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Friday, October 23, 2020

Country nears 8M COVID-19 cases

The United States is fast approaching 8 million confirmed infections. The count stood at 7,966,934, as of Thursday. Over 217,000 deaths have been confirmed.

For the first time since early April, the European Union reported more new cases of COVID-19 than the U.S. this week, according to the Wall Street Journal. The EU and the United Kingdom reported an average of 78,000 cases a day over the seven-day period ending Oct. 12. In the same time, the U.S. reported 49,000 on average.

The resurgence is worst in the Czech Republic, Belgium, and the Netherlands. According to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, the 14-day cumulative number of cases per 100,000 people for these EU member states has surpassed 400.

The U.S. is averaging more than 52,000 cases a day, an increase of 16% over last week, a CNN analysis finds.

Additionally, 35 states have seen increases of 10% or greater in new COVID-19 cases in the last week versus the previous week. An additional 12 states are holding steady. Only three states are experiencing decreases in new cases of more than 10% — Louisiana, Kentucky, and Vermont.

“This is a very ominous sign. I think we’re in for a pretty bad fall and winter,” Dr. Peter Hotez, professor and dean of tropical medicine at the Baylor College of Medicine, told CNN.

Dr. Anthony Fauci said that the decision for families to gather together for Thanksgiving during the coronavirus pandemic is an “individual choice.”

Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said that while Thanksgiving is a “beautiful tradition” of bringing families together, he cautioned that this year will be different than others.

“People have to make their individual choice, particularly who you have in your home. Are they vulnerable people? Are they elderly? Are they people with underlying conditions?” Fauci said during a Thursday interview with Yahoo News.

Fauci also dismissed “herd immunity” as nonsense in two interviews on Thursday.

In an interview with ABC’s Good Morning America, Fauci called it “ridiculous” to support an approach in which “you just let things rip and let the infection go — no masks, crowds,” adding, “you’ll wind with many more infections of vulnerable people, which will lead to hospitalizations and deaths.”

The White House has embraced the concept, with two senior administration officials in a call with reporters Monday citing an Oct. 4 petition called the Great Barrington Declaration that calls for ending lockdowns.

Fauci disputed the Great Barrington Declaration’s claims in an interview with Yahoo Finance Thursday, calling it “another trap.”

Sen. Kamala Harris has canceled campaign travel until next week after two people connected to former Vice President Joe Biden’s White House bid tested positive for COVID-19.

Biden campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon confirmed her team found out Wednesday that Liz Allen, Harris’s communications director, and a nonstaff flight crew member had contracted the coronavirus.

Harris won’t quarantine because she hasn’t been in close contact with the pair, but she won’t take part in in-person events on her agenda until Monday out of an abundance of caution.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that Canada will keep its border closed until the U.S. gets the pandemic under control. “The U.S. is not in a place where we would feel comfortable reopening those borders,” Trudeau told Canada’s Global Television Network. “We will continue to make sure that Canadian safety is top of mind when we move forward.”

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin agreed to Democratic demands relating to coronavirus testing in a pandemic relief package, a small step toward a deal.

“When I speak to Pelosi today, I’m going to tell her that we’re not going to let the testing issue stand in the way,” Mnuchin said on CNBC’s Squawk Box Thursday morning.

“We’ll fundamentally agree with their testing language, subject to minor issues. This issue is being overblown,” Mnuchin added.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said the Trump administration’s language regarding a national plan for coronavirus testing, tracing, treatment, and vaccine distribution is “grossly inadequate.”

Later in the day, President Trump called for more than the $1.8 trillion in stimulus funding that Mnuchin proposed in his talks with Pelosi.

“I would take more. I would go higher,” Trump said in an interview on Fox Business. “I’ve told him,” he said, referring to Mnuchin. “So far, he hasn’t come home with the bacon.”

The Atlanta Falcons shut down their facility after a member of their organization tested positive for COVID-19. An official with the NFL confirmed that it was a personnel official and not a player.

In a statement, the team said, “This decision was made in consultation with the NFL and medical officials. The health and safety of our team is our highest priority.”

Layoffs remain troublingly high. The number of new applications for unemployment benefits rose to 898,000 last week, the Labor Department reported on Thursday. Forecasters had projected 825,000 new jobless claims.

In addition to claims for regular benefits, more than 370,000 workers filed new claims for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, which provides for unemployment insurance for people sidelined by the epidemic who normally wouldn’t be eligible for regular benefits, such as gig workers whose business dried up. Combining both regular and PUA claims, roughly 1.3 million jobless workers filed for relief last week.

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