October 22, 2020
US reaches 8M coronavirus cases; infections surge in Europe
The U.S. is now the only country to reach 8 million cases of the Coronavirus, less than a month after reaching 7 million, amid a surge that has resulted in higher case counts in 41 states over the last week, according to a USA TODAY analysis.

Due to COVID-19 cases surging nationwide, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, cautioned against throwing large celebrations for Thanksgiving, calling it "a risk" to gather in indoor settings with people from out-of-town. His own family, he shared, is canceling plans.

The U.S. has reported more than 8 million cases and 217,700 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins data. There have been more than 38.9 million confirmed cases around the world and nearly 1.1 million deaths. A USA TODAY analysis found 14 states set records for new cases in a week while two states had a record number of deaths in a week.

COVID-19 cases in US grow at a speed not seen since July, the summer peak

Eighteen days from the presidential election, the U.S. has more confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths than any other country, and cases are growing at a speed not seen since the summer peak.

At the current rate of growth, the nation could set a weekly case count record within the first few days of November, according to a USA TODAY analysis of data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. But if the spread of cases picks up momentum – as was seen in late June and July, the U.S. could set a weekly case record in little more than a week.

"I don't think it's out of the question. Yesterday, we had about 50,000 new cases," Caitlin Rivers, an epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins, said Thursday. "It's not crazy to think that we would get there sooner than we would all like."

The U.S. added more than 373,000 cases in the past week, a number nearly 46,000 higher than the tally the previous week, which is a speed of growth not seen since July.

"We're going to have a huge increase as we head into the colder months, and this could be potentially the worst part of the epidemic in the U.S., both in terms of new cases and even deaths," said Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at the Baylor College of Medicine in Texas. "Our lives will get better as we get vaccines early next year, but we’re going to go through a very troubled time."

Cases are surging across the Midwest at a blistering pace: North Dakota reported cases at a speed a third faster, on a per capita basis, than any U.S. state experienced in the worst of the spring or summer surges.

South Dakota and Montana are also ahead of the summer records, while Wisconsin is not far below, a data visualization of Johns Hopkins University by University of Illinois computer scientist Wade Fagen-Ulmschneider shows.

Fauci: Having a big Thanksgiving celebration is 'a risk'

You may need to cancel any big Thanksgiving plans this year, warns Dr. Anthony Fauci, the United States’ leading infectious disease expert.

Speaking to “CBS Evening News,” Fauci cautioned against “gathering together in an indoor setting” with large groups of out-of-town guests. “It is unfortunate because that’s such a sacred part of American tradition, the family gathering around Thanksgiving,” he said. “But that is a risk.”

He added that his own family is canceling its Thanksgiving plans due to his age putting him at a higher risk of COVID-19.

Trump vows to deliver vaccine to nursing homes at no cost

Americans living or working in long-term care facilities, including nursing homes and assisted care living centers, will receive COVID-19 vaccinations for free, if and when they become available, the Trump administration said Friday.

The administration announced a partnership with the nation's two largest drug store chains, CVS and Walgreens, "to provide and administer" the vaccines with "no out-of-pocket costs" for the recipients.

Trump, 74, vowed a vaccine would be available before the end of the year, despite his own federal health experts saying that timeline is highly unlikely, and that senior citizens would be "first in line."

How can I stay safe indoors from the coronavirus during cold seasons?

What makes congregating indoors so dangerous? Dr. Lewis Nelson, professor and chair of emergency medicine at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, said one of the main reasons there’s a higher risk of transmission indoors than outdoors is lack of ventilation. Additionally, indoor public places have more surfaces.

“If I were to smoke a cigarette (inside), you would see the smoke particles linger,” he said. “Whereas outdoors the smoke kind of leaves."

Ventilation can be increased by opening a window, turning on a fan or even adding a portable air filter to a room. Most portable air filters can’t filter out virus particles if they don’t have HEPA filtration, but they still facilitate air circulation. Reducing the number of people in an indoor space also helps.

WHO study finds remdesivir has 'little to no' benefit for COVID-19 patients

The effectiveness of remdesivir, an experimental drug that was part of President Donald Trump’s COVID-19 treatment plan, has been put into question after a massive World Health Organization study of more than 10,000 patients in 30 countries found ”little or no effect.”

Researchers, per the pre-print study, also studied hydroxychloroquine, the controversial anti-malarial drug repeatedly touted by Trump despite warnings by public health officials, anti-HIV medication lopinavir, which was used in the SARS outbreak, and interferon.

None of the medications had major benefits for mortality levels, ventilation rates or hospitalization length.

The drug’s manufacturer Gilead, in a statement, questioned the findings, calling their data “inconsistent” and citing other studies that proved the drug’s effectiveness. The FDA granted the drug an emergency use authorization in late August.

Coronavirus study: Air on planes is safer than homes or operating rooms

A new study conducted for the Department of Defense adds credence to the growing belief that airline passengers face minimal risk of contracting coronavirus when flying.

The study found the risk of aerosol dispersion, transmission of the virus through the air, was reduced 99.7% thanks to high air exchange rates, HEPA-filtered recirculation and downward ventilation found on modern jets.

Investigators looked at the impact of an infected passenger on others seated in the same row and those nearby in the cabins of Boeing 767s and 777s. Those two aircraft types are widebodies typically used for long-haul flights where a virus would be expected to spread more easily.

The study was conducted by a team that included members from United Airlines, Boeing, the University of Nebraska Medical Center, National Strategic Research Institute and research firms. It was prepared for two military agencies that move people and cargo, the U.S. Transportation Command and the Air Force's Air Mobility Command.

Canada-US border will stay closed until America gets COVID-19 under control

Don't bet on the U.S.-Canadian border reopening after the closure agreement expires Oct. 21.

In an interview Wednesday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his country is committed to keeping the border closed until the United States gets control of COVID-19.

"The U.S. is not in a place where we would feel comfortable reopening those borders," he told the hosts of "Smart Start," which airs on Canada's Global Television Network. “We will continue to make sure that Canadian safety is top of mind when we move forward. We see the cases in the United States and elsewhere around the world, and we need to continue to keep these border controls in place."

In the past week, 13 states, including Alaska, Minnesota, Montana and North Dakota, which border Canada, topped their own records for new cases in a seven-day period. North Dakota, which shares a 310-mile-long border with its northern neighbor, reports cases at a speed one-third faster on a per capita basis than any U.S. state experienced in the worst of the spring or summer surges.

According to the Canadian government, the country reported nearly 31,000 new cases and 372 deaths in the past two weeks. Cumulatively, it has had more than 193,000 cases and almost 9,750 deaths. The provinces of Quebec, which reported more than 7,000 new cases in the past week, and Ontario, which counted nearly 5,500, are in the worst shape, according to New York Times data.

Infections surge in Europe, record daily case counts

Coronavirus cases around the world have climbed to all-time highs of more than 330,000 per day. In addition to the United States, concern is largely focused around Europe, as Dr. Hans Henri P. Kluge, regional director for the World Health Organization in Europe, warns that the daily death toll on the continent could reach five times its April peak by January 2021.

Well after Europe seemed to have largely tamed the virus that proved so lethal last spring, newly confirmed infections are reaching unprecedented levels in Germany, Czech Republic, Italy and Poland. Most of the rest of the continent is seeing similar danger signs, forcing many places to reimpose tough restrictions eased just months ago.

"These projections do nothing but confirm what we always said: the pandemic won’t reverse its course on its own, but we will," Kluge said on Oct. 15. Source: USA Today)
Story Date: October 18, 2020
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