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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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As voters head to the polls on Election Day, one American is contracting the coronavirus every second

Then, apparently spooked by a projection showing that 2.2 million people could be dead by late summer if no action were taken, Trump listened to the government’s infectious-disease experts, such as Anthony S. Fauci and Deborah Birx. He endorsed a broad shutdown of businesses and personal interactions in an effort to halt the person-to-person spread of the virus, a move that slammed the economy but also slowed the rate of infections.

In short order, though, Trump’s concern shifted from the number of infections to the economic damage being done. This was an election year after all, so his rhetoric again shifted. The country could get back to normal in short order, he insisted, perhaps even by Easter! When that obviously impossible deadline came and went, he and the government’s experts unveiled a set of benchmarks that states could use to scale back containment efforts. But Trump promptly ignored those benchmarks, encouraging states to simply roll back measures aimed at slowing the virus’s spread in favor of a resumption of normal activity.

“The cure cannot be worse than the problem itself,” he would say repeatedly — but the cure was never even close to being as bad as the virus’s toll in illness, the economic harm of uncontrolled spread and deaths.

We’ve been in this third phase of Trump’s since April. His approach to dismissing the virus has at times shifted, but the rhetoric has been consistent. The virus is just this thing that will crop up at times and that we have to deal with. He would often claim that there would simply be “flare-ups” of the virus, which his administration was ready to quickly stamp out. It wasn’t. He would say that his administration was focused on protecting those most at risk, like the residents of nursing homes. It didn’t.

From the get-go, Trump seems to have been betting on the emergence of a silver bullet. Maybe warm weather would stamp out the virus, as he said Chinese President Xi Jinping told him. Maybe scientists would develop an effective, inexpensive treatment such as hydroxychloroquine or convalescent plasma or regeneron, which could be touted as a cure. Maybe his push for the rapid development of a vaccine for the virus would allow — as he and his team predicted — for a broad inoculation program to go into effect this year. No such luck.

Eventually, he seems to have given up. While some experts, notably Fauci and Birx and Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, offered warnings about what was to come (100,000 cases a day; a bleak fall and winter), Trump dismissed such grim tidings. He preferred what Scott Atlas was saying in interviews on Fox News, so he added Atlas to his coronavirus response team, where the neuroradiologist pushed for letting the pandemic burn.

So it has. On Monday, the country hit a new high in the seven-day average of new cases, nearing 85,000. To put it in a grim context: There is

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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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