More than 193,000 new cases have been reported, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, the first time that cases in the US have surpassed 190,000 in one day.
More than half the country is now in the “red zone,” Dr. Deborah Birx, a member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, told CNN’s chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, on an exclusive interview, noting that this increase was different than in the past.
“When you look at what is happening now, the rate of increase is dramatically different,” Dr. Birx said.
“This is faster. It is broader. And what concerns me, it could be longer.”
As of yesterday, the US averaged 74,063 current hospitalizations for the past seven days, a 19.13 percent increase compared to the prior week.
Johns Hopkins University recorded more than 2,000 American deaths on Thursday, the highest number since early May, and by Dec. 18, more than 2,300 Americans could be losing their lives daily, according to the Institute for Metrics and Evaluation of University of Washington Health. (IHME).
The group now predicts a total of 471,000 American deaths by March 1, more than 30,000 since its last projection about a week ago.
But amid dire warnings, experts say Americans simply need to wear masks, social distancing, and avoid social gatherings for a little longer.
“It’s not forever. Good vaccines are coming, extraordinarily effective vaccines,” said Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of tropical medicine at Baylor College of Medicine.
“So we’re going to have a much better place, definitely by this time next year, or even earlier, spring or summer,” he said.
“Therefore, it is his obligation to stay alive and with his family.”
“It’s all down to business,” he said.
Fauci: ‘Fold’ the masks, social distancing until the vaccine
In a briefing by the White House Coronavirus Task Force Thursday, Dr. Anthony Fauci urged Americans to “double down” on life-saving measures as the nation waits for a vaccine to be approved.
Dr. Fauci highlighted preliminary data from Moderna and Pfizer that showed their vaccine candidates were about 95 percent effective, calling the results “extraordinary.”
But that doesn’t mean the country can stop wearing masks, avoid gatherings, and social distancing.
“We really need to redouble public health measures while we wait for that help to come, which will be soon,” said Dr. Fauci.
“If we do that, we can wait until the vaccine arrives.”
Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech yesterday submitted to the US Food and Drug Administration an emergency use authorization (EUA) for their candidate vaccine, the first to apply for regulatory approval in the US.
An EUA is not a complete approval, but it does allow products to be used in particular circumstances before all the evidence is available for approval.
“This is a historic day, a historic day for science and for all of us,” said Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla in a video shared yesterday.
The FDA said yesterday that it had scheduled a meeting of its external advisory panel, the Vaccines and Related Biologics Advisory Committee, to discuss the application for an EUA on December 10.
In a statement, FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn acknowledged that “transparency and dialogue are critical for public confidence in COVID-19 vaccines,” and offered assurances that the evaluation would be “the most open and transparent possible “.
While the app is “encouraging,” the American Society for Infectious Diseases stressed that a transparent review of Pfizer data is still needed, including “evidence that the vaccine has been studied in diverse populations.”
Based on current projections, Pfizer expects to produce up to 50 million doses of vaccines this year and up to 1.3 billion doses in 2021.
Dr Fauci has said that he expects the first vaccinations to begin “towards the end of December”, and logistical preparations are already underway.
General Gustave Perna, director of operations for Operation Warp Speed, said Thursday that there were 100 million vaccine kits ready to go when distribution of a vaccine begins.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said in a videotaped statement released Thursday that his state has purchased five million needles, five million syringes and five million alcohol swabs to prepare for the vaccine’s distribution.
The governor called the recent developments “the greatest rays of hope that we have seen since the pandemic began.”
Dr. Troy Brennan, CVS Health executive vice president and chief medical officer, said his company is also preparing for the mass launch of vaccines.
While it hopes CVS will have vaccines available by mid-December, the company is focused on coordinating with Operation Warp Speed to get them first to nursing homes and assisted living facilities.
Dr. Brennan said he expects CVS stores across the country to begin offering COVID-19 vaccines by late February or early March.
Healthcare workers ask the public to observe Thanksgiving responsibly
In an open letter Thursday, the American Medical Association, the American Hospital Association and the American Nurses Association called on the public to cut back on traditional gatherings to help slow the spread of the virus.
“The record increase that is taking place is causing uncontrolled spread and infection in the community that has already overwhelmed healthcare systems in some areas and will ultimately consume the capacity of our healthcare system and may reduce the availability of attention in many places in our country, “they said. said.
The large number of cases also prompted the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to update its Thanksgiving travel guidelines, advising Americans not to travel on vacation. Travelers should wear masks, stay away from others, and wash their hands regularly.
Similar messages were echoed by top health experts and state leaders last week.
Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards warned that if residents were planning a Thanksgiving that looks like the previous ones, “they are making a mistake.”
In Utah, where hospitals are overwhelmed and about 45 ICU beds remain empty, the governor has warned that only people from the same household gather for the holidays.
Wearing masks could save lives. According to the IHME team, 65,000 lives could be saved by March 1 if 95 percent of Americans wore masks.
More curfews, measures to slow the spread
As of yesterday, only Vermont and Hawaii did not appear on the list of restricted states.
That includes Los Angeles County, San Diego County, Riverside County, Orange County, and Sacramento County.
About 94 percent of California’s population is currently at the most restrictive level.
Non-essential work and meetings must stop between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m., the governor said, adding that the order will remain in effect for a month.
The statewide curfew is in effect for 21 days from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. in Ohio, where Gov. Mike DeWine clarified that police will not stop people if they are seen driving at night, saying they should be assumed to have a “legitimate reason to be out”.
“But on the other hand, if there are a number of people congregating somewhere and the police see it, they will surely stop and say, ‘Hey, it’s after 10 o’clock, they need to go home.'”
In Arkansas, the governor announced a shutdown at 11 p.m. for all businesses that are licensed to sell and allow alcohol on the premises.
And there could be more restrictions on the horizon. In New York City, where public schools switched to remote learning on Thursday, Mayor Bill de Blasio warned that the city could move into the “orange zone” as soon as the week after Thanksgiving, closing the gymnasiums and indoor dining rooms, per state guidelines.