US COVID-19 Cases Top 12 Million: The total number of confirmed COVID-19 infections continues to grow at an alarming rate. The US surpassed the 12-million mark on Saturday, marking an increase of more than one million new infections in less than one week and nearly three million since the beginning of November. According to data from John Hopkins University, there have also been nearly 256,000 COVID-19 related fatalities in the US since the pandemic began.
There are hardly any states that have not been affected by this massive recent surge in cases. States that are seeing record high rates of infection include North Dakota, Wyoming, Nebraska, Minnesota, and California.Read More »
According to the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM), 36 National Guard troops were deployed on Saturday morning after finishing an assessment on the ground in El Paso. El Paso Mayor Dee Margo said that both the city and county worked together to find a centrally located morgue location to deliver more capacity. Prior to the arrival of the National Guard, inmates local to El Paso had been helping to move the bodies of the COVID-19 victims because the regular staff was overwhelmed.
El Paso is one of the worst COVID-19 hotspots in the state of Texas. On Saturday, the city reported over 1,000 new infections paired with 8 deaths. El Paso County has reported 247 deaths at the hands of COVID-19.
Travelers Report Busy Airports Despite CDC Guidance to Stay Home: Despite the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issuing guidance on Friday advising Americans to avoid non-essential travel, airports were reporting a surge in traffic over the weekend in advance of the Thanksgiving holiday. The AAA is saying that it is only anticipating a 10% reduction in travel from 2019. While this number still represents the largest decrease since 2008, health experts worry that too many people are insisting on being out and about.
Part of the reason for the stern warning from government officials is due to new data that suggests that over 50% of new infections are spread at the hands of asymptomatic individuals. Because of this newly revealed research, the CDC is warning Americans that they may be inadvertently infecting their loved ones if they insist on gathering for Thanksgiving.
Columbia University Bans Students After They Travel to the Caribbean: Columbia University announced that it has banned at least 70 MBA students after they violated the school’s COVID-19 health compact by traveling to the Turks and Caicos. According to Columbia University spokesman Christopher Cashman, the group trip violated the travel policy instituted as part of the compact. Because of the violation, the students are not allowed to return to campus until December 1. Instead, they must attend classes online. Cushman also said that the students will be subject to harsher discipline if they violate the policy a second time.
Today’s Good News: When looking at the news surrounding the pandemic, it is easy to get bogged down by the negative headlines. Stepping out of this bubble of negativity to offer thanks for the positive developments can go a long way in beating pandemic fatigue. Here are a few good things to focus on this weekend.
- A new report by the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IMHE) projects that approximately 65,000 lives could be saved by the beginning of March if 95% of the population were committed to wearing masks. This projection points to the effectiveness of facial coverings.
- The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) took action on Saturday to authorize the use of the Regeneron antibody cocktail to treat COVID-19 in select individuals. The emergency use authorization (EUA) only applies to high-risk patients experiencing mild to moderate symptoms. Regeneron is one of the treatments that President Donald Trump received when he came down with the virus last October. Trump has repeatedly credited the treatment for his fast recovery.
This cocktail is engineered to be given early in the infection stages. The drug works by targeting the spike protein that the virus uses to invade healthy cells and make an individual sick. The goal is to stop viral replication and shut down the infection.
- In addition to the promising news with the Pfizer vaccine, Johnson & Johnson’s chief scientist confirmed last week that the company plans to ask for authorization to roll out its single-shot vaccine no later than February. This news combined with the EUA request by Pfizer and Monday’s data provided by Moderna for its vaccine put several promising vaccine candidates in the mix.
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