October 15, 2020

Covid-19 is resurging. What does that mean for your Thanksgiving plans?

Daily Briefing

    America is once again seeing a surge in new coronavirus cases, with the country on Wednesday reporting 59,751 new cases and 1,011 new deaths linked to the virus.

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    The resurgence is alarming public health experts, who for months have warned that the United States could see an "apocalyptic fall" and "nightmare winter" if the country's coronavirus epidemic isn't adequately controlled. And some experts—including National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci—are going so far as to urge Americans to rethink their upcoming holiday plans in addition to continuing to follow other measures intended to curb the coronavirus's spread.

    US new coronavirus cases near 8M, deaths approach 217K

    U.S. officials as of Thursday morning reported a total of 7,954,700 cases of the novel coronavirus since the country's epidemic began—up from about 7,894,900 cases reported as of Wednesday morning.

    Data from the New York Times shows that the rates of newly reported coronavirus cases are "staying high" in Guam and 27 states that have had a daily average of at least 15 newly reported cases per 100,000 people over the past week. Those states are Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

    Meanwhile, the rate of newly reported cases over the past seven days is "going down" in Puerto Rico, which had previously seen elevated case rates.

    Washington, D.C., and 18 states that have had comparatively low case rates are now seeing those rates "going up," according to the Times. Those states are Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and West Virginia.

    In the six remaining U.S. states and territories, rates of newly reported coronavirus cases are "staying low," according to the Times' analysis.

    U.S. officials as of Thursday morning also reported a total of 216,792 deaths linked to the coronavirus since the country's epidemic began—up from about 215,781 deaths reported as of Wednesday morning.

    Data suggests US epidemic could entering another wave

    The United States' daily number of newly reported coronavirus cases has been trending upward for nearly a month, the Washington Post reports. The United States' average daily number of newly reported coronavirus cases over the past week was 53,124—which is up by 23% when compared with the average from two weeks ago, according to the Times. Since Saturday, more than 20 states have reported record-high, seven-day averages of newly reported coronavirus cases, the Post reports.

    Spikes in new coronavirus cases in Midwestern states are largely driving the resurgence in America's coronavirus epidemic, according to the Post.

    "A lot of the places being hit are Midwest states that were spared in the beginning," said William Hanage, an infectious-diseases researcher at Harvard University. "That's of particular concern because a lot of these smaller regions don't have the ICU beds and capacity that the urban centers had."

    However, Axios' "Vitals" reports that the number of newly reported coronavirus infections increased by nearly "17% over the past week, as the number of new cases increased in 38 states and Washington, D.C. … spanning every region of the country."

    What's driving the resurgence?

    It's unclear what's causing America's latest spike in newly reported coronavirus cases, the Post reports. Public health experts say the resurgence could be triggered by many factors, including Americans' fatigue over public health measures aimed at preventing the virus's spread; reopenings of businesses and schools; and colder temperatures, which could be driving more people indoors, where the risk of transmission is higher.

    According to audio obtained by CNN, CDC Director Robert Redfield during a call with governors on Tuesday suggested small, family gatherings also may be driving the country's increase in new coronavirus infections.

    "[W]hat we're seeing as the increasing threat right now is actually acquisition of infection through small household gatherings," he said.

    Experts say Americans may want to rethink upcoming holiday plans

    As such, some public health experts are urging Americans to rethink their upcoming holiday plans—especially for Thanksgiving.

    According to the audio obtained by CNN, Redfield during Tuesday's call with governors said, "Particularly with Thanksgiving coming up, we think it's really important to stress the vigilance of … continued mitigation steps in the household setting."

    Separately, Jonathan Reiner, a professor of medicine at George Washington University, during an interview with CNN's "New Day" recommended against Americans holding or attending indoor Thanksgiving dinners with people who don't live in their immediate households.

    "If you're lucky enough to live in a part of the country where the weather will be moderate in November, do an outdoor Thanksgiving. (But) I think in the ... places in the country where the winter comes early, I think you have to really be careful," Reiner said.

    And Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergies and Infectious Diseases, during an appearance on "CBS Evening News" on Wednesday said, "You may have to bite the bullet and sacrifice that social gathering, unless you're pretty certain that the people [whom] you're dealing with are not infected."

    Fauci noted that his three children, who don't live with him, will not be spending Thanksgiving with him in person, because his age puts him at a higher risk for developing a severe case of Covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

    "What we really have to do is double down" on social distancing and other measures to prevent the coronavirus's spread, Fauci said. "[Thanksgiving gatherings are] unfortunately a risk, when you have people coming from out of town, gathering together in an indoor setting. … It is unfortunate, because that's such a sacred part of American tradition—the family gathering around Thanksgiving. But that is a risk" (Wan/Dupree, Washington Post, 10/13; Owens, "Vitals," Axios, 10/15; Farzan et al., Washington Post, 10/15; Almasy, CNN, 10/14; New York Times, 10/15; CBS News, 10/14).

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