The United States confirmed more than 76,500 new coronavirus infections Thursday, the highest total since July.
The weekly average number of new cases reported each day has risen steadily since the first week of October, from about 43,000 to more than 61,000 as of Friday, COVID Tracking Project data shows. The previous record-high weekly average was exactly a month ago, with more than 67,000.
The positivity rate in the U.S. has been on the rise since the start of October but still falls far short of the rate during the summer surge, when as much as 8.3% of tests were coming back positive.
The soonest a vaccine will be approved by the federal government is the end of this year, National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins said Friday while warning that “it might be longer.”
“I’m cautiously optimistic that by the end of 2020, there will be at least one vaccine that has reached that stage of an emergency use authorization, but I don’t know that for sure — and it might not happen, and it might take longer,” Collins said while speaking to the National Press Club on Friday.
Concerns about the safety of such an accelerated timeline could make a significant portion of the population choose not to be inoculated.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield said in September that normal, pre-pandemic life may not resume until mid- to late-2021, when an effective COVID-19 vaccine is widely available. If an insufficient proportion of the population gets the vaccine, returning to normal will take much longer.
About 51% of people said they would try to get a vaccine when it becomes available, while 45% would not try to get a vaccine, according to recent CNN polling.
Trust in the vaccine development process has been falling since the spring. In May, CNN found that 66% said they would try to get a COVID-19 vaccine, and in August, 56% said they would try.
To date, nearly 8.5 million cases and more than 223,700 deaths have been confirmed in the U.S.
Coronavirus hospitalizations increased in 38 states over the past week and are rising so quickly that healthcare centers in the Midwest are already overwhelmed, according to the Washington Post.
France recorded a new daily record for coronavirus infections, with about 42,000 new cases in the past 24 hours, according to data from government health officials on Friday. The rate of new cases reported in France has been climbing since early October, when roughly 12,000 cases were reported each day. French President Emmanuel Macron said at a health center Friday that he expects France will have to live with the virus until at least the summer of 2021, Reuters reported.
“When I listen to the scientists and the Scientific Council, we foresee [living with the virus] at best until next summer,” Macron said. “It is still too early to say whether we are moving towards wider local re-confinements, we will try each time to reduce the places, the moments when we have identified that the virus was circulating a lot.”
More than 214,000 coronavirus cases have been identified at U.S. colleges this year, the New York Times reported, suggesting that campuses are struggling to contain clusters of new cases. More than 35,000 cases of those cases have been identified since early October. While some colleges that experienced outbreaks early in the school year had to shift to virtual learning entirely, such as the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, many welcomed students back for on-campus learning.
AstraZeneca will resume clinical trials of its vaccine candidate developed with the University of Oxford after pausing the study last month when a volunteer in the United Kingdom developed a neurological illness. The Food and Drug Administration wrapped up investigations into two cases of potential neurological side effects, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday. The FDA concluded that the vaccine was not the cause of the cases and told the company that it could resume enrolling volunteers for the clinical trials already in advanced stages.
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden tried to leverage one of his strongest moments during the final debate to remind voters President Trump had failed in his COVID-19 response.
“We’re more than eight months into this crisis, and the president still doesn’t have a plan. He’s given up. He’s quit on you. He’s quit on your family. He’s quit on America. He just wants us to grow numb and resigned to the horrors of this death toll,” Biden said Friday in Delaware.
People who are most vulnerable to severe COVID-19 infection, including those with Type 2 diabetes and asthma, are likely to work at polling stations on Election Day, according to a new CDC survey of poll workers during the September primary in Delaware. About 32% had an underlying medical condition, and 27% had two or more underlying medical conditions. The survey found that 8.9% of polls workers were diabetic, 23% were obese, 10.9% had asthma, and 32% suffered from hypertension.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease expert, said Friday that Trump has not attended a coronavirus task force meeting in several months. Asked by MSNBC’s Chuck Todd when the last time Trump had attended a meeting with the task force, Fauci replied: “At a task force meeting? That was several months ago, Chuck.”
Fauci said that Vice President Mike Pence continues to attend meetings regularly and “makes our feelings and what we talk about there known” to Trump.
“But direct involvement with the president and discussions?” Fauci continued. “I have not done that in a while.”