The nation’s one-day toll of coronavirus deaths reported Thursday surpassed 3,000 for the first time, a number perhaps inflated by fatalities reported late due to the Thanksgiving holiday but still reflective of a pandemic racing out of control.
The death toll reported in the last two days alone was 5,744. And hospitalizations surpassed 100,000 for the first time Wednesday. The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention predicted the U.S. could reach 450,000 deaths by February.
“The reality is, December and January and February are going to be rough times, and I actually believe they’re going to be the most difficult time in the public health history of our nation, largely because of the stress it’s going to put on our public health system,” Dr. Robert Redfield said Wednesday at a U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation event.
Things you should know Thursday:
- Former presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton have said they are willing to take a coronavirus vaccine to prove that the treatment is safe and effective. They may even film themselves getting injected.
- The number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients nationwide passed the 100,000 mark Wednesday, and experts fear weary staff will be “overrun” by patients. Many hospitals will be forced to suspend elective surgeries and other routine operations, set up temporary field hospitals and stretch staff to the limit, experts said.
- There were no cheering spectators at Wednesday’s Rockefeller Center Christmas tree lighting ceremony, but it was far from a silent night. Check out our recap of all the stars who performed, including Kelly Clarkson, Dolly Parton and Jimmy Fallon.
- In the NBA, 48 of 546 players tested positive for COVID-19 in the first batch of testing for players who returned to their home market the week of Nov. 24-30, the league and the National Basketball Players Association said Wednesday.
📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has reported more than 13.9 million cases and over 273,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: 64.6 million cases and 1.49 million deaths.
📰 What we’re reading: How did a third wave of COVID-19 engulf the U.S.? Take a closer look at the dark November with these graphics and maps.
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IBM analysts have detected a global phishing campaign targeting organizations associated with an overseas supply chain used for vaccine distribution. Spoofed emails impersonating a Chinese biomedical executive targeted organizations that help meet “transportation needs within the COVID-19 cold chain,” analysts wrote. Many vaccines, including those under review for COVID-19, must be kept cool and sometimes frozen during distribution, and the Chinese company whose executive was impersonated is a supplier of low-temperature equipment.
The purpose of the phishing campaign “may have been to harvest credentials, possibly to gain future unauthorized access to corporate networks and sensitive information relating to the COVID-19 vaccine distribution,” analysts Melissa Frydrych and Claire Zaboeva wrote.
– Donovan Slack
Countless American preschoolers are falling behind with social and emotional skills after months of shutdowns. Experts say the result could be devastating for the long-term success of many kids given that preschool years are arguably among the most formative of a child’s life. A student who starts kindergarten without preschool is more likely to repeat a grade, require special-education services or drop out, statistics show.
“Unfortunately, for children, the impact of this pandemic will be felt for years,” said Dimitri Christakis, a pediatrician who directs the Seattle Children’s Hospital Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development.
– Alia Wong
A Staten Island bar was shut down and the manager hauled away in handcuffs after skirting New York’s virus restrictions and continuing to serve alcohol indoors.
Mac’s Public House has signs in its windows claiming to be an “autonomous zone.” Owner Keith McAlarney says the pandemic shutdown was killing his business. He said he was not selling food and drink inside the bar, he was giving it away and asking for donations. Not good enough, authorities said.
“This owner is learning that actions have consequences,” Jack Sterne, a spokesman for Gov. Andrew Cuomo, told The New York Times. “Breaking the law and putting your neighbors’ lives at risk during a global pandemic to make a political statement is simply unacceptable.”
Former Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton are volunteering to get inoculated on camera once COVID-19 vaccines win FDA approval. The three most recent former presidents hope an awareness campaign would be a powerful message as American public health officials try to convince the public to take the vaccine, CNN reports.
Freddy Ford, Bush’s chief of staff, said the 43rd president had reached out to Dr. Anthony Fauci – the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the nation’s top infectious disease expert – and Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator.
“First, the vaccines need to be deemed safe and administered to the priority populations,” Ford told CNN. “Then, President Bush will get in line for his, and will gladly do so on camera.”
The number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients nationwide passed the 100,000 mark for the first time Wednesday, an alarming statistic fueling enormous strain on the health care system and its brave but beleaguered workers.
Some experts said the total, compiled by the COVID Tracking Project and at 100,226 Wednesday night, could soon double. Robert Glatter, an emergency room physician at New York City’s Lenox Hill Hospital, said the country has reached a “dangerous inflection point.”
“I wouldn’t be surprised if we stand at 200,000 people hospitalized in the next month,” Glatter told USA TODAY. “Explosive growth of the virus has the potential to overrun our ability to provide care. Not only for patients with COVID-19 but also for basic medical conditions.”
A Los Angeles Superior Court judge on Wednesday ordered public health officials in the nation’s largest county to provide evidence of high-risk COVID-19 transmission that justifies the outdoor dining ban imposed last week as cases surge statewide.
The California Restaurant Association filed a lawsuit challenging the ban and requested a judge to halt the order, but Judge James Chalfant refused to without first seeing scientific evidence from Los Angeles County public health officials, the Los Angeles Times reported. County officials are expected to present evidence at a scheduled hearing on Dec. 8.
“As we’ve repeatedly said, their order was arbitrary and targeted restaurants unfairly, without supporting evidence,” CRA president Jot Condie said in a statement on Twitter.
The outdoor dining ban went into effect Nov. 25 and is expected to last three weeks, as well as a stay-at-home order that began Nov. 30. The judge’s order comes California reported a new record of more than 20,000 new coronavirus cases Wednesday, two days after Gov. Gavin Newsom warned of a new stay-at-home order.
A Hawaiian couple that boarded a flight from San Francisco to Lihue, Hawaii, after knowingly testing positive for COVID-19 has been arrested.
The Kaua‘i Police Department confirmed to USA TODAY that Wailua residents Wesley Moribe and Courtney Peterson were taken into custody Sunday after “placing the passengers of the flight in danger of death.” Moribe and Peterson were charged with reckless endangering. They both posted bail at $1,000 each.
According to a police report, Moribe, 41, and Peterson, 46, were ordered by the Quarantine Station at the San Francisco International Airport to isolate after testing positive for the highly contagious virus. The couple, however, defied airport orders and boarded a United Airlines flight from San Francisco to the islands. Moribe and Peterson were accompanied by a 4-year-old child.
– Cydney Henderson
For the first time since Arizona’s summer COVID-19 surge, Gov. Doug Ducey on Wednesday unveiled a series of new mitigation measures designed to curb spiking caseloads and hospitalizations. Saying Arizona’s numbers were “heading in the wrong direction,” he announced expanded health and safety requirements for public events approved by cities and counties. He relaxed regulations on restaurants to encourage a shift from indoor to outdoor dining. And he declared that businesses that repeatedly disregard safety guidelines would face closure.
But the strategies stopped short of what health leaders had asked for. The governor did not implement a statewide curfew or a shutdown, or put a stop to athletic events — all measures recommended by public health researchers and medical providers within the past week. He also did not put in place a statewide mask mandate, which critics including Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego and Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman had called for.
– Maria Polletta and Stephanie Innes, Arizona Republic
Forty-eight NBA players out of 546 tested positive for COVID-19 in the first batch of testing for players who returned to their home market the week of Nov. 24-30, the league and the National Basketball Players Association said Wednesday. That’s an 8.7% positivity rate, slightly less than the 10.2% seven-day average for the U.S., per John Hopkins COVID-19 data tracking web site.
“Anyone who has returned a confirmed positive test during this initial phase of testing in their team’s market is isolated until they are cleared for leaving isolation under the rules established by the NBA and the Players Association in accordance with CDC guidance,” the NBA and NBPA said in a news release.
The NBA expects the positivity rate to decline as players adhere to the rigorous health and safety protocols for the 2020-21 season. “The occurrence of independent cases (i.e., cases not spread among players or team staff) or a small or otherwise expected number of COVID-19 cases will not require a decision to suspend or cancel the 2020-21 season,” the NBA said in the 134-page document.
– Jeff Zillgitt
COVID-19 resources from USA TODAY
Contributing: The Associated Press