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Coronavirus tally in D.C. region hits two-month high; Hogan says earlier restrictions unlikely to return

The tally of coronavirus caseloads in the greater Washington region jumped Tuesday, sending the average number of new daily infections to its highest level since mid-August.

D.C., Maryland and Virginia reported daily numbers above their recent averages, with each jurisdiction seeing a rise this month. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) said Tuesday that he expects the pandemic to worsen this fall in his state but added that he has no plans to bring back the type of restrictions put in place earlier this year.

The seven-day average of new infections across the region stands at 1,874 cases, the highest since Aug. 13, when it stood at 1,916. The number of new cases reported Tuesday in D.C., Maryland and Virginia surpassed 2,000 for the fourth time this month, mirroring a rise seen across much of the country.

Hogan said Tuesday during a WBAL radio interview that the pandemic will probably get worse before it gets better, but that it’s unlikely that restrictions imposed during the height of the pandemic will return to Maryland.

[Coronavirus cases and metrics in D.C., Maryland and Virginia]

“I don’t anticipate going back to some of the measures we took before,” he said.

In March, hoping to stop the spread of the virus, Hogan issued a stay-at-home order that prohibited residents from leaving their houses unless they worked at an essential job or were buying groceries or medicine. Six weeks later he began lifting some of those restrictions.

His gradual reopening of the state did not sit well with many members of the state’s Republican Party, some of whom wanted it to occur more quickly. ReOpen Maryland held rallies across the state and in Annapolis demanding an end to coronavirus-related restrictions.

A poll conducted by Gonzales Research & Media Strategies, released Tuesday, shows more than a quarter of Republicans say the governor has done a fair or poor job handling the crisis, while 66 percent think he has handled it well. Meanwhile, 82 percent of Democrats give Hogan high marks for his handling of the virus.

Hogan said the state is “ready” for another wave.

“We do anticipate it getting worse in the fall, having a hospital surge, which is why we built 6,000 new hospital beds,” Hogan said of preparations taken earlier this year.

[Maryland coronavirus plan says 14 percent of residents eligible for early vaccine when available]

He said Marylanders should also brace themselves for the effect a second wave could have on the state’s economy as people become less comfortable with going to large gatherings, entertainment venues and eating inside restaurants.

The Gonzales poll found that 41 percent of Marylanders feel comfortable returning to their regular routine, while 57 percent say they do not feel comfortable resuming their pre-pandemic life.

“Maryland has been one of the few that has kind of avoided [a big uptick in metrics] so far, but we don’t have any magic wall that’s going to keep the virus out of our state,” he said.

The 897 new cases reported

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U.S. coronavirus hospitalizations hit two-month peak

By Shaina Ahluwalia and Anurag Maan

(Reuters) – The number of COVID-19 patients in U.S. hospitals hit 40,000 for the first time since August on Wednesday, according to a Reuters tally, as the nation battles a surge in infections led by Midwest states.

Hospitals have seen a 36% rise in coronavirus patients over the past four weeks and Midwest hospitals are setting new records every day.

So far in October, 16 states have reported their highest daily numbers of hospitalized COVID-19 since the pandemic started, including the Midwest states of Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin. Hospitalizations of virus-stricken patients have set records in every region except the Northeast. Hospitalizations are a closely watched metric because they are not influenced by how much testing is done.

In addition to hospitalizations reaching 40,264 on Wednesday, the seven-day average of new cases of COVID-19 have risen 45% in the past four weeks and is also approaching levels last seen during the summer peak, according to a Reuters analysis.

On Friday, the U.S. recorded 69,478 new cases, the highest single-day total since July 24 and the fifth-highest single-day total since the start of the pandemic.

Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers announced that a field hospital in the Milwaukee suburbs admitted its first COVID-19 patient since it opened last week.

“Folks, please stay home,” Evers said. “Help us protect our communities from this highly contagious virus and avoid further strain on our hospitals.”

In New Mexico, the governor warned on Monday that the state’s healthcare resources might not be enough if coronavirus cases continue to rise at the current pace.

The U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) has started a late-stage trial to evaluate if immune-modulating therapies from three drugmakers can help reduce the need for ventilators for COVID-19 patients and shorten their hospital stay. The study will enroll up to 2,100 hospitalized adults with moderate to severe COVID-19 symptoms in the United States and Latin America.

(Reporting by Shaina Ahluwalia and Anurag Maan in Bengaluru; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

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