You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Coronavirus updates: CDC may reduce quarantines; Dr. Anthony Fauci warns of 'stunning number of deaths'; Airlines report $157B in losses

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 11/25/2020 John Bacon, Jorge L. Ortiz and Jessica Flores, USA TODAY
UP NEXT
UP NEXT

It took almost six weeks for the pandemic to claim the lives of 3,000 Americans. In the last week that number of COVID deaths – about the number of fatalities in the 9/11 terror attacks – has been taking place in U.S. homes, hospitals and hospices every two days.

News of impending vaccines has instilled hope the pandemic will pass into history within months. But the road to that brighter future continues to darken – in the last seven days, the nation recorded a weekly record with 1.2 million new infections. On Monday, the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients surpassed 85,000 for the first time.

University of Montana students take a socially distanced natural chemistry final exam on Monday inside Dahlberg Arena, the school's basketball arena. © Tommy Martino, AP University of Montana students take a socially distanced natural chemistry final exam on Monday inside Dahlberg Arena, the school's basketball arena.

Dr. Anthony Fauci told Yahoo News the onset of colder weather and the holiday seasons of Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and New Year’s Eve could conspire to drive the number of infections, hospitalizations and deaths even higher.

Start the day smarter. Get all the news you need in your inbox each morning.

“Two to three thousand deaths a day times a couple of months, and you’re approaching a really stunning number of deaths," the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases warned.

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington projects that almost 200,000 more Americans will die by March 1.

📈 Today's numbers: The U.S. has reported more than 12.5 million cases and over 259,400 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: 59.6 million cases and 1.4 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.

UP NEXT
UP NEXT

Report: CDC pondering quarantine reduction to 7-10 days

In an effort to encourage compliance, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention may reduce the recommended quarantine period for those exposed to the coronavirus from 14 days to somewhere between seven and 10, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The newspaper said agency officials are putting the final touches on the recommendation, which would require a negative COVID test for the exposed person to exit quarantine.

Henry Walke, the CDC's incident manager for COVID-19 response, told the Journal that studies have shown effective quarantines can be done in less time than the currently recommended two weeks. Although there's a chance some infections could be missed, he said there's a valuable tradeoff to be gained.

"Hopefully people would be better able to adhere to quarantine if it was, for example, seven to 10 days,'' he said.   

HHS Secretary Alex Azar: 6.4M doses of vaccine soon on the way

As many as 6.4 million doses of coronavirus vaccine may be shipped out in the first day after the Food and Drug Administration authorizes it.

That could be within three weeks, Heath and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said Tuesday, while also warning Americans to keep their guard up and follow public health guidelines during the Thanksgiving holiday.

"There is such a bright day ahead with what this team is delivering on vaccines and therapeutics. We want to make sure that everybody is here for next year's Thanksgiving,” Azar said at a briefing by Operation Warp Speed, the White House-led initiative to quickly develop COVID-19 vaccines and treatments.

– Elizabeth Weise

Airlines' losses worldwide: $157 billion

The global losses by airlines because of the pandemic will rise to 64% more than anticipated — a staggering $157 billion over this year and next, their main trade group said Tuesday. That's despite $173 billion in aid from governments to help keep airlines from going bankrupt.

The forecast from the International Air Transport Association was worse than the group’s June estimate of $100 billion in losses for the two years, in large part because of the latest spike in coronavirus cases that has once again depressed the travel market. The latest estimate breaks down to airlines losing $66 for every passenger carried this year.

However, the IATA now sees a quicker recovery. It said airlines will begin taking in more cash than they spend in the fourth quarter of 2021, earlier than it had previously forecast, on the belief that travel will increase as COVID-19 vaccines become available. U.S. airline stocks rose Tuesday on further encouraging news about vaccines.

Changing travel plans made easier by relaxed policies

The dramatic decrease in travel brought on by the coronavirus pandemic has prompted airlines, hotels and other businesses in the industry to become more flexible with their change and cancellation policies.

That's good news for the millions of Americans who are considering traveling during the holiday season, beginning with Thanksgiving week, despite CDC recommendations aimed at curtailing spread of the virus amid a national spike in infections. It's even better news for those who have scrapped or altered their travel itinerary because of the surge.

If your travel plans change, here's what you need to know about policies for hotels, airlines and others.

Keep masks handy: Despite vaccine news, normalcy is months away

The encouraging recent news on vaccines, with three candidates showing a high level of efficacy, does not mean life will return to normal any time soon, experts warn.

The requirement to use face masks and maintain social distance will remain in place for several more months until vaccines have been distributed widely and a certain threshold of herd immunity has been reached. Dr. Moncef Slaoui, head of the U.S. vaccine development effort known as Operation Warp Speed, told CNN about 70% of the population would need to be vaccinated to achieve that goal – a milestone he said is likely to happen by May.

Until then, medical professionals preach continuing to stick to the CDC guidelines that aim to curb spread of the coronavirus.

“If you’re fighting a battle and the cavalry is on the way, you don’t stop shooting; you keep going until the cavalry gets here, and then you might even want to continue fighting,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-disease expert.

Texas family makes COVID-19 PSA video after ignoring rules

A Texas family overwhelmed by coronavirus infections after a family gathering has made a public service announcement warning others not to make the same mistakes they did. Twelve members of the Aragonez family gathered for a celebration Nov. 1.

All 12, plus three other family members, have since tested positive, Alexa Aragonez said. Her mother, Enriqueta, participated in the PSA while hospitalized. Alexa Aragonez, an employee in the City of Arlington's communications and legislative affairs department, said she saw an opportunity to make the outbreak a teaching moment.

"We know that we messed up because we let our guard down," she said of her family. "We're not unlike a lot of families."

Sweden changes course from maverick pandemic response

The Swedish approach to the coronavirus pandemic, which has stood in stark contrast to its fellow Nordic nations, appears to be failing.

Sweden initially eschewed lockdowns as a measure to limit spread of the virus and instead opted for voluntary steps, which some interpreted as an attempt to achieve herd immunity, although that was never the official policy goal.

The country of 10 million certainly hasn't managed that, as its leading epidemiologist acknowledged. “We see no signs of immunity in the population that are slowing down the infection right now,” Anders Tegnell said Tuesday in the capital city of Stockholm.   

Bloomberg reported that a recent study showed Sweden ranked among the top European countries for relative COVID mortality and infection rates. With daily cases surging past the 7,000 mark, Prime Minister Stefan Lofven has banned public gatherings of more than eight people and alcohol sales past 10 p.m.

Rubber gloves may get hard to find

The world’s largest maker of rubber gloves said Tuesday that it expects a two-to-four-week delay in deliveries after more than 2,000 workers at its factories were infected by the coronavirus.

Malaysia’s Top Glove Corp. temporarily stopped production at 16 factories outside Kuala Lumpur since Nov. 17 to screen workers. Its remaining 12 facilities in the area have been operating at reduced capacity. Top Glove says it produces about 90 billion rubber gloves a year, about 25% of the world’s supply. Profits have soared amid rising demand.

“We expect delays in some deliveries by about two to four weeks, as well as a longer lead time for orders,” Top Glove said in a statement.

Iditarod champ won't defend title

Norwegian musher Thomas Waerner says he can't defend his title at next year’s Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race because he can't figure out how to get his dogs to the start line. 

“I cannot find a way to get the dogs to Alaska,” Waerner said.

Waerner wasn’t able to return to his wife and five children in Torpa, Norway, for months after winning the world’s most famous sled dog race last year because travel was restricted as the pandemic took hold. The Iditarod was one of the few professional sports that wasn’t canceled last March. For the 49th running set to begin March 7, organizers say they are developing a "multi-tier COVID-19 mitigation plan" with the goal of zero community transmission.

White House to host indoor holiday parties despite CDC warnings

The Trump administration is going ahead with plans to hold holiday parties and receptions inside the White House despite a surge in coronavirus cases and warnings from public health officials to avoid large, in-person gatherings. Invitations for the events, scheduled to start next week, already have been sent out. An invitation to a Dec. 1 reception – a copy of which was obtained by USA TODAY – makes no mention of mandatory face masks or social distancing requirements. Stephanie Grisham, spokeswoman and chief of staff for first lady Melania Trump, said that masks will be required and available and that social distancing will be recommended.

“The People’s House will celebrate Christmas and Hanukkah while providing the safest environment possible,” Grisham said in a statement.

– Michael Collins and Maria Puente

These experts have a lot to say about when you will get vaccinated

A somewhat obscure group of medical and public health professionals known as the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices is debating the crucial question on the minds of millions of Americans: When can I get a COVID vaccine? ACIP develops recommendations on the use of vaccines. This week the committee unveiled its ethical principles for an orderly distribution of the vaccines, beginning with an estimated 21 million health care workers. Other groups at or near the front of the line include other essential workers such as first responders, teachers, farm workers and energy industry workers; people with high-risk medical conditions; and people over 65. ACIP makes recommendations, but states ultimately decide.

"I know our nation looks to you all to give your thoughtful and wise recommendation," CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield said at the start of the group's meeting Monday. "I want to take a moment to underscore how important your work is."

FDA commish lays it all out in chat with USA TODAY

USA TODAY interviewed FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn about how the approval process works, how quickly it could go and how the agency will encourage Americans to take the vaccine. Drug companies Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca have the leading COVID-19 vaccine candidates. Several others remain in development. Hahn said Pfizer's could be approved within days of a meeting scheduled for Dec. 10. But nothing will be rushed, he said.

"I’ve been clear, I would not allow the agency to authorize or approve a vaccine that I wouldn’t want my own family to get," Hahn said. "No one at FDA would want that to occur." Read more here.

– Elizabeth Weise

Maryland State Police will ramp up COVID-19 enforcement

State police will launch a COVID-19 enforcement initiative with an added presence in several Maryland cities, including Salisbury, Gov. Larry Hogan announced. The increased enforcement will aim to halt large gatherings that violate the state's health restrictions as Maryland faces its worst COVID-19 surge of the pandemic.

"In addition to our traditional statewide efforts ramping up drunk-driving patrols and enforcement ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday, we are also launching a wide-scale, all-hands-on-deck compliance, education and enforcement operation," Hogan said at a news conference in Annapolis.

Starting Wednesday, the night before Thanksgiving, compliance units will be detailed to popular locations across the state, including in Baltimore, Towson, Silver Spring, Bel Air and Salisbury, Hogan said. Last week, Hogan set new restrictions aimed at slowing the spread of the virus, including ordering restaurants and bars to close by 10 p.m. and limiting capacity at retail businesses, religious institutions and other venues to 50%.

– Madeleine O'Neill, Delmarva Now

Tennessee mayor is waiting for guidance from the 'Holy Spirit' 

As COVID-19 cases surge, a Tennessee mayor said he won't require people to wear face masks until the "Holy Spirit" provides him with guidance to do so. Lincoln County Mayor Bill Newman told AL.com last week that he believes masks can prevent the spread of the virus, but he doesn't think it's necessary to mandate them. Instead, he said he's waiting to receive guidance from above.

“The Holy Spirit dwells within us,” Newman said. “It’s a heart thing. It’s not a mind thing. But you’re using all your God-given (talents), your physical or mental or spiritual, all those things. When I pray for guidance, I may not know the answer immediately.”

Lincoln County is about 35 miles south of Nashville, on Alabama's northern border, with approximately 34,000 residents. The county has reported 1,463 COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began, according to the state's coronavirus tracking data.

COVID-19 resources from USA TODAY 

Contributing: The Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Coronavirus updates: CDC may reduce quarantines; Dr. Anthony Fauci warns of 'stunning number of deaths'; Airlines report $157B in losses

AdChoices
AdChoices

More From USA TODAY

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon