Harrowing

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Americans head to polls amid harrowing surge in cases and hospitalizations

As Americans head to the voting booths Tuesday, the devastating Covid-19 pandemic looms: surging across the US yet again, setting grim records and forecast to take tens of thousands more lives across the country in the coming months.



a person wearing a blue hat: BOSTON, MA - OCTOBER 22: An RN hands off a coronavirus sample to medical assistant Bettie Cleveland at a COVID-19 testing site set up by Harvard Street Neighborhood Health Center at Prince Hall Grand Lodge in Grove Hall in Boston's Dorchester on Oct. 22, 2020. Harvard Street Neighborhood Health Center set up mobile testing to help their community members who were disproportionally affected by COVID-19, the neighborhoods of Dorchester, Roxbury and Mattapan have seen some of the highest incident rates of the Coronavirus in Boston. In July of 2020 they began to administer tests in the city at various locations. The Grove Hall location is available for walk up testing every Thursday at the Prince Hall Grand Lodge from 10:00am - 3:00 PM. (Photo by Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)


© Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe/Getty Images
BOSTON, MA – OCTOBER 22: An RN hands off a coronavirus sample to medical assistant Bettie Cleveland at a COVID-19 testing site set up by Harvard Street Neighborhood Health Center at Prince Hall Grand Lodge in Grove Hall in Boston’s Dorchester on Oct. 22, 2020. Harvard Street Neighborhood Health Center set up mobile testing to help their community members who were disproportionally affected by COVID-19, the neighborhoods of Dorchester, Roxbury and Mattapan have seen some of the highest incident rates of the Coronavirus in Boston. In July of 2020 they began to administer tests in the city at various locations. The Grove Hall location is available for walk up testing every Thursday at the Prince Hall Grand Lodge from 10:00am – 3:00 PM. (Photo by Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

Experts have warned this bout with the virus will be the worst one yet — and alarming trends are already pointing in that direction. In just one month, the country’s 7-day case average nearly doubled. Last week, the US reported 99,321 new cases — the highest single day number of infections recorded for any country. And at least 31 states set daily infection records last month.

Hospitalizations are also surging, with the number of patients nationwide rising by more than 10,000 in just two weeks, according to data from the COVID Tracking Project. Hospitals in some parts of the country have hit their “breaking point.”

Hospital officials in El Paso, Texas, are now preparing to open the city’s civic center as an overflow medical facility and add a fourth mobile morgue.

And when hospitalizations climb, deaths are likely to follow, doctors have warned.

The virus’s spread has already changed the way Americans vote, as tens of millions of people have already voted by mail or prior to Election Day. People recovering from Covid-19 or quarantining from being exposed to the virus can still go vote, a spokesman for the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told CNN.

More than 231,500 people have died in the US and researchers from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation project a total of about 399,163 American lives lost by February 1.

The numbers will likely get worse before they get better and officials worry the upcoming holidays — and the gatherings that will come with them — will further fuel an already rampant spread into the winter months.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. Public health measures touted by experts for months — including face masks, social distancing and regular hand washing — can help hold the virus down.

Health resources ‘stretched beyond belief’

At least 36 states are reporting more new cases than the previous week while only five

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US coronavirus: Americans head to polls amid harrowing Covid 19 surge

And when hospitalizations climb, deaths are likely to follow, doctors have warned.

More than 231,500 people have died in the US and researchers from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation project a total of about 399,163 American lives lost by February 1.

The numbers will likely get worse before they get better and officials worry the upcoming holidays — and the gatherings that will come with them — will further fuel an already rampant spread into the winter months. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Public health measures touted by experts for months — including face masks, social distancing and regular hand washing — can help hold the virus down.

Health resources ‘stretched beyond belief’

At least 36 states are reporting more new cases than the previous week while only five — Alabama, Hawaii, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Tennessee — are reporting a decline, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Working to combat the pandemic’s grip, some state leaders have pushed new measures in hopes of slowing the spread of the virus.

In Connecticut, Gov. Ned Lamont announced new guidelines including limiting restaurants to 50% capacity, with no more than eight people at a table and limiting indoor event spaces and theaters, among other restrictions. Lamont also recommended residents stay home between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m., a move he said would help limit socializing.

A 13-year-old Missouri boy's last day of school was in late October. He died from Covid-19 days later
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker on Monday announced a Stay-At-Home advisory, which will be in effect from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. All gatherings — limited to 10 people in homes indoors and 25 people outside — need to end by 9:30 p.m., he said. Everyone over the age of 5 will also be required to wear a face covering in public.

Meanwhile in West Virginia, the governor sounded the alarm on the state’s infection rate and the resources stretched thin.

“When it boils right down to it, what I have done now I’ve taken an even more drastic step in trying to provide testing and our National Guard, local health departments are now being tested beyond belief and being stretched beyond belief,” Gov. Jim Justice said.

Justice pointed to pandemic fatigue — what many other officials say is contributing to Covid-19 spread — as a major reason why the virus is running rampant in the state.

“For the most part, most of us are concerned,” he added. “Most of us are doing the right stuff. But most of us aren’t really concerned to the level that we really truly should be.”

CDC: People who have Covid-19 or who were exposed can go vote

For those who are hoping to cast their ballot Tuesday, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told CNN people recovering from Covid-19 or quarantining from being exposed to the virus can go vote — safely.
Several battleground states seeing surge of new Covid-19 cases

“In-person voting can be carried out safely following CDC’s recommendations for polling location and voters,” a CDC spokesperson wrote in a Monday email.

Voters who are sick or in

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Covid-19 Live Updates: Harrowing New Surge Rages Across America’s Heartland


New reported cases by day in the United States

March

April

May

June

July

Aug.

Sept.

Oct.

New cases

7-day average

Source: New York Times database of reports from state and local health agencies

See maps and charts showing Covid-19 cases around the country »

The latest coronavirus surge is raging across the American heartland, most acutely in the Midwest and Mountain West.

This harrowing third surge, which led to a U.S. single-day record of more than 85,000 new cases Friday, is happening less than two weeks from Election Day, which will mark the end of a campaign dominated by the pandemic and President Trump’s much-criticized response to it.

As of Friday evening, 15 states have added more cases in the past week than in any other seven-day stretch of the pandemic: Wisconsin, a battleground in the presidential election, Colorado, Kentucky, Illinois, Wyoming, Idaho, Utah, South Dakota, Montana, Arkansas, Alaska, Tennessee, Ohio, Indiana and North Dakota. And four states have added more deaths this week than in previous weeks: Wisconsin, Kentucky, South Dakota and Oklahoma.

North Dakota leads the nation in coronavirus cases per capita. Illinois is averaging more than 4,100 new cases per day, up 85 percent from the average two weeks ago. And Pennsylvania, another battleground state, on Friday reported a record of 2,258 cases.

The virus will be front of mind for voters in several key states: in Ohio, where more people are hospitalized than at any other time during the pandemic, and especially Wisconsin, home to seven of the country’s 10 metro areas with the highest numbers of recent cases. On Friday, the Wisconsin Supreme Court blocked Gov. Tony Evers’ emergency order restricting the size of indoor gatherings to 25 percent capacity on Friday.

Experts worry that the growing numbers in need of hospital care will only get worse if cases continue to mount, especially in rural areas where medical facilities could be quickly overwhelmed.

Credit…Hannah Mckay/Reuters

Citing a rise in hospitalizations across the state, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment announced a strengthening of coronavirus restrictions in certain counties, capping gatherings at 10 people from no more than two separate households. For the third straight day, Colorado announced a new single-day cases record on Friday.

Overnight, nearly 2,500 people were hospitalized in Illinois, the state’s top public health official, Dr. Ngozi Ezike, said in a news conference Friday afternoon. The mayor of Chicago, Lori E. Lightfoot, announced a curfew on nonessential businesses beginning at 10 p.m. on Friday.

In the latest presidential debate on Thursday night, President Trump asserted that the virus was “going away” as he defended his management of the pandemic. Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Democratic nominee, attacked Mr. Trump’s handling, calling for much more aggressive federal action for the “dark winter” ahead.

President Trump and many supporters blame restrictions on business activity, often

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