A “uniform approach” to the coronavirus pandemic is needed to replace the uneven response that has fueled a dangerous surge in hospitalizations and deaths across the nation, the top U.S. infectious disease expert said Tuesday.
“We need some fundamental public health measures that everyone should be adhering to, not a disjointed, ‘one state says one thing, the other state says another thing,’” Dr. Anthony Fauci said at a conference sponsored by The New York Times.
The Trump administration, however, has left the issue to states while encouraging them to keep businesses and schools open. Facing spiraling coronavirus numbers and with a contentious Election Day now in the rearview mirror, Republican governors have begun grudgingly lining up behind their Democratic colleagues in tightening restrictions aimed at taming the pandemic.
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds’ plan, effective Tuesday, requires everyone 2 and older to wear a face covering when in an indoor space open to the public. Reynolds also limited bars and restaurants to 6 a.m.-10 p.m., except for carryout and drive-through service.
Reynolds, who in the past has dismissed masks as a “feel good” effort, said Tuesday masks are effective but not a “silver bullet.”
“There is science on both sides,” Reynolds said. “If you look you can find whatever you want to support wherever you’re at. Hopefully when we get to Christmas we will be able to gather again with our families.”
📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has reported more than 11.3 million cases and more than 248,500 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: 55.5 million cases and 1.33 million deaths.
🗺️ Mapping coronavirus: Track the U.S. outbreak in your state.
This file will be updated throughout the day. For updates in your inbox, subscribe to The Daily Briefing newsletter.
U.S. regulators on Tuesday allowed emergency use of the first rapid coronavirus test that can be performed and developed entirely at home.
The announcement by the Food and Drug Administration represents an important step in U.S. efforts to expand testing options for COVID-19 beyond health care facilities and testing sites. However, the test will require a prescription, likely limiting initial use.
The FDA granted emergency authorization to the 30-minute test kit from Lucira Health, a California manufacturer. The company’s test allows users to swab themselves to collect a nasal sample. The sample is then swirled in a vial that plugs into a portable device, that interprets the results and displays whether the person tested positive or negative for coronavirus.
Los Angeles County imposed new restrictions on businesses Tuesday and is readying plans for a mandatory 10 p.m.-6 a.m. curfew for all but essential workers if coronavirus cases keep spiking.
The county of 10 million residents — the nation’s most populous — has seen daily confirmed cases more than double in the last two weeks to nearly 2,900. Hospitalizations have topped 1,100, a rise of 30% in that period.
The county, which for most of the pandemic has had a disproportionately large share of California’s cases, issued new restrictions ordering nonessential retail businesses to limit indoor capacity to 25% and restaurants to 50% capacity outdoors. Restaurants already are not allowed to serve customers indoors.
All those businesses must close at 10 p.m. The changes take effect Friday.
Senate GOP elder Chuck Grassley tests positive
U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, the oldest Republican currently serving in the Senate, has tested positive for coronavirus, he announced Tuesday afternoon.
The 87-year-old senator chairs the Senate Finance Committee and is the president pro tempore of the Senate, making him third in line for the presidency after the vice president and speaker of the House. He was first elected to the Senate in 1980.
“I’ve tested positive for coronavirus. I’ll b following my doctors’ orders/CDC guidelines & continue to quarantine. I’m feeling good + will keep up on my work for the ppl of Iowa from home. I appreciate everyone’s well wishes + prayers &look fwd to resuming my normal schedule soon,” Grassley wrote on Twitter.
Grassley said on Tuesday morning that he was in quarantine while awaiting a test result after learning he’d been exposed to the virus. That test came back positive.
– Stephen Gruber-Miller, Des Moines Register
Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb is quarantining after several members of his security detail tested positive for COVID-19, the governor’s office said Tuesday.
Both the governor and First Lady Janet Holcomb began their quarantine Tuesday at the direction of Indiana State Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Kris Box. They are considered close contacts to the security detail and will be tested later in the week for coronavirus.
The Indiana State Department of Health will perform the contact tracing for the governor, First Lady and members of the security detail, according to the governor’s office.
— Lawrence Andrea, Indianapolis Star
The City of New Orleans announced that Mardi Gras parades will not be allowed in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The guidelines are very clear that you can’t have a gathering that large,” said Beau Tidwell, communications director for the City of New Orleans, at a press conference on Tuesday.
Under current guidelines, outdoor gatherings in the city are limited to 150 people.
At the start of the pandemic in March, New Orleans COVID-19 numbers spiked and the city became one of the early hot spots in the United States.
Many experts blamed the outbreak on the city’s Carnival celebration for drawing more than 1 million visitors to New Orleans, which contributed to the spread of the virus. The Carnival season ended last year on Feb. 25. The city’s first presumptive case of COVID-19 was March 9.
— Todd A. Price, The American South
Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker announced new statewide mitigation measures Tuesday. The restrictions, effective Nov. 20, are aimed at preventing between 17,000 and 45,000 projected additional deaths between now and March, Pritzker said.
“This is not a stay-at-home order, but the best way for us to avoid a stay-at-home order is to stay at home. We are asking you to choose Zoom instead of packing people in a room on Thanksgiving,” Pritzker said.
The new measures affect retail, gyms, hotels, bars, restaurants, manufacturing, offices and more.
Pritzker said he would be celebrating Thanksgiving in Chicago with his son, while his wife and daughter stay in Florida. “The situation is simply too grave for me to be elsewhere,” he said. “My family is having to make sacrifices to stay safe.”
New COVID-19 deaths are up 260% since Oct. 1, Pritzker said.
— Grace Hauck
Reynolds isn’t the only Republican governor to yield to the pleas of public health experts. Ohio’s Mike DeWine, West Virginia’s Jim Justice, Utah’s Gary Herbert and North Dakota’s Doug Burgham, Republican governors all, have issued mask mandates in recent days. California, New York, Michigan, Virginia and Hawaii are among Democratic-led states that have toughened restrictions. A recurring theme: State health care system “being pushed to the brink.” Current COVID-19 hospitalizations nationwide have surpassed 70,000 for the first time.
“We’re going to dial up and dial back depending on where our numbers are at,” Reynolds said Tuesday. “Right now, we are really stressing our hospitals and their capacity.”
For families with young children that have decided to fly for the holidays, the biggest challenge might not be packing gifts, finding COVID-19-safe airport transportation or herding the whole clan to the gate. Rather, it could making sure fidgety toddlers wear their face masks in the terminal and during the flight due to the widespread rule among airlines that even young children are required to keep masks on during flights. There is little variation between carriers when it comes to firm written policies. One exception is Delta Air Lines, with a policy that states “young children who cannot maintain a face covering are exempt from the mask requirement.”
Reina Nishida’s Ottotto Threads business now thrives by sewing masks that cater to kids: “If you let your kids pick the print, they will be more inclined to wear them.”
To avoid delayed gifts or sold-out stock, experts recommend starting your holiday shopping sooner rather than later. Shipping delays have been a recurring theme for online shopping since the pandemic began, and experts say that trend will continue through the holiday season. Karl Haller, partner and retail industry expert at IBM Global Business Services, advises that if you see something you know you want “go ahead and buy it.” Some shipping deadlines suggested by the Postal Service include retail ground by Dec. 15, first-class mail by Dec. 18, priority mail by Dec. 19 and priority mail express by Dec. 13.
“We expect to see continued pressure on shipping as more packages flow through the system,” Haller said. “We have already seen some of the major carriers impose fees on package shipping in anticipation of this.”
– Amanda Tarlton, Reviewed.com
Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, announced Tuesday that he will participate in a phase 3 vaccine trial being managed in Cincinnati. The more people Johnson & Johnson can line up for the trial, the sooner they complete testing and begin the FDA approval process, he said. Portman, 64, stressed that the clinical trials are critical to verifying the safety and effectiveness of these vaccines and making them available as soon as possible.
“I hope that my participation in the Janssen-Johnson & Johnson phase 3 vaccine trial will encourage others to participate as well & help Americans feel confident of the safety & effectiveness of vaccines once they are authorized by the FDA,” Portman tweeted.
In Hungary, public health officials warned that a lack of medical staff qualified to treat coronavirus patients in intensive care units could soon lead to soaring deaths. In France, intensive care wards have been operating at over 95% capacity for almost two weeks. In South Korea, social distancing rules were tightened in the greater Seoul area to try to suppress a coronavirus resurgence there. In Greece, a 62-year-old clergyman in the Orthodox Church has died of COVID-19, reviving a debate over the safety of receiving communion as the Christmas season beckons. Bishop Ioannis of Lagadas was an outspoken advocate of maintaining communion ceremonies.
Two big companies leading the race for a vaccine have released promising results from their Phase 3 trials. Here’s what we know about both trials and what they might mean for the future of the pandemic:
Preliminary results indicate Moderna’s vaccine appears to be 94.5% effective; Pfizer’s more than 90% effective. Both candidate vaccines reported mild or moderate side effects, mostly pain at the injection site, fatigue and aching muscles and joints for a day or two.
The FDA is expected to an issue an emergency for use authorization for at least one vaccine by year’s end, with front-line health care workers first in line to get it. Clinical trial data showing how people of various ages, ethnicities and health statuses responded will determine recommendations on how to prioritize shots. Scientists have predicted vaccines won’t be available to all until next summer or fall.
– Adrianna Rodriguez, Karen Weintraub
Stanford University is taking issue with comments made by Dr. Scott Atlas, a member of President Donald Trump’s coronavirus task force and a senior fellow at the university, about Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s new COVID restrictions. Atlas called on Michigan residents to “rise up” against Whitmer’s order to suspend in-person schooling, halt indoor dining at restaurants and close some businesses. The school said in a statement on Twitter that his views are “inconsistent with the university’s approach” to the pandemic.
“Stanford’s position on managing the pandemic in our community is clear,” the tweet said. “We support using masks, social distancing, and conducting surveillance and diagnostic testing. We also believe in the importance of strictly following the guidance of local and state health authorities.”
The evidence increasingly shows young people are not immune to the coronavirus. The number of U.S. infants, children and teens diagnosed with COVID-19 has surpassed 1 million, according to data released Monday by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association.
The total hit nearly 1.04 million kids on Nov. 12, including nearly 112,000 new cases last week. That was the highest weekly total of any previous week in the pandemic, the academy said.
AAP President Sally Goza called the data “staggering and tragic.” Children generally are much more likely than adults to have mild cases but hospitalizations and deaths do occur. According to data from state health departments that’s missing some states, at least 6,330 pediatric hospitalizations and 133 deaths have been recorded since May.
COVID-19 resources from USA TODAY
Contributing: The Associated Press