Since the coronavirus pandemic started, the United States has recorded more than 7.6 million cases of COVID-19 and 213,000 deaths.
A third of U.S. states are reporting higher coronavirus case counts than they’ve ever had before.
A USA TODAY analysis of Johns Hopkins data shows 16 states set records for new cases in a week. But nearly all states are surging: 41 states had worse weeks than they did a week earlier. And an analysis of COVID Tracking Project data shows that in 36 states, a higher rate of people were testing positive than in the week before.
While the data continues to show the virus’ reach is not letting up, the head of the World Health Organization said achieving herd immunity by allowing the virus to spread is “scientifically and ethically problematic.”
“Herd immunity is achieved by protecting people from a virus, not by exposing them to it,” WHO Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus said Monday, adding that the strategy relies on vaccination.
The quest for a vaccine, however, ran into trouble on Monday when Johnson & Johnson paused its Phase 3 clinical trial because of a participant’s unexplained illness. It’s the second of four large-scale, final-stage vaccine trials to go on hold as President Donald Trump pushes for a vaccine by Election Day on Nov. 3. Eli Lilly paused an antibody trial on Tuesday because of safety concerns.
Some significant developments:
- Golfer Dustin Johnson, the number one player in the world, has tested positive for the virus, the PGA Tour announced Tuesday.
- Soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo tested positive for COVID-19, the Portuguese soccer federation announced Tuesday.
- An 89-year-old Dutch woman is believed to be the first person to have died from a reinfection of COVID-19. Researchers note that her case is similar to that of a healthy 25-year-old Nevada man, who is the first American to have confirmed to have caught COVID-19 twice. Both the man and woman had a worse sickness the second time.
- Slightly more than half of Americans in a recent poll say they already have or plan to stockpile food and other essentials over fears of another COVID-19 surge and potential unrest after the Nov. 3 election.
- Based on their weight, more than 70% of Americans are at an increased risk of experiencing severe illness if they contract the coronavirus, according to new guidance posted by the CDC.
📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has reported more than 7.8 million cases and 215,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins data. There have been more than 37.8 million confirmed cases around the world and 1 million deaths.
🗺️ Mapping coronavirus: Track the U.S. outbreak, state by state.
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World’s top golfer Dustin Johnson has positive COVID-19 test
World No. 1 golfer Dustin Johnson withdrew Tuesday from an upcoming golf tournament in Las Vegas after testing positive for COVID-19.
According to a release from the PGA Tour, Johnson started experiencing symptoms and notified the PGA Tour. He had a COVID-19 test and the result forced him to withdraw from the CJ Cup tournament.
“Obviously, I am very disappointed,” Johnson said, according to the statement. “I was really looking forward to competing this week but will do everything I can to return as quickly as possible. I have already had a few calls with the Tour’s medical team and appreciate all the support and guidance they have given me.”
Johnson, who won three times last season and was the FedEx Cup champion, is in self-isolation.
Johnson tested positive at an off-site location in Las Vegas run by Sanford Health.
The New York Times reported Tuesday that “a government-sponsored clinical trial testing an antibody treatment made by the drug company Eli Lilly has been paused because of a ‘potential safety concern.'”
The trial was designed to test the benefits of the therapy on hundreds of people hospitalized with COVID-19, the Times said. It did not say how many volunteers were sick, or any details about their illness.
“In large clinical trials, such pauses are not unusual, and illness in volunteers is not necessarily the result of the experimental drug or vaccine,” the Times said. “Such halts are meant to allow an independent board of scientific experts to review the data and determine whether the event may have been related to the treatment, or occurred by chance.”
In a statement sent to USA TODAY, Lilly spokeswoman Molly McCully confirmed the pause of the trial: “Safety is of the utmost importance to Lilly. We are aware that, out of an abundance of caution, the ACTIV-3 independent data safety monitoring board (DSMB) has recommended a pause in enrollment. Lilly is supportive of the decision by the independent DSMB to cautiously ensure the safety of the patients participating in this study.”
How long can I expect a COVID-19 illness to last?
How long does the illness last? It depends. Most coronavirus patients have mild to moderate illness and recover quickly. Older, sicker patients tend to take longer to recover. That includes those who are obese, or have high blood pressure and other chronic diseases.
The World Health Organization says recovery typically takes two to six weeks. One U.S. study found that around 20% of non-hospitalized individuals ages 18 to 34 still had symptoms at least two weeks after becoming ill. The same was true for nearly half of people age 50 and older.
Among those sick enough to be hospitalized, a study in Italy found 87% were still experiencing symptoms two months after getting sick.
Dr. Khalilah Gates, a Chicago lung specialist, said many of her hospitalized COVID-19 patients still have coughing episodes, breathing difficulties and fatigue three to four months after infection.
She said it’s hard to predict exactly when COVID-19 patients will return to feeling well.
“The unsettling part of all this is we don’t have all the answers,” said Gates, an assistant professor at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.
Last week saw the highest number of new COVID-19 cases reported across Europe as 700,000 people tested positive.
The World Health Organization said the total accounts for a 34% jump in cases in European nations. Deaths in Europe also spiked by 16%, the WHO said.
Britain, France, Russia and Spain accounted for more than half of the new cases. In Poland, cases and deaths increased by 93% and 104% respectively. The country’s prime minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, said Monday that he’ll quarantine after he met last week with a person who tested positive.
Ten historically Black colleges and universities will receive millions in investments to support on-campus COVID-19 testing facilities, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the world’s largest private foundation, announced Tuesday.
The Gates Foundation, which focuses on providing health and education opportunities, said it will provide $15 million over three years shared between 10 HBCUs, which have felt the sting of coronavirus closures.
The donations will seek to develop and provide personnel, training, lab equipment, test kits and training and laboratory capacity for rapid test processing to six of the 10 universities that will serve as testing hubs.
– Elinor Aspegren
Soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo tested positive for COVID-19, the Portuguese soccer federation announced Tuesday.
Ronaldo is doing well and has no symptoms, the federation said. The federation did not say when he tested positive. The rest of the Portuguese team has since tested negative, the federation said.
The Portuguese forward will not play in a match against Sweden on Wednesday. He had played in a 0-0 draw at France in the Nations League on Sunday and in the 0-0 draw against Spain in a friendly last week.
A Dutch woman is believed to be the first person to have died from a reinfection of COVID-19, researchers wrote in a report published Monday.
The woman, 89, was immunocompromised as she was receiving treatment for a rare white blood cell cancer, Waldenström’s macroglobulinemia, the researchers say in the case study published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.
In her first bout with COVID-19, the woman was admitted to the hospital with fever and a severe cough. After five days, she was discharged and her symptoms subsided, the paper says. Nearly two months later, she began chemotherapy treatment. Within days, though, she developed a fever, cough and shortness of breath.
Tests showed she was positive for COVID-19 but did not have antibodies for the new virus. After eight days, her condition worsened, and she died two weeks later.
The researchers note that the case is similar to that of an otherwise healthy 25-year-old Nevada man, who is the first American to have confirmed to have caught COVID-19 twice, and, like the Dutch woman, had a worse sickness the second time.
COVID-19 outbreak infecting 11 people in 4 states tied to family vacation
A 13-year-old girl is believed to have transmitted COVID-19 to family members during a three-week vacation over the summer, causing a chain of infections of 11 people in four states, a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.
Fourteen relatives from five households shared the house from July to August, with no physical distancing or mask wearing. Six other relatives visited the home during the time but stayed outside and kept 6 feet apart. None of those relatives tested positive, the CDC says.
The girl, who is believed to have spread the virus to the family, was tested before attending the family vacation because she was exposed during a large outbreak while away from home. However, her rapid antigen test four days after exposure was negative and she didn’t experience her only symptom, nasal congestion, until two days later.
“This outbreak highlights … children and adolescents can serve as the source for COVID-19 outbreaks within families, even when their symptoms are mild,” the CDC says.
R-0 may be the most important scientific term you’ve never heard of when it comes to stopping the coronavirus pandemic.
Amazon Prime Day kicks off holiday shopping season (online) amid COVID-19
For years, Amazon Prime Day’s nickname was “Black Friday in July.” Now, Amazon is helping to kick off the holiday shopping season in earnest after delaying its annual sale from July until October amid the coronavirus pandemic.
With consumers encountering a very different experience during the coming holiday shopping season with restrictions on how many can be in a store at a time and concerns about online orders not arriving on time, experts say it’s critical for retailers to start the season early.
Shoppers will get a collective nudge from retailers to stay home this Thanksgiving as more stores remain closed on the holiday and push more sales online.
According to a holiday survey from Affirm taken by 2,000 Americans, 7 in 10 respondents said they’re more likely to buy something on sale now, rather than waiting for the traditional Black Friday or Cyber Monday sales.
– Kelly Tyko
Here’s where cases are surging in the US
A USA TODAY analysis of Johns Hopkins data shows 16 states set records for new cases in a week and 41 states had worse weeks than they did a week earlier.
On a per-person basis, cases are being led by North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana and Wisconsin. North Dakota doubled its case count since Sept. 6, and more people died there from coronavirus in the last month than in the rest of the pandemic.
The 16 states setting records for new cases in the latest week were Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming. Record numbers of deaths were reported in Kansas, North Dakota and South Dakota.
– Mike Stucka
Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine trial has been paused due to an unexplained illness in a volunteer, meaning two of the four vaccine trials in the United States are now on hold.
The Phase 3 clinical trial was temporarily halted Monday, according to the company. It is not known if the unidentified illness is related to the vaccine, but clinical protocols require a pause while it is investigated.
Johnson & Johnson said Monday that it has paused further dosing in its trial while the participant’s illness is reviewed and evaluated by an independent Data Safety Monitoring Board as well as the company’s clinical and safety physicians.
Johnson & Johnson’s JNJ-78436735 vaccine is one of four large-scale, final-stage COVID-19 vaccine trials underway in the U.S. Another trial, run by AstraZeneca, was halted Sept. 8 after a second participant was diagnosed with a neurological condition.
– Elizabeth Weise and Karen Weintraub
Trump tested negative on ‘consecutive days,’ WH doc claims
White House physician Sean Conley said Monday that President Donald Trump had tested negative for the virus on “consecutive days” but did not disclose which days.
The news comes as Trump is headed to Pennsylvania for a rally on Tuesday as he returns to the campaign trail following his hospitalization for COVID-19 earlier this month.
There was no social distancing at Trump’s rally in Florida on Monday night, and only a few people wore face masks. Trump joked with his supporters that he was healthy enough to give voters “a big fat kiss.” The president also focused on his administration’s handling of the coronavirus.
“Under my leadership, we’re delivering a safe vaccine and a rapid recovery like no one can even believe,” Trump insisted. “If you look at our upward path, no country in the world has recovered the way we have recovered.”
Colleges upend their spring plans for in-person learning, graduation
After a rocky start to the fall, uncertainty over the next few months of the pandemic has pushed universities from coast-to-coast to overhaul in-person learning, spring break and graduation.
Colleges and universities in California, Mississippi, Nevada, Texas, North Carolina, Indiana, Vermont, Kansas, Pennsylvania and Washington state have already announced changes and more are almost certain to follow.
“This decision (to learn virtually) is the only responsible one available to us at this time,” California State University Chancellor Timothy P. White said in a Sept. 10 news release announcing that the 23 college system would continue virtual instruction into the spring. At the time, Cal State was one of the only universities to require spring virtual instruction.
A growing number of colleges have delayed their start times, either by a week, a month, or in the case of Middlebury College in Vermont, two months. The college plans to start its spring semester Mar. 1.
– Elinor Aspegren
The coronavirus pandemic has led to longer waits at fast-food drive-thrus this summer. According to the 2020 SeeLevel HX Annual Drive-Thru Study, the average drive-thru wait at 10 top fast-food restaurants this summer was 5.95 minutes, about 30 seconds longer than a year ago.
At Wendy’s, Baconator and Frosty fans waited 5.98 minutes on average, a minute longer than last summer, according to SeeLevel HX, an Atlanta-based consumer research firm that has been doing the review for 20 years.
The fastest chain was KFC, where diners got their orders in 4.72 minutes. On the other end, by a wide margin, was Chick-fil-A, where drivers waited an average of 8.15 minutes, according to SeeLevel HX.
One simple reason: Chick-fil-A restaurants serve more customers, with testers counting nearly three times as many vehicles in the chain’s lines than the industry average. Both Chick-fil-A and the other chains had more vehicles in line than a year ago, according to SeeLevel HX.
– Jim Weiker, The Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch
COVID-19 resources from USA TODAY
Contributing: The Associated Press
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