The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has heard all the arguments about personal freedom, and the agency apparently doesn’t want to hear them any more.
“JUST WEAR THE MASK,” the CDC tweeted in all caps late Saturday. “Cover your mouth AND nose. Stay 6 feet from others. Wash your hands. Stay home if you can.”
The agency pointed to nationwide data over the last few weeks showing a sharp increase in cases, deaths and hospitalizations. Among the new cases, apparently, is Rudy Giuliani, lawyer for President Donald Trump. Trump, who has recovered from his own bout with the virus, shared the news by tweet Sunday, writing “Get better soon Rudy, we will carry on!!!”
Still, the troubling data has thus far failed to convince some public officials – among them Don Barnes, the Republican sheriff of Orange County, California – to enforce mandates issued by a growing number of governors.
“Policy makers must not penalize residents for earning a livelihood, safeguarding their mental health or enjoying our most cherished freedoms,” Barnes said in a statement.
The CDC’s tweet included a simple warning: “If we don’t act together and do what we can to slow the spread, thousands more could die.”
Here’s what to know Sunday:
- The United Kingdom received the first batch of the COVID-19 vaccine created by American drugmaker Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech on Sunday, two days before the start of an immunization program dubbed as “V-Day.” About 50 hospitals in England are scheduled to receive the vaccines on Monday, the BBC reported.
- Georgia is the sixth state to report 500,000 cases, Johns Hopkins University data shows. Vermont has the fewest cases of the states, having passed the 5,000-case mark Sunday. California and Texas each have more than 1.3 million cases.
- 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. Saturday’s total was 213,875.
- By Monday morning, more than half of California will be under lockdown orders. The state’s most populous counties were ordered under the lockdown because hospital ICUs are filling up.
📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has reported more than 14.7 million cases and 282,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: 66.9 million cases and 1.53 million deaths.
📰 What we’re reading: Are there side effects from the COVID-19 vaccines? How much will it cost? And what are the ingredients? We’re answering your vaccine questions here.
‘Darkest days’ ahead, but vaccines inspire hope for 2021
Historians, futurists, doctors and business leaders describe the coming year as a challenge and opportunity as a trio of vaccine candidates make their way toward what America hopes will be FDA approval. The experts see the nation shouldering continued disruptions to the way we live and work but also, one day next year, newly appreciating the joys of attending a wedding or a throwing a Little League post-game barbecue.
“We are heading into the darkest days of our war on COVID-19,” Rice University historian Douglas Brinkley said. “Deep community spirit is what we need now.” Read more here.
– Marco della Cava
Dr. Deborah Birx concerned about ‘parroting’ misinformation
Deborah Birx, the coordinator of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, said she was concerned about the large numbers of Americans who “parrot” incorrect public health claims they have heard from President Donald Trump.
Birx, in an interview on “Meet the Press,” was responding to a question about Trump and other administration officials flouting rules and downplaying the threat posed by the virus. Birx, a physician, noted that in her travels around the country she hears “community members parroting back” similar talking points, “parroting back that masks don’t work, parroting back we should work toward herd immunity, parroting back that gatherings don’t result in super-spreading events.”
“Only we can save us from this current surge,” she said. “And we know precisely what to do.”
– Matthew Brown
Study of health care facilities finds ‘extremely’ low detection of virus on surfaces
Many health care facilities across the nation are implementing enhanced safety protocols – from asymptomatic screening and telemedicine to increased use of PPE and sanitization – and the measures are preventing the presence of the coronavirus on surfaces, according to a new study.
Researchers from the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey took 130 swabs from various surfaces of two outpatient clinics and one inpatient clinic – including waiting rooms, bathrooms, elevators, medical equipment and more – to look for the presence of RNA from SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the disease COVID-19. Just one sample came back positive.
“In routine settings, what is the risk of contamination? In general, it’s important, but especially for cancer patients, who are more immunocompromised,” said Dr. Andrew Evens, associate director for clinical services and director of the Lymphoma Program at Rutgers Cancer Institute and medical director of the oncology service line at RWJBarnabas Health.
Evens attributed the “extremely low” detection of the virus to “a combination” of safety measures. “I don’t think it’s anything unique, frankly. Everyone is promulgating these protocols, and the bottom line is: they work,” he said.
– Grace Hauck
Defiant NYC bar owner accused of hitting deputy with car
The co-owner of a New York City bar that has been defying coronavirus restrictions was taken into custody Sunday after hitting a deputy with a car, authorities said.
Danny Presti fled from his bar, Mac’s Public House, after deputies observed patrons entering the establishment Saturday night in violation of city and state closure orders, Sheriff Joseph Fucito said. Deputies attempted to arrest Presti as he left the bar early Sunday, but Presti got into his car, struck a deputy and kept driving for about 100 yards even as the deputy was left hanging onto the hood, Fucito said. The deputy was treated for his injuries; charges were pending against Presti, 34. The Staten Island bar was the site of protests last week after owners declared an “autonomous zone” and continued to serve patrons inside despite restrictions.
Southern California to enter lockdown
A vast region of Southern California faces new lockdown orders effective Sunday night as the state scrambles to slow the rapid escalation of coronavirus cases that threatens to overwhelm hospitals. The California Department of Public Health said a shortage of intensive care beds in the 11-county Southern California region had triggered the new measures. 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. 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.
Some Southern California law enforcement officials have said they will not enforce stay-at-home orders. Orange County and Riverside County sheriffs publicly criticized Gov. Gavin Newsom in confrontational statements that stressed individual responsibility.
Will Americans be required to get vaccinated?
For some, the short answer is yes, public health and legal experts say. But a mandate is not likely anytime soon, and likely not to come from the federal government. Instead, employers and states may condition return or access to workplaces, schools and colleges upon getting the vaccine and mandate it once the FDA issues full approval, potentially months later.
“People worry about the president, governor or county executive telling them what to do. I don’t think that’s going to happen,” said Arthur Caplan, a professor of bioethics at the NYU Grossman School of Medicine.
But vaccination requirements will likely play out as they have in the past. Once fully approved by the FDA, a vaccine may eventually be required for children in public and private schools and day care settings, for college and university students and for some health care workers and patients. Read more here.
– Grace Hauck
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
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. 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.
“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
COVID-19 resources from USA TODAY
Contributing: The Associated Press