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Idaho governor orders return to some COVID-19 restrictions

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Idaho Gov. Brad Little on Monday ordered a return to some restrictions to slow the spread of the coronavirus as intertwined health care systems across the state showed early signs of buckling.

The Republican governor returned the state to stage 3 of his four-stage reopening plan and said indoor gatherings will be limited to 50 people or fewer, and outdoor gatherings will be limited to 25% of capacity.

“Idaho is at a critical juncture,” Little declared during the Statehouse news conference with a heavy police presence as protestors could be heard shouting in the hallway. “This is unacceptable and we must do more.”


Little, who wears a mask in public and encourages others to do so also, didn’t order a statewide mask mandate, something many health care professionals have sought. But many residents in red-state Idaho oppose such a mandate.

State officials continue reporting surging infections daily, with 650 more on Sunday for a total approaching 60,000 along with 573 deaths.

The state’s positivity test rate is fourth-worst in the nation, according to The COVID Tracking Project.

The restrictions announced Monday also include a mask mandate for all long-term care facilities and physical distancing for gatherings of all types. Employers should continue allowing teleworking for at-risk workers or make special accommodations in the workplace.

St. Luke’s, with hospitals in southwestern and central Idaho, is reporting that 20% of hospitalized patients are suffering from COVID-19. Its hospital in Twin Falls is postponing elective surgeries and sending children in need of medical care to Boise. On Monday, St. Luke’s told people to stop coming to its emergency rooms for COVID-19 testing.

Dr. Joshua Kern, vice president of medical affairs for St. Luke’s Magic Valley and Jerome, said the surge of patients in that area is approaching a level the hospital might not be able to handle, meaning deciding who gets treatment.

“That’s not good for our staff, having to decide who lives and dies, and it’s not good for the patients,” he said. “The natural outcome of not controlling the virus will be unnecessary deaths.”

State epidemiologist Dr. Christine Hahn said some hospitals are in what’s called a contingency stage, one step below moving into a crisis stage that could lead to the scenario described by Kern.

Primary Health Medical Group, the largest independent medical group in Idaho, has had to close two of its 19 urgent care clinics in southwestern Idaho because of sick or quarantined staff. The clinics are a buffer keeping hospital emergency rooms in the region from getting clogged with patients not needing emergency-level care.

“This surge, this disease today, right now is out of control,” said Dr. David Peterman, a pediatrician and the CEO of Primary Health Medical Group.

The group reports that the positivity rate is up to nearly 7% among 5- to 12- year-olds, and nearly 11% for teenagers. Peterman said it’s not clear if a return to school for teenagers is causing a surge of infections in local communities or

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Colorado governor quarantines after mayor tests positive

DENVER (AP) — Colorado Gov. Jared Polis is quarantining himself after learning that Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman tested positive for the coronavirus over a week after they appeared with other officials at a press conference, a spokesperson for the governor said Sunday.

In a statement, spokesperson Maria De Cambra said Polis would quarantine while waiting to hear from health officials investigating who else may have been exposed to the coronavirus about whether he should continue to isolate himself.

“He will be under quarantine until the health investigation is completed and he is informed. This is just another reminder of the need to cooperate with contact tracers, quarantine when needed, wear masks, social distance, and if you have any symptoms get tested,” she said.

Coffman, a Republican who previously represented a suburban Denver district in Congress for five terms, announced his diagnosis Sunday on Twitter. He said he came home from work Thursday morning not feeling well, thinking he had a very mild cold, but worked at home to be on the safe side. He said his symptoms cleared by Saturday and he got a rapid coronavirus test done on Sunday, assuming it would clear him to go to back to the office and resume his schedule.

“Unfortunately, the results of the test were positive. I will have to quarantine at home,” Coffman said.


Coffman and Polis attended an outdoor press conference on Oct. 15 to promote Colorado’s mail ballot system, which Coffman helped administer as secretary of state during the 2008 presidential election. Polis’ partner, Marlon Reis, current Secretary of State Jena Griswold, Denver Clerk Paul Lopez and state Sen. Julie Gonzales also spoke at the event. They stood staggered on a sidewalk near a ballot drop off box and each wore a mask until taking their turn to speak at the microphone.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises anyone who has been in close contact with a COVID-19 patient to quarantine for two weeks. The risk of spread is considered lower outdoors.

Coffman’s diagnosis came on the same day as Colorado launched a statewide COVID-19 exposure notification system, in partnership with Google and Apple, that allows people to get smartphone notifications if someone they were near has tested positive for the virus. Users have to sign up to get notifications and users’ locations and identities will not be tracked, an announcement from Polis’ office said.

Citing a steady increase in Colorado’s coronavirus hospitalizations, state health officials announced new limits Friday on personal gatherings of people from different households in more than two dozen counties. The state is at risk of exceeding the peak in hospitalizations seen in April by mid-November, according to a modeling report released the same day by the state health department and the Colorado School of Public Health.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems

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Texas governor requests use of El Paso-area military hospital for non-COVID-19 patients as cases surge

Texas Governor Greg Abbott on Saturday requested to use a medical center at Fort Bliss for non-COVID-19 patients as coronavirus cases surge in the El Paso area. The request comes as COVID-19 cases have been increasing throughout Texas and the country.

Abbott said Saturday that he had spoken to Dr. Robert Kadiec, assistant secretary for preparedness and response at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, to request use of William Beaumont Army Medical Center to free up beds at the region’s hospitals, according to CBS El Paso affiliate KDBC.

El Paso officials said 1,216 new COVID-19 cases were reported on Saturday, for a total of 10,911 active cases and 38,554 cumulative cases.

El Paso officials said Saturday one person died, a woman in her 40s with underlying health conditions. There have been 572 deaths in El Paso due to COVID-19 since the pandemic began. 

As of Saturday, there were 715 people hospitalized in El Paso County due to COVID-19, including 199 in intensive care and 85 on ventilators.

US-TEXAS-HEALTH-VIRUS-ECONOMY
Cars line up for Covid-19 tests at the University of Texas El Paso on October 23, 2020 in El Paso, Texas. 

Photo by Paul Ratje / AFP) (Photo by PAUL RATJE/AFP via Getty Images


Abbott announced earlier this week that he would be sending more than 450 medical personnel to the El Paso area. He also said he will be sending extra equipment including ambulances, patient monitors, patient beds and oxygen concentrators.

“The medical personnel and supplies we are deploying to El Paso build upon the resources the state previously sent to the community and will provide much needed support to area hospitals and first responders,” Abbott said in a statement. “The State of Texas will continue to work with local officials to protect public health and help the El Paso community mitigate the spread of COVID-19.”  

A report by UT-Austin released Thursday said “the El Paso region has the most threatening projections, with an estimated 85% probability that COVID-19 cases will exceed local hospital capacity by November 8th, 2020.”

According to the same report, five other regions have a more than 25% chance of hospitals being overwhelmed with in 3 weeks: Amarillo (28%), Lubbock (29%), Wichita Falls (30%), San Angelo (29%) and Galveston (33%).

The Texas Department of Public Health reported Saturday more than 89,000 active cases of COVID-19 in the state, including more than 6,000 new cases. 

Coronavirus cases nationwide have been rising, with more cases reported on Friday than any other single day since the pandemic began. 

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Alabama’s lt. governor is COVID-positive. Y’all don’t be so negative.

This is an opinion column.

Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth is getting some nasty messages since he tested positive for the coronavirus.

“Guess Karma and Natural Selection caught up with your dumb white ass,” said one email Ainsworth shared with me. “May you die gasping for your last breath!”

It’s probably not a spiritually safe practice to invoke karma in one sentence before wishing someone death in the next, but moving on.

“You’re 1 step closer to (skull emoji, coffin emoji, laughing-through-tears emoji),” one fellow tweeted at him.

Yes, when sending hate-tweets, please limit your hieroglyphics to three.

Let’s be clear, no matter how you feel about Ainsworth, wishing death on people is not OK. No matter how cathartic it might feel, it’s not good for your soul, and from a more secular standpoint, it just gives the folks you’re hate-mailing more reason to believe you’re crazy and they’re right.

Which is a shame, because I believe there’s a lesson the lieutenant governor could learn here, and I think there’s a better message he could send than the one he’s been sharing, before and after his diagnosis.

Since Ainsworth went public with his test (points for transparency), he has been a bit defensive about it. That’s understandable. The lieutenant governor has criticized Gov. Kay Ivey for keeping a statewide mask mandate in place, and he’s said the decision whether to wear a mask should be left to the individual. He still says that, even now.

But Wednesday night, Ainsworth wanted to make clear he’d been wearing a mask when he thinks he contracted the disease.

“Because I follow social distancing rules and wear a mask both in church and in my daily interactions, the positive result shows that even those of us who are the most cautious can be at risk,” he said.

Now, others on social media have found pictures of Ainsworth not doing either of those things. Heck, he shares them on Twitter. But I’ll let that be.

Again, there’s a bigger lesson to be learned here.

Ainsworth tested positive on Wednesday and says he suspects he contracted the disease at his church on Sunday. Aside from a runny nose — which he told me allergies give him much of the year — he hasn’t had any symptoms. He had been active on Monday and Tuesday, and he played tennis the night before he tested positive. If it weren’t for his pastor informing him a member of his Sunday school class had fallen ill, Ainsworth says he might never have checked.

And that’s the thing. And let’s shout this one so the sinners’ pew can hear it: Masks aren’t to protect you from the disease; they protect others when you have the disease and don’t know it.

It doesn’t matter so much whether Ainsworth wore a mask at church. It matters whether the person he got it from was wearing a mask.

And it matters less whether he was wearing a mask on Sunday than if he wore

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Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker on state’s vaccine distribution plan

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker said Tuesday the state is developing a plan to distribute a COVID-19 vaccine. The plan lays out the initial steps for a “robust, comprehensive and equitable” vaccine distribution system once one or more vaccines become available.

Officials anticipate limited supply in the early phase and plan to prioritize some health care workers, people at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19 – including people with underlying medical conditions and those older than 65 – and other essential workers, Baker said.

“The plan also outlines our messaging efforts to make sure people know once there is a vaccine available, that it has been approved by the federal government and is safe and effective,” he said.

“We’ll also make it a priority to reach out specifically to groups that have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, including people and communities of color.”

Baker called it an interim plan “that will probably change as more information becomes available.”

Massachusetts is among the states that has recently seen an uptick in COVID-19 cases. As of mid-last week, a total of 63 communities in the state, including Boston, were considered high risk for virus infections, up from 40 a week before. The designation is based on average daily cases per 100,000 residents, CBS Boston reported. High risk communities are those with over 8 cases per 100,000 residents during the last 14 days.

“While we continue to plan for distribution of a vaccine, we can’t take our eyes off the measures that we’ve been talking about for the last several months to keep people safe,” Baker said Tuesday.

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said late last week that officials are now giving “special attention” to gatherings and house parties “that are putting other people at risk,” as the city sees a rise in coronavirus cases. 

“We are tracing locations where house parties continue to happen,” Walsh said, adding they are working with Boston’s Inspectional Services department “to curtail these events.”

Roughly half of new cases in the city continue to be in people who are under 30, said Walsh, who advised people to “get on Zoom” and socialize digitally.

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‘This Is A Precarious Time’ In Ohio, Governor Says

COLUMBUS, OH — Gov. Mike DeWine warned Ohioans that the state is in a “precarious” position in its battle with the coronavirus.

The governor spoke with media on Monday and addressed the state’s widespread surge of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. He said he was alarmed at how rapidly the virus has spread among Ohioans over the past two weeks.

DeWine emphasized that the virus is spreading at social gatherings, as more people get together and ignore social distancing and masking rules. The governor said Ohioans are responsible for curbing the spread of the virus — and that means wearing masks.

“We’ve learned the value of a mask. These masks, when two people are wearing them, there’s a great ability to cut the spread down,” DeWine said.

Don’t miss the latest updates from health and government officials in Ohio on the coronavirus. Sign up for Patch newsletters and news alerts.

The governor said Ohioans living in rural areas are increasingly refusing to wear masks when they’re in public. He urged Ohioans to don masks whenever they’re around someone who isn’t part of their bubble.

“This is a more precarious time,” DeWine said. He emphasized that as colder weather forces Ohioans indoors, there’s a greater opportunity for the virus to spread.

“I understand people are sick of masks. I understand people are sick of distancing. I know they’re sick of everything. But we can see the end of this thing,” DeWine said.

State officials have developed a plan to distribute any forthcoming COVID-19 vaccine. DeWine said officials will continue to tweak that plan, even though there is no timeline on when a vaccine may be available.

Health officials confirmed 1,837 in the past 24 hours, the Ohio Department of Health reported. Since the start of the pandemic, Ohio has seen more than 183,000 COVID-19 cases.

Here are all of Monday’s COVID-19 numbers in Ohio:

More reading:

This article originally appeared on the Across Ohio Patch

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Healthcare Workers, High-Risk People Will Get Priority for COVID-19 Vaccine in New York: Governor | Top News

NEW YORK (Reuters) – New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Sunday that healthcare workers and high-risk populations, including some long-term care residents, would get priority in his state to receive a COVID-19 vaccine when one is approved and available.

According to the five-phase preliminary plan for New York’s vaccine administration program, some details of which Cuomo announced at a news briefing, healthcare workers in patient-care settings, long-term care facility workers and some long-term care residents would be among the first to receive a vaccine.

In the second phase of vaccine rollout, first responders, school staff, other public-facing frontline workers and people whose health conditions put them at extreme risk would get priority for the vaccine.

In Phase 3, it would be administered to people over 65. All remaining essential workers would receive the vaccine in a fourth phase, and healthy adults and children would receive it in a fifth phase.

Prioritization would also vary by geographic location based on the prevalence of the virus, Cuomo said.

“This is a larger operational undertaking, I would argue, than anything we have done during COVID to date,” he told reporters.

The program will likely seek to deliver some 40 million doses of a vaccine to state residents, as New York’s population is around 20 million and the vaccines in development may require two doses to be effective, Cuomo said.

He said the state had sent the drafted plan to the federal government, along with questions on what funding the federal government would provide for the effort.

“States cannot do this on their own,” he said.

A New York state task force will carry out its own review of coronavirus vaccines authorized or approved by the federal government due to concerns of politicization of the approval process, according to Cuomo, a Democrat who has blasted President Donald Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

“I think that will give people added surety in the vaccine,” Cuomo said on Sunday.

(Reporting by Gabriella Borter in New York; Editing by Matthew Lewis)

Copyright 2020 Thomson Reuters.

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