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Wisconsin facing ‘urgent crisis’ as cases rise

Wisconsin’s governor on Tuesday warned of an impending crisis as the state continues to see coronavirus cases rise and its hospitals overwhelmed.



a boy wearing a hat: Nyasia Camara, medical assistant, checks in a person for a COVID-19 test at the drive-thru testing site at Mercy Health Anderson Hospital, Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020. You must have an ID. They're open from 8am - 1pm and do about 70 tests each day. Over 5,000 deaths in Ohio have been reported during the pandemic, according to Ohio Department of Health.  Testing Political Signs Scenes For Wwlt


© Liz Dufour/The Enquirer/Imagn/USA Today
Nyasia Camara, medical assistant, checks in a person for a COVID-19 test at the drive-thru testing site at Mercy Health Anderson Hospital, Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020. You must have an ID. They’re open from 8am – 1pm and do about 70 tests each day. Over 5,000 deaths in Ohio have been reported during the pandemic, according to Ohio Department of Health. Testing Political Signs Scenes For Wwlt

“There is no way to sugarcoat it, we are facing an urgent crisis and there is an imminent risk to you and your family,” Gov. Tony Evers said.

Hospital beds in the state are 84% full, as well as 87% of intensive care unit beds, according to state data, as hospitalizations continue to escalate.

The state opened a hospital facility at the state fair grounds October 14, and five patients have been cared for there as of Tuesday.

More than 5,000 confirmed cases were reported in Wisconsin as of Tuesday, bringing the total number there to more than 200,000 — a “tragic” and “concerning” milestone, Evers said. The state’s death toll rose by 64 Tuesday, bringing the total to 1,852.

“The increasing cases, and our increase in deaths today are the largest single day increases we’ve seen throughout the course of this pandemic,” said Andrea Palm, Secretary-designee of Wisconsin’s Department of Health Services. “We must take significant and collective action.”

The state’s seven-day average of new cases has increased by more than 400%, Palm said. It took seven months for cases to reach 100,000 there, and only 36 days to hit 200,000 Evers said.

Evers’ warning comes as nearly half a million Americans tested positive for Covid-19 in just the last week as a fall surge of the contagious virus claws its way into every region of the country.

More than 8.7 million in US infected since pandemic began

The past seven days have been marked by daunting coronavirus records and upticks, with 489,769 new cases reported since October 20.

In the US, more than 8.7 million people have now been infected since the pandemic began, according to Johns Hopkins University.

The fall resurgence has led some local and state officials to rein in their reopening plans, as hospitalization numbers increase and states report case records. Still, public fatigue and political unwillingness to require masks and restrict gatherings — exemplified by the White House chief of staff’s frank admission that “we are not going to control the pandemic” — suggest worse days to come.

Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration, said on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on Monday that the US was at a tipping point, where aggressive action could stem the worst of the pandemic.

“But we’re not going to do that and I understand why. There’s a lot of fatigue set in and a lot of policy resistance

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Rise in cases is ‘real,’ not just from more testing

The Trump administration’s testing czar, Brett Giroir, said Tuesday that the country’s increase in coronavirus cases is not just because of more testing but also a surge in the disease across the country.



Brett Giroir wearing a suit and tie: Trump administration testing czar: Rise in cases is 'real,' not just from more testing


© Washington Examiner/Pool
Trump administration testing czar: Rise in cases is ‘real,’ not just from more testing

His comments offer a stark contrast with those of President Trump.

“Testing may be identifying some more cases, I think that’s clearly true, but what we’re seeing is a real increase in the numbers,” Giroir, an assistant secretary of Health and Human Services, said at a Washington Post Live event.

“Compared to the post-Memorial Day surge, even though testing is up, this is a real increase in cases,” he added.

“We know that not only because the case numbers are up and we can calculate that, but we know that hospitalizations are going up.”

The rise in hospitalizations is widely used as an indicator to show that the spread of the virus really is worsening in the United States.

Gallery: COVID Expert Says We’re Entering ‘Worst Period’ (ETNT Health)

Trump however has continued to blame testing for the increase in cases.

“Cases up because we TEST, TEST, TEST,” he tweeted Monday. “A Fake News Media Conspiracy. Many young people who heal very fast. 99.9%. Corrupt Media conspiracy at all time high. On November 4th., topic will totally change. VOTE!”

Experts have widely said the increase is not just because of more testing.

There are about 43,000 people in the hospital with coronavirus, according to the Covid Tracking Project, up from about 30,000 at the beginning of the month.

The percentage of tests coming back positive is also rising, another indication that the rise in cases is not just because of increased testing.

Giroir said there are “several areas of the country where hospitals are becoming full and being stressed,” but noted that hospitalizations overall are still well below where they were during the July peak.

He offered a warning, though, that the situation can worsen and people need to wash their hands, wear masks, and maintain distance from others. The arrival of colder weather, as people move indoors, is expected to contribute to a spike.

“So you know we really have a mixed picture but we are tenuous now,” he said. “We really have to re-engage the public health measures that we know work or those hospitalizations can go up substantially.”

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Cy-Fair COVID count still on the rise

The city of Houston released guidelines for celebrating Halloween during the COVID-19 pandemic while case numbers continue to rise around Harris County and the state.

Numbers from the Texas Department of State Health Services showed a total of 5,760 new cases in Texas as of Friday, with an estimate of 88,206 active cases statewide. Harris County Public Health Data showed a total of 157,392 confirmed cases.

Despite rising numbers across the state and in Houston, the city of Houston put out guidelines for Houstonians on how best to safely trick or treat during the pandemic.


“The City of Houston is not canceling Halloween this year, but we are discouraging people from gathering in large groups. It is important that we keep the COVID-19 numbers moving in the right direction. This requires us to be smarter about how we trick-or-treat,” Mayor Sylvester Turner said in a statement. “Families and children can still have a ghoulish good time without jeopardizing their health and safety during the pandemic.”

One suggestion given in a news release by the Houston Health Department is placing goodie bags outside for children to pick up to limit the spread of contact.

Other suggestions from the department include virtual costume parties, and a scary movie night with household members. They also stated that people wearing costumes with masks still need to wear a cloth face mask covering the mouth and nose under their mask.

Numbers have gone up around Cy-Fair as well. Harris County Public Health Data shows the number of active cases rose from 962 to 1,098 as of 4 p.m. Friday.

The number of deaths increased slightly this well, from 91 to 93, their data showed.

Data was compiled using ZIP codes in the Cypress Creek Mirror’s coverage area: 77040, 77041, 77065, 77070, 77086, 77095, 77429, 77433. Of the ZIP codes collected, 77433 saw the sharpest increase, from 93 active cases to 127 active cases. The ZIP code with the highest number of active cases is still 77040, with a total of 258 active cases, and 77086 with the second highest number at 163.

The testing centers closest to Cypress this week are MAS Katy Center, 1800 Baker Road, which is offering testing between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and Spring Creek Church of Christ, 14847 Brown Road in Tomball, which is offering testing from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday except for Wednesday.

Appointments are recommended but not required and can be scheduled at covidcheck.hctx.net.

paul.wedding@hcnonline.com

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Weekly U.S. COVID-19 deaths up 15%, new cases rise 24%

(Reuters) – The number of new COVID-19 cases in the United States last week rose 24% to more than 485,000 while the number of tests performed rose 5.5%, according to a Reuters analysis of state and county reports.

Nationally, over 5,600 people died of the virus in the seven days ended Oct. 25, up 15% from the prior week. Deaths have risen for at least two weeks straight in 16 states, compared with nine states previously.

(Open https://tmsnrt.rs/2WTOZDR in an external browser for state-by-state details)

Deaths more than doubled in seven states — Connecticut, Idaho, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, Ohio and Wyoming — though they remained low compared to Texas, Florida and California, according to the Reuters analysis.

Thirty-six out of 50 states have seen cases increase for at least two weeks in a row, up from 34 the prior week. They include Florida, Ohio and Michigan — all hotly contested states for the Nov. 3 U.S. presidential election. New cases doubled last week in Wisconsin, another crucial state.

The United States performed 7.7 million COVID-19 tests last week, of which 6.3% came back positive for the new virus, compared with 5.4% the prior week, according to data from The COVID Tracking Project, a volunteer-run effort to track the outbreak.

South Dakota led the nation with the highest positive test rate at 40%, followed by Idaho at 34% and Wyoming at 29%. A total of 14 states had a positive test rate of over 10%.

The World Health Organization considers rates above 5% concerning because it suggests there are more cases in the community that have not yet been uncovered.

Since the outbreak started, over 225,000 people in the United States have died and over 8.6 million have become infected with the novel coronavirus.

(Writing by Lisa Shumaker; Graphic by Chris Canipe; Editing by Tiffany Wu)

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As Cases Rise, RivCo Still Seeks Escape To Coronavirus Tiering

RIVERSIDE COUNTY, CA — The number of new coronavirus cases jumped in Riverside County over the weekend, as did the death toll and the number of people admitted into intensive care units, according to figures released Monday by Riverside University Health System.

The uptick comes as Riverside County Supervisor Karen Spiegel will ask her colleagues Tuesday to support a proposal for the Executive Office to coordinate with neighboring counties in presenting a unified request to the governor to revise or drop the state’s current color-coded coronavirus tier system.

The total number of COVID-19 infections recorded in Riverside County since the public health documentation period began in early March stands at 66,732 Monday, an increase of 975 people since Friday’s reporting, according to RUHS.

The number of deaths linked to COVID-19 was reported at 1,295 Monday, and increase of 16 people since Friday, the data showed.

The number of COVID-positive hospitalizations totaled 164 Monday, compared to 161 on Friday. Monday’s figure includes 60 ICU patients — 21 more than Friday, according to RUHS.

As numbers continue rising, Spiegel’s proposal amounts to a directive for retiring CEO George Johnson, or incoming Interim CEO Juan Perez, and Executive Office staff to “engage” Imperial, Orange, San Bernardino, San Diego and possibly other Southern California counties in forming a partnership focused on addressing defects in the state’s coronavirus tier structure.

Riverside County was bumped back to the purple tier Tuesday due an increased coronavirus case rate and not meeting state thresholds for testing.

“Riverside County has created or expanded 22 programs to mitigate direct and indirect impacts (of COVID-19),” Spiegel said in documents posted to the Board of Supervisors’ agenda for Tuesday. “Yet there is no number of programs that can replace someone’s livelihood or business … Entire industries are at a standstill, and public assistance is limited.”

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the color-coded system in August to replace the multi-phase public health de-regulation strategy originally established at the end of April.

The tier plan has four color bands — purple, red, orange and yellow — that reflect how a county is managing coronavirus impacts. Riverside County had moved into the “red” tier in the third week of September, removing barriers for some businesses and houses of worship to resume indoor operations with capacity limitations.

With Riverside County now back in the state’s most restrictive “purple” tier, many indoor services and functions are prohibited.

“Riverside County continues to make great strides in improving testing, as well as outreach within hard-to-reach groups and high spread workplaces,” Spiegel said. “Hospital capacity also remains very stable and has been for months.”

The supervisor was the foremost critic of the CDPH’s reclassification, remarking immediately after the board was informed of the change that “enough is enough. We’ve got to find a way to step forward without hurting people. My frustration has turned to anger. We are way too far beyond this.”

In her call for a united front to challenge the color-coded categorizations, Spiegel said “our residents

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Georgia infections show sharper rise if rapid tests included

ATLANTA (AP) — COVID-19 infections are rising more rapidly in Georgia, in line with a national trend of increasing cases.

The broadest measure of COVID-19 cases, which includes rapid antigen tests as well as the more precise genetic tests, shows the number of confirmed and probable cases was 18% higher in the week that ended Friday compared to the week before, according to a report issued Monday by the Georgia Department of Public Health.

The state recorded 10,086 genetic positives and 2,564 antigen positives last week, tipping Georgia back above 100 weekly cases per 100,000 people, one measure of rapid spread.


Georgia still remains far off its July peaks, when it was averaging 3,700 cases per day, worst in the nation at the time. Because the respiratory illness is now spreading so rapidly in other regions, Georgia ranks only 34th among the states, according to numbers tracked by The Associated Press. Many more cases, per capita, are being recorded in some Midwestern and Western states.

The share of positive genetic tests has risen above 7% statewide in Georgia from a low of 5.5% as late as Oct. 15, suggesting more rapid spread in communities. Experts say that if more than 5% of tests are coming back positive, it suggests that too few tests are being done and many infections may be going undetected.

Public Health Commissioner Kathleen Toomey said earlier this month that the state was planning to include positive rapid antigen tests in its daily report, but has not yet done so. Many other states count those tests no differently than genetic tests, but Georgia officials said they’re worried about the higher rate of false results on the antigen tests.

Despite those concerns, the state publishes antigen numbers in once-weekly county-level reports that are issued on Mondays.

But even just counting genetic tests, the rise in cases in Georgia is increasingly clear. The state’s seven-day daily average of positive tests is up 30% since hitting a low on Oct. 8, according to AP numbers. The seven-day average of hospitalizations is up 7% since hitting a low on Oct. 12.

Deaths, which usually lag behind hospitalizations, have mounted more slowly in recent days. Georgia has recorded 7,827 confirmed deaths from COVID-19 and more than 326,000 cases confirmed through genetic tests. While most people who contract the coronavirus recover after suffering only mild to moderate symptoms, it can be deadly for older patients and those with other health problems.

The numbers are rising as millions of Georgians cast their votes for president and federal and state offices. Democrats have heavily criticized President Donald Trump and Gov. Brian Kemp, both Republicans, for their actions during the pandemic. Kemp has said he’s striking the right balance between health and making sure restrictions don’t choke off economic growth.

Public health officials count 39 high transmission counties, with a group in northwest Georgia that includes the Carrollton, Cartersville, Rome and Dalton areas, parts of rural northeast Georgia north of Athens, and a belt running east

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Trump claims the worsening U.S. coronavirus outbreak is a ‘Fake News Media Conspiracy’ even as hospitalizations rise

  • President Donald Trump claimed the worsening coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. is a “Fake News Media Conspiracy,” saying the nation only has the most cases in the world because “we TEST, TEST, TEST.”
  • Trump has repeatedly downplayed the virus and has insisted that the U.S. has more cases than any other country because the nation tests more people.
  • Public health officials and infectious disease experts dispute that claim, saying the rate of tests that are positive and hospitalizations are on the rise in several states



Donald Trump wearing a suit and tie: US President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at Manchester-Boston Regional Airport in Londonderry, New Hampshire on October 25, 2020.


© Provided by CNBC
US President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at Manchester-Boston Regional Airport in Londonderry, New Hampshire on October 25, 2020.

President Donald Trump on Monday claimed the worsening coronavirus outbreak in the United States is a “Fake News Media Conspiracy,” saying the nation only has the most cases in the world because “we TEST, TEST, TEST.”

“Corrupt Media conspiracy at all time high,” Trump said in a tweet Monday morning. “On November 4th., topic will totally change,” he added, referring to the day after the presidential election.

“>

Trump’s tweet came as the U.S. is reporting a record-breaking number of new coronavirus cases. On Sunday, the country has reported an average of about 68,767 new cases every day, the highest seven-day average recorded yet, according to a CNBC analysis of Hopkins data. The U.S. reported 60,789 new Covid cases Sunday after daily cases reached  83,757 on Friday, passing the last record of roughly 77,300 cases seen on July 16, according to Hopkins data.

Trump, who tested positive for the virus earlier this month, has repeatedly downplayed the virus and insisted that the U.S. has more cases than any other country because the nation tests more people. But public health officials and infectious disease experts dispute that claim, saying the rate of tests that are positive and hospitalizations are both on the rise in several states.



chart, histogram


© Provided by CNBC


The overall U.S. positivity rate, or the percentage of Covid-19 tests that come back positive, is at 6.2%, up from around 5.2% last week, according to Hopkins. Illinois, where businesses are bracing for new coronavirus restrictions amid a rise in new Covid cases, has a positivity rate of 6.3%. Wisconsin, which hit a record high in average daily cases Sunday, has a positivity rate of 16%. Kentucky, another state that hit a new high, has a positivity rate of 8.4%.

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Additionally, Covid-19 hospitalizations were growing by 5% or more in 34 states as of Sunday, according to a CNBC analysis of data collected by the Covid Tracking Project. Fifteen states hit record highs in hospitalizations. El Paso County in Texas enacted a curfew after ICUs in the area reached full capacity. The increase in hospitalizations could

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Vaccine hopes rise as Oxford jab prompts immune response among old as well as young adults

LONDON (Reuters) – One of the world’s leading COVID-19 experimental vaccines produces a immune response in both young and old adults, raising hopes of a path out of the gloom and economic destruction wrought by the novel coronavirus.

The vaccine, developed by the University of Oxford, also triggers lower adverse responses among the elderly, British drug maker AstraZeneca Plc, which is helping manufacture the vaccine, said on Monday.

A vaccine that works is seen as a game-changer in the battle against the novel coronavirus, which has killed more than 1.15 million people, shuttered swathes of the global economy and turned normal life upside down for billions of people.

“It is encouraging to see immunogenicity responses were similar between older and younger adults and that reactogenicity was lower in older adults, where the COVID-19 disease severity is higher,” an AstraZeneca spokesman said.

“The results further build the body of evidence for the safety and immunogenicity of AZD1222,” the spokesman said, referring to the technical name of the vaccine.

The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is expected to be one of the first from big pharma to secure regulatory approval, along with Pfizer and BioNTech’s candidate, as the world tries to plot a path out of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The news that older people get an immune response from the vaccine is positive because the immune system weakens with age and older people are those most at risk of dying from the virus.

If it works, a vaccine would allow the world to return to some measure of normality after the tumult of the pandemic.

British Health Secretary Matt Hancock said a vaccine was not yet ready but he was preparing logistics for a possible roll out mostly in the first half of 2021.

FILE PHOTO: A test tube labeled with the vaccine is seen in front of AstraZeneca logo in this illustration taken, September 9, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/File Photo/File Photo

Asked if some people could receive a vaccine this year he told the BBC: “I don’t rule that out but that is not my central expectation.”

“The programme is progressing well, (but) we’re not there yet,” Hancock said.

COMMON COLD VIRUS

Work began on the Oxford vaccine in January. Called AZD1222 or ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, the viral vector vaccine is made from a weakened version of a common cold virus that causes infections in chimpanzees.

The chimpanzee cold virus has been genetically changed to include the genetic sequence of the so-called spike protein which the coronavirus uses to gain entry to human cells. The hope is that the human body will then attack the novel coronavirus if it sees it again.

Immunogenicity blood tests carried out on a subset of older participants echo data released in July which showed the vaccine generated “robust immune responses” in a group of healthy adults aged between 18 and 55, the Financial Times reported earlier.

Details of the finding are expected to be published shortly in a clinical journal, the FT said. It did not name the publication.

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New guidelines address rise in opioid use during pregnancy

Opioid use in pregnancy has prompted new guidance from the American Academy of Pediatrics, aimed at improving care for women and newborns affected by their mothers’ drug use.

The number of affected women and infants has increased in recent years but they often don’t get effective treatment, and the pandemic may be worsening that problem, said Dr. Stephen Patrick, lead author of the academy report released Monday.

“While we have been talking about the opioid crisis for years, pregnant women and their newborns seldom make it to the top of the heap. Infants are receiving variable care and not getting connected to services,” said Patrick, a Vanderbilt University pediatrician.


The academy’s report says pregnant women should have access to opioid medication to treat opioid misuse. Two opioids, buprenorphine and methadone, are effective treatments but pregnant women often face stigma in using them and doctors who prescribe them are scarce.

The academy says hospitals should written protocols for assessing and treating opioid-affected newborns. Many don’t and practices vary widely.

Breastfeeding and other practices that promote bonding should be encouraged, and parent education and referral to services for affected newborns should be provided, the academy says. Its recommendations echo guidance from other medical groups and the U.S. government.

“This is a substantial public health problem that is still lacking solutions,” Patrick said.

According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 7% of U.S. women reported in 2019 that they had used prescription opioids during pregnancy. One in 5 of those women reported misusing the drugs while pregnant.

Some infants born to these women develop symptoms of opioid withdrawal, including tremors, fussiness and diarrhea.

By some U.S. estimates, nearly 80 affected infants are diagnosed every day on and the numbers have tripled in recent years.

Patrick has done research suggesting that these infants may be at risk for developmental delays, but says it’s possible those findings reflect use of alcohol or other drugs during pregnancy, poor prenatal care or stress.

“Getting into treatment may be getting even harder” because of the pandemic, he said. “There’s so much going on in the world that that issues involving opioid use are flying under the radar.”

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Follow AP Medical Writer Lindsey Tanner at @LindseyTanner.

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The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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South Korean authorities stick to flu vaccine plan after deaths rise to 48

SEOUL (Reuters) – The number of South Koreans who have died after getting flu shots has risen to 48, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said on Saturday, adding that the vaccines would continue to reduce the chance of having simultaneous epidemics.

FILE PHOTO: A man gets an influenza vaccine at a branch of the Korea Association of Health Promotion in Seoul, South Korea, October 23, 2020. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

The health authorities said they found no direct link between the deaths and the shots. They plan to carry on with the state-run vaccination programme to try to avoid having to fight both the flu and the coronavirus over the coming winter.

“After reviewing death cases so far, it is not the time to suspend a flu vaccination programme since vaccination is very crucial this year, considering … the COVID-19 outbreaks,” KDCA Director Jeong Eun-kyung told a briefing.

Jeong said the review had shown no direct link between the flu shots and the 26 deaths that have been investigated.

Some 20 initial autopsy results from the police and the National Forensic Service showed that 13 people died of cardiovascular, cerebrovascular and other disorders not caused by the vaccination.

The death toll among those who have been vaccinated rose by 12 cases from a day earlier to 48 on Saturday.

The rising deaths have caused some doctors and politicians to call for a halt to the government campaign to vaccinate about 30 million of the country’s 54 million people.

While encouraging people to get flu vaccines, Jeong issued precautions to take before getting the shot, such as drinking enough water and telling healthcare workers about any underlying medical conditions. She also advised people to wait 15-30 minutes before leaving the clinic where they receive their vaccine.

“If possible, try to get the flu shot when it’s warm, since there are concerns that low temperatures could affect cardiovascular disease or cerebrovascular disease,” she said.

The KDCA said 9.4 million people had been inoculated as of Friday in the programme that began in September, with 1,154 cases of adverse reactions.

South Korea reported 77 new coronavirus cases as of Friday midnight, bringing total infections to 25,775, with 457 deaths.

Reporting by Heekyong Yang; Editing by Tom Hogue

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