COVID Updates: US Sets New Daily Record; CDC Discourages Thanksgiving Travel

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On Wednesday, the United States surpassed 250,000 coronavirus-related deaths, according to a tally by NBC News, and a record-breaking 79,410 people were hospitalized with the virus, the COVID Tracking Project reports.

A day later, there was another grim milestone: NBC News reported 185,527 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, claiming a new single-day record. The previous single-day record was reported on Nov. 13, with 176,309 cases. 

More than 11.7 million people have tested positive in the U.S. since the beginning of the pandemic.

From California to Pennsylvania, governors and mayors across the U.S. are ratcheting up COVID-19 restrictions amid the record-shattering resurgence of the virus that is all but certain to get worse because of holiday travel and family gatherings over Thanksgiving.

Leaders are closing businesses or curtailing hours and other operations, and they are ordering or imploring people to stay home and keep their distance from others to help stem a rising tide of infections that threatens to overwhelm the health care system.

Here are the latest updates on the coronavirus pandemic:

Gov. Newsom Issues Curfew as COVID-19 Cases Spike

California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday issued a limited stay-at-home order due to the rise in COVID-19 cases.

In a tweet, Newsom said that non-essential work and gatherings must stop from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. in counties in the most restrictive purple tier.

"This will take effect at 10pm on Saturday and remain for 1 month," he tweeted. "Together--we can flatten the curve again."

Health inspectors, meanwhile, fanned out to 29 businesses across San Diego County, threatening criminal prosecution and $1,000 fines for ignoring orders to avoid indoor activity during the coronavirus pandemic. Not just that, the businesses' names appeared on the county's website -- unwelcome publicity as officials push companies to comply with tightening restrictions.

The actions Monday marked another turn in a monthslong tug-of-war among officials in California over whether to emphasize enforcement or persuasion as infection rates soar and the holidays arrive along with colder weather and the flu season.

Biden: Trump Refusal to Concede Affects COVID-19 Response Planning

President-elect Joe Biden says the Trump administration’s refusal to give his team access to key federal agencies is affecting their ability to create a plan to respond to the coronavirus pandemic, particularly around vaccine distribution.

Speaking in Wilmington, Delaware on Thursday, Biden referenced the refusal by the General Services Administration to name him the apparent winner of the election. The refusal has blocked Biden’s team from receiving federal funds allocated for the transition and barred his team from meeting with their counterparts to collect relevant information.

Biden says that his transition team doesn’t have “all the information that we need to get from all the various agencies,” and that, as a result, “we’re not able to deal with everything from testing to guidance to the all-important issue of vaccine distribution.”

Biden has launched his own working group focused on crafting an actionable plan to rein in the pandemic. But he and his aides have said a lack of access to the current planning in the federal government will make the response much more difficult when Biden does take office in January.

Rhode Island Orders 2-Week 'Pause' Amid Rising Cases

Gov. Gina Raimondo announced a number of new restrictions Thursday including an upcoming 2-week pause for the state as coronavirus cases continue to soar in Rhode Island, NECN reports.

During her weekly news conference, Raimondo said despite targeted restrictions that she has already put in place a month ago, the situation is not getting better.

"Unfortunately, it's not working," Raimondo said. "We're in a really bad place."

Beginning Nov. 30, the state will pause for two weeks with most colleges and universities moving to virtual learning. Bar areas, recreational venues, and indoor sports facilities, gyms, and organized sports will close in the pause period, Raimondo said.

The governor is also asking offices to close and allow employees to work remotely, if possible.

Read the full story here.

CDC Begs Americans Not to Travel for Thanksgiving

Growers and retailers say demand for smaller turkeys and dishes has already outpaced supply this year as families scale down on holiday dinners and traditions. Here's how you can scale down your own dinners, while keeping the spirit of festivities the same as years past.

The nation’s top public health agency is pleading with Americans not to travel for Thanksgiving, or to spend the holiday with people with whom they are not currently living.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released the recommendations Thursday, one week before the traditional family gathering celebration — and at a time when diagnosed coronavirus infections, hospitalizations, and deaths are skyrocketing across the country.  

If families do decide to include returning college students, military service members, or others in a gathering, the CDC is recommending that hosting families take added precautions. Gatherings should be outdoors, if possible, with people keeping 6 feet apart, wearing masks, and having just one person serve the food.

Read the full story here.

Texas, Florida and South Dakota Governors Refuse Lockdowns as Coronavirus Resurges

The governors of Texas, Florida and South Dakota said they have no plans to shutdown their states as a new wave of coronavirus cases sweep the country, NBC News reports.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said in an interview that there won't be "any more lockdowns" in the state and he wants to focus on "working to heal those who have COVID" so they can leave the hospitals and get back to their normal routines, the Texas Tribune reported.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said he didn't want to order a shutdown because he didn't want to "hurt families who can't afford to shelter in place for six weeks," according to a statement his office sent to local station WPEC.

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem has been very critical of lockdowns and reiterated her stance in a tweet last week.

"We already know that lockdowns DON'T stop the spread of the virus. However, they destroy small businesses and jobs, and they make it difficult for families to put food on the table," she wrote.

Doctors warn medical resources are being pushed to the limit as coronavirus cases surge.

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Oxford COVID Vaccine Trials Indicate It Is Safe, Produces Robust Immune Response Among Older Adults

The coronavirus vaccine being developed by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca is safe and triggers a similar immune response among all adults, according to the preliminary findings of a peer-reviewed phase two trial.

The promising early-stage results were published in The Lancet, one of the world's top medical journals, on Thursday.

The study of 560 healthy adults, including 240 over the age of 70-years-old, found the vaccine to be safe and produced a similar immune response among people aged over 56-years-old and those aged between 18 and 55.

The Oxford vaccine candidate was found to cause few side effects and triggered immune responses in both parts of the immune system in all age groups and at low and standard doses.

The preliminary results showed that the vaccine — ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 — prompted what's known as a "T-cell response" within 14 days of the first dose, and an antibody response within 28 days of the booster dose. Scientists expect T-cell responses to play a role in long-term immunity against the virus.

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‘Tired to the Bone': Hospitals Overwhelmed With Virus Cases

Overwhelmed hospitals are converting chapels, cafeterias, waiting rooms, hallways, even a parking garage into patient treatment areas. Staff members are desperately calling around to other medical centers in search of open beds. Fatigue and frustration are setting in among front-line workers.

Conditions inside the nation’s hospitals are deteriorating by the day as the coronavirus rages across the U.S. at an unrelenting pace and the confirmed death toll surpasses 250,000.

“We are depressed, disheartened and tired to the bone,” said Alison Johnson, director of critical care at Johnson City Medical Center in Tennessee, adding that she drives to and from work some days in tears.

The number of people in the hospital with COVID-19 in the U.S. has doubled in the past month and set new records every day this week. As of Tuesday, nearly 77,000 were hospitalized with the virus.

Read the full story here

The Associated Press/NBC
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