| USA TODAY
COVID-19: 3 tips on saying no to social gatherings during the pandemic
Elaine Swann, lifestyle expert and founder of The Swann School of Protocol, explains how to turn down a social gathering politely during the pandemic.
Some areas of the country will likely again need temporary “drastic” and “draconian” measures — such as shutdowns or the suspension of elective procedures — to protect the nation’s health care system as COVID-19 continues to spread, Dr. Anthony Fauci said Friday.
That’s because the nation is facing a “surge upon a surge” of cases that will likely continue to mount, Fauci said in interview with CNN. The number of coronavirus cases was already growing rapidly before Thanksgiving, a time when many Americans traveled and gathered, likely further escalating the virus’ reach.
The extent of the Thanksgiving-related surge won’t fully be known until almost Christmas — when yet another surge of cases may again start, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director said.
Infections and deaths continued climbing in recent weeks, leading the influential Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation model to project on Friday that the U.S. will surpass half-a-million COVID-19 deaths by April. Fauci didn’t disagree, given the uncertainty of the coming weeks.
But good news continues on the vaccine front, he said. Some hospitals already have candidate vaccines in hand and are ready to start administering doses as soon as they receive the official emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Here’s what to know:
- Health officers in six San Francisco Bay Areas counties have issued a new stay-at-home order ahead of a state plan.
- Student loan borrowers won’t have to make payments on federal student loans until the end of January, the U.S. Education Department said Friday, extending a pandemic-era reprieve through the first days of the Joe Biden presidency.
- U.S. employers added a disappointing 245,000 jobs in November despite the looming halt of extended jobless benefits and other federal lifelines for millions of Americans.
📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has reported more than 14 million cases and over 279,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: 66 million cases and 1.5 million deaths.
📰 What we’re reading: Will you be required to get vaccinated? The short answer is yes, for some Americans. But not anytime soon, and not by the federal government. Read why.
This file will be updated throughout the day. For updates in your inbox, subscribe to The Daily Briefing newsletter.
Coronavirus infections continue to spread at record levels in the United States, reaching a new daily high of nearly 228,000 cases on Friday. The 227,885 cases eclipses the previous high of more than 217,000 on Thursday, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
The seven-day rolling average of COVID-19 attributable deaths in the U.S. has passed 2,000 for the first time at 2,011. Two weeks ago, the seven-day average was 1,448. There were 2,607 deaths reported in the U.S. on Friday.
Globally, Johns Hopkins reports more than 1.5 million people have died from the coronavirus pandemic, including more than 279,000 in the United States.
– Associated Press
COVID-19 deaths and hospitalizations are at record levels and the rising case toll from Americans’ holiday travel has created an unprecedented surge with no relief in sight. The problem is especially ominous in the nation’s intensive care units – specialized units crowded with a record number of critically ill Americans as the nation struggles through the most dangerous phase of the pandemic.
On Thursday, California announced stay-at-home orders for regions where intensive care units are nearly full. A growing chorus of medical experts say hospitals and states must prepare to shift to crisis-care mode, a designation with standards for hospitals to navigate life-and-death decisions when they become overwhelmed.
Crisis standards mean hospitals with too many patients and not enough staff likely will need to triage patients, prioritizing care to those mostly likely to benefit when demand outstrips resources.
“What we see now is just the beginning of the post-Thanksgiving peak,” said Eric Toner, senior scholar with the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. “It’s going to be huge and it’s going to be awful.” Read more.
– Ken Alltucker
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul and 36 other senators publicly showed their support Friday for Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron’s federal lawsuit challenging Gov. Andy Beshear’s order prohibiting public and private K-12 schools from holding in-person classes until January.
McConnell, who has been a mentor to Cameron, submitted an amicus brief Friday to the U.S. Supreme Court along with Paul and many of their Republican Senate colleagues backing the case the state attorney general and Danville Christian Academy recently brought against Beshear.
The lawsuit challenges the Democrat’s decision to force religious private schools to switch to virtual classes because of spiking COVID-19 cases in the state.
– Morgan Watkins and Billy Kobin, Louisville Courier Journal
Thousands of doctors, teachers and others in high-risk groups have signed up Saturday for a coronavirus vaccination in Moscow.
The vaccination effort comes three days after President Vladimir Putin ordered the launch of a “large-scale” immunization campaign even though a Russian-designed vaccine has yet to complete the advanced studies needed to ensure its effectiveness and safety in line with established scientific protocols.
The Russian leader said Wednesday that more than 2 million doses of the Sputnik V shot will be available in the next few days, allowing authorities to offer shots to medical workers and teachers across the country starting late next week.
On Saturday, Russia reported a record 28,782 daily cases, including 7,993 in Moscow. Russia’s 2.4 million confirmed cases is the fourth-largest caseload in the world behind the United States, India and Brazil. There’s been 42,684 total confirmed deaths in Russia.
– Associated Press
President-elect Joe Biden said more must be done to plan the distribution of vaccines for COVID-19 after they are approved, but that his health advisers are developing plans.
“There’s a lot more that has to be done,” Biden told reporters. “There is no detailed plan that we’ve seen anyway about how you get the vaccine out of a container into an injection syringe and into an arm.”
He called the anticipated distribution “difficult and expensive.” He also said it must be equitable, to ensure that communities of color receive vaccinations beyond those distributed through major drugstore chains that might not have offices in all neighborhoods.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do,” Biden said.
— Michael Collins and Bart Jansen
Americans will likely experience at least one side effect from the COVID-19 vaccine, but doctors say that’s normal and you should still get vaccinated.
In Moderna’s trials, where more than half of Phase 1 study participants experienced some side effect, the company said the most common side effects in Phase 3 were fatigue, muscle soreness and aches, joint pain, headache, and pain, redness or swelling at the injection site. In Pfizer/BioNTech Phase 3 trials, the probability of getting fatigued or a headache was 3.8% and 2%, respectively.
Dr. Melanie Swift, an occupational medicine physician helping lead the COVID-19 vaccination plan at the Mayo Clinic, said it’s important to educate Americans about the vaccines’ side effects or it may deter people from getting the second dose.
“Just because you’re sore doesn’t mean that (the vaccine) didn’t work or wasn’t effective. It just means that your body responded the way it’s supposed to,” she said. “It’s important to take both doses or that first dose was all for nothing.” Read more here.
– Adrianna Rodriguez
Coronavirus: How vaccines are developed and tested
Pressure to create a coronavirus vaccine is increasing by the day, but for a safe vaccine to enter the market, it takes time.
COVID-19 resources from USA TODAY
In your inbox: Stay up to date with the latest news on the coronavirus pandemic from the USA TODAY Network. Sign up for the daily Coronavirus Watch newsletter.
Tips for coping: Every Saturday and Tuesday we’ll be in your inbox, offering you a virtual hug and a little bit of solace in these difficult times. Sign up for Staying Apart, Together.
On Facebook: A lot is still unknown about the coronavirus. But what we do know, we’re sharing with you. Join our Facebook group, Coronavirus Watch, to receive daily updates in your feed and chat with others in the community about COVID-19.
Contributing: The Associated Press