Thanksgiving begins the annual celebration season, but it will not be a holiday for coronavirus.
While the United States is climbing towards what epidemiologists call a third peak of pandemic infections, public health experts fear that families and friends may gather an already bad situation worse.
“Between Thanksgiving and New Year, we have what I see as potentially six weeks of super-spreading events, right where we get together with family and friends,” says Dr. Carlos del Rio, an expert in infectious diseases. at Emory University School of Medicine, warned. “And we can see a lot of diseases happening.”
Del Rio sounded the alarm during an NBC News Facebook Live interview with Dr. John Torres, NBC News contributor, as the number of new Covid-19 cases in the United States rose above 8 million and deaths due to coronavirus rose to a world-leading 218,097.
“So I’m really worried that we’re facing some of the toughest times of this pandemic in our country,” Del Rio said.
He said President Donald Trump sent the wrong message to the Americans with his cavalier stance on Covid-19, his repeated pride in being “immune” when he was released from the hospital and his refusal to consistently wear a mask at public events and campaign meetings.
“The president got infected and did remarkably well for his age,” Del Rio said of Trump, 74. “He was treated to anything but the kitchen sink, but he has recovered. He has done well. So the president says at this point, ‘Hey, this is not something big. If you become infected, nothing happens. ‘”
In other coronavirus news:
- Trump made the inaccurate claim that “85 percent of people wearing masks” still catch coronavirus during an interview Thursday on Fox Business Network. He cited as evidence a federal report on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But a day earlier, the CDC tweeted that “the interpretation that more mask wearers are infected compared to non-mask wearers is wrong.”
- While the White House has pushed for approval of a Covid-19 vaccine before election day, drugmaker Pfizer said it will not apply for emergency use authorization for its vaccine candidate for at least the third week in November. “We are working at the speed of science,” said Pfizer CEO Dr. Albert Bourla.
The federal budget deficit under Trump hit a $ 3.1 trillion full-time high in the 2020 budget as the pandemic slashed tax revenues and public spending rose. That is more than double the previous record set in 2009, when the Obama administration shielded the banking system from limiting damage from the recession that began on President George W. Bush’s watch.
- Eight million Americans have fallen into poverty as a result of the pandemic, according to a new study.
- Hawaii again says aloha to tourists, but only if they test negative before getting on the plane.
- Navajo Nation of Arizona is using the sun and wind to power the digital tablets that hard-pressed students on the reservation are using for virtual education due to the pandemic.
- A rare and potentially fatal coronavirus complication reported in children has been reported in adults, doctors warn.
- Hockey has been “benched” for two weeks in New Hampshire after at least 158 infections were traced to indoor rinks.
Many of the new infections broke out in Midwestern states, such as Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, North Dakota, Ohio, Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa and Indiana, which have reported a record number of Covid-19 cases.
“What’s happening in the Upper Midwest is just a ban on the things that are to come in the rest of the country,” Michael Osterholm, an infectious disease expert at the University of Minnesota, told the New York Times.
Other public health experts warned that the number would rise even higher as the weather gets colder.
“It’s not just places like Alaska or Idaho where winter comes early,” said Dr. Sadiya Khan, an epidemiologist at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “It can even be places like Chicago where gatherings move indoors when the weather gets colder. It does not have to be super cold. It just needs to be cold enough that you do not want to be outside. ”
While Europe is now hit by the second wave of pandemic infections, “we never got out of the first wave,” Khan said.
“Another wave would suggest we were able to bring the number of cases down to almost zero,” Khan said. “Some countries like South Korea and even China have managed to eliminate almost all of their cases, and you could argue that New York City was consistently able to get their positivity rate close to zero. Unfortunately, it is going in the wrong direction now. ”
New York’s share of new infections was 1.12 percent, the fourth lowest in the country, according to the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Research Center. But the Andrew Cuomo government has had to impose a Covid-19 squeeze in New York City’s boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens and in parts of Rockland County where troubling clusters of new cases have emerged most in Orthodox-Jewish neighborhoods where support for mask-wearing and social distance have been slack.
“I compare the fight with Covid to playing whack-a-mole,” said Dr. David L. Battinelli, the Chief Medical Officer at Northwell Health. “Every time you think it’s gone, it reappears. That’s because it’s never gone. ”
When the number of Covid-19 cases suddenly exploded in March, “we did what we had to do, which was isolated and quarantined,” Battinelli said. “But then it became quiet and people misinterpreted it and decided it was gone. But it never went away, we just learned how to keep it in check. We opened up because we found that by masking, by social distance, by washing hands and maintaining good hygiene, we could slow down the spread. ”
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has warned that it could take at least two years before this pandemic goes its course, Battinelli said.
“It was always assumed that if we were to relax over masking and distancing, we would see new cases,” he said.
So if there is a fourth peak of Covid-19 infections, which part of the United States will be affected first?
“Any place where someone takes off the mask,” Battinelli replied.