for its treatment and Eli Lilly's treatment could put a serious strain on the system and potentially worsen inequities in treatment.
Goldstein said doctors still don't have a lot of detail about which patients best benefit from the treatments. Much of what doctors know comes from news releases.
“We don't to practice medicine by press release,” Goldstein told CNN. News releases may reassure investors, Goldstein said, but they leave doctors with too many questions about who to treat — especially in cases this one, when treatments are in such limited supply.
Goldstein is also concerned about the way the antibody treatments need to be administered. They're infused and must be given in a health care office that has the space for someone to be infused for an hour and then observed for another hour. Many safety net and rural health care systems do not have this kind of capacity, he said.
CNN's Andy Rose, Joe Sutton, Gisela Crespo, Lauren Mascarenhas, Jen Christensen, Sarah Moon, Leanna Faulk, Raja Razek, Betsy Klein, Kay Jones and Brad Park contributed to this report.
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US hits record for daily COVID-19 deaths — again
LOS ANGELES — The US set two more devastating COVID-19 records as it counted down the hours to the end of what has been a calamitous year for the nation.On Tuesday, it recorded more than 3,700 new deaths linked to the virus, a chilling new high.
The US also reported the most COVID-19 hospitalizations, with more than 124,600 patients nationwide, according to the COVID Tracking Project.On a state level, Texas officials reported record-high hospitalizations Tuesday, with more than 11,700 COVID-19 patients across the state while Georgia Gov.
Brian Kemp said a temporary hospital with an additional 60 beds could open within the next few days.In Los Angeles County, hospitalizations are at an all-time high and nearing 7,200, almost 1,000% up from just two months ago. With the surge in patients, some hospitals are running oxygen tanks.
“I actually think we're now beyond waves or surges and this is a viral tsunami that we are now experiencing,” epidemiologist Dr. Robert Kim-Farley said.
RELATED: US taking hard look at variant of coronavirus that set off alarms in UK, Fauci says
And experts have warned the US could see even worse COVID-19 numbers in January fueled by this month's holiday gatherings and travel.On Monday alone, more than 1.1 million people passed through airport security checkpoints across the country, the Transportation Security Administration said.”The next couple of months are going to be awful,” said Dr. Jonathan Reiner, professor of medicine at George Washington University. “We're going to lose 3,000, maybe more people a day, probably until we're well into February. And then, we should start to see some light.”And while the ongoing vaccinations continue to offer hope, the process is taking longer than many health officials hoped, and it ly be months before the country will begin to see a meaningful impact, experts said.
Vaccinations slower than officials hoped
Government officials had initially promised at least 20 million vaccine doses would be administered by the end of December, but just days away from the end of the year, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data shows about 11.4 million doses have been distributed, and only 2.1 million have been administered.
But Trump administration officials told CNN that vaccine distribution is on track and blamed the gap on a lag in reporting data.However, Dr. Celine Gounder, a member of the Biden-Harris transition COVID-19 advisory board, said vaccinations are moving at “clearly not an acceptable pace.
“”We've basically vaccinated two million people in two weeks, so that's a million people a week,” Gounder said. “At that pace it would take us over a decade to vaccinate all Americans with the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine”The country's current vaccination numbers are certainly not where “we wanted to be at the end of December,” Dr.
Anthony Fauci told CNN.”Even if you undercount… how much undercount could it be? So we are below where we want to be,” said Fauci, the long-time director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. “I believe that as we get into January, we are going to see an increase in the momentum which…
I hope allows us to catch up to the projected pace that we had spoken about.”The quicker that happens, the quicker the country can begin to approach an “open season” of vaccinations, where vaccines can become widely available to the American public, Fauci said.
“When you get to the point, where you can essentially say anybody and everybody who wants to be vaccinated can be vaccinated, that's when you really turn around the dynamics of the outbreak,” he added.
UK variant discovered in Colorado
In Colorado, officials on Tuesday announced the nation's first-known case of the COVID-19 variant that was originally discovered in the UK.The case was confirmed in a man in his 20s who is currently in isolation and has no travel history, officials said.
“There is a lot we don't know about this new COVID-19 variant, but scientists in the United Kingdom are warning the world that it is significantly more contagious,” Colorado Gov. Jared Polis said in a statement.And the variant is “almost certainly” in multiple states, according to one expert.
“I think we will be seeing evidence of that in the days to come,” said Dr. Atul Gawande, a member of the Biden-Harris transition COVID-19 advisory board.The Colorado man's unknown travel history means that “this person picked it up in the community,” Gawande said.
“Exactly how prevalent it is, is the real question,” he added.
“If it's been spreading, how, how dominant is it?””We know it is a more contagious variant and that's a serious concern if it is only just now beginning to spread, given that our hospitals and ICUs, in particular, are already being filled.”At least 26 countries have so far reported cases of the variant, per CNN reporting.
More than 2 million children have had COVID-19
Meantime, COVID-19 cases in children continue to climb across the US.A new report from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children's Hospital Association said there were more than 178,000 new cases of COVID-19 among children in the week that ended on December 24.
That brings the total number of child cases to more than two million. Children now represent about 12.4% of all COVID-19 cases in the US.Between December 10 and December 24, the report said there was a 22% increase in cases among children.
“At this time, it appears that severe illness due to COVID-19 is rare among children.
However, there is an urgent need to collect more data on longer-term impacts of the pandemic on children, including ways the virus may harm the long-term physical health of infected children, as well as its emotional and mental health effects,” the report said.
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