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Governor bans indoor dining in Chicago as virus cases surge

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Surging COVID-19 cases in Chicago prompted Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Tuesday to ban indoor dining and bar services and limit the number of people gathering in one place.

The rules taking effect Friday will force diners and bar patrons outdoors and shut down service at 11 p.m. No more than 25 people may gather at one time, or fewer if that number would exceed 25% of room capacity.

“We can’t ignore what is happening around us, because without action, this could look worse than anything we saw in the spring,” Pritzker said, referring to the start of the pandemic, when health care resources were pushed to the limit because of the overwhelming number of COVID-19 cases.


Chicago, which comprises Region 11 of the state’s 11 COVID-19 monitoring regions, joins six other regions subject to what the Pritzker administration calls “resurgence mitigations.” A day earlier, Pritzker imposed the restrictions on Region 10, Cook County outside of Chicago and Lake County to the north.

After a summer of declining case numbers — Illinois fared better than many other states, particularly in the South and West — they began climbing again in August and jumped precipitously this month. There were 4,000 new infections and 46 additional deaths Tuesday, bringing total cases to 382,985 with 9,568 deaths.

There were 2,758 hospitalized, an 86% increase from a month ago, and both intensive care patients at 595 and the 241 on ventilators represented increases in the 70% range.

Other regions which hit the mitigation bar did so when positive rates of COVD-19 test results topped 8% for three consecutive days. Dr. Ngozi Ezike, the state public health director, said the latest additions, Cook County on Monday and Chicago on Tuesday, have seen the troubling rise in numbers of sick people requiring inpatient treatment as well as a jump in positive test results.

“Based on current trends, we soon could face reduced hospital bed availability and overwhelming our health care systems,” Ezike said.

Earlier Tuesday, Dr. Allison Arwady, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, predicted the action taken by the governor, pointing out that while COVID-19 is not as prevalent in Chicago as during the pandemic’s early days in March, the number of confirmed cases is doubling every nine days.

“COVID is widespread here in Chicago, and we need you to double down on the things that you know work,” Arwady said. “Please as much as you can, if there are interactions you’re having that are not essential, back off on those.”

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Associated Press writer Kathleen Foody contributed from Chicago.

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Follow Political Writer John O’Connor at https://twitter.com/apoconnor

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Surge in new virus cases driven by people under 30

BOSTON (AP) — The recent surge in confirmed coronavirus cases in Massachusetts is being driven in large part by an increase among younger people, Gov. Charlie Baker said Tuesday.

Whereas 15% of new cases in April were among people under age 30, now 37% of the new confirmed cases are people in that age group, the Republican governor said at a news conference at which he urged people to stop partying.

“According to our most recent data, about 300 people per day under 30 have contracted COVID-19, have tested positive for it, with about 38,000 people in this age group diagnosed since March,” he said.


More than half the new cases have been traced to social gatherings and household transmission, and there have been more reports of indoor parties as the weather has turned cooler, Baker said. He reminded people that outdoor trick-or-treating on Halloween is safer than an indoor party.

“To keep case rates down, and help us not only keep people healthy, but also ensure that our hospitals continue to have the capacity they need to serve their patients, our young people need to be serious about dealing with COVID,” he said.

Baker also urged people to limit Thanksgiving gatherings to members of the same household, or if mixing households, limit the number of guests to as few as possible.

He also shed new light on the state’s decision last week to close indoor skating rinks for two weeks in response to an increase in cases linked to youth hockey games.

He blamed the closures on “irresponsible” parents and coaches who didn’t cooperate with state contact tracers, including some who refused to supply team rosters.

“Youth hockey needs to make some changes,” he said.

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VIRUS BY THE NUMBERS

The state Department of Public Health reported more than 1,000 new confirmed coronavirus cases for the fourth consecutive day on Tuesday, as the 7-day rolling average of the positivity rate and daily new cases in the state continued to rise.

The state reported 1,025 new confirmed cases and seven deaths Tuesday.

The 7-day rolling average of the positivity rate in Massachusetts has now risen over the past two weeks from 0.95% on Oct. 12 to more than 1.5% on Monday, according to the Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering.

The 7-day rolling average of daily new cases in Massachusetts has also risen over the past two weeks from more than 600 on Oct. 12 to more than 1,041 on Monday, according to Johns Hopkins.

The number of people in the state’s hospitals with the disease rose to 567, up from 550 the previous day. The number of patients in intensive care rose to 109 from 105.

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UNEMPLOYMENT HELP

About 17,000 Massachusetts residents who have lost their jobs during the coronavirus pandemic but were ineligible for additional federal benefits are getting an additional $1,800 from the state.

The bill providing the extra cash was passed by the Legislature on Monday and signed into law by Baker

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Canadian Thanksgiving could be a cautionary tale for Americans amid coronavirus surge

“In some areas we are learning that gathering during the Thanksgiving weekend contributed to the elevated case counts we are seeing today,” Howard Njoo, Canada’s deputy chief public health officer, told reporters Tuesday in Ottawa. “Our actions matter.”

Before the holiday, officials advised Canadians to curtail their plans by limiting celebrations to those living under the same roof or moving the party online, but it is not clear how widely the advice was heeded.

In the United States, where Thanksgiving is held on the fourth Thursday in November, officials issued similar warnings. Last week, the United States hit an all-time high in new coronavirus cases, exceeding 80,000 in a day for the first time.

In an interview with CBS News earlier this month, the nation’s leading infectious-disease expert, Anthony S. Fauci, warned that Thanksgiving events could lead to new cases.

“That is, unfortunately, a risk, when you have people coming from out of town, gathering together in an indoor setting,” he said. “It is unfortunate, because that’s such a sacred part of American tradition.”

But in both Canada and the United States, messaging around how to celebrate has been muddled, with officials at different levels of government offering seemingly conflicting guidance. Ontario Premier Doug Ford described his own holiday plans, then appeared to change them after critics pointed out that they contradicted his own government’s advice to celebrate only with those in one’s immediate household.

Canadian officials are now dealing with the aftermath of the holiday. Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Deena Hinshaw, said last week that the Thanksgiving-related cases showed how the virus can exploit human interaction.

“People did not mean to spread covid-19,” she said. “But it is a reminder that social gatherings where distancing and masking are not used consistently are a significant risk for spread.”

In Ontario, officials logged a record-high number of daily cases over the weekend. The province announced restrictions this month in hard-hit areas, including a 28-day ban on indoor dining.

“I think it’s reasonable to think that part of the surge we’re seeing in Toronto is tied to Thanksgiving,” Eileen de Villa, the city’s medical officer of health, said Monday.

Public health officials in one Toronto suburb issued a notice about a “cluster” of at least 13 coronavirus cases linked to a gathering around Thanksgiving, during which an extended family of 12 shared one residence.

Some family members were symptomatic at the gathering, York Region Public Health said in a news release. One worked while sick, infecting colleagues. Ten family members, including three infants, and people from another household have since tested positive.

“We need to pay more attention to those settings where we have people coming together for celebrations,” Bonnie Henry, British Columbia’s provincial health officer, said Monday as she announced new restrictions on private gatherings after a weekend of record new cases.

Infectious-disease specialists have noted that several elements associated with Thanksgiving — interstate travel, students returning home from college and indoor family gatherings — could fuel the virus’s

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The fall surge has added nearly half a million cases in a week

In just one week, the fall surge in Covid-19 infections added nearly half a million cases to the national total.



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

The past seven days have been marked by daunting coronavirus records and upticks, with 489,769 new cases reported since October 20. More than 8.7 million people have now been infected since the pandemic again, 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. Building on already high case counts, health experts have warned this rise could be worse than any the US has seen before.

“We’ve never really had waves in the sense of up and then down to a good baseline,” Dr. Anthony Fauci said Monday in a Yahoo Finance Interview. “It’s been up and wavering up and down, until now we’re at the highest baseline we’ve ever been — which is really quite precarious.”

At 69,967 new cases per day, the 7-day average of new cases is at the highest levels since the pandemic began, bringing the national death toll to 225,720, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

And state numbers are worrisome too: 37 states are reporting 10% more new cases compared to last week, and 21 states saw their highest 7-day averages on Sunday.

Whether these states are seeing a new wave of cases or just an exacerbation of the original wave, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said, is just semantics.

“No matter how you look at it, it’s not good news,” Fauci said.

Officials reinstate restrictions

Officials in states and cities alike are responding to the bad news by rolling back reopening plans.

With 1,223 new cases and 948 hospitalizations on Monday, New Jersey is experiencing a spike, Gov. Phil Murphy said.

“Everywhere you look, it is screaming out that this is surging right now folks, and we have all got to band together and turn these numbers down, particularly hospitalizations and loss of life,” Murphy said.

Newark, which is in the counties with the top five case counts, will begin implementing restrictions including closing non-essential businesses by 8 p.m. starting Tuesday, according to a press release.

“This is not the first time COVID-19 has threatened our city and its residents at this magnitude and once again, we will meet this challenge with determination and guided by data,” said Newark Mayor Ras Baraka in the statement. “We are Newark strong and can get through this together. We did it once before and we can

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Hospitals Balance Covid-19 Care With More-Lucrative Services During Latest Virus Surge

Hospitals are holding off as long as possible before halting procedures to make room for fresh waves of Covid-19 patients, a reversal from earlier this year when facilities postponed care, leading to steep financial losses and public-health risks.

National hospital chain Tenet Healthcare Corp. pushed ahead with procedures as states permitted, such as knee and hip replacements, colonoscopies, and surgery to implant pacemakers, through recent surges in Alabama, California and elsewhere. In southeast Wisconsin, where already rising Covid-19 hospitalizations jumped 35% in the first two weeks of the month, Advocate Aurora Health continues nonessential surgery across a dozen hospitals.

HCA Healthcare Inc., one of the nation’s largest hospital systems, waited until last week to suspend some surgery in El Paso, Texas, where a coronavirus surge sharply accelerated in recent weeks. About 80% of the procedures there continue, however.

Nashville-based HCA stops surgery “as a last resort,” said Jon Foster, an HCA president who oversees 90 of the company’s 186 hospitals.

Hospitals have grown more circumspect of shutdowns through new waves of the virus after fallout from voluntary and state-ordered shutdowns in March and April. And unlike last spring, fewer states are ordering broad shutdowns, leaving it to hospitals.

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Nursing homes prepare for third COVID-19 surge

 Nursing homes, long in the spotlight as a key battleground in the fight to prevent the spread of COVID-19, are making key structural changes to prepare for an expected third surge of the disease. 

Facilities have implemented increased testing, promoted mask use and changed clinical practices in an effort to protect older Americans who are at higher risk of complications from the coronavirus.

While many changes are temporary to mitigate the virus until a vaccine is available, others are more permanent.

I think that what wont end will be a renewed and strengthened emphasis on infection control,” said Mark Parkinson, CEO of the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL).

The AHCA/NCAL, which represents more than 14,000 skilled nursing centers, assisted living communities and other homes, is preparing for “the next pandemic,” Parkinson said, as many weren’t prepared for the current one.

We are on hyper, high alert every single day and we will be until there is a vaccine and everyone gets vaccines,” Parkinson said.

More than 60,400 nursing home residents have died from COVID-19, with more than 260,500 confirmed cases across the country, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

Health care experts say that despite the high figures, the situation has improved from earlier this year, when the coronavirus was spreading like wildfire in nursing homes across the country.

Parkinson said the situation at nursing homes was horrific” in March and April, with nearly 7,000 people dying of COVID-19 a month and a half into the pandemic.

The largest number of deaths have been in New York, California, New Jersey, Texas, Massachusetts, Florida and Illinois, with those seven states accounting for over 45 percent of all nursing home fatalities.

The states with the highest number of deaths per 1,000 residents include Massachusetts, New Jersey, Connecticut, Louisiana, Rhode Island, Mississippi, Georgia and Pennsylvania.

Conditions in nursing homes have improved dramatically since March. The two biggest reasons are the availability of personal protective equipment [PPE] back in March and April — we just didnt have the PPE that we needed to keep the virus from spreading — and the second thing thats occurred is the availability of testing,” Parkinson said.

Alex Brill, resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, noted that while the situation at nursing homes is improving, an increase in cases in parts of the U.S. will impact facilities for older Americans.

The nursing home COVID crisis in New York and New Jersey and Connecticut from the beginning of the pandemic, things are different and way better there. But as the pandemic is spreading throughout the country, we’re going to see it pop up in other nursing homes,” Brill said.

He added, If there’s a nursing home that hasn’t had many or any COVID-related deaths yet, they have to continue to watch what’s happening in their local community and be prepared for outbreaks.”

The first

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El Paso issues curfew to help curb Covid-19 as cases surge and hospitals reach full capacity

El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego issued the curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. starting Sunday night for the next two weeks to help curb the rising rates.

“The purpose of the curfew is to limit mobility in the community,” Samaniego said during a virtual press conference Sunday night, adding that the positivity rate and hospitalizations have exploded in recent weeks. “Currently our hospitals are stretched to capacity,” the judge explained.

The county — which includes the city of El Paso and sits in the southwest border of Texas above Juarez, Mexico — has seen a 160% increase in positivity rate since October 1 and a 300% increase in hospitalizations, the judge said.

“We’ve had significant spikes to the point that our hospital capacity is really tapped. We’re probably at the end of our rope there,” Mayor Dee Margo told CNN’s Ana Cabrera on Newsroom Sunday night. “It’s not good here at all.”

US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) resources will arrive in Texas this week, including two 35-person Disaster Medical Assistance Teams and a Trauma Critical Car Team, according to a statement from Governor Greg Abbott’s office.

On Sunday, 517 new positive Covid-19 cases were reported in the county for a total of 39,326 confirmed cases, according to the City/County of El Paso Covid-19 website. Three new deaths were also reported for a total of 575 deaths, the website shows.

Curfew imposed to slow spread

Samaniego explained that the curfew was put in place instead of another stay at home order because officials want to minimize the economic impact on businesses and families.

“The curfew is enough to limit the economic consequences on local businesses by allowing the stores to stay open. We carefully thought about the economic impact if we were to impose a full stay at home order like we did at the beginning of this process,” Samaniego explained.

“We know the impact it would have for you not to be able to go to work. So we’re going to do everything possible to continue moving towards the balancing of the economy and making sure that we adhere to public health and everything that is required for us to continue our battle against this very insidious virus,” he added.

Audrey Rodriguez of the Bowling Family YMCA in Northeast El Paso prepares the venue for early voting by putting out social distancing and direction markers from the entrance into the parking lot.

Those who don’t comply with orders could face a fine of $250 for not wearing a mask and $500 for not following the order, Samaniego said.

Mayor Margo said that while there hasn’t been one cause identified for the recent surge, many cases have been attributed to community spread and people letting their guard down.

“We did an analysis for two weeks on 2,404 cases from October 6 through October 20 and what we found is that 37% of our positives were from visiting large big-box stores, 22.5% were restaurants, and 19% were travel to Mexico,” Margo explained, adding that 10% were attributed to parties and reunions, 7.5% were due to gyms and only 4% were due to large gatherings.

The mayor urged people to

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Utah hospitals plan on rationing care as coronavirus cases surge in the state: report

Hospitals in Utah will soon be forced begin prioritizing younger COVID-19 patients over older ones amid surging rate of hospitalizations from the virus in the state, doctors warned Utah’s governor on Thursday.

The Salt Lake Tribune reported that hospital administrators in the state asked Gov. Gary Herbert (R) to approve a plan that would take drastic steps to reduce intensive care unit (ICU) admissions in the event of hospital ICUs being overwhelmed, which they said was a serious possibility in the days ahead.

If ICUs are nearing capacity, patients who are not seen to be improving even with intensive care will be asked to consider moving to a regular hospital bed. Doctors will also be asked to clearly communicate with patients about do-not-resuscitate orders.

“These discussions on goals of care need to occur independently from triage decisions,” read the guidelines, according to the newspaper. “Providers must be careful not to coerce patients or their families.”

Once ICUs reach capacity, hospitals will take matters into their own hands to determine ICU priority, according to the Tribune. Lower priority will be given to patients who are older if two patients are otherwise equally eligible for an ICU bed, while those who are pregnant receive higher priority.

A spokesperson for Herbert’s office and other state officials confirmed to the Tribune and other news outlets that ICUs in the state are nearing capacity, but did not confirm if Herbert would approve the plan proposed by hospital administrators.

“Right now, it feels very close to being under the crisis standards of care. The [hospital administrators] were very clear about the level of stress that they’re under,” said Joe Dougherty, an official with Utah’s Division of Emergency Management. “We can have a public health order…but even with that in place, we still need people to choose to limit their gatherings.”

“We are not there yet, but we are too close, uncomfortably close,” added a spokesman for the governor.

Utah’s daily rate of new coronavirus cases is now double what it was at the peak of the first wave of cases earlier this year, with state officials reporting 1,543 new cases on Saturday, according to The New York Times. 319 patients are currently hospitalized across the state with the virus, while 568 deaths have been reported in the state since the pandemic began.

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White House Chief of Staff Says ‘We’re Not Going to Control the Pandemic’ as COVID-19 Cases Surge

The White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, said the U.S. won’t be able to contain COVID-19 as new cases continue to hit record highs.

“We’re not going to control the pandemic,” Meadows told CNN’s Jake Tapper on Sunday. “We are going to control the fact that we get vaccines, therapeutics and other mitigations.” When asked why the U.S. can’t attempt to curb the virus, Meadows said, “Because it is a contagious virus just like the flu.”

Instead, Meadows said that “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.”

Meadows’ remarks fall in line with the Trump administration’s lack of a plan for containing the virus, like say, implementing national guidelines to control the infection rate. Over 224,000 Americans have died since the pandemic’s outset, with health officials encouraging the public to continue wearing masks, as they could save almost 130,000 lives in the coming months.

During his CNN interview, which was received online with a combination of shock and outrage, Meadows also defended the large campaign rallies that Trump has continued to host as the election nears, where masks and social distancing measures aren’t enforced. “We live in a free society,” Meadows said after Tapper pushed him on the rallies.

The U.S. reported 83,757 new confirmed cases on Friday, eclipsing the previous daily record of 77,300 in mid-July. On Saturday, the country reported an additional 83,718 cases. As CNBC points out, research suggests that the U.S. could see over 500,000 total deaths by the end of February if states don’t intensify pandemic limitations.

Meadow’s interview inspired a visceral action online and beyond, with Joe Biden slamming the Trump administration for its failure to safeguard the U.S. “Mark Meadows stunningly admitted this morning that the administration has given up on even trying to control this pandemic, that they’ve given up on their basic duty to protect the American people,” the former vice president said in a statement.

Biden wasn’t the only one who chimed in. Check out reactions to Meadows’ interview below.  

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Texas seeks to shore up hospital capacity in El Paso as coronavirus cases surge nationwide

New reported infections nationwide surpassed 80,000 for the first time this Friday and again Saturday, as hospitalizations push past 40,000 and daily death tolls begin to climb. Officials are already trying to shore up overwhelmed facilities: In Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott (R) on Sunday announced that state authorities are creating a new site for medical care and deploying extra resources to hospitals in El Paso, where covid-19 hospitalizations have nearly quadrupled to almost 800 in less than three weeks.

The United States’ latest case spike, expected to intensify as winter draws closer, is geographically broader than the spring surge that devastated East Coast states and the summer wave that hit the South and Southwest. And it comes as leaders are leery of renewed shutdowns, as Americans grow wearier of restrictions and as the Thanksgiving travel season looms.

In previous waves, “our governments reacted,” said Megan Ranney, an emergency medicine professor at Brown University. “We closed bars. We closed restaurants. We enforced mask mandates. And I’m not seeing a lot of that nationally right now.”

“We are set up for just a perfect storm — a conflagration,” she said. “Right now, you can talk about there being lots of little burning fires across the country. And then Thanksgiving will be the wind that will whip this fire up into an absolutely human disaster for our country.”

In El Paso, authorities are urging people to stay home as efforts to add hospital beds kick in. The new facility announced by Abbott, set to open this week at the El Paso Convention and Performing Arts Center, will start at 50 beds but can expand to 100 if necessary, the governor’s office said, while “auxiliary medical units” sent to hospitals can boost capacity by 100 beds.

In a Sunday call, Abbott also asked the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to ease the pressure with a Department of Defense medical center in El Paso. Abbott asked to house non-coronavirus patients in William Beaumont Army Medical Center so that hospitals in the El Paso area could give more beds to those with covid-19, the disease the novel coronavirus causes.

Health and Human Services did not immediately provide a comment.

New daily infections in El Paso have rocketed from fewer than 25,000 at the beginning of the month to more than 38,500 this weekend, according to The Washington Post’s tracking. New deaths have yet to surpass a peak in August, but deaths lag behind spikes in cases and hospitalizations.

The mayor of El Paso, Dee Margo, said he learned on a recent ride-along with fire officials that most of their calls are related to the coronavirus. If moves to address hospitals’ strain do not work, he said, he will ask the governor for more action. He pleaded with residents to mind their behavior to avoid “drastic measures.”

Some public health experts say they are not optimistic about the chances of ramping up coronavirus restrictions again across the country.

“I don’t see forceful policy intervention happening

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