Costco; Ivy League; El Paso shutdown order; California


Ryan W. Miller

Jessica Flores
 
| USA TODAY

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The U.S. keeps smashing its own records for COVID-19 cases as the fall surge of the coronavirus is running rampant across the country.

On Thursday, a record 153,496 new COVID-19 cases were tallied in the U.S., just  days after it had crossed the 100,000 daily new case threshold.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, signaled some hope Thursday: The pandemic won’t be around “a lot longer,” he said, but public health officials might need to “maintain control chronically” over COVID-19.

Meanwhile states and cities are clamping down and enacting new restrictions to slow the spread. Oregon Gov. Kate Brown will announce new coronavirus measures Friday, while Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced Thursday a stay-at-home advisory set to go into effect Monday morning.

A day after Texas became the first state to record at least 1 million cases of COVID-19, California also reached the same marker. Eleven counties there were ordered this week to drop a notch on the state’s tiered reopening schedule.

Some major developments:

  • Corey Lewandowski, a top adviser to President Donald Trump’s reelection effort, tested positive for COVID-19, he confirmed Thursday. Dozens of others tied to the White House have tested positive. Here’s a list.
  • Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, who is 87, also tested positive. Young initially downplayed the seriousness of the virus.
  • More than 2,000 Pennsylvania nurses plan to go on strike next week. Professional nursing groups say nurses are being “pushed to the brink by unsafe staffing that seriously undermines patient safety.”
  • Costco is updating its face mask policy and will now require all customers to wear a mask or face shield starting Monday. Previously, the company didn’t require shoppers with medical conditions to wear masks.

📰 What we’re reading: As COVID-19 infections soar, we’re tracking new restrictions across the U.S. 

📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has reported more than 10.5 million cases and 242,400 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: 52.8 million cases and 1.29 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.

After battling a spring surge in COVID-19 cases that devastated their health care system, Italian doctors are once again facing strains on their resources as they treat a new influx of patients amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

“We are very close to not keeping up. I cannot say when we will reach the limit, but that day is not far off,” Dr. Luca Cabrini, who runs the intensive care ward at Varese’s Circolo hospital, the largest in the province of 1 million people northwest of Milan, told the Associated Press.

Cabrini said that while ICU beds are filling up as they did in the spring, doctors are also facing strains in wards caring for less ill patients who may be younger but require care for longer stretches. 

As of Wednesday, 52% of Italy’s hospital beds were occupied by COVID-19 patients, above the 40% warning threshold set by the Health Ministry. The Italian doctors federation called this week for a nationwide lockdown, too.

The United States on Thursday reported more than 150,000 coronavirus cases in a day for the first time, just nine days after it reported 100,000 cases for the first time, a USA TODAY analysis of Johns Hopkins University data shows.

The United States reported the record 153,496 cases on Thursday. At that rate, the United States reported about 107 cases every minute.

It’s not clear how well the case data reflects the size of the fall surge. In South Dakota and Iowa, most tests are coming back positive, data from The COVID Tracking Project suggests. That organization does not release numbers on percentages of tests that come back positive because of wildly different ways they can be calculated, and there is no one U.S. standard.

However, health officials generally have pushed for testing rates under 5%, and by some calculations, 40 states are worse than that mark.

– Mike Stucka

The holiday season is upon us and so is another surge of the coronavirus pandemic. So what’s a family to do?

While some state and city officials have advised against large family gatherings, folks may still be trying to find a way to spend time with loved ones this fall and welcoming students back into the fold.

Dr. Adam Jarrett, who serves as the chief medical officer at Holy Name Medical Center in New Jersey, said that the safest way to try to gather would be to get tested and then “truly self-quarantine for 10 days to two weeks.”

With Thanksgiving falling on Nov. 26, that means quarantine should begin now

“That’s the only way that we can be pretty close to 100% safe,” Jarrett said. 

– Katie Sobko, The Bergen Record

Counties in which Power Five schools are located have seen an even larger spike in COVID-19 cases than the nationwide average, a data analysis conducted by Emory’s Rollins School of Public Health for USA TODAY found.

Communities in the Big Ten and Big 12 are experiencing the most dramatic increases in their seven-day averages of daily new cases per 100,000 residents, the analysis found.

All told, 59 of the 64 counties that host Power Five schools saw an increase in their average number of daily cases from Nov. 3 to Tuesday. Collectively, the counties reported an increase of 45%.

The spike in cases has wrecked havoc on college football schedules throughout the country — particularly this week. In the Southeastern Conference alone, four games involving ranked teams have been canceled in recent days due to COVID-19 concerns.

– Tom Schad, and Jim Sergent

By medical standards, Nicole Worthley is considered extraordinarily rare. She was diagnosed with COVID-19 on March 31 and again in September.

But she can’t prove she had COVID-19 twice. That requires genetic testing of both infections, which has only happened a few dozen times in the world and never in South Dakota where she lives.

Many states keep track of claims of reinfection but they are still considered extremely unusual, according to health experts. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a statement that it is investigating some possible reinfections but has not yet confirmed any. It only considers infections more than 90 days apart to be possible reinfections; otherwise, someone’s illness is likely a lingering infection.

How long the body can fight COVID-19 off has implications for the longevity and effectiveness of vaccines, the possibility of communities developing so-called herd immunity where the virus no longer spreads because so many people have already been infected, and how those infected once should feel and behave. Read more here.

– Karen Weintraub

A Texas appeals court in El Paso has put a temporary stop to El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego’s order shutting down nonessential businesses in El Paso County.

The Eighth Court of Appeals in El Paso on Thursday granted requests to temporarily halt the order. The requests were made by the Texas Attorney General’s Office and a group of 10 El Paso restaurant companies, who argue that Samaniego’s order is illegal because it is counter to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s Oct. 7 order tied to reopening Texas businesses.

The court, in a 2-1 decision, ruled several sections of Samaniego’s order cannot be enforced, including shutting down nonessential businesses, until the court makes its final judgment, which is expected Friday.

“We exercise our discretion to preserve the status quo as it existed just prior to the issuance of the county’s later, more restrictive Stay-at-Home Order” until the court makes its final judgment, the court ruled.

– Vic Kolenc and Eleanor Dearman, El Paso Times

More than 2,000 nurses represented by a union plan to go on strike next week as a surge in coronavirus cases continues to overwhelm hospitals nationwide.

In Bucks County, more than 760 nurses at St. Mary Medical Center will go on strike starting Tuesday unless they reach a contract with the hospital’s owner Trinity Health. In Philadelphia, some 500 nurses at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children and about 1,000 at Einstein Medical Center have also authorized to strike, 02xl reported.

“Nurses are stretched so thin, and I know they’re not able to get where they need to be,” Maria Plano, a nurse at St. Christopher’s and the union’s vice president, told CBS Philly. “We need some kind of guidelines where nurses are in the discussion and helping to make the decisions.”

In a statement last week, the Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals said nurses are being “pushed to the brink by unsafe staffing that seriously undermines patient safety,” the newspaper reported. 

With coronavirus cases in the U.S. reaching an all-time high this week, the Ivy League announced Thursday that it is shutting down its entire 2020-21 winter sports season.

“With the health and well-being of student-athletes and the greater campus community in mind, The Ivy League Presidents decide to forego athletics competition in fall and winter sports, postpone competition in spring sports through February 2021,” the league wrote in a statement posted to Twitter.

In July, the Ivy League was the first conference to announce the cancellation of its fall sports season as a result of the pandemic. Meanwhile, other conferences have run into multiple roadblocks in an attempt to continue their fall seasons.

– Steve Gardner

Costco, which was one of the first retailers to mandate shoppers wear masks amid the coronavirus pandemic, is updating its face mask policy. Starting Monday, the wholesale club says it will require all members, guests and employees to wear a face mask or face shield with the exception of children under 2.

“Members and guests must wear a face mask that covers their mouth and nose at all times,” Costco said on its COVID-19 updates page. “Individuals who are unable to wear a face mask due to a medical condition must wear a face shield. … Entry to Costco will be granted only to those wearing a face mask or face shield.”

Costco’s original policy went into effect in early May and didn’t require shoppers with medical conditions to wear masks.

– Kelly Tyko

SeaDream Yacht Club’s SeaDream I, one of the first cruise ships to ply through Caribbean waters since the pandemic began, ended its trip early after at least five passengers tested positive for COVID-19, officials said Thursday.

The SeaDream I is carrying 66 crew and more than 50 passengers, with the majority of passengers hailing from the U.S. according to Sue Bryant, who is aboard the ship and is a cruise editor for The Times and The Sunday Times in Britain.

She told The Associated Press that one passenger became sick on Wednesday and forced the ship to turn back to Barbados, where it had departed from on Saturday. However, the ship had yet to dock in Barbados as local authorities tested those on board. The captain announced that at least five passengers have tested positive, Bryant said.

Contributing: The Associated Press



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