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November 12 coronavirus news

'It's a slaughter': Doctor reacts to US Covid-19 numbers
02:09

What you need to know

  • More than 50 million cases of Covid-19 have been recorded worldwide.
  • 25% of all deaths in France right now are due to the pandemic.
  • The US has surpassed 10.5 million cases and 240,000 deaths, with several states breaking daily case records. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention projects there will be up to 282,000 US coronavirus deaths by December 5.
  • Pharma companies Medicago and GlaxoSmithKline announced Thursday that their experimental coronavirus vaccine was entering Phase 2 and 3 clinical trials.

Our live coverage of the coronavirus pandemic has moved here.

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"Targeted vaccinations” to begin in December and January, leading to widespread vaccination by April, says HHS secretary

All Americans who want to get a Covid-19 will be able to do so by April, US Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said Thursday.

“Initially, in December and January, we’re going to be having very targeted vaccinations, also helped in large part by some of our largest chains, like Walgreens and CVS,” Azar told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer in an interview.

The US does not have an authorized coronavirus vaccine yet. But one vaccine maker, Pfizer, reported promising early data on Monday and officials widely expect the company to be able to apply for US Food and Drug Administration emergency use authorization before the end of this month. 

Azar said HHS believes there will be enough vaccine for “all of our most vulnerable citizens” to get vaccinated in December, followed by “all of our senior citizens, as well as our emergency first responders and our health care workers” in January. 

HHS announced Thursday that it is partnering with large chain pharmacies and networks to increase access to an expected Covid-19 vaccine.

“It’s really during those stages that this broad community pharmacy program will be available,” Azar added.

Pfizer’s vaccine must be stored at -94 Fahrenheit (-70 Celsius), far below the capacity of standard freezers. That could pose significant storage and distribution challenges.

Azar said other vaccine candidates are coming soon that he hopes “will have a lesser cold chain, just simple freezer requirements, for instance, that will enable that type of vaccination program.” 

Watch the moment:

01:05

"You are in my heart," said nurse who died from Covid-19 in final video message to family

Sergio Hernandez, a nurse who contracted Covid-19, became a patient in his own hospital.

Just before he was intubated, he recorded a video message for his family in an effort to reassure them that he’d be all right.

“I will recover, God willing. We will move forward. I will see you again, friends, family … I know you will be praying for me,” he said in the video, which was translated from Spanish. “I love you and you are in my heart.”

Just hours later, he died. Hernandez, 28, leaves behind a wife and five-year-old son.

“His son was his life. Everything he did, all of his efforts, all of the risks he took, it was all for him, his son, and his family,” his cousin Adalberto Hernandez said on Anderson Cooper Full Circle.

Sergio Hernandez lost his sister to Covid-19 and helped his mother and another sister recover from their own battles with the virus.

“After nursing them at home he decided to then go risk his life to help others battling Covid at the same hospital that he would end up passing.”

Watch Adalberto Hernandez describe his cousin who died from Covid-19:

02:25

US surpasses record Covid-19 hospitalizations for the third consecutive day

A medical staff member walks in the Covid-19 intensive care unit (ICU) at the United Memorial Medical Center (UMMC) on November 10, in Houston, Texas.

The United States currently has more people hospitalized with Covid-19 than ever before, according to the Covid Tracking Project (CTP).

There were 67,096 people in hospital on Thursday across the entire United States, according to the CTP. This is now the third consecutive day that that nation has topped 60,000 current hospitalizations.

Last Thursday, the US reported 53,322 current hospitalizations.

Eighteen states and one US territory reported record high Covid-19 hospitalizations Thursday, according to the CTP.

Those states are: Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Utah, West Virginia, Wyoming and Puerto Rico.

Record high hospitalizations are expected to continue as new Covid-19 cases continue to skyrocket.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio: "We have a second wave bearing down on us"

Mayor of New York City Bill de Blasio attends the opening of the Bank of America 'Winter Village' at Bryant Park on November 5, in New York City.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio warned today that a second wave of coronavirus is headed for the city, but said if New Yorkers practice proper social distancing the wave could still be stopped. 

“We have a second wave bearing down on us but we can stop that second wave,” he said, in response to a question from CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on whether or not he would shut down schools if more than 3% of Covid-19 tests came back positive, as he promised to in the summer. The current positive rate over a seven day rolling period is 2.6%.

“We’ve proven there’s a formula for beating this virus and getting the people fully engaged because when people decide they are going to change their behavior that’s when you beat back the virus,” said the mayor.

De Blasio said New Yorkers could stop the second wave by refraining from holiday travel and large gatherings and by wearing masks. 

The economy as we knew it might be over, US Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell says

The Covid-19 pandemic brought the US economy to a screeching halt, and while it has started its long road to recovery, the economy we knew is probably a thing of the past, said Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell on Thursday.

“We’re recovering, but to a different economy,” Powell said during a virtual panel discussion at the European Central Bank’s Forum on Central Banking.

The pandemic has accelerated existing trends in the economy and society, including the increasing use of technology, telework and automation, he said. This will have lasting effects on how people live and work.

While technological advances are generally positive for societies over the long term, Powell said, on a short-term basis they create disruption, and as the market adjusts to the new normal the pain isn’t shared evenly.

For example, it’s likely that lower-paid workers, as well as those in jobs requiring face-to-face interactions, such as retail or restaurant workers, will shoulder most of the burden of this shift. These groups, heavily skewed towards women and minorities, have already been among those most affected by pandemic layoffs, Powell said.

The post-pandemic economy is also at risk of being less productive: women have been forced to quit their jobs due to child care responsibilities during the crisis, and children aren’t getting the education they deserve, Powell said.

Read more of Powell’s remarks here:

Jerome Powell 1105 RESTRICTED

The economy as we knew it might be over, Fed Chairman says

A multiple sclerosis drug may help coronavirus patients recover

A drug normally prescribed to treat multiple sclerosis helped reduce the risk of severe disease from Covid-19, British researchers reported Thursday.

But more research is needed to show whether the drug, which calms down the immune system, can really help people with severe coronavirus infections.

The researchers found British biotechnology company Synairgen’s new experimental version of interferon beta-1a, repurposed to treat Covid-19, increased the odds of improvement and recovery among hospitalized Covid-19 patients in a Phase 2 trial.

“SNG001 reduced the odds of developing severe disease or dying by 79%,” the researchers wrote in the journal The Lancet Respiratory Medicine.

SNG001 is an inhaled formula of interferon beta-1a, typically used to decrease inflammation and reduce the nerve damage caused by multiple sclerosis. In the trial, SNG001 was administered to 48 patients using a nebulizer while 50 patients received the placebo.

After two weeks, patients who got the daily treatment were twice as likely to show signs of recovery by day 15 or 16 and more than three times as likely to improve by day 28 than those who got placebo, the researchers found. However, “there was no significant difference between treatment groups in the odds of hospital discharge or time to hospital discharge,” the researchers wrote.

Read more:

This scanning electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2 (orange)—also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus that causes COVID-19—isolated from a patient in the U.S., emerging from the surface of cells (green) cultured in the lab. Credit: NIAID-RML

Multiple sclerosis drug helps coronavirus patients recover, study suggests

Maine wedding reception linked to outbreak in long-term care facility and correctional facility, CDC study says

A wedding reception in Maine led to three separate Covid-19 outbreaks that infected 117 people, putting three into the hospital and killing seven more, health investigators reported Thursday.

None of those who got seriously ill or died even went to the wedding, and many lived 100 miles away. It is a case study of how failure to follow social distancing and masking guidelines can have far-reaching consequences, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in its weekly report.

“The bride, groom, and groom’s family (seven persons) traveled from California to Maine on August 6,” the researchers wrote. No one quarantined. But the index patient, the researchers said, was a Maine resident whose symptoms began the day after the wedding.

The wedding reception took place on August 7 and included 55 people. Maine guidelines allow no more than 50 people at an indoor gathering. Guests were seated 6-8 people per table, and remained in close contact during the event. 

While event staff conducted temperature checks and wore masks, further mitigation efforts fell by the wayside. “Although the facility had signs posted at the entrance instructing visitors to wear masks, guests did not comply with this requirement nor maintain a physical distance of at least six feet, and staff members did not enforce these measures,” the researcher wrote. 

Five days after the wedding, the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention received reports that two guests had tested positive. Thirty guests and vendors eventually tested positive for Covid-19 within two weeks of the reception. The small town where the wedding was held had not seen a single case of Covid-19 before the wedding, but afterwards, 27 citizens who had not attended the wedding tested positive, and one died.

One guest who tested positive developed a cough, yet attended an in-person school meeting, taking no precautions. Later, two school staff members tested positive, and school openings were delayed for two weeks while exposed staff quarantined. 

But the spread went even further afield.

“In addition to the community outbreak, secondary and tertiary transmission led to outbreaks at a long-term care facility 100 miles away and at a correctional facility approximately 200 miles away,” wrote the researchers. 

One wedding guest infected a parent who worked at the long-term care facility and one guest worked at the corrections facility. Both continued to work while experiencing Covid-19 symptoms that included cough, fever, and a loss of taste. The outbreak at the corrections facility infected 82 people, most of them staff, while the outbreak at the care facility infected 38. Three care facility residents were hospitalized, and six died. 

Conditions within the corrections facility also likely aided viral spread. “The facility had not implemented daily symptom screening for staff members or enforced regular use of masks after the first case was identified,” said the authors. The corrections facility did eventually practice these measures after the outbreak began.

The total toll is likely an undercount, the researchers said, because the investigators never were given a guest list to track down everyone who may have been affected. 

Longest-serving member of Congress diagnosed with Covid-19 at age 87

Rep. Don Young speaks with reporters at the Alaska Division of Elections on June 28, 2019 in Anchorage, Alaska.

The longest-serving member of Congress, 87-year-old Don Young, says he has been diagnosed with Covid-19.

Young was first elected as Alaska’s at-large member of the House of Representatives in a 1973 special election and was just reelected to his 25th consecutive term.

Young is the oldest member of Congress in either chamber.

His age puts him at a very high risk category for the virus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines state: “The greatest risk for severe illness from Covid-19 is among those aged 85 or older.”

Chicago issues stay at home advisory as cases rise in the city

Chicago has issued a stay-at-home advisory, as Covid-19 cases continue to rise throughout the city.

According to a release announcing the advisory, residents are encouraged to stay at home, only leaving for school or work and for essential needs. That includes seeking medical care, grocery shopping, going to the pharmacy, and picking up food.

The advisory goes into effect on Monday, November 16 and will remain in place for 30 days.

Residents are also “strongly advised” to not have guests in their homes outside of essential workers like home healthcare providers or childcare workers, cancel traditional Thanksgiving celebrations and to avoid travel. 

Chicago has 122,712 total cases since the start of the pandemic, according to the dashboard. The most recent 7-day positivity rate is now at 14.1%, up from 10.9% the previous week.

These numbers were released by the Chicago Department of Public Health and may not line up exactly in real time with CNN’s database drawn from Johns Hopkins University and the Covid Tracking Project     

This Thanksgiving, "separation should be the norm," says infectious diseases expert

This Thanksgiving “separation should be the norm,” Dr. William Schaffner, professor of infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University, said Thursday.

As much as people may want to gather together this Thanksgiving, Schaffner told CNN’s Jake Tapper, the safest thing to do is stay separate and connect with loved ones virtually. 

For those planning to gather with people outside of their households, Schaffner advised a 14-day quarantine – beginning today.

“Fourteen days tight quarantine is pretty good assurance,” he said. “If you can get a test in there before Thanksgiving, even better,”

“It’s 14 days, because that’s the incubation period of the virus,” Schaffner added. “Should you be infected today, you’ll become sick sometime during that 14 days.”

Experts have advised that people avoid travel as much as possible this holiday season. 

For those who must travel, “traveling by car is much less risky, because you have total control of the environment,” Schaffner said.

Los Angeles Health Director Barbara Ferrer said college students should not plan on returning home for Thanksgiving. If they do, they should stay home for the duration of the winter holidays.

“None of this is easy, but it’s all doable,” she said. “These sacrifices help us get our children back to school and keep our businesses open. Please choose to be part of the solution because it’s going to take all of us to avoid increased heartbreak.”

Mississippi Governor says "we're not going to participate in a nationwide lockdown"

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves speaks during a press conference at the White House on September 28 in Washington, DC.

Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves said the state would not participate in a nationwide lockdown and that he believes not much will change with respect to the virus if Joe Biden “ultimately becomes the next president.”

“The fact is, that we’re going to try to work with whomever the president is, but we’re not going to participate in a nationwide lockdown,” the Republican Governor said. “This notion that one of his advisors has said that all we really need is about a six-week national lockdown and we can slow down the spread of this virus, is totally and completely beyond reasonableness.” 

Reeves said while the federal government may make recommendations, under the Stafford Act when you have emergencies, they have to be state managed, locally executed, and federally supported. 

“And so I don’t believe that there’s any constitutional or statutory authority for any president to shut down Mississippi’s economy. We will certainly fight that, if it becomes a necessary,” the governor added.

Reeves said it had been “a particularly difficult week for me and for my family” after his youngest daughter Maddie tested positive for Covid-19 yesterday, amid “significantly higher numbers of cases in our state.”

Reeves said Maddie was recovering well and that his two oldest daughters have “basically been in self-isolation” since the middle of last week, because of a potential exposure.

The state’s Department of Health reported 1,271 new cases of Covid-19 Thursday, for a total of 130,665 cases, and 17 new Covid-19 related deaths, for a total of 3,514 deaths.

Georgia Secretary of State in quarantine after wife tests positive for Covid-19 

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger speaks during a news conference on November 11 in Atlanta.

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger is in quarantine after his wife tested positive for Covid-19, according to his office.    

“The office is confirming that Secretary Raffensperger is being tested for Covid and will work from quarantine following a positive test for his wife. Per personnel procedures, his staff that works in his Capitol office have all been advised to be tested and to work from home. The critical job of the county-conducted election audit of every ballot will continue on schedule,” said a written statement from Raffensperger’s spokesperson.

Raffensperger announced Wednesday that there will be a full hand recount of the presidential race in the state, where President-elect Biden is clinging to a small lead. 

First cruise ship to sail the Caribbean since the pandemic has up to 5 Covid-19 cases on board

File photo of the SeaDream 1.

A cruise ship remains docked in Barbados on Thursday as passengers and crew undergo testing following the confirmation of coronavirus cases on board. 

Five people aboard the SeaDream 1 cruise ship have tested positive for Covid-19, the ship’s captain said in an announcement, according to passenger Ben Hewitt.

The SeaDream Yacht Club said in a news release that “guests” have tested positive for the virus, but did not specify the number. It said that all guests and non-essential crew are quarantining in their rooms. It is not clear how long they will be doing so.

SeaDream 1 is the first cruise ship to embark on a voyage in the Caribbean since the coronavirus shut down the cruise industry. The trip was meant to show how increased safety protocols could allow operations to restart. Many of the passengers are journalists and bloggers invited to cover the week-long trip. 

On Wednesday the ship’s captain announced one of the 53 passengers had felt ill and tested positive for coronavirus, and that the ship was returning to Barbados where it is based, according to Gene Sloan, a passenger on SeaDream 1 and senior reporter for the Points Guy travel website.  

“The captain in his announcement told us somebody had tested positive, asked us to immediately go back to our cabins where we would isolate and also that all non-essential crew would isolate,” Sloan said. 

Sloan recorded an announcement from the captain on Thursday saying all 66 crew members had tested negative for the coronavirus. 

Sloan said crew members told him that if all other passengers tested negative they might be able to leave their cabins soon and disembark from the ship in the coming days.  

Coronavirus cases "skyrocketing" in US as states report record infections, deaths and hospitalizations

Covid-19 cases are “skyrocketing” in parts of the US as more states report records and battle to bring infection rates under control.

The United States has now reported at least 10,523,260 cases and 242,577 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University figures – and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention projects there will be up to 282,000 US coronavirus deaths by December 5.

New Mexico

New Mexico set a record with 1,753 new cases Thursday, its highest daily total during the pandemic and a 17% increase on yesterday’s record figure.

New Mexico also set a single-day record for coronavirus deaths, with the Department of Health reporting 18. The state has reported 1,176 Covid-related deaths and 60,776 cases.

Oregon

The state broke three of its records Thursday – the most new Covid-19 cases, the most patients in hospital and the most in intensive care units.

It reported 1,693 new Covid-19 cases, 361 suspected or confirmed coronavirus patients hospitalized and 94 patients in ICU beds, according to its data dashboard.

Oregon has had 77,121 cases of Covid-19 and 733 deaths from the disease since the pandemic began.

Maryland

Covid-19 hospitalizations in Maryland have increased 53% over the past two weeks, Governor Larry Hogan said in a Thursday news conference.

There are 863 people hospitalized for Covid-19, the highest since June 11, Hogan added. There are 199 people in the ICU with Covid-19, the highest number since June 25, he said.

Maryland has 1,477 new Covid-19 cases in the past 24 hours for a total of 159,900, and 12 deaths for a total of 4,112 deaths.

Maryland in now in the red zone, according to federal government designations, with an average of 22.8 Covid-19 cases per 100,000 people.

Michigan

Cases of Covid-19 are “skyrocketing” in the state of Michigan, Governor Gretchen Whitmer said in a Thursday news conference.

“I’m not going to sugarcoat this,” Whitmer said, “We are in the worst part of this pandemic to date.”

Covid-19 hospitalizations have increased fivefold in as many weeks, and are expected to double within the next two weeks, she said. The state’s chief medical officer, Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, said the positivity rate was at 10.8%.

“The curve that we had flattened? Right now that curve is a straight line, and it is straight up,” Whitmer said. “Our hospitals are nearing capacity, and they are burning through PPE.”

Texas 

The Texas Department of State Health Services said on Twitter Thursday that the state is in a “serious fight” with Covid-19. 

The Texas DSHS urged residents to wear masks and gather virtually where possible, saying the state faced “a dangerous winter as more people head indoors and with an already high amount of COVID cases and hospitalizations.”

Texas reported 5,756 new Covid-19 cases Thursday, bringing the total number of cases to 993,841 in the state. It also reported 143 new COVID-19 related deaths, bringing the total number of coronavirus related fatalities to 19,147 in the state. Johns Hopkins University figures yesterday showed the state had the first to tally more than 1 million infections.

There are currently 6,925 lab-confirmed Covid-19 patients in Texas hospitals. 

Track the spread of the virus in the US here:

Symptom-based screenings for Covid-19 are ineffective, a CDC study of airport screenings found

A traveler is checked with a handheld thermometer at Los Angeles International Airport on June 24 in Los Angeles, California.

Temperature and symptom-based screening programs don’t help catch coronavirus cases, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a new report that took a closer look at the programs used at US airports until mid-September. 

In January, the CDC started an enhanced screening program for air passengers arriving from certain countries with widespread transmission of the novel coronavirus. 

The goal was to find travelers who were sick and separate them from other passengers; to share information with travelers about self-monitoring; and to get their contact information that could be shared with the passenger’s local public health department. 

The CDC said this was a resource-intensive program that had a low case detection rate. Between January 17 and September 13, the CDC screened more than 766,000 travelers. Nearly 300 met the criteria for public health assessment, 35 were tested for the coronavirus, and 9 tested positive. That means the program identified about one case per 85,000 travelers screened, the CDC reported Thursday in the agency’s weekly report.

This style of screening doesn’t seem to work for a few reasons. Covid-19 has a wide range of nonspecific symptoms common to other infections; there are a high number of asymptomatic cases; travelers may deny symptoms or take steps to avoid detection; and passenger data was limited.

The CDC also only shared contact information with local health departments for 68% of the passengers it screened. There were data collection problems, the report said, and some states opted out of receiving the information.   

The CDC ended the program September 14. Instead, the CDC has concentrated on communicating more with travelers to promote recommended preventive measures. The agency has also enhanced the public health response capacity at ports of entry. 

The CDC said travelers and their local communities would be better protected if there was “more efficient” collection of contact information for international air passengers before they arrive and real-time data that could be sent to US health departments. Pre-departure testing within 72 hours before the trip, and post-arrival testing would help, as would rules that would encourage a traveler to self-isolate for a certain period.

CDC projects up to 282,000 US Covid-19 deaths by December 5

An ensemble forecast published Thursday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now projects there will be 260,000 to 282,000 coronavirus deaths in the United States by December 5.

What it means: Unlike some individual models, the CDC’s ensemble forecast only offers projections a few weeks into the future. The previous ensemble forecast, published November 5, projected up to 266,000 coronavirus deaths by November 28.

At least 242,557 people have already died from Covid-19 in the United States, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

CNN is tracking the spread of US coronavirus cases here:

Walgreens, CVS and other chains partner with government to increase access to Covid-19 vaccines

People cross the street near a Walgreens store on September 30 in New York City.

The US Department of Health and Human Services announced Thursday it is partnering with large chain pharmacies and networks that represent independent pharmacies to increase vaccine access in anticipation of a Covid-19 vaccine authorization or approval.

Walmart, Walgreens, Kroger, CVS, Costco, Publix Super Markets Inc. and others have signed onto the agreement as of November 6, HHS said. The pharmacy partnership covers about 60% of pharmacies in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.

HHS Services Secretary Alex Azar said the agreement will take advantage of this existing private sector infrastructure to get vaccines out to communities as quickly as possible for no out-of-pocket cost.

“The vast majority of Americans live within five miles of a pharmacy, and our new agreement with pharmacy partners across America is a critical step toward making sure all Americans have access to safe and effective Covid-19 vaccines,” Azar said in a statement.

Paul Ostrowski, director of distribution for Operation Warp Speed, told CNN that he wanted “to make the distribution of this just as easy as a normal influenza vaccine.”

“We’re ready to go today, and one has to look no further than their local drugstore today,” he said.

The first vaccine expected to receive authorization, made by Pfizer, is different from the flu vaccine – or any other vaccine – in one important way. It has to be stored at minus 75 degrees Celsius, which is 50 degrees colder than any other vaccine in the United States. Doctors’ offices and pharmacies do not have freezers that go nearly that low. 

Pfizer is supplying “thermal shippers” for the vaccine that must be replenished with dry ice. Ostrowski said UPS would provide dry ice reshipments throughout the US upon demand, although he did not say how this would be funded.

“We’re not going to send a vaccine to a place that can’t administer it,” said Ostrowski. “We’re going to push those vaccines to places where we know that they can either have storage or we will refill them with dry ice as necessary throughout the process.”

He noted that the vaccine can be stored in regular refrigeration for up to five days.

CNN previously reported that in a letter on October 26, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) asked states to be ready to receive Pfizer’s vaccine by November 15. State officials interviewed by CNN said it was unlikely they could be. 

A review by CNN of the 46 state vaccine plans that are online shows only a few states have detailed plans for maintaining the vaccine’s ultra-low temperature storage.  

Ostrowski said strike teams from the CDC were being deployed to make sure states were ready, and that states have been provided access to major pharmacies, “which are very, very good at administering vaccines.”

Ostrowski, a retired Army lieutenant general, said that “within 24 hours” of the FDA granting emergency authorization for a vaccine, “our trucks will be rolling.”   

States shatter Covid-19 records as US reports more than 10.5 million cases and 240,000 deaths

RN Treva Rivers administers a Covid-19 test at FirstEnergy Stadium in Reading, Pennsylvania, on October 13.

US states continue to shatter records for coronavirus cases and hospitalizations as the country reported more than 10.5 million infections and at least 242,310 deaths, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University (JHU).

JHU reported 89,206 new cases and 400 deaths so far today from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and other US territories, as well as repatriated cases.

Here are just some of the stark figures:

Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania reported its highest daily increase in Covid-19 cases Thursday, with 5,488 new infections and 49 deaths, according to the state’s Department of Health.

The statewide total now stands at 248,856 Covid-19 cases and about 13,202 of the total cases are among healthcare workers, according to the release.

The total deaths in the state attributed to Covid-19 stands at 9,194

The Pennsylvania Department of Health reported 2,080 individuals hospitalized with Covid-19, with 438 of them in intensive care units. Most hospitalized patients are aged 65 or older, and most of the deaths have been among patients 65 or older. 

Utah

The state reported 3,884 new Covid-19 cases Thursday – a new record that is a significant jump above previous high, its data dashboard shows. Utah also hit record highs in its Covid-19 7-day case average and test positivity percentage.

Utah’s previous record for new Covid-19 cases, 2,989, was set on November 5.

The rise in infections has driven the seven-day new case average to a record 2,738.4 cases. This measure has been climbing fairly steadily since the start of October. Utah’s percentage of positive tests also hit a record 23.21% after surging since October 11.

Greg Bell, the President of the Utah Hospital Association, said the state was running out of intensive care beds and that the state has “in earnest, began transferring patients about 10 days ago” from hospitals at capacity. 

New Jersey

The state hit its highest Covid-19 hospitalization rate since June 4 with 1,827 in hospital. Since Monday, the state has seen 10,472 new cases, which Governor Phil Murphy said was “stark and sobering,”

Murphy announced 3,517 new Covid-19 cases, 18 deaths, and a positivity rate of 12.02%. There are 360 Covid-19 patients in intensive care, the highest rate since June 12. 

Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said that if New Jersey continues at this trajectory, it will return to the state it was in back in spring. 

Murphy said holiday gatherings should be limited to immediate family or household. 

In the past week, there have been 15 outbreaks at schools and 46 new Covid-19 infections, which Murphy noted was much lower than he and his staff were expecting.

Wisconsin

Covid-19 is “getting worse everywhere” in the state, said a top health official as Wisconsin reached almost 7,500 new cases on Thursday.

The 7,497 new cases bring the state’s total to 293,388, Julie Willems Van Dijk, Deputy Secretary of Wisconsin Department of Health Services, said at a news conference. She also announced 58 new deaths bringing the state’s total to 2,515

“Covid-19 is everywhere in our state. It is bad everywhere, and it’s getting worse everywhere,” she said. “It is straining hospitals and people are dying.” 

Van Dijk said that only 8% of ICU beds are available statewide and that hospitals are struggling with staffing, partly because staff are sick or quarantining. 

The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 6,209, Van Dijk said. She said Wisconsin has 1,000 cases per day higher than New York City during the height of the pandemic.

New York

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a news release Thursday that the state’s positivity rate is 2.95% and 29 more people died from coronavirus in a 24-hour period.

In the state’s “micro-cluster” focus zones, the test positivity rate is 4.86%.

The governor said the next few weeks are going to be “key,” with Covid raging nationally.

“There is no pre-destined future here. It’s a pure consequence of our actions. If we stay New York Tough and don’t fall subject to COVID fatigue and we stay smart through the holidays, through Thanksgiving, through Christmas, through Hanukkah, we’ll keep it under control,” he said in a statement.

CNN is tracking the spread of US coronavirus cases here:

One in four deaths in France are due to Covid-19

French Prime Minister Jean Castex says one in four deaths currently happening in the country are caused by Covid-19. 

“Today in France 1 in 4 deaths is due to the virus” Castex said on Thursday. “France is facing an extremely strong second epidemic wave,” he added. Over the past week between 400 and 500 people have died every day, he said.

“It would be irresponsible to lift or lighten lockdown now,” Castex continued. “We have decided to keep the rules unchanged for at least the next 15 days.” 

“For a week now, we have noted a drop in the number of positive cases,” the Prime Minister said about the numbers. “If that trend is confirmed, the peak of the second wave could be reached at the beginning of next week.” 

He added that measures could be eased starting December 1st, emphasizing that those measures would be limited to reopening some shops, and would exclude the reopening of bars and restaurants. “If that trend [of lower numbers] doesn’t confirm next week, we will take further action.” he added. 

Commenting on the increased pressure on the hospital system, Castex said 4,803 patients were currently in intensive care, which is “95% of our usual capacity.”

New York City preparing to shut schools down if test-positivity rate continues to increase

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city is preparing to shut down schools if the test-positivity rate continues to increase, he said Thursday at the city’s Covid-19 briefing.

Nearing the threshold: The city is seeing a 2.6% test-positivity rate on a seven-day average. The mayor previously said schools would be closed if the test-positivity rate reached 3%. 

The mayor said the city has seen growth within the test positivity rate, but there was still time to turn the number around. 

De Blasio said if schools shut down, “our hope would be to make it a very brief period of time.”

He reported there are 100 people hospitalized across the city with Covid-19, according to data from Wednesday, and 870 cases of Covid-19 on a seven-day average.

Mental health-related ER visits suggest children and teens are at risk, CDC research finds

The coronavirus pandemic had a big effect on emergency room visits for children suffering mental health crises, researchers at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Thursday.

While fewer children and teens were seen in emergency departments for mental health issues during the pandemic, they made up a bigger proportion of ER visits than before – suggesting that problems were serious enough to overcome concerns about visiting hospitals, the researchers said.

The team set out to see if there was evidence of more mental health trauma among children because of the pandemic. They found a 43% decrease the number of mental health–related emergency department visits among children starting in March.

But the proportion of these visits compared to other emergency related visits rose by 44%, they found. 

“This report demonstrates that, whereas the overall number of children’s mental health–related ED visits decreased, the proportion of all ED visits for children’s mental health–related concerns increased, reaching levels substantially higher beginning in late-March to October 2020 than those during the same period during 2019,” they wrote.

“Children’s mental health warranted sufficient concern to visit EDs during a time when nonemergent ED visits were discouraged.” 

The findings “provide initial insight into children’s mental health in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic and highlight the importance of continued monitoring of children’s mental health throughout the pandemic, ensuring access to care during public health crises, and improving health coping strategies and resiliency among children and families.” 

The team used data from the CDC’s National Syndromic Surveillance Program from January 1 to October 17, 2020 and the same period during 2019. This emergency department data includes a subset of hospitals in 47 states and represents around 73% of emergency department visits in the US. 

A Covid-19 outbreak among the Amish showed importance of trust-building by local public health department

A Covid-19 outbreak among the Amish this spring showed the real need for public health officials to build trust among a community that typically limits engagement with the government.

Despite the pandemic, the Amish community in the Greater Holmes County Area of Ohio continued to hold community gatherings. During the outbreak in May, there were at least six social gatherings, including a logistical meeting to plan church services, three church services, a wedding, and a funeral, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Ohio state and county health officials wrote in the CDC’s weekly report Thursday. 

The team said those gatherings likely contributed to the rapid spread of Covid-19. Some community members also had misconceptions about what would protect them from infection. Some said they thought wearing a mask would cause them harm. Others thought if they took vitamins and herbs it would protect them. 

The local public health department learned about the outbreak after a couple tested positive in mid-May. The husband, who had chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, had to be hospitalized for a couple of days. Another adult family member with cancer who tested positive for Covid-19 died May 21. 

Community leaders told the Wayne County Health Department that a number of people in the community had symptoms so the department set up testing at the local school. In total, 30 people tested positive for Covid-19. The report suggests there may have been more cases, but the more traditional members of the community may not have gotten tested.

The local health department interviewed some of the Amish at the testing site and learned about some of the misconceptions about the ways to stop the spread of the disease. 

Researchers also learned that the community didn’t have access to updated and trusted guidance. Most rarely, if ever, used the internet or email. Nonetheless, many understood the importance of social distancing and knew that coughing and sneezing could spread the virus.

Wearing a mask was not socially or culturally acceptable, some members of the community said. Some were also reluctant about social distancing, because communal cultural practices were central to the Amish identity. 

The CDC said it is important for health departments to build trusting relationships with the Amish. The departments should use culturally sensitive language when they reach out to community leaders and emphasize the message that mitigation behaviors protect the family and the community. Health education materials should be shared through Amish newspapers and local radio stations. Access to testing needs to be convenient and timely.

Medicago and GlaxoSmithKline announce Covid-19 vaccine trials

The GlaxoSmithKline company headquarters in London, England.

Biopharmaceutical company Medicago has developed an experimental coronavirus vaccine candidate, which uses drug giant GlaxoSmithKline’s (GSK) adjuvant.

An adjuvant is added to some vaccines to enhance the immune response, which creates stronger immunity against infections. 

In this case, Medicago’s vaccine uses virus-like particles grown in a close relative of the tobacco plant. The vaccine combines the particles with GSK’s adjuvant to generate an immune response.

The two companies announced on Thursday that the vaccine candidate was entering Phase 2 and 3 clinical trials.

The trial will evaluate the vaccine’s efficacy, safety and ability to provoke an immune response.

“Our Phase 1 results of the adjuvanted vaccine candidate were very encouraging and fully support further clinical evaluation,” Nathalie Landry, executive vice president of scientific and medical affairs at Medicago, said Thursday.
“This is the first of several GSK Covid-19 vaccine candidate collaborations to start Phase 2/3 clinical testing and an important step forward in our contribution to the global fight against the pandemic,” Thomas Breuer, chief medical officer of GSK Vaccines, said.

The Phase 2 trial will part be conducted in multiple sites in Canada and, upon allowance from the US Food and Drug Administration, in the US.

The volunteers will include healthy adults ages 18 to 64 and elderly adults over 65, according to the announcement. Each age group will include more than 300 subjects.