Over 100,000 Americans are Hospitalized with COVID-19, Setting a New Record and Prompting New Warnings
The UK Set to Launch COVID-19 Vaccinations Next Week
The US hit a record number of COVID-19 hospitalizations on Wednesday, surpassing the 100,000 mark. The data is being collected by the Covid Tracking Project (CTP). With 100,226 people in the hospital due to the deadly virus, it is no surprise that health officials are sounding the alarm. Here is the latest on the COVID-19 pandemic.
Stimulus Negotiations the Headline on Capitol Hill: Despite there being three unique attempts at a stimulus package happening right now on Capitol Hill, political pundits are still warning that none of these are likely to come to fruition. Time is of the essence if there is any hope of passing a stimulus deal prior to the adjournment for the holidays. Lawmakers are currently scheduled to leave Washington and head home as early as next week.Read More »
Dire Warning by CDC Director: The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (DCDC) director, Dr. Robert Redfield, warned on Wednesday that the country is on track to see over 450,000 deaths attributed to the virus before February. This chilling prediction sheds light on the severity of the current outbreak and what officials believe will transpire when people continue to gather for the holidays.
Redfield did offer a little hope when he said that Americans can still turn this around by committing to wearing masks and practicing social distancing. He also said that the country needs to be diligent about limiting gatherings as he lamented the inconsistency of proactive measures across various communities.
At the same time, Redfield predicted that the next few months were going to be extremely rough for the majority of the country. He went so far as to say that this is going to be the most difficult public health period in the country’s history. Redfield said the reason for this dire prediction was due to the stress that the increasing cases of the virus were putting on the health care system. He pointed to the fact that 90% of the nation’s hospitals are now in the red zone, meaning that they are at risk for rising numbers of hospitalizations that may potentially overwhelm the system.
CDC Also Urges Americans to Avoid Holiday Travel: Also on Wednesday, the CDC COVID-19 incident manager, Dr. Henry Walke, pleaded with Americans to avoid holiday travel this month. Walke said that families need to bend the curve to flatten the rate of hospitalizations. One of the best ways to do this is to remain close to home and avoid traveling.
Walke said that if you do decide to travel, you need to test one to three days prior to departure and again three to five days after you arrive back home. In addition, the CDC says that you should limit non-essential activities for seven days after returning from the trip.
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It should be noted that although the CDC issued a similar plea for Thanksgiving travel, over one million Americans passed through the airports on the Sunday after the holiday.
New CDC Guidance Concerning Recommended Quarantine Period: There was more big news coming out of the CDC regarding the recommended COVID-19 quarantine period. According to Walke, while the CDC will still recommend quarantining for a full 14 days after being exposed to the virus, it is acceptable to cut this time period down to 10 days without a negative test result if the individual is reporting no symptoms.
This quarantine period can be shortened to seven days when paired with a negative test result and no symptoms. However, Walke cautioned that exposed individuals still need to be watchful of symptoms for at least 14 days after exposure.
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Vaccinations in the UK to Start Next Week: The UK will be the first country to initiate mass deployment of the COVID-19 vaccine, with immunizations beginning next week. According to the UK’s Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), up to 800,000 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine will be made available beginning on Tuesday.
The vaccine will come directly from Belgium and will be available to authorized sites. Public health officials are being instructed to deliver the vaccine to qualified individuals seven days per week. The UK has already placed orders for 40 million doses, making it available to at least one-third of the population initially.
Vaccine Safe for Those Previously Infected: In other vaccine news, Pfizer/BioNTech said that their shot is safe for individuals who have already had the virus. BioNTech chief medical officer Dr. Özlem Türeci said that their trials included people who had already tested positive for COVID-19. Because it is not clear how long immunity from the natural virus lasts, it is not certain when those who have already tested positive will be instructed to get the vaccine.
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Current COVID-19 Effects on Sports: The stop and start approach to professional and collegiate sports continues. Earlier in the week, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID), said that it will likely be the end of the summer before the country will enjoy full sports stadiums.
This statement comes as the NBA and National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) announced in a joint statement on Wednesday that 48 of the 546 players tested for the virus were positive during the initial testing phase. Although the NBA was successful in seeing no confirmed infections over the summer bubble at Walt Disney World, this approach is not feasible for the season, slated to start just before Christmas.
Meanwhile, the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens finally got their game in on Wednesday, after multiple COVID-19 cases forced the rescheduling of the contest numerous times over the past week. Just as that game got off, the Cleveland Browns announced that they were closing their practice facility following the positive test result of a staff member.
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