By Ciara Linnane, MarketWatch
The U.S. recorded the highest number of deaths from the coronavirus illness COVID-19 since May on Tuesday, and continues to average close to 200,000 new cases a day, with hospitals across the nation reporting exhausted health-care workers and steadily filling intensive-care units.
The U.S. added 176,439 new cases on Tuesday, according to a New York Times tracker, and at least 2,203 patients died, the most since early May, and close to the record of 2,603 fatalities recorded on April 15. Nine states — Ohio, Washington, Indiana, Missouri, Wisconsin, Oregon, Maine, Alaska and North Dakota — had record fatalities, according to a Washington Post analysis. The U.S. has averaged 175,270 cases a day for the past week.
The U.S. continues to lead the world by case numbers at 12.6 million and fatalities at 260,591, according to data aggregated by Johns Hopkins University. By comparison, the regular flu season has caused between 12,000 and 61,000 deaths annually since 2010, according to CDC data.
“One of the ways we think the Midwest was seeded with virus over the summer was with the Sturgis, South Dakota, motorcycle rally, where people were infected and then dispersed out through the Midwest. Now imagine that on a massive scale, with people leaving from every airport in the United States and carrying virus with them.”
Dr. Jonathan Reiner, professor of medicine, George Washington University
“The region of the Americas reported increases in both new cases and new deaths and the region continues to account for the greatest proportion of cumulative cases and deaths,” the World Health Organization said in its weekly epidemiological update.
Public health officials continue to worry that tomorrow’s Thanksgiving holiday will lead to another surge in infections if people gather in close quarters in large numbers and households mingle.
Dr. Jonathan Reiner, a professor of medicine at George Washington University told CNN.com the holiday is “potentially the mother of all superspreader events.
“One of the ways we think the Midwest was seeded with virus over the summer was with the Sturgis, South Dakota, motorcycle rally, where people were infected and then dispersed out through the Midwest. Now imagine that on a massive scale, with people leaving from every airport in the United States and carrying virus with them,” he said.
Flight data shows there were 6,972 active flights in the skies above North America at noon Tuesday, close to the 7,630 that were counted the same day a year ago.
The Transportation Security Administration, TSA, said it screened more than 3 million travelers at its checkpoints on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, the busiest travel weekend in eight months.
Following a spate of positive news on possible COVID-19 vaccines, health experts are urging Americans to keep up their guard and comply with safety measures, encouraging caution now that vaccination may be just months away for many.
Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine and professor of pediatrics and molecular virology and microbiology at Baylor College of Medicine, said Americans should continue physical distancing and wearing face masks.
“Don’t be lax with it now, especially with the holidays,” Hotez said in an interview on NPR. “It’s especially tragic if one of your loved one loses their life or has permanent, long-lasting injury during this period because it’s just a matter of staying disciplined for the next couple of months and getting them to the other side.”
Elsewhere, there are growing concerns that the U.S. testing and contact tracing system is breaking down under the weight of steadily growing new case numbers. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention seemed to acknowledge the challenge this week, when it released new guidance on Monday.
The agency is now advising states to prioritize people who tested positive for COVID-19 in the past six days and focus on their immediate household contacts, people living, working or visiting “congregate living facilities, high density workplaces or other settings (or events) with potential extensive transmission.”
People who test positive should self-quarantine immediately and notify their own contacts, the guidelines say.
As Thanksgiving Nears, States Impose New Covid-19 Restrictions
As the holidays approach and coronavirus cases continue to rise in the U.S., states from the coasts to the Midwest are enforcing new restrictions to get the surge in infections under control. Photo: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg
In other news:
• The U.S. government plans to initially roll out 6.4 million doses of a Covid-19 vaccine next month, while it is confident in meeting its goal of distributing about 40 million doses by the end of the year, federal officials said Tuesday, according to The Wall Street Journal. Two leading vaccines, from Moderna Inc. /zigman2/quotes/205619834/composite MRNA +12.20% and Pfizer Inc. /zigman2/quotes/202877789/composite PFE +2.00% and partner BioNTech SE /zigman2/quotes/214419716/composite BNTX +2.00% , have shown to be about 95% effective at protecting against Covid-19. Pfizer has asked for U.S. regulators to grant an emergency use authorization while Moderna’s request should come in the coming weeks.
• United Parcel Service. Inc. /zigman2/quotes/201245396/composite UPS +1.74% is enhancing its ability to produce dry ice, and its health business has partnered with freezer and refrigeration company Stirling Ultracold to provide ultra-low temperature freezers that reach a range of -20°C to -80°C. UPS will now produce 1,200 lbs. of dry ice every hour in the U.S. and Canada. The improvements are intended to aid in the storage and transport of COVID-19 vaccines when the time comes, the company said. The partnership with Stirling Ultracold is through UPS Healthcare, which handles the packaging and shipping of medical devices, labs and clinical trial logistics.
• Germany suffered a record of 410 COVID-19 deaths on Tuesday, according to the Robert Koch Institute in Berlin, broadcaster Deutsche Welle reported . The institute said there were 18,663 new infections, boosting the total to 961,320. At least 14,771 Germans have died since the start of the outbreak. Chancellor Angela Merkel is to meet with state leaders later Wednesday to discuss the country’s strategy for dealing with the virus through the end of the year.
• Officials in the island of Sicily have asked Cuba’s government to send 60 health-care workers, including doctors and nurses, as hospitals struggle with a shortage of medical workers, the Guardian reported. The request was sent to the Italian embassy in Cuba this week, according to Italian newspaper la Repubblica. There were 48 COVID-19 deaths in Sicily on Tuesday, according to the report, the most since the start of the outbreak.