By Ernie Mundell and Robin Foster HealthDay Reporters
FRIDAY, Oct. 30, 2020 (HealthDay News)
Nine million coronavirus cases. That was the somber threshold the United States crossed on Thursday, and it was accompanied by another record-breaking number: 90,000 new daily cases.
Over the past week, the United States has recorded more than 500,000 new cases, The New York Times reported. That is an average of more than 77,000 cases a day. More total cases have been identified in the United States than in any other country, and nine states reported daily records on Thursday, the newspaper said.
Among them: More than 2,000 new coronavirus cases in Colorado; more than 6,400 new cases in Illinois; and more than 1,000 new cases in New Mexico.
“There is no way to sugarcoat it: We are facing an urgent crisis, and there is an imminent risk to you, your family members, your friends, your neighbors,” Gov. Tony Evers of Wisconsin said Thursday, the Times reported.
Evers’ state had been hard by coronavirus: More than 200 coronavirus deaths have been announced over the past week, and as case numbers have exploded, hospitals have strained.
But Wisconsin is not alone. The surge that started in the Upper Midwest and rural West has now spread far beyond, sending infection levels soaring in places like El Paso, Chicago and Rexburg, Idaho, according to the Times.
In the seven-day period ending Thursday, 24 states added more cases than in any other seven-day stretch of the pandemic, the newspaper said.
Daily reports of deaths from the virus still remain far below their spring peaks, averaging around 800 a day, but those have also started to climb, the Times reported.
The latest statistics offer little hope that the pandemic is easing.
Reports of new cases are increasing in 42 states, the Times said. Northeastern states, including New Jersey and Rhode Island, are seeing infection numbers rise after months of stability. In North Dakota, where more than 5 percent of the population has now tested positive — the biggest share of any state — reports of new cases continue to soar.
States lack money to distribute a COVID vaccine
Meanwhile, state health officials say they are frustrated about a lack of financial support from the federal government as they face orders to prepare to receive and distribute the first doses of a coronavirus vaccine by the unlikely target date of Nov. 15, the Washington Post reported. And these officials stress that they don’t have enough money to pay for the massive undertaking.
State officials say they have been planning distribution efforts even though no one knows which vaccine will be authorized, what special storage and handling may be required, and how many doses each state will receive.
Even so, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sent a letter this week asking states to provide by next Tuesday critical information, including a list of each jurisdiction’s top five sites capable of receiving and administering a vaccine that must be stored at extremely cold temperatures of minus-94 Fahrenheit, the Post reported. The letter refers to the vaccine only as Vaccine A, but industry and health officials say it is the Pfizer vaccine.
“We acknowledge that you are being asked to do unprecedented work,” wrote Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, which is leading the CDC’s role in vaccine distribution. She added: “This is a new planning ask,” the Post reported.
State officials say they have been trying to raise the issue with federal officials but have received little response.
“It is absolutely ridiculous that the administration, after spending $10 billion for a Warp Speed effort to develop a vaccine, has no interest in a similar investment in a Warp Speed campaign to get the vaccine to every American as quickly as possible after it is approved,” Michael Fraser, executive director of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, told the Post.
“The now accelerated timeline underscores the need to address the issue of funding for state and territorial health agencies to make this all work,” Fraser said. “There are many other costs that have no clear way to be paid for at this point.”
States and territories have received $200 million from the CDC to do planning, the Post reported.
Recruiting and training workers for coronavirus vaccination campaigns will cost at least $3 billion. Another $1.2 billion will be needed for cold supply chain management, $1 billion for arranging additional vaccination sites and $500 million for data information system upgrades, the Post reported.
Fauci calls for national mask mandate
America’s leading infectious diseases expert on Wednesday called for a national mask mandate as coronavirus cases surged across the country.
After expressing regret that face masks haven’t been more widely adopted, Dr. Anthony Fauci said for the first time Wednesday that the United States needs a nationwide mask mandate to combat the rising tide of coronavirus infections, the Post reported.
Until now, Fauci has been reluctant to back such a sweeping policy, telling reporters in September that a national mandate “probably would not work,” the Post reported. But in an interview with CNBC on Wednesday, Fauci said that he had hoped “we could pull together as a country” and recognize the importance of mask-wearing without the government getting involved, the Post reported.
When questioned whether it was time for a national mask mandate, Fauci said, “You know, yes. If we don’t get one, I would hope that the mayors and the governors do it locally.”
Earlier on Wednesday, Fauci was also asked about a potential mask mandate during a question-and-answer session hosted by the Journal of the American Medical Association. He stressed the key to avoiding future lockdowns was getting 90 percent or more of the population to wear masks, the Post reported.
Calling the prospect of a new round of stay-at-home measures “almost radioactive,” Fauci said that Americans would have to “at least do the fundamental, basic things” if they want to avoid additional shutdowns. “What we can’t have is this very inconsistent wearing that you see, where some states absolutely refuse to wear a mask,” he said.
Meanwhile, hospitals across America were struggling as the new coronavirus struck with a vengeance in parts of the country that had been spared the worst in the early days of the pandemic.
The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 has climbed an estimated 46 percent in the past month, straining the capacity of regional health care systems to respond to overwhelming demand, the Times reported.
Twenty-six states are at or near record numbers for new infections, the newspaper reported. More than 500,000 new cases have been announced in the past week, and no states are seeing sustained declines in case numbers.
The situation is grim in the Texas town of El Paso: The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 has more than tripled over the past three weeks, and doctors at University Medical Center there have started airlifting some patients to hospitals as far away as San Antonio while treating others in a field hospital in a nearby parking lot, the Times reported.
States, cities and towns are responding to this latest coronavirus surge with new restrictions that range from a nightly business curfew in Newark, N.J., to a two-week stay-at-home order in El Paso to a halt to indoor dining in Chicago, the Times reported.
COVID-19 continues to spread around the globe
By Friday, the U.S. coronavirus case count passed 9 million while the death toll passed 228,700, according to a Times tally.
According to the same tally, the top five states in coronavirus cases as of Friday were: Texas with over 938,600; California with nearly 927,000; Florida with over 794,600; New York with nearly 508,000; and Illinois with more than 401,600.
Curbing the spread of the coronavirus in the rest of the world remains challenging.
Europe passed 10 million cases on Friday as some countries went into new lockdowns, the AP reported.
Things are no better in India, where the coronavirus case count has passed 8 million, a Johns Hopkins tally showed.
More than 121,000 coronavirus patients have died in India, according to the Hopkins tally, but when measured as a proportion of the population, the country has had far fewer deaths than many others. Doctors say this reflects India’s younger and leaner population.
Still, the country’s public health system is severely strained, and some sick patients cannot find hospital beds, the Times said. Only the United States has more coronavirus cases.
Meanwhile, Brazil neared 5.5 million cases and had nearly 159,0000 deaths as of Friday, the Hopkins tally showed.
Cases are also spiking in Russia: The country’s coronavirus case count has neared 1.6 million. As of Friday, the reported death toll in Russia was over 27,400, the Hopkins tally showed.
Worldwide, the number of reported infections passed 45.1 million on Friday, with nearly 1.2 million deaths, according to the Hopkins tally.
SOURCES: Washington Post; The New York Times; Associated Press
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