Thursday, June 24

The US reported more than 153,000 new coronavirus infections and the surge is only accelerating – CNN

At this rate, the number should pass 11 million in the next four days, making for the fastest addition of another million yet, John Hopkins data show.

For the
10th day in a row, the US reported more than 100,000 infections, and the total since Monday hit 556,961. On Thursday, with its highest number yet at more than 153,000 new infections, the country inched closer to what one expert predicted could soon become a devastating reality —
200,000 cases a day.

As of Friday, at least 10,582,938 cases and 242,710 deaths in the US have been recorded, according to Johns Hopkins.

Two states this week surpassed 1 million total Covid-19 infections. For the third consecutive day,
the country set a record for hospitalizations, which now total more than 67,000.
California becomes the second US state to top 1 million Covid-19 cases, after TexasCalifornia becomes the second US state to top 1 million Covid-19 cases, after Texas
In one part of Texas, officials
have requested more mobile morgues. In Massachusetts, hospitalizations have increased by 200% since early September.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer warned Thursday the state was in the “worst part of this pandemic to date.”

“The curve that we had flattened? Right now, that curve is a straight line and it is straight up,” she said.

An ensemble forecast published Thursday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention projects up to 282,000 deaths by December 5 — almost 40,000 Americans dying in the next three weeks.

And a
projection from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) shows nearly 2,000 people could be dying of Covid-19 every day by the end of December.

‘Less is more this Thanksgiving’

Public health measures touted by officials for months — including face coverings, social distancing and regular hand washing — could provide much needed help. More than 17,000 lives could be saved by the end of the year if 95% of Americans wore face masks, according to IHME projections.

Maine wedding outbreak offers a cautionary Covid-19 tale for the holidaysMaine wedding outbreak offers a cautionary Covid-19 tale for the holidays

“If we do the things that are simple public health measures, that soaring will level and start to come down,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CBS “This Morning” on Friday.

If Americans lower their guard, “We’ll continue to soar,” Fauci said.

In New Hampshire, Gov. Chris Sununu reported most new cases of the virus are occurring from gatherings where people did not wear masks.

“If there are circumstances where it’s a family member that’s not in your immediate family, even if you’re in your own house, you and that member should probably be wearing a mask,” the governor said. “The virus doesn’t care that it’s Uncle Bob.”

Experts have cautioned against big gatherings and
have urged Americans who want to visit family to quarantine for 14 days.

“Separation should be the norm” this Thanksgiving, Dr. William Schaffner, professor of infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University, said Thursday. “We don’t want to give the virus while we’re giving thanks.”

Fauci advised Americans celebrating Thanksgiving to keep their masks on as much as possible.

NYC mayor wants state to reconsider curfew

As bars, restaurants, and gyms prepare for the first night with a 10 p.m. state-mandated curfew, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said that the closure of these establishments needs to be “reassessed.”

“Even though the state makes the ultimate decisions here on the industry issues, I’m very cognizant of the fact that we have to keep people’s livelihoods in mind here,” he said Friday morning on WNYC’s “The Brian Lehrer Show.”

De Blasio suggested that holiday travel will have more impact on shaping further response to the pandemic. “We talk about restaurants or gyms, but much more decisive will be if we can successfully limit travel and limit indoor gatherings” during the holidays.

De Blasio also said the city’s schools could be shut down “as early as Monday,” citing rising Covid-19 case numbers.

New York City Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza issued a letter to principals asking them to be prepared for a brief time of fully remote learning, system-wide.

Study: New, mutant virus strain spreads more easily

Researchers also now say they’ve found more evidence that a mutant version of the coronavirus that has overtaken an older strain to spread across much of the world is more easily transmitted — but does not appear to be any more dangerous.

Montana emergency doctors warn Covid-19 has their community on 'the brink of disaster'Montana emergency doctors warn Covid-19 has their community on 'the brink of disaster'

And it hasn’t changed its physical shape so should be just as vulnerable to the body’s immune response whether natural or induced by a vaccine.

The team’s findings validate earlier studies that showed the new strain spreads more easily and also supports evidence the mutation hasn’t made the virus more likely to cause severe disease. The mutation might help the virus thrive better in the nose and upper respiratory tract, which would help it spread.

‘Targeted vaccinations’ to start December or January, official says

Meanwhile, a top US official said Thursday every American who wants to get a vaccine will be able to do so by April.

'We can do this better,' say doctors critical of administration's Covid-19 antibody treatment rollout 'We can do this better,' say doctors critical of administration's Covid-19 antibody treatment rollout

“Initially, in December and January, we’re going to be having very targeted vaccinations, also helped in large part by some of our largest chains, like Walgreens and CVS,” US Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told CNN.

There will likely be enough vaccines for “all of our most vulnerable citizens” to get vaccinated in December, he said, followed by “all of our senior citizens, as well as our emergency first responders and our health care workers” in January.

While the US doesn’t yet have an authorized
Covid-19 vaccine, drugmaker Pfizer announced Monday that early data on its vaccine shows it is more than 90% effective. Officials widely expect the company to be able to apply for emergency use authorization by the end of the month.

CNN’s Amanda Watts, Jonathan Kubiak, Lauren Mascarenhas, Elizabeth Cohen, Samira Said and Maggie Fox contributed to this report.

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