There are new signs that the nation’s monthslong battle against theis moving in a dangerous direction. There were more than 83,000 confirmed cases reported Friday, marking a new record high for a single day in the country.
The outbreak is also more widespread. The latest surge is pushing the number of infections to more than 8.4 million and increasing the death toll past 223,000 people, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Another dire warning Friday from Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease doctor. It came the same day 41 states reported an increase in average new cases. Fifteen states also showed record hospitalizations, indicating more precautions are needed — fast.
“We’re not talking about shutting down, but we’re talking about doubling down on some of the fundamental public health measures we need to adhere to,” Fauci said on MSNBC.
On Friday, one Tennessee county has made masks mandatory and health officials in Florida discouraged birthday parties for kids after a Sweet 16 party spread the virus. “We know that about 30 kids participated from more than one high school,” said Dr. Raul Pino, the health director in Orange County.
Some sport team members and the Association of American Medical Colleges called for a coordinated national testing program. “With routine testing, we can find a place and find individuals who are infected faster and make sure we isolate them until they are no longer contagious,” said Heather Pierce, a senior director with the association.
In Wisconsin, the state with the biggest surge, politics may be getting in the way of safety.
The Democratic governor, Tony Evers, can’t convince the Republican legislature to meet and help him impose stricter safety measures. “It is now 188 days since the legislature last met and things aren’t getting any easier,” Evers said in a briefing this week.
In one Indiana county where church gatherings spread the virus, the country health commission had to explain why a crackdown is important. “If our cluster analysis also showed that car dealerships and smoothie shops and the mall were identified as common sources of exposure, we would also be reaching out to them,” said Dr. Mark Fox, the deputy health director of St. Joseph County.
For its part, the federal government appears to be focusing its efforts on developing COVID-19 vaccines and treatments. The FDA for the first time officially approved a COVID-19 drug, the anti-viralon Thursday.
Both AstraZeneca & Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine trialsFriday after it was determined volunteers’ illnesses were not caused by the drugs. But, in waiting for a cure, having to report the latest terrible facts in Illinois brought the state’s director of public health to tears.
“Since yesterday we lost an additional 31 lives, for a total of 9,418 deaths. These are people who started with us in 2020, and won’t be with us at the Thanksgiving table,” said Dr. Ngozi Ezike, the state’s top doctor.
With a vaccine unlikely to be widely available before the holidays, health experts say masks and social distancing remain the best way to stop the spread of the virus. A new report from researchers at the University of Washington said wearing face masks in public could save 63,000 lives in the U.S. this winter.