Wisconsin health officials plan to open a field hospital amid a surge in cases in the midwest, the latest region to become a COVID-19 hotspot.
The virus first spiked in travel hubs like New York City, took hold over the summer in sunny, tourism-prone areas like Florida and now is now widely spreading in the midwest, especially in areas noted for downplaying the virus' risks. The midwest, however, isn't alone: U.S. coronavirus cases surpassed 7.5 million on Wednesday with most states seeing a rise in cases.
“What worries me is we haven’t learned our lessons,” said Ali Mokdad, a professor of health metrics sciences at the University of Washington in Seattle. He cited data, compiled by the company Premise, showing mask usage is lower in Wisconsin and the Dakotas than the U.S. average of 50%.
Meanwhile, President Donald Trump — who last week tested positive for the virus and was admitted to the hospital — has returned to the Oval Office, breaking quarantine despite recommendations from his doctors that he remain in the White House residence.
But he shows no signs of slowing down. Trump repudiated the Commission on Presidential Debates' decision to move the second presidential debate to a virtual format, calling it a "joke." Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien proposed delaying the final two debates each one week under their same format.
Some significant developments:
The number of new COVID-19 cases in New Jersey spiked above 1,000 on Thursday, the highest daily number reported since May.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Thursday said he hasn't visited the White House in two months because of what he saw as lax coronavirus practices.
The head of the White House security office is gravely ill with COVID-19 and has been hospitalized since September.
Protesters gathered for a second night in New York on Wednesday in defiance of new shutdown orders in some of the city's neighborhoods that have seen concerning spikes in new COVID-19 cases in recent weeks.
📈 Today's numbers: The United States has reported more than 7.5 million cases and more than 212,600 deaths. Eleven states set records for new cases over the just-ended seven-day period while three states had a record number of deaths. The world has seen over 36.3 million cases and 1 million deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.
📰 What we're reading: As winter approaches, restaurants in locations with colder weather nationwide are envisioning new ways to keep outdoor dining open. That means you may end up dining in a heated tent, or better yet, an "igloo."
🗺️ Mapping coronavirus: Track the U.S. outbreak, state by state.
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Thousands of minks die during COVID-19 outbreak on Utah farms
Nearly 8,000 minks at Utah fur farms have died in the past 10 days because of the coronavirus. Nine sites in three counties are quarantining, but the state veterinarian says people aren't at risk from the outbreak.
"We genuinely don't feel like there is much of a risk going from the mink to the people," said state veterinarian Dr. Dean Taylor, who is investigating the outbreak.
Workers at the farms likely spread the virus to the animals, but there is no sign that the animals are spreading it to humans, Taylor said. No animals have been euthanized in Utah because of COVID and it does not appear to be necessary, Taylor said.
The dead animals' fur will be processed to remove any traces of the virus and then used for coats and other garments, according to Fur Commission USA, a mink farming trade group. The U.S. produces more than 3 million mink pelts each year. The National Veterinary Services Laboratories on Thursday announced the first COVID-19 infections among mink in Taylor County, Wisconsin.
COVID-19 cases surge in Wisconsin, North Dakota, South Dakota
A surge of coronavirus cases in Wisconsin and the Dakotas is forcing a scramble for hospital beds and raising political tensions, as the Upper Midwest and Plains emerge as one of the nation’s most troubling hot spots.
The three states now lead all others in new cases per capita, after months in which many politicians and residents rejected mask requirements while downplaying the risks of the disease that has now killed over 210,000 Americans.
“It’s an emotional roller coaster,” said Melissa Resch, a nurse at Wisconsin’s Aspirus Wausau Hospital, which is working to add beds and reassign staff to keep up with a rising caseload of virus patients, many gravely ill.
In North Dakota, which does not require residents to wear masks and whose 770 new cases per 100,000 residents are the highest in the country, 24 more deaths were reported Wednesday, triple the state’s previous single-day record.
In Wisconsin, health officials plan to open a field hospital next week at the state fairgrounds to prevent health care centers from being overwhelmed by virus cases, even as state Republicans challenge Democratic Gov. Tony Evers' mask mandate in court.
Carnival CEO expects to resume US sailing before end of year
Arnold Donald, the CEO of Carnival Corp., expects that the company's cruise lines will be sailing by the end of the year in U.S. waters after a pause in operations lasting over seven months.
"At this time we have every reason to be optimistic that we will be sailing in the U.S. before year end," Donald said on an earnings call Thursday. He added later that because of the success of initial sailings in Europe, the company believes it has a "way to go forward" despite the pandemic.
Carnival Corp. lines, which is parent to Carnival Cruise Line, Holland America, Princess Cruises, P&O Cruises, among others, are taking a staggered approach to resuming operations as previously promised by the cruise company. One has already resumed operations: Costa Cruises. It which resumed sailing two of its ships in Italy, made its first comeback voyage on Sept. 6
– Morgan Hines
Study: 86% of people who tested positive showed no symptoms
A British study has found 86% of people infected with the coronavirus didn’t show the main symptoms on the day they were tested. Researchers at University College London looked at data from a survey that has been testing thousands of U.K. households every week, regardless of whether the subjects had symptoms.
The study, released Thursday, looked at data for 36,061 people between April and June. Researchers found among those who tested positive, 86% didn’t have a cough, fever or loss of taste or smell. Lead researcher Irene Petersen says frequent and widespread testing of all individuals is needed to curb “silent transmission.”
Cases sharply rise throughout Europe as more shutdowns loom
European countries that have previously fared well in the pandemic have seen a severe uptick in positive COVID-19 cases this week, prompting the possibility of more shutdowns and social distancing mandates across the pond.
England reported a 56% increase in positive COVID-19 cases last week, after more than 51,000 people received positive tests, per Sky News. In Germany, officials reported a one-day jump of 4,058 cases, warning that cases could reach to more than 10,000 a day if "we lose control.” The Netherlands also reported a single-day record high of positive cases, reported the BBC, as did Poland, which is reintroducing mandatory face masks in public spaces in response.
Italy, which has handled the pandemic relatively well after a tumultuous start, also recorded its highest positive case count in five months — also leading to the return of a mask mandate.
Florida gun background checks surge amid pandemic and protests
More than 1 million people in Florida requested background checks to purchase firearms during the first nine months of 2020, according to statistics from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. It's the first time since 2016 that Florida has had that many, and only the second time since 2004.
Many are first-time gun buyers, with more than 80,000 new applications for concealed weapons permits since July 1, according to the Florida Department of Agriculture. Purchases peaked in March, when the pandemic hit, and June, when protests surrounding the deaths of Black Americans reached a fever pitch.
– Julius Whigham II, Palm Beach Post
California megachurch school tied to outbreak with at least 137 cases
As of Tuesday, there have been 137 COVID-19 cases at Bethel Church's School of Supernatural Ministry since classes started in early September, and currently there are 68 active cases. The charismatic megachurch, which has in the past been criticized for holding large, in-person worship events during the pandemic, issued a statement instructing students and staff in contact with individuals who have tested positive to stay home.
“We have seen that a primary source of the transmission has occurred in off-campus living situations and social interactions outside of school hours that are common to student life,” said a statement from the school.
– David Benda, Redding (Calif.) Record Searchlight
Anti-lockdown protests in NYC's Orthodox Jewish community
Protesters gathered for a second night in New York on Wednesday in defiance of new shutdown orders in some of the city's neighborhoods that have seen spikes in new COVID-19 cases in recent weeks. Orthodox Jewish protesters gathered en masse in Brooklyn, some with masks and others without, decrying new restrictions from Gov. Andrew Cuomo that would close nonessential businesses and schools and limit the size of religious gatherings.
The new lockdown orders were issued for parts of Queens, Brooklyn and the city's suburbs that have disproportionately contributed to new virus cases in recent weeks, and some of those areas are home to large populations of the Orthodox Jewish community. The new measures also come amid the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, contributing the anger from some of those in the Orthodox community.
– Ryan W. Miller
What can we expect from a winter COVID-19 second wave?
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, public health officials have predicted that we would have a terrible winter — as more people spend more time indoors, travel for the holidays, and struggle with conflicting messages from national and local leaders.
No one really knows what the next few months will bring, but clues point to a mixed bag. Lots of inexpensive, readily available, fast tests will be available in the coming months, and at least one vaccine is likely to win preliminary approval by the end of the year. That said, we can't let up yet.
"Things are likely to get bad in the winter if what we continue to do is relax measures in places where COVID-19 cases are high or increasing," said Samuel Scarpino, an assistant professor at Northeastern University in Boston, where he directs the school's Emergent Epidemics Lab.
– Karen Weintraub
American Lung Association wants to dispel COVID-19 misinformation
The rash of coronavirus infections emanating from the White House, followed by President Donald Trump’s tweeted advice to the nation – “Don’t be afraid of Covid’’ – prompted the American Lung Association to issue guidance for those confronting the disease in hopes of dispelling misinformation.
A statement from ALA chief medical officer Dr. Albert Rizzo largely reiterates info from the CDC, counseling members of the public who get infected to isolate for 10 days from the point of getting a positive test result or develop symptoms, to work with a contact-tracing team and to consult with a doctor without leaving the house, possibly through telemedicine. But they come at a time of increased skepticism about the government’s instructions regarding the virus and fatigue about restrictions.
– Jorge L. Ortiz
Cheap, rapid, at-home tests are key to the COVID-19 fight. Where are they?
Advocates say rapid and cheap home tests might be as important as a vaccine in the fight against COVID-19, even though the tests are less accurate than pricier PCR tests. But testing companies developing rapid home tests and their allies want the FDA and other federal agencies to loosen restrictions on home tests and ease authorization.
Dr. Michael Mina, a Harvard epidemiologist who has been advocating for such cheap tests since June, says some testing companies have been discouraged by the agency's initial recommendations. But Jeffrey Shuren, director of the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health, said that the FDA is "very flexible" in its requirements for test developers. “We’ve been taking essentially all comers," he said.
– Ken Alltucker
Contributing: The Associated Press
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: COVID updates: Wisconsin, Dakotas hospital beds; Europe 'second wave'