the coronavirus crisis
October 26, 2020

The United States just reported the most new COVID-19 cases in one week since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

Numbers from Johns Hopkins University show that the U.S. confirmed over 481,000 new cases of COVID-19 over the past week, which is the highest one-week tally since the pandemic began, CNN reports.

The seven-day average of new daily cases in the U.S. has reached more than 68,000, which according to CNN surpasses the previous record of about 67,000 in July. On Friday, the U.S. set a new single-day record for new cases with about 83,000 infections confirmed in one day.

"I think we're in for a very hard stretch here" former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb told CNBC. "I think the winter is going to be very difficult."

These new numbers come after President Trump at a rally on Sunday again claimed that the coronavirus pandemic is "ending" and that the U.S. is "rounding the turn" despite the uptick in cases. White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows in a Sunday interview also said the Trump administration is "not going to control the pandemic" but will "control the fact that we get vaccines, therapeutics, and other mitigations."

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden sharply criticized these comments by Meadows, calling them a "candid acknowledgment of what President Trump's strategy has clearly been from the beginning of this crisis: to wave the white flag of defeat." Brendan Morrow

October 25, 2020

In less than a month, there has been a 200 percent rise in COVID-19 hospitalizations in El Paso, Texas, and on Sunday, city officials urged residents to stay home for the next two weeks.

More than 680,000 people live in El Paso, and Angela Mora, the city's director of public health, said that over the last three weeks, the number of hospitalizations has increased from 259 to 786. On Sunday, more than 500 new COVID-19 cases were reported in El Paso.

"If we continue on this trend, we risk detrimental effects to our entire health care system," Mora said in a statement. "For the sake of those hospitalized and the front line health care workers working tirelessly each day to care for them, we ask you to please stay home for two weeks and eliminate your interactions with those outside your household until we can flatten the curve."

The public health department also said people who ignore new local health orders making masks and social distancing mandatory will be fined, NBC News reports. This week, the city's convention center will be transformed into a field hospital. Catherine Garcia

October 25, 2020

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows on Sunday said the Trump administration is "not going to control the pandemic," and will instead "control the fact that we get vaccines, therapeutics, and other mitigations."

Meadows made his comments during an interview on CNN, and when asked to elaborate on why the pandemic can't be contained, he said, "because it is a contagious virus just like the flu. What we need to do is make sure that we have the proper mitigation factors, whether it's therapies or vaccines or treatments to make sure that people don't die from this."

On Friday and Saturday, the U.S. reported more than 83,000 new coronavirus cases, and as of Sunday, more than 224,000 Americans have died of the virus. Despite health officials warning against large gatherings and urging the use of masks to curb the spread of coronavirus, President Trump continues to hold big campaign rallies, with people standing next to each other and face coverings optional. Meadows defended the campaign events by saying, "We live in a free society."

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden commented on Meadows' remarks, saying this wasn't "a slip by Meadows, it was a candid acknowledgment of what President Trump's strategy has clearly been from the beginning of this crisis: to wave the white flag of defeat and hope that by ignoring it, the virus would simply go away. It hasn't, and it won't." Catherine Garcia

October 25, 2020

Vice President Mike Pence's chief of staff Marc Short tested positive for COVID-19 on Saturday, Pence spokesman Devin O'Malley confirmed, adding that Pence and second lady Karen Pence both tested negative for the coronavirus.

The vice president is considered a close contact of Short, but O'Malley said he won't go into quarantine and will "maintain his schedule in accordance with the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] guidelines for essential personnel."

It appears there is a larger outbreak in Pence's circle, although O'Malley only formally acknowledged Short's diagnosis, and two people briefed on the matter told The New York Times that White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows tried to keep that news from reaching the public. Another source told the Times that three additional Pence staffers tested positive for the virus, while Bloomberg reports that Marty Obst, a Pence adviser, also recently tested positive. Per Bloomberg, both Obst and Short are experiencing minor COVID-19 symptoms. Read more at The New York Times and Bloomberg. Tim O'Donnell

October 24, 2020

Polish President Andrzej Duda tested positive for the coronavirus Friday, a presidential minister said Saturday. Duda is the latest among a handful of world leaders, including President Trump, to contract the virus. He reportedly "feels good" and is in isolation. Poland's president guides foreign policy and signs legislation, but most duties designated for the office are ceremonial, and day-to-day governance is the responsibility of the prime minister.

Duda's positive test result comes amid a wave of infections in Poland, which saw low rates earlier this year when the virus first struck Europe. On Saturday, the country recorded 13,628 new COVID-19 cases and 179 deaths, marking new 24-hour highs since the pandemic began. The government imposed new restrictions Saturday that fall just short of a lockdown in the hopes of curbing the outbreak, The Associated Press reports.

The virus continues to surge in other European countries, as well, including the Czech Republic, Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and France. Those five countries currently have the highest rate of infection worldwide, CNN reports.

Italy and Spain, which were hit hard by the virus early in the pandemic, are also dealing with case increases. Several regions in Spain have announced new night curfews in the coming days, while the governor of Italy's Campania said he is imposing a regional lockdown "for 30 to 40 days" after the country reported a daily record of infections Friday. Read more at The Associated Press and CNN. Tim O'Donnell

October 24, 2020

The United States on Friday recorded more than 85,000 new coronavirus cases, The New York Times reports. That set a new single-day record, breaking the previous mark from mid-July by nearly 10,000 cases. Hospitalizations have also been rising steadily since the start of October, and while deaths have mostly remained flat, they are often a lagging indicator.

The current surge is most heavily concentrated in the Midwest and West, but it's spread out more widely than the previous waves from the spring and summer, which occurred primarily in the Northeast and Sun Belt, respectively. More than 170 counties across 36 states were designated rapidly rising hotspots, an internal federal report produced Thursday for Department of Health and Human Services officials that was obtained by The Washington Post revealed.

Earlier in the pandemic, health care workers would move around to help ease the burden facing overwhelmed hospitals, but "that's just not possible when the virus is surging everywhere," Eleanor Murray, an epidemiologist at Boston University, told the Post; experts have warned of shortages of medical staff and supplies.

Additionally, Murray said, "we are starting this wave much higher than either of the previous waves. And it will simply keep going up until people and officials decide to do something about it." Read more at The Washington Post and The New York Times. Tim O'Donnell

October 23, 2020

The U.S. coronavirus death toll could potentially surpass half a million by the end of February, but nearly 130,000 lives could be saved through universal mask use, a new study suggests.

The study published on Friday in Nature Medicine estimated that by Feb. 28, 2021, the COVID-19 death toll in the United States could reach 511,373, assuming states reinstate social distancing mandates upon reaching a threshold of eight deaths per million, The New York Times and USA Today report. If states continue to ease their social distancing mandates, the death toll could pass one million, the researchers said.

However, the study also projects that if 95 percent of Americans wore masks in public, this "could be sufficient to ameliorate the worst effects of epidemic resurgences in many states," and a total of 129,574 deaths could be prevented. If just 85 percent of Americans wore masks in public, 95,814 deaths could be prevented, the researchers also projected. The study was conducted by researchers from the University of Washington's School of Medicine.

Georgetown University infectious disease modeler Shweta Bansal, who wasn't involved with the study, noted to the Times that this is "not a prediction or forecast, because we can will this number out of existence." Bansal added, "I'd like for people to see this study as a call to action, sort of a wake-up call, especially for those individuals who are unconvinced by the devastation that this pandemic is causing." Brendan Morrow

October 23, 2020

The United States has reportedly set a new record for most cases of COVID-19 confirmed in a single day.

The country on Thursday reported 77,640 new coronavirus cases, according to a count from NBC News. This is the highest single-day total of coronavirus cases during the pandemic so far, surpassing the previous record from July.

The number of daily cases in the U.S. has been rising in recent weeks and on July 16 went beyond 70,000 for the first time since July. On Thursday, eight states broke their single-day records, and "13 states have added more cases in the past week than in any other seven-day stretch," The New York Times reports.

As daily cases rise, according to CNN, "there is nearly no place in America where COVID-19 case counts are trending in the right direction." Officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention earlier this week warned of a "distressing trend" in the U.S, with cases "increasing in nearly 75 percent of the country." The CDC is also warning that "smaller, more intimate" gatherings may be driving transmission.

"Unfortunately, we are seeing a distressing trend here in the United States," CDC deputy director for infectious diseases Jay Butler said, per CNBC. "...I recognize that we are all getting tired of the impact COVID-19 has had on our lives. We're tired of wearing masks, but it continues to be as important as it has ever been and I would say even more important than ever as we move into the fall season." Brendan Morrow

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