Thanksgiving coronavirus surge could turn into Christmas surge, health expert warns
From CNN’s Shelby Lin Erdman
The United States is living in the most dangerous public health moment since the 1918 influenza pandemic, Michael Osterholm, the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, said Wednesday.
“The challenges we have before us right now with the ever increasing number of cases, rapidly increasing number of cases in many areas, that we are going to see our hospitals literally on the verge of collapse,” Osterholm told CNN’s Jim Acosta. “That's what we have to understand we're where we're at right now.”
The US is seeing close to 200,000 new Covid-19 cases every day, and health experts have predicted that number could increase.
“I worry that the Thanksgiving Day surge will then just add into what will become the Christmas surge, which will then make this one seem as if it wasn't so bad,” said Osterholm, a member of the Biden-Harris Covid-19 Advisory Council.
“So, we have to understand we’re in a very dangerous place. People have to stop swapping air. It’s just that simple,” he said.
“And if we don't, we're going to see many, many of our friends, colleagues and loved ones ending up in a hospital and, unfortunately, some of them not making it,” he added.
7:21 p.m. ET, November 25, 2020
More than 2,000 deaths from Covid-19 reported in the US today
From CNN’s Jamiel Lynch
The United States reported more than 2,000 deaths from Covid-19 today, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
Currently the country has reported 2,046 new deaths today.
This is the 22nd day that the US has ever added more than 2,000 new deaths. US had not seen new death numbers this high since May.
6:44 p.m. ET, November 25, 2020
Wyoming governor tests positive for Covid-19
From CNN’s Andy Rose
Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon tested positive for Covid-19 Wednesday, his office confirmed.
The governor is experiencing “mild symptoms” and will be working from home in isolation for an indefinite period, his spokesperson Michael Pearlman told CNN.
Gordon’s diagnosis comes one day after the state Capitol in Cheyenne was closed because an unidentified member of the governor’s staff had received a positive test.
Pearlman said they do not know whether the governor caught the virus from his staffer.
6:20 p.m. ET, November 25, 2020
Germany will extend its partial nationwide lockdown
From CNN’s Nadine Schmidt and Duarte Mendonca
Germany will extend its partial nationwide lockdown until at least Dec. 20 or potentially stretch it until January, keeping existing curbs in place as a way to slow the spread of coronavirus, German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced at a news conference on Wednesday.
“Infection numbers remain at a level that is far too high,” Merkel said.
The partial nationwide lockdown means the German government requires restaurants and bars to remain closed, people to avoid travel, to keep their contacts to an absolute minimum and to limit public meetings to members of only two households. Schools and shops have remained open.
Despite the extension, restrictions are expected to ease from Dec. 23 until Jan. 1, with “closest family or friendship circle” allowed to meet in groups of up to 10 people — “not counting children," Merkel said.
Merkel also announced that mask-wearing is now obligatory in all pedestrian high-traffic areas and city centers.
These announcements come after Germany recorded 410 deaths related to coronavirus in the past 24 hours — the highest single-day jump in fatalities since the outbreak began, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), the country's disease and control agency, said on Wednesday.
7:25 p.m. ET, November 25, 2020
Pennsylvania urges people to stay home in Covid-19 alert sent to cell phones
From CNN’s Anna Sturla
Pennsylvania sent an emergency alert the afternoon before Thanksgiving, urging people to stay home as cases rise.
"COVID-19 rates are rising & hospitals could soon be at capacity," the alert read.
The alert also urged residents to download the state's contact tracing app, COVID Alert PA.
The alert was the state's first use of the national Wireless Emergency Alert system for the Covid-19 pandemic, according to Gov. Tom Wolf's office.
5:34 p.m. ET, November 25, 2020
L.A. County expects hospital bed shortage in 2 to 4 weeks
From CNN's Cheri Mossburg
Alarming Covid-19 case increases in Los Angeles County could lead to a shortage of both regular hospital beds and intensive care beds within the next two to four weeks if the current trajectory holds.
Health Services Director Dr. Christina Ghaly presented the grim outlook for Los Angeles County, which is mid-surge with 4,311 new cases announced Wednesday. Ghaly estimates that one in every five residents has had Covid-19 and about one in 145 are currently infectious. Nearly 60% of those who are infected are not currently experiencing pronounced symptoms.
Average daily cases climbed 113% during the first two weeks of November, and hospitalizations have increased 70% over the past two weeks.
“What is stretched most thin within both public and private hospitals across Los Angeles County is the availability of staff,” Ghaly said. The county will be able to find flex space within hospitals, using pre- and post-operative space, unused wings, or the emergency department to hold patients, but finding trained staff will be more difficult.
Los Angeles County residents should be prepared to potentially have nonessential surgeries or procedures canceled so that hospitals can make room for additional patients, Ghaly advised.
“I cannot stress enough how concerning this is, as we know these numbers represent actions that were taken several weeks ago,” said Health Officer Dr. Muntu Davis. “Simply put, we need to turn this around immediately, but it will not be easy.”
Despite his concern, Davis has yet to strengthen the health officer orders for the county of about 10 million. Noting that a state order is already in place limiting movement, he said his staff is still working to answer questions and give businesses more time to prepare for further restrictions.
Note: These numbers were released by the Los Angeles Department of Public Health and may not line up exactly in real time with CNN’s database drawn from Johns Hopkins University and the Covid Tracking Project.
5:13 p.m. ET, November 25, 2020
Texas records more than 14,000 new Covid-19 cases
From CNN's Raja Razek
Texas reported Wednesday a record 14,648 new Covid-19 cases, bringing the total number of cases in the state to 1,130,980, according to the state's Covid-19 dashboard.
The state also reported 200 new Covid-19-related deaths, bringing the total number of deaths in the state to 20,950.
There are currently 8,585 lab-confirmed Covid-19 patients in Texas hospitals.
Note: These numbers were released by the Texas Department of Health Services and may not line up exactly in real time with CNN's database drawn from Johns Hopkins University and the Covid Tracking Project.
4:49 p.m. ET, November 25, 2020
Younger children will join coronavirus vaccine trials, FDA official says
From CNN’s Naomi Thomas
Younger children are likely to be recruited to coronavirus vaccine trials so that any vaccines that are eventually authorized can be used to protect kids, a top US Food and Drug Administration official said.
Right now, children as young as 12 are testing Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine. If it looks safe in children that young, regulators will consider testing the vaccine in younger kids, said Dr. Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research.
“I suspect that there'll be some discussion about whether there were enough individuals in that age range to allow vaccination of younger individuals. There may or may not be,” Marks said during a web event with Vaccinate Your Family on Tuesday.
With adults and teens, researchers vaccinate half the volunteers with the vaccine and half get a saline shot as placebo, and they wait to see how many people in each group get infected naturally. But with the younger kids, Marks said, doctors may simply look to see if the children develop antibodies, or develop T-cell immunity.
“I suspect those studies will start very, very soon. Because, obviously, after the adult population is vaccinated, and obviously it would be ideally simultaneously, we will start to get children vaccinated particularly children at risk. But ultimately we all need to be vaccinated to stop this cycle of transmission,” Marks said.
4:47 p.m. ET, November 25, 2020
Most Americans are still susceptible to Covid-19 infection, study suggests
From CNN's Jacqueline Howard
It remains unclear exactly how many people in the United States have had Covid-19, but a new study suggests that most do not appear to have antibodies and are likely susceptible to infection.
Across the country, the prevalence of Covid-19 antibodies appears to range from fewer than 1% to 23%, according to the study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association’s JAMA Internal Medicine on Tuesday. When someone recovers from Covid-19, their blood plasma can contain antibodies that helped fight the coronavirus that caused their illness — and therefore antibodies serve as clues to a past infection.
The new study included data from blood serum samples taken from 178,000 people across all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Samples were obtained for routine screening or clinical care during four collection periods: July 27 to Aug. 13; Aug. 10 to Aug. 27; Aug. 24 to Sept. 10; and Sept. 7 to Sept. 24.
The researchers — from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Quest Diagnostics, BioReference Laborites and the company ICF Inc. — found that the prevalence of antibodies among those samples ranged from 0% in South Dakota in collection period 2 to 23.3% in New York in collection period 1.
"In nearly all jurisdictions, fewer than 10% of people in the US had evidence of previous SARS-CoV-2 infection," the researchers wrote in the study. SARS-CoV-2 is the name of the coronavirus that causes Covid-19.
"Seroprevalence varied across regions and between metropolitan/nonmetropolitan areas, with estimates as high as 23% in the Northeast and 13% in the South, while estimates in the Midwest and West were less than 10%," the researchers wrote.
"Seroprevalence was often lowest in older age groups," they wrote. "Our results reinforce the need for continued public health preventive measures, including the use of face masks and social distancing, to limit the spread of SARS-CoV-2 in the US."
For certain states — such as Iowa, Pennsylvania and Tennessee — more people living in metropolitan counties had antibodies. In other states — such as Alabama and Mississippi — people living outside metropolitan areas were more likely to have been infected, according to the study. Changes over time, from collection period 1 to 4, also varied across states. The researchers found that the largest drop in prevalence occurred in New York and North Dakota, while large increases occurred in Georgia and Minnesota.
The study was not designed to produce a nationwide estimate of prevalence. More research is needed to determine whether similar findings would emerge among a larger group of people representative of the general public.