U.S. Surpasses 8 Million Coronavirus Cases, Dr. Fauci Warns of High Infection Rates Going into Winter

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The United States officially surpassed 8 million coronavirus cases as of Friday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

More than 218,000 people in the country have now died due to the virus, and cases are continuing to rise in nearly every state.

There were 70,451 new cases of coronavirus on Friday, the highest daily case count since July, The New York Times’ COVID-19 database shows. The Midwest has been particularly hard hit in recent months, but the latest wave has spared no region of the U.S.

Areas that have remained relatively stable since the initial wave of virus infections in the spring, including the Northeast and Pacific Northwest, are now also seeing increasing numbers.

Evan Vucci/AP/Shutterstock Dr. Anthony Fauci

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Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, warned that infection rates across the country are too high as we head into the colder fall and winter months.

“You can’t enter into the cool months of the fall and the cold months of the winter with a high community infection baseline,” Fauci said in a John Hopkins virtual event on Friday, according to CNN.

Earlier in the week, Fauci similarly said the rise in cases is “not a good sign as you’re entering into the colder weather,” advising Americans to consider canceling family gatherings for Thanksgiving and other upcoming holidays.

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“That is, unfortunately, a risk, when you have people coming from out of town, gathering together in an indoor setting,” he told host Norah O’Donnell on CBS Evening News Wednesday night. “It is unfortunate, because that’s such a sacred part of American tradition — the family gathering around Thanksgiving. But that is a risk.”

Fauci continued, “Given the fluid and dynamic nature of what’s going on right now in the spread and the uptick of infections, I think people should be very careful and prudent about social gatherings, particularly when members of the family might be at a risk because of their age or their underlying condition. You may have to bite the bullet and sacrifice that social gathering, unless you’re pretty certain that the people that you’re dealing with are not infected.”

Meanwhile, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Saturday that movie theaters outside of New York City — where a number of areas currently have shutdown orders in place — will be allowed to start reopening at reduced capacity on Oct. 23.

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Fauci warns that Covid-19 infection rates are too high heading into winter

The number of coronavirus cases in the United States surpassed 8 million on Friday as health officials from coast to coast scramble to contain the rising rate of infections.

a person wearing a blue hat: Melissa Leaston Director of nursing at Whittier Street Health Center swabs a patient at a COVID testing site in Nubian Square on October 15, 2020 in Roxbury, Massachusetts.

© Matt Stone/Media News Group/Boston Herald
Melissa Leaston Director of nursing at Whittier Street Health Center swabs a patient at a COVID testing site in Nubian Square on October 15, 2020 in Roxbury, Massachusetts.

The case numbers are steadily increasing daily, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

The country has averaged more than 53,000 new daily cases for the past week — an increase of more than 55% in just over a month — and Friday’s caseload was not the exception, according to Johns Hopkins data.

Unlike previous rises, this time it appears that no region is safe. The Northeast, which has remained relatively stable since the spring, is seeing a rise in cases as is the Pacific Northwest. The increases come as the numbers of new cases in the Midwest hasn’t slowed.

At least four states — Idaho, Illinois, North Carolina and Wyoming — reported their highest daily Covid-19 case count to date on Friday, state health officials said.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, warned that infection rates are far too high heading into the end of the year. Other experts say is setting the country up for a very difficult winter.

“You can’t enter into the cool months of the fall and the cold months of the winter with a high community infection baseline,” Fauci said in a John Hopkins virtual event posted Friday.

CVS and Walgreens to distribute approved vaccines, officials say

While the US faces a new rise in cases, the Trump administration discussed some of its plans for vaccine distribution.

Federal officials confirmed Friday that CVS and Walgreens pharmacies have been designated to distribute free coronavirus vaccines, once they are approved, to long-term care facilities.

The partnership is expected to help “jurisdictions solve a logistical hurdle and decrease the burden of distributing, administering, and reporting COVID-19 vaccination for both states and long-term care facilities,” said Dr. Robert Redfield, director for the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in a statement.

The retailers are best placed to send out mobile units to vaccinate seniors and other vulnerable people on site, said Paul Mango, deputy chief of staff for policy at the Health and Human Services Department, said during a Friday telephone briefing with reporters.

Earlier on Friday, President Donald Trump said seniors would be the first to get any vaccine once one is approved.

“Seniors will be the first in line for the vaccine and we will soon be ending this pandemic,” Trump said during a visit to Ft. Myers, Florida.

No coronavirus vaccines have been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration so far but the CDC posted an optimistic forecast about coronavirus vaccines Wednesday, promising some vaccines by the end of the year.

Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, said he’s still “pretty

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High school lacrosse player Gavin Schaffer battling cancer

Gavin Schaffer is a junior at Denver South High School fighting Stage 4 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma while using lacrosse as an outlet to heal.

DENVER — With high school lacrosse on hold, club teams have filled the void.   

For one player from Denver South, it’s been a life changing experience.   

“Its kind of just getting away from everything and not really focusing on anything in particular,” says Gavin Schaffer, a junior at South. 

Lacrosse is called the medicine game. Native Americans believe it can lift spirits and heal members of the community. There’s no question the sport helped Schaffer.

“Everyone always has this stereotype that cancer patients can’t really do anything. Like they just sit at home and do nothing,” said Schaffer, days away from starting his sixth chemotherapy treatment. “I just really feel (playing lacrosse is) a way to get out of that and be normal. With all your friends and stuff and not have to worry about what you’re going to have to go through in the next week or two.”

Six months ago, Schaffer was diagnosed with Stage 4 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. The same disease his sister Lilian battled and beat earlier this year.   

Chemotherapy didn’t keep the 16-year-old from playing lacrosse. After five treatments, he hasn’t missed a single practice or game for his club team, South Elite Amateur Lacrosse.

“I remember at the beginning he didn’t look as well as he does now, but he was still out there fighting and putting in the work just like everybody else”, said Thomas Culhanne, a senior defenseman. 

“There’s no way I could stay at home and do nothing,” said an emotional Schaffer fighting back tears. “Because I just, I just…you know.”

“Chemotherapy takes everything out of you.  And I have absolutely no idea how he does it,” said Evan Westervelt, a junior defenseman. “It’s incredible. Especially the way he performs at such a high level.” 

Schaffer is on track to be in remission by the end of the year. And that’s a good thing, because he has big plans for 2021 as spokesman for the Headstrong Foundation. It’s a non-profit which raises money to improve the lives of those affected by cancer.

“I just feel that if sharing my story will help people donate and help that Headstrong Foundation to help kids who are going through a lot worse than me. Then I feel like it can also cure cancer and give money to research and give these kids homes to help the get treatment to make them get better,” said Schaffer.

Hope is the medicine that lacrosse gave Gavin Schaefer on his journey to good health. He began his final Chemotherapy treatment on Wednesday and was on the field that night helping South beat Kent Denver 11-6.   

They’re now two wins away from a championship.  

For more information on the Headstrong Foundation, including how to donate, click here. 

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