Coronavirus updates: El Paso, Texas, to go on 2-week shutdown; New York tops 500K cases; Wisconsin runs low on ICU beds; 227K US deaths

Jessica Flores, Adrianna Rodriguez and Chris Woodyard, USA TODAY
·12 min read

While the resurgence of the coronavirus had been tough on the economy, there was a bit of good news Thursday — the economy grew more than 33% in the third quarter as it bounced back from shutdowns spawned by the pandemic.

The reversal, however, came amid warnings that rising COVID-19 infections around the country could again slow the economy in the fourth quarter. The situation could worsen because of the lack of a stimulus deal from Congress.

Daily U.S. coronavirus hospitalizations surpassed 45,000 for the first time since mid-August this week as the autumn pandemic surge continues unabated.

Wisconsin is on track to run out of ICU beds, and nurses to staff them, in as little as two weeks as the state reported 5,200 positive COVID-19 cases Tuesday with only 187 beds available.

Meanwhile, in the world of sports, the Boston Athletic Association (BAA) announced that the 125th Boston Marathon will be postponed from the third Monday in April to at least fall 2021. And the Houston Texans closed the team facility down during their bye week after another player tested positive for COVID-19.

Here's what to know today:

  • The U.S. set a record this week for new COVID-19 cases over a seven-day period with more than 500,000 infections. An American is testing positive every 1.2 seconds. Daily deaths are also climbing — one of us is dying every 107 seconds, according to Johns Hopkins data.

  • CVS Health announced that it will add nearly 1,000 rapid COVID-19 testing sites throughout the country by the end of the year, with about 100 of them running this week in 22 states.

  • Boeing will cut more jobs as it continues to bleed money during the pandemic, announcing that it expects to cut its workforce to about 130,000 by the end of next year.

📈Today's numbers: The U.S. has reported more than 8.8 million cases and more than 227,600 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: 44.4 million cases and 1.17 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.

El Paso, Texas, orders 2-week shutdown amid COVID-19 surge

A judge in El Paso County, Texas, ordered a two-week shutdown of nonessential services starting at midnight Friday amid growing hospitalizations in the COVID-19 crisis.

Voting continues and polls will remain open for the upcoming election since voting is an essential service, County Judge Ricardo Samaniego announced Thursday. Hospitals are at capacity, medical workers are overwhelmed and the shutdown is needed as the virus spreads, the judge stated.

“There seems to be a shadow placed upon us because of the numbers the way they are," Samaniego said, adding that new infections kept going up in recent days.

El Paso continued to hit unprecedented levels in the outbreak with record numbers of active cases, patients in the hospital, intensive care and a soaring positivity rate. Public health officials reported Thursday morning a record 14,359 known active cases, 934 people hospitalized, 245 in ICU, and a 17.24% rolling seven-day average positivity rate.

– Daniel Borunda and Vic Kolenc, El Paso Times

More Wisconsin football players, staff test positive for COVID-19

Three more members of the University of Wisconsin's football program have tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total so far to 16.

With the addition of two staff members and one player Thursday, the team has recorded eight positive tests among players and eight among staff members, including coach Paul Chryst and quarterbacks Graham Mertz and Chase Wolf.

The team has already canceled its game Saturday with Nebraska. Now it's yet to be seen if it will be able to play Purdue on Nov. 7.

“There is no definitive timeline for a return to in-person football activities, but the earliest that could occur is Wednesday, Nov. 4," the university said in a statement.

– Jeff Potrykus, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

New York state passes 500,000 cases, joining California, Texas and Florida

New York has become the latest state to pass the 500,000 mark when it comes to the number of COVID-19 cases, but the pandemic still appears to be under control.

On Thursday, New York's total number of confirmed cases stood at 500,677 as of 7:15 p.m. EST, Johns Hopkins University reported on its coronavirus tracker. The Empire State falls in behind California with 919,276; Texas with 911,835 and Florida with 790,426.

But after leading the nation in cases earlier last spring, New York state is only creeping along so far when it comes to new ones. It recorded 2,031 new cases, a far cry from the record of 11,434 that it had back on April 15, Johns Hopkins data shows. There were two new deaths and a testing positivity rate of only 1.4%.

Los Angeles County weighs 'COVID-19 Recovery Charge' for restaurant tabs

Restaurant customers in unincorporated pockets of the nation’s most populous county may one day encounter an extra charge when the check arrives – a “COVID-19 Recovery Charge.”

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted earlier this week to draft a measure that would allow restaurants, breweries and wineries to impose the temporary charge for on-premises dining. It is intended to give restaurants an economic boost and wouldn’t apply to take-out orders.

“It is critical that we continue to support this sector by temporarily allowing them to add a COVID-19 Recovery Charge to a customer’s total bill,” said Supervisor Hilda Solis, who made the motion. “This optional fee gives small restaurant, brewery, and winery owners the chance to recover expenditures related to PPE, workforce wellbeing initiatives and construction costs for outdoor dining.”

The motion comes amid a surge in cases. Los Angeles County Public Health officials on Thursday reported 19 new deaths and 1,745 new cases, the highest number of daily cases since late August.

'These people are gone forever': Wisconsin ICU doc struggles with cases

By the time patients are brought to Dr. Manar Alshahrouri, they're usually too sick to talk or interact.

The ICU doctor in Green Bay, Wisconsin, says he encourages the most gravely ill to call family members before they are put on a ventilator because it's never clear they'll be able to speak again.

Alshahrouri experiences the outbreak in the Badger State from the ground level, working nights and weekends to try to keep up. The outbreak that Wisconsin health officials called "a nightmare scenario" resulted in a single-day record Tuesday in the number of cases and deaths.

"These are people who are gone forever," Alshahrouri said, "from something that was preventable."

– Madeline Heim, USA TODAY Network — Wisconsin

V-shaped recovery? Economy came back strong after pandemic dip

Maybe the U.S. is seeing a V-shaped recovery after all.

The Commerce Department reported the nation’s economy grew at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 33.1% in the third quarter (July, August and September), reversing a 31.4% annualized decline in the previous quarter — a roller coaster created by the coronavirus pandemic.

But with COVID-19 surging again and no sign Congress will agree on a relief package, the current quarter may not be as strong. Still, the third-quarter growth slightly beat predictions.

Economists surveyed by Bloomberg had forecast a 32% jump in GDP.

– Paul Davidson

If shoppers hoard items again, here's what may sell out

The latest coming of the coronavirus pandemic has also given rise to the possibility consumers may again start panic buying some of the products we depend on.

Toilet paper, hand sanitizer, thermometers, face masks and disinfectant wipes are natural targets. But Reviewed.com went further, coming up with potential shortages of products that you might not have considered.

Dumbbells? Well, recreational items like bicycles and boats have been in short supply, so with gyms closed, more people are sure to want their own personal workout equipment. Patio heaters? Restaurant owners are certain to try to snatch them up to extend outdoor dining into the colder months.

Check out the full list.

Former FDA chief forecasts 100,000 new cases in US per week

The former commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says the nation is in a steep epidemic of COVID-19 cases and says it's possible we'll see 100,000 new cases this week.

Dr. Scott Gottlieb told CNBC Thursday that the U.S. appears to be about three weeks behind the steep rise in Europe as the weather turns colder. He said the U.S. is "a little bad" on cases right now, with the exception of sharply rising rates in Wisconsin, North and South Dakota and Utah.

But he predicted the nation is unlikely to see widespread new home lockdown orders because the public is unwilling to accept them.

Five states and Black medical group plan to verify vaccine safety

In a move that could boost public confidence, at least five states and a Black medical group say they’ll conduct independent verification of any COVID-19 vaccines approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

These review panels, which began popping up last month, are expected in California, Nevada, New York, Oregon and Washington. They could help counter the political pall cast over COVID-19 vaccine development and approval. A survey this month found only 58% of Americans said they would get vaccinated as soon as a vaccine became available.

The first push for oversight outside the FDA came Sept. 21, when the National Medical Association announced it would create an expert task force to review any decisions about COVID-19 vaccines and treatments. The association of Black physicians was founded in 1895 at a time when racism in medical groups excluded Black doctors.

– Elizabeth Weise

Wisconsin may run out of ICU beds in as little as 2 weeks if cases keep rising

The state of Wisconsin is on track to run out of ICU beds and, more importantly, the nurses to staff them, in as little as two weeks if the number of people testing positive for COVID-19 does not drop.

On Tuesday, when the state reported a record 5,200 positive cases, only 187 of the state's 1,469 intensive care unit beds were available. Of the patients in ICUs, 319 were being treated for COVID-19.

Given the trajectory of new cases, the number of COVID-19 patients being treated could double in two to six weeks, said Bill Melms, chief medical officer for Marshfield Clinic Health System.

“There is nothing magical about this math,” Melms said. “Every single positive increases the probability or likelihood of having another patient who is hospitalized.”

– Guy Boulton, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

2021 Boston Marathon moved to fall due to COVID-19

The 2021 Boston Marathon will not be held in April.

The Boston Athletic Association (BAA) announced Wednesday afternoon that the 125th Boston Marathon, traditionally held on the third Monday in April — Patriots’ Day — will be postponed until at least the fall of 2021.

“By shifting our focus to a fall date, we can continue to work with stakeholders to adjust the in-person experience for runners and supporters alike. Prioritizing the safety of participants, volunteers, spectators, and community members, we continue to assess all elements of the race including a potential reduced field size or weekend date," said Tom Grilk, CEO of the athletic association, in a prepared statement.

The 2020 Boston Marathon was held virtually in September after being canceled in April.

Metrowest Daily News Staff Report

Few Black Americans interested in participating in clinical trials

Black Americans distrust the government so much they're not participating in large numbers in COVID-19 clinical trials, and many say they won't get a COVID-19 vaccine – at least not until many others get it. Although the first two, large clinical trials of candidate vaccines have managed to include about 3,000 Black participants each, it hasn't been easy. And later trials might have even more trouble.

Polls show that among racial and ethnic groups, Black Americans are the most hesitant to get a vaccine once one becomes available, and their skepticism is rising fast. In one September survey, only 32% of Black adults said they would get a vaccine, down from 54% in May.

Alexandre White, a historian of medicine at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, said mistrust needs to be addressed urgently. "We're seeing a deeply uncoordinated strategy," he said.

Karen Weintraub

'COVID toes' could last days to months after initial infection, report finds

Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital found that some COVID-19 longhaulers had skin conditions ranging from rashes to “COVID toes” last from days to weeks to months, according to a report released Thursday.

COVID toes, pernio-like lesions characterized by redness and swelling in the hands and feet, lasted a median of 15 days in patients with suspected COVID-19 and 10 days in lab-confirmed cases. However, six patients had toe symptoms last at least 60 days and two lasted longer than 130 days.

Among 224 suspected cases and 90 laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19, the median duration of skin symptoms was 12 days. Some rashes and hives lasted as long as 28 days.

“This data adds to our knowledge about the long-term effects of COVID-19 in different organ systems,” said Dr. Esther Freeman, director of Global Health Dermatology at Massachusetts General Hospital. “The skin is potentially a visible window into inflammation that could be going on in the body.”

– Adrianna Rodriguez

COVID-19 resources from USA TODAY

Contributing: The Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: COVID news: Wisconsin low on ICU beds; CVS rapid testing; US cases