Nearly 90,000 new coronavirus infections were reported in the United States on Thursday, a record, as cases surge in every swing state that will be crucial to next week’s presidential election.
The total number of infections reported nationwide since February is virtually guaranteed to reach 9 million on Friday, just 15 days after the tally hit 8 million. At least 228,000 deaths have been linked to the coronavirus.
Here are some significant developments:
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1:48 AM: California health officials identify first case of simultaneous coronavirus and flu infections
A coronavirus patient in Solano County, Calif., has also tested positive for influenza — this flu season’s first known case of “co-infection” in the greater San Francisco Bay area, and possibly the entire United States.
The dual infection prompted health officials to urge residents to get flu shots on Thursday, noting that it takes two weeks for the vaccine to become effective. Solano County health officer Bela Matyas told the San Francisco Chronicle that the patient was a health care worker between the ages of 20 and 65 with no other health conditions, and appears to have recovered.
Little is known about the potential risks of co-infection, since only a small number of cases were documented during last year’s flu season, which coincided with the start of the pandemic. Data presented last week at the annual meeting of the Infectious Diseases Society of America found that people who battled the flu at the same time as the coronavirus did not experience more severe outcomes, but the sample size was limited to 18 people.
A study of 64 patients who were hospitalized with dual flu-coronavirus infections in Wuhan, China last winter produced different results: Scientists found that people who were also infected with the flu took five days longer, on average, to shed covid-19. While their symptoms were not necessarily more severe, coinfection “was a significant risk factor for prolonged hospital stay,” co-author Rui Zeng told the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Generally speaking, public health experts agree that dealing with two viruses at the same time is unlikely to make recovery easier — and they’re worried about what that will mean as flu season ramps and caseloads continue to surge around the United States.
“This is a very clear indication of the potential for this to occur,” Matyas told the Chronicle. “Getting a flu vaccine this year is more important than ever.”
By: Antonia Noori Farzan
1:03 AM: Options dwindle for voters diagnosed with covid-19 as Election Day draws near
Hundreds of thousands of Americans will test positive for the novel coronavirus between now and Election Day, leaving many scrambling for alternatives to in-person voting and injecting another dimension of uncertainty into an election already shadowed by the pandemic.
Those voters will need to navigate an unfamiliar and varied landscape to cast their ballots. Some will be required to get doctor’s notes or enlist family members to help. Others, in isolation, will need to have a witness present while they vote. Planned accommodations — such as officials hand-delivering ballots — may prove inadequate or could be strained beyond limits.
Sudden illness is an impediment to voting every election year, typically for a small number of Americans. Many provisions to help those voters apply exclusively to people who are hospitalized.
But with around 70,000 new cases of the coronavirus being recorded each day, a swath of Americans larger than the population of Wyoming or Vermont will probably contract the disease in the 10 days leading up to Nov. 3.
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By: Neena Satija
12:23 AM: Coronavirus cases are on the rise in every swing state
Coronavirus cases are surging in every competitive state before Election Day, offering irrefutable evidence against President Trump’s closing argument that the pandemic is nearly over and restrictions are no longer necessary.
In the 13 states deemed competitive by the Cook Political Report, the weekly average of new cases reported daily has jumped 45 percent over the past two weeks, from fewer than 21,000 on Oct. 14 to more than 30,000 on Oct. 28.
Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota and Pennsylvania have all hit new weekly average highs in recent days, and in Florida and Georgia, case counts are growing again after having fallen from summer highs.
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By: Harry Stevens
12:22 AM: One camper infected majority of summer overnight camp in Wisconsin, the CDC says
A ninth-grade boy was likely the source of a coronavirus outbreak that sickened nearly three-quarters of the students and staff at a faith-based overnight summer school retreat in southeastern Wisconsin, according to a report released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The outbreak, which occurred during a 7-week stay beginning on July 2, infected 116 of the 152 boys, counselors, and staff members in attendance. No hospitalizations and deaths occurred in connection with the outbreak, and illnesses were moderate, the CDC said.
After evaluating the Wisconsin camp outbreak, the federal agency warned that transmissions at gatherings like this camp can only be preempted with a host of precautions: For instance, while participants were required to get screened for covid-19 in advance of the trip and wear masks while traveling, they did not need to quarantine for two weeks before and gathered in close contact. Because of those limited restrictions, a student who tested negative attended the camp, without knowing that a family member would later test positive, the CDC estimated.
“A robust covid-19 mitigation plan that included a full 14-day prearrival quarantine might have prevented introduction of SARS-CoV-2 in this setting,” according to the study, using the virus’s scientific designation. “As well, cohorting of attendees for 14 days after arrival might have permitted early containment of the outbreak.”
Public health officials continue to warn against gatherings in closed in spaces with little ventilation as the virus continues to surge in states like Wisconsin, with many of the deaths in nursing homes.
“Covid-19 spreads like wildfire when you bring a lot of people together in a relatively small space,” Julie Willems Van Dijk, deputy health services secretary for Wisconsin Department of Health Services, told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. “If there was one person who was ill with covid-19, they easily spread that to everyone in their housing unit and then the nature of summer camp where you eat meals together, go swimming together, do activities together, sing around the campfire together — all of those activities are great spreading events.”
The study also found that 24 attendees who had reported having coronavirus antibodies before arrival, later did not test positive for the virus. But the CDC cautioned that there is not sufficient evidence “to determine whether the presence of detectable antibodies indicates protective immunity or how long such immunity might persist.”
By: Darren Sands
12:22 AM: Is it safe to travel for Thanksgiving? Here’s what health experts are doing for the holiday.
With the Thanksgiving holiday approaching, many are planning and rethinking their normal traditions and travel plans.
Neil J. Sehgal, an assistant professor of health policy and management at the University of Maryland School of Public Health, said he canceled his normal holiday travels to California to see family.
“I don’t feel comfortable traveling for fun,” he said. “To me, it’s not worth the risk.”
William Petri, a professor of infectious diseases at the University of Virginia School of Medicine, said he is not traveling for the Thanksgiving holiday but is driving with his wife in early November to see a newborn granddaughter in Tampa. For Thanksgiving, Petri said he would be okay with his two children on the West Coast flying to visit him, as long as they wore masks and goggles on the flight.
The goggles, he said, keep travelers from touching their eyes — another way the virus can spread — and cut down on germs spreading if someone coughs or sneezes.
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By: Dana Hedgpeth