Coronavirus updates: In one-week span, US reports highest number of cases during pandemic; NIH halts monoclonal antibody trial

Adrianna Rodriguez, Jessica Flores and Jorge L. Ortiz, USA TODAY
·8 min read

The U.S. had more than 481,372 new cases of COVID-19 last week, setting a record for the most new infections reported in a week since the pandemic began.

Nearly half the country set records for new COVID-19 cases in a week while five states had a record number of deaths in a week: Montana, North Carolina, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

Wisconsin's public health officials and contact tracers say they're struggling to keep up with virus spread, while El Paso, Texas, is airlifting COVID-19 patients to neighboring hospitals and converting the civic center into a medical site for an additional 100 beds.

The U.S. reports a new COVID-19 case every 1.26 seconds, according to a USA TODAY analysis of Johns Hopkins University data. Worldwide, there have been more than 43 million coronavirus infections.

In Washington, Vice President Mike Pence plans to attend several scheduled events this week, including the final vote to confirm Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court on Monday, despite several of his aides testing positive for COVID-19.

📈 Today's numbers: The U.S. has reported more than 8.6 million cases and 225,500 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: 43.3 million cases and 1.15 million deaths.

🗺️ Mapping coronavirus: Track the U.S. outbreak in your state.

When will there be a COVID-19 vaccine? Our panel of experts expects at least one COVID-19 vaccine will be approved in the coming months. Then things could really get complicated.

NIH halts trial of Eli Lilly monoclonal antibody for hospitalized patients

The National Institutes of Health has stopped a trial of a monoclonal antibody being tested in hospitalized patients with advanced COVID-19, deciding that it was unlikely to be of help. A similar trial in patients at an earlier stage of disease will continue, Eli Lilly and Co., which makes the antibody, said late Monday.

The trial was stopped earlier this month because of safety concern. Lilly said that an analysis showed that the drug, bamlanivimab, was not dangerous, but also unlikely to help advanced patients.

President Donald Trump, who received a different pair of monoclonal antibodies when he was sick with COVID-19, has proclaimed them a “cure” and promised to provide them free to any American who needs them.

The company that makes the drug he took, Regeneron, has requested an emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to begin providing it. Lilly has requested similar authorization for bamlanivimab in recently diagnosed high-risk patients.

– Karen Weintraub

Contact tracers in Wisconsin can't keep up with COVID-19 spread

With an average of 3,400 new cases each day just in the last week in Wisconsin – the third highest per-person rate in the U.S. – contact tracers are now so overrun that some have begun to wonder whether the job is futile.

A person who tests positive might report 10 or more close contacts who need to be reached quickly. Multiply that by 3,400 and the task becomes impossible: close to 40,000 people for the state's little more than 1,000 tracers to reach with each new day.

Some Wisconsin counties are now stopping short of reaching out to an infected person's contacts, instead asking the infected person to do it themselves. That includes Dane County, the second-most populous in the state, which said in a news release this week it has switched to a “crisis model.”

DHS chief medical officer Dr. Ryan Westergaard told reporters last week that Wisconsin's entire public health infrastructure – including state, local and tribal health departments – "cannot keep up."

– Madeline Heim, USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin

California restaurants want refund for $100 million in fees

California’s financially battered restaurants filed government claims Monday to recover more than $100 million in fees for liquor and health permits and tourism charges that they say were assessed even though their businesses were shuttered or only partially operating under long-running coronavirus orders.

Few industries have been hit as hard during the pandemic as restaurants, which in California were ordered closed, reopened, closed for a second time and then were allowed to welcome customers again with restrictions. Thousands of restaurants have closed permanently.

Owners say one thing has remained constant amid the turmoil: State and county governments have continued to charge fees for liquor licenses, health permits and tourism assessments, even though the restaurants were closed down by government orders or limited in how they could operate.

-- The Associated Press

US sets another record for most new cases of COVID-19 in a week

The United States had more than 481,372 new cases of COVID-19 last week, setting a record for the most new cases reported in a week since the pandemic began. Ohio, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, all of them considered battleground states in the upcoming election, all reported their 200,000th cases Monday.

Twenty states set records for new cases in a week: Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky Montana, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

Meanwhile, five states reported a record number of COVID-19 deaths in a week: Montana, North Carolina, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

The U.S. reports a new COVID-19 case every 1.26 seconds, according to a USA TODAY analysis of Johns Hopkins University data.

– Michael Stucka

Dr. Deborah Birx criticizes North Dakota's COVID-19 safety measures

The capital of the state with the nation's highest incidence of new coronavirus cases per capita has drawn a rebuke from the White House coronavirus response coordinator for its careless ways.

Dr. Deborah Birx, whose tour has taken her to nearly 40 states, said Bismarck, North Dakota, has the worst COVID-19 protocols she’s seen in her travels, calling the absence of face coverings and the lack of social distancing in the capital city “deeply unfortunate” and a danger to public health.

North Dakota has ranked first in the U.S. for new virus cases per capita in the last two weeks, according to The COVID Tracking Project. Republican Gov. Doug Burgum has urged people to wear masks out of personal responsibility and care for others but declined to issue a mask mandate.

Hospitals in El Paso, Texas, overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients

The El Paso civic center will be converted into a medical care site and some patients will be flown to other cities as local hospitals are being inundated with COVID-19 patients.

The civic center site will have a capacity of 50 beds and can expand to 100 beds, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is also deploying two 35-member disaster medical assistance teams and a trauma critical care team to El Paso, Abbott added. The teams will arrive this week.

El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego on Sunday evening issued a stay-at-home order with a daily curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., unless going to work or going to an essential service. Violation of the order is punishable by a $500 fine.

As of Sunday morning, a record 786 patients were hospitalized for COVID-19 in El Paso, an increase of 71 patients from the day before, and the number of known active cases was a 11,321, according to city-county health data.

– Daniel Borunda, El Paso Times

A cemetery worker digs a grave at the Valle de Chalco Municipal Cemetery on the outskirts of Mexico City on Sept. 24. The cemetery opened early in the coronavirus pandemic to accommodate the country's surge in deaths.
A cemetery worker digs a grave at the Valle de Chalco Municipal Cemetery on the outskirts of Mexico City on Sept. 24. The cemetery opened early in the coronavirus pandemic to accommodate the country's surge in deaths.

Mexico health officials acknowledge higher COVID-19 death toll

Mexican health authorities acknowledged the country’s true death toll from the coronavirus pandemic is far higher than previously reported, saying there were 193,170 “excess” deaths this year through Sept. 26.

Of those, 139,153 are now judged to be attributable to COVID-19. Mexico’s official, test-confirmed death toll is about 89,000, but officials previously acknowledged many people didn’t get tested or their tests were mishandled.

Authorities had previously presented an estimated death toll of 103,882, after taking into account mishandled tests. But the Health Department said Sunday that they had analyzed databases to come up with the latest figure. The analysis picked up symptoms related to COVID-19 mentioned on death certificates even if they weren’t listed as the cause of death.

COVID-19 resources from USA TODAY

Contributing: The Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: COVID news: New cases surge; Mexico deaths; Mike Pence aides positive