Some areas of the country will likely again need temporary “drastic” and “draconian” measures — such as shutdowns or the suspension of elective procedures — to protect the nation’s health care system as COVID-19 continues to spread, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Friday.
That’s because the nation is facing a “surge upon a surge” of cases that will likely continue to mount, Fauci said in interview with CNN. The number of coronavirus cases was already growing rapidly before Thanksgiving, a time when many Americans traveled and gathered, likely further escalating the virus’ reach.
The extent of the Thanksgiving-related surge won’t fully be known until almost Christmas — when yet another surge of cases may again start, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Fauci said.
Infections and deaths continued climbing in recent weeks, leading the influential Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation model to project on Friday that the U.S. will surpass half-a-million COVID-19 deaths by April. Fauci didn’t disagree, given the uncertainty of the coming weeks.
But good news continues on the vaccine front, he said. Some hospitals already have candidate vaccines in hand and are ready to start administering doses as soon as they receive the official emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Here’s what to know:
- Coronavirus infections reached a new daily high of nearly 228,000 cases on Friday. The 227,885 cases eclipses the previous high of more than 217,000 on Thursday, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
- Health officers in six San Francisco Bay Areas counties have issued a new stay-at-home order ahead of a state plan.
- Student loan borrowers won’t have to make payments on federal student loans until the end of January, the U.S. Education Department said Friday, extending a pandemic-era reprieve through the first days of the Joe Biden presidency.
- U.S. employers added a disappointing 245,000 jobs in November despite the looming halt of extended jobless benefits and other federal lifelines for millions of Americans.
📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has reported more than 14 million cases and over 279,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: 66 million cases and 1.5 million deaths.
📰 What we’re reading: Will you be required to get vaccinated? The short answer is yes, for some Americans. But not anytime soon, and not by the federal government. Read why.
This file will be updated throughout the day. For updates in your inbox, subscribe to The Daily Briefing newsletter.
Southern California to enter lockdown
The vast region of Southern California was placed under new lockdown orders as the state scrambles to slow the rapid escalation of coronavirus cases that threatens to overwhelm hospitals.
The California Department of Public Health announced Saturday that a shortage of intensive care beds in the 11-county Southern California region had triggered the new measures, which take effect Sunday evening. The region includes the cities of Los Angeles and San Diego and is home to about 24 million people, almost half of the state’s population. Earlier Saturday, the order was also put in effect for the San Joaquin Valley in central California.
The new state stay-at-home order bans all on-site restaurant dining and closes hair and nail salons, movie theaters and many other businesses, as well as museums and playgrounds. It stays in effect for at least three weeks. It also means people may not congregate with anyone outside their household and must always wear masks when they go outside.
Five San Francisco Bay Area counties have also imposed a new stay-at-home order for their residents that will take effect Sunday, although the region is not yet been required to do so by the state. Separately, Los Angeles County announced a stay-home order last week.
— The Associated Press
Viral obituary blames Americans who ‘abandoned’ science
Dr. Marvin James Farr was born into an America where neighbors were willing to die for their fellow citizens. But he died Tuesday in a very different country – one where “many of his fellow Americans refuse to wear a piece of cloth on their face to protect one another.”
That’s according to a widely shared obituary written by one of Farr’s five surviving children, Courtney Farr, that criticizes Americans who have “disparaged and abandoned” science amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“He died with covid-19, and his final days were harder, scarier and lonelier than necessary. He was not surrounded by friends and family,” his son wrote in the obituary posted on the website of Price & Sons Funeral Home.
– Grace Hauck
Oregon doctor’s license suspended after saying he does not wear masks
A family physician has been suspended by the Oregon Medical Board after publicly stating he and his staff are not wearing masks in his clinic during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dr. Steven LaTulippe, owner of South View Medical Arts, also compared the SARS-CoV-2 virus to a “common cold virus,” and challenged Gov. Kate Brown’s authority in her efforts to slow the spread of the disease.
The Oregon Medical Board suspended his license Thursday “due to the Board’s concern for the safety and welfare” of LaTulippe’s patients.
– Virginia Barreda, Salem Statesman Journal
Nashville ICU nurse shot and killed in her car on her way to work
A 26-year-old Nashville nurse was fatally shot Thursday night, Metro Nashville police said. Police on Friday identified the woman as Caitlyn Kaufman, who worked at St. Thomas West Hospital in Nashville. Detectives believe the shooting happened while Kaufman was on her way to work.
Kaufman died quickly at the scene after being shot at least once, police said. As of Friday night the woman’s killer remained at large, police said, and a motive in the killing wasn’t clear.
“It’s just incredibly heartbreaking and sad given her profession,” said Metro Nashville Police Department spokesman Don Aaron.
– Natalie Neysa Alund, Rachel Wegner and Brinley Hineman, Nashville Tennessean
US reaches daily high of nearly 228,000 cases
Coronavirus infections continue to spread at record levels in the United States, reaching a new daily high of nearly 228,000 cases on Friday. The 227,885 cases eclipses the previous high of more than 217,000 on Thursday, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
The seven-day rolling average of COVID-19 attributable deaths in the U.S. has passed 2,000 for the first time at 2,011. Two weeks ago, the seven-day average was 1,448. There were 2,607 deaths reported in the U.S. on Friday.
Globally, Johns Hopkins reports more than 1.5 million people have died from the coronavirus pandemic, including more than 279,000 in the United States.
– Associated Press
Hospitals brace for crisis-care mode: Too many patients, not enough staff
COVID-19 deaths and hospitalizations are at record levels and the rising case toll from Americans’ holiday travel has created an unprecedented surge with no relief in sight. The problem is especially ominous in the nation’s intensive care units – specialized units crowded with a record number of critically ill Americans as the nation struggles through the most dangerous phase of the pandemic.
On Thursday, California announced stay-at-home orders for regions where intensive care units are nearly full. A growing chorus of medical experts say hospitals and states must prepare to shift to crisis-care mode, a designation with standards for hospitals to navigate life-and-death decisions when they become overwhelmed.
Crisis standards mean hospitals with too many patients and not enough staff likely will need to triage patients, prioritizing care to those mostly likely to benefit when demand outstrips resources.
“What we see now is just the beginning of the post-Thanksgiving peak,” said Eric Toner, senior scholar with the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. “It’s going to be huge and it’s going to be awful.” Read more.
– Ken Alltucker
McConnell backs lawsuit challenging Kentucky governor’s school order
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul and 36 other senators publicly showed their support Friday for Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron’s federal lawsuit challenging Gov. Andy Beshear’s order prohibiting public and private K-12 schools from holding in-person classes until January.
McConnell, who has been a mentor to Cameron, submitted an amicus brief Friday to the U.S. Supreme Court along with Paul and many of their Republican Senate colleagues backing the case the state attorney general and Danville Christian Academy recently brought against Beshear.
The lawsuit challenges the Democrat’s decision to force religious private schools to switch to virtual classes because of spiking COVID-19 cases in the state.
– Morgan Watkins and Billy Kobin, Louisville Courier Journal
Moscow begins vaccinations
Thousands of doctors, teachers and others in high-risk groups have signed up Saturday for a coronavirus vaccination in Moscow.
The vaccination effort comes three days after President Vladimir Putin ordered the launch of a “large-scale” immunization campaign even though a Russian-designed vaccine has yet to complete the advanced studies needed to ensure its effectiveness and safety in line with established scientific protocols.
The Russian leader said Wednesday that more than 2 million doses of the Sputnik V shot will be available in the next few days, allowing authorities to offer shots to medical workers and teachers across the country starting late next week.
On Saturday, Russia reported a record 28,782 daily cases, including 7,993 in Moscow. Russia’s 2.4 million confirmed cases is the fourth-largest caseload in the world behind the United States, India and Brazil. There’s been 42,684 total confirmed deaths in Russia.
– Associated Press
‘A lot more’ must be done to distribute vaccine, Biden says
President-elect Joe Biden said more must be done to plan the distribution of vaccines for COVID-19 after they are approved, but that his health advisers are developing plans.
“There’s a lot more that has to be done,” Biden told reporters. “There is no detailed plan that we’ve seen anyway about how you get the vaccine out of a container into an injection syringe and into an arm.”
He called the anticipated distribution “difficult and expensive.” He also said it must be equitable, to ensure that communities of color receive vaccinations beyond those distributed through major drugstore chains that might not have offices in all neighborhoods.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do,” Biden said.
— Michael Collins and Bart Jansen
COVID-19 side effects mean your body is reacting properly, experts say
Americans will likely experience at least one side effect from the COVID-19 vaccine, but doctors say that’s normal and you should still get vaccinated.
In Moderna’s trials, where more than half of Phase 1 study participants experienced some side effect, the company said the most common side effects in Phase 3 were fatigue, muscle soreness and aches, joint pain, headache, and pain, redness or swelling at the injection site. In Pfizer/BioNTech Phase 3 trials, the probability of getting fatigued or a headache was 3.8% and 2%, respectively.
Dr. Melanie Swift, an occupational medicine physician helping lead the COVID-19 vaccination plan at the Mayo Clinic, said it’s important to educate Americans about the vaccines’ side effects or it may deter people from getting the second dose.
“Just because you’re sore doesn’t mean that (the vaccine) didn’t work or wasn’t effective. It just means that your body responded the way it’s supposed to,” she said. “It’s important to take both doses or that first dose was all for nothing.” Read more here.
– Adrianna Rodriguez
COVID-19 resources from USA TODAY
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Contributing: The Associated Press