Millions of Americans are taking to the skies and highways ahead of the Thanksgiving day holiday, posing a risk of a major virus spread around the country. The CDC is asking Americans to limit travel and stay at home this holiday season. (Nov. 25)
More than 200,000 COVID-19 cases were reported in the U.S. on Friday, an all-time high reached about three weeks after the nation first reported 100,000 daily cases on Nov. 4.
Meanwhile, the U.S. surpassed 13 million cases on Friday.
That rapid doubling, as reported by Johns Hopkins University, is reminiscent of the virus’ growth this spring, when exponential spread prompted widespread restrictions across the country in an effort to control the virus.
But this time case counts are nationwide and much higher as many state leaders are again making similar moves.
In Los Angeles County, a three-week stay-at-home order takes effect Monday. The most populous county on Friday hit an average of 4,500 cases a day over a five-day period, triggering the order.
“We know we are asking a lot from so many who have been sacrificing for months on end,” Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said. “Acting with collective urgency right now is essential if we want to put a stop to this surge.”
Here’s what to know Saturday:
- Black Friday crowds were thinner this year as shoppers increasingly turned to online deals to avoid in-person shopping. That, however, didn’t stop some shoppers from camping out to score the new Sony PlayStation 5 and Microsoft Xbox Series X, two in-demand gaming consoles.
- AstraZeneca said it plans to conduct a new global clinical trial to assess the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine’s efficacy. The news comes after the company and the university acknowledged a dosing error in trials.
- Ohio State University canceled its Saturday game against Illinoisafter more positive COVID-19 tests were discovered Friday afternoon, including Ohio State coach Ryan Day.
📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. recorded more than 13 million cases and over 264,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Worldwide, there have been over 61.7 million cases and 1.4 deaths.
🗺️ Mapping coronavirus: Track the U.S. outbreak in your state.
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The U.S. on Friday reported 200,000 COVID-19 cases in a single day, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. The U.S. reached 100,000 daily infections on Nov. 4.
When a virus’ spread becomes exponential, the human brain struggles to comprehend how quickly the growth is occurring, Columbia University’s Hod Lipson told USA TODAY in the spring. Because few things in our daily experience grow so fast, the concept is “fundamentally difficult … for the human mind to understand.”
The University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation projects estimated infections will reach about 450,000 daily cases by mid-December, more than double the number of current confirmed cases. Estimated cases, however, are often higher than confirmed ones.
That forecast also assumes social distancing mandates will be reimposed in most U.S. states at various times. If that doesn’t occur, case and death counts could be far higher.
Data from Johns Hopkins University shows that total COVID-19 deaths have been steadily increasing for months, but in recent weeks confirmed cases have been spiking rapidly.
Because deaths lag behind confirmed cases, sometimes for weeks, public health experts are warning the nation to brace for deaths to soon sharply increase as well amid a long-predicted seasonal uptick in COVID-19 spread.
“Given the experience in Europe, we expect that the increase in deaths will soon begin to match the increase in cases,” wrote the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation in a Nov. 12 briefing.
The coronavirus testing numbers that have guided much of the nation’s response to the pandemic are likely to be erratic over the next week or so, experts said Friday, as fewer people get tested during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend and testing sites observe shorter hours.
The result could be potential dips in reported infections that offer the illusion that the spread of the virus is easing when, in fact, the numbers say little about where the nation stands in fighting COVID-19. The number of Americans who have tested positive passed 13 million Friday, according to Johns Hopkins University.
“I just hope that people don’t misinterpret the numbers and think that there wasn’t a major surge as a result of Thanksgiving, and then end up making Christmas and Hanukkah and other travel plans,” said Dr. Leana Wen, a professor at George Washington University and an emergency physician.
A similar pattern unfolds on many weekends. Because some testing centers, labs and state offices are closed on Saturdays and Sundays, COVID case numbers often drop each Sunday and Monday, only to peak on Tuesday.
Dr. Mark Rupp, professor and chief of infectious diseases at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, said the effect of Thanksgiving is likely to be a magnified version of the weekend figures. The Thursday holiday will exacerbate the record-keeping discrepancies over the long weekend, artificially depressing the reported numbers for four or five days before spiking as test results catch up.
– Associated Press
Los Angeles County announced a new stay-home order Friday as coronavirus cases surge out of control in the nation’s most populous county.
The three-week order takes effect Monday, and comes as the county confirmed 24 new deaths and 4,544 new cases of COVID-19. The five-day average of new cases was 4,751.
The order advises residents to stay home “as much as possible” and to wear a face covering when they go out.
It also bans people from gathering with people who aren’t in their households, whether publicly or privately. Exceptions are made for church services and protests, “which are constitutionally protected rights,” the county Department of Public Health said in a statement. Businesses and outdoor trails are also allowed to remain open.
Last week, California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a new requirement that non-essential work, movement and gatherings stop between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. for counties in the “red tier,” which most in the state are currently under.
Ohio State University football coach Ryan Day has tested positive for COVID-19, the school announced Friday afternoon. The university also canceled its Saturday game against Illinois after more positive tests came back.
The positive test also puts him in jeopardy of missing the Buckeyes’ next game at Michigan State on Dec. 5. Big Ten coaches who test positive for COVID-19 are required to be out for 10 days, according to the conference’s protocols.
In a statement, OSU athletic director Gene Smith said the 41-year-old Day is “doing well physically,” but he did not say if he has experienced any symptoms since contracting the virus. Day is currently in isolation.
– Joey Kaufman, Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch
Republican Congresswomen-elect Lauren Boebert has drawn criticism from Colorado’s Democratic governor for saying she rebranded her Thanksgiving gathering as an animal funeral to skirt the state’s social distancing regulations.
“Congresswomen-elect Boebert is calling her Thanksgiving a ‘turkey funeral’ and hosting over 30 people. My hope and prayer is that it doesn’t turn into a real funeral for any of the attendees,” Gov. Jared Polis said on Facebook.
In most areas of the state, personal gatherings are restricted to 10 people, but funerals have less stringent rules.
On Wednesday, Boebert tweeted that she could host about 90 people if she hosted funerals for a turkey, pig and duck. Previously she suggested calling her Thanksgiving gathering a “peaceful protest in honor of my deceased turkey.”
AstraZeneca said it plans to conduct a new global clinical trial to assess the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine’s efficacy. The news comes after the company and the university acknowledged a dosing error in trials.
It’s not clear what effect, if any, these results will have on a separate, 30,000-person trial underway of the candidate vaccine in the United States.
All 11,000 people who have participated in the U.S. trial so far have received two equal doses of the vaccine, said Moncef Slaoui, co-director of Operation Warp Speed, the Trump administration program to develop, manufacture and distribute COVID-19 vaccines.
AstraZeneca said an additional trial shouldn’t delay regulatory approval in Britain or the European Union – but the U.S. Food and Drug Administration could take longer.
Unlike the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, the Oxford-AstraZeneca shot does not need to be stored at freezer temperatures, making it easier to distribute. AstraZeneca has agreed not to profit from its vaccine during the pandemic.
The United Kingdom’s chief medical officer, Chris Whitty, cautioned families over the holidays not to hug their elderly relatives “if you want them to survive to be hugged again” beyond the holidays.
The nation has granted its residents permission to congregate among themselves in a “Christmas bubble” of up to three households and eight people from Dec. 23 to 27. The lax holiday restrictions, however, will likely lead to an uptick in COVID-19 cases in the United Kingdom.
– Joshua Bote
Thanksgiving may be the beginning of a dark holiday season as the surge in coronavirus cases is likely to persist, or even get worse, through December, January and February.
“If the surge takes a turn of continuing to go up and you have the sustained greater than 100,000 infections a day and 1,300 deaths per day and the count keeps going up and up … I don’t see it being any different during the Christmas and New Year’s holidays than during Thanksgiving,” Dr. Anthony Fauci said in an interview with USA TODAY last week.
The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director said the country is in a vulnerable position heading into the holiday season because infections are too high to control a likely winter surge.
Ali Mokdad, professor of health metrics sciences at the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluations and chief strategy officer for population health at the University of Washington, said, “We need to be extra careful these upcoming extra couple of weeks in order to avoid pain and suffering.”
– Adrianna Rodriguez
COVID-19 resources from USA TODAY
Contributing: The Associated Press, Karen Weintraub
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