Doctors and nurses working in hospitals across the country are sharing the realities of COVID-19.
The United States reported more than 4.4 million new coronavirus cases in November, far more than double any other month of the pandemic, a USA TODAY analysis of Johns Hopkins University data shows.
The numbers are startling. The total case count is nearly what the nation reported in August, September and October combined. An average rate of 99 cases were reported every minute through the month. In November alone, one of every 22 North Dakota residents tested positive. In South Dakota, it was one of 26; Wyoming, one of 29; Iowa, one of 31.
The U.S. also reported 36,918 deaths in November, a toll higher than all months but April and May. The fatalities totaled more people than the U.S. lost in the entirety of the Korean War. On average, 50 Americans died every hour.
In South Dakota, North Dakota and Illinois, more than 1 of every 1,000 residents has now died of COVID-19.
– Mike Stucka
Here’s what to know Tuesday:
📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has reported more than 13.5 million cases and over 268,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: 63.4 million cases and 1.47 million deaths.
📰 What we’re reading: These four states have been hit hard by COVID-19 yet balked at restrictions and mask mandates. What is it like to live there?
This file will be updated throughout the day. For updates in your inbox, subscribe to The Daily Briefing newsletter.
Maryland hospitals could reach record-high COVID-19 cases within days
Maryland hospitals could see record-high numbers of COVID-19 patients in the coming days, Gov. Larry Hogan said Tuesday.
The state this week also lost its youngest victim yet to the virus. Hogan choked up during a news conference in Annapolis as he announced the death of a 1-year-old boy, the first Marylander younger than 9 years old to die of COVID-19.
Hogan also emphasized the need for more health care workers as the state faces its worst surge of the pandemic.
COVID-19 hospitalizations have jumped by more than 50% in the last two weeks.
As of Tuesday, the state reported 1,583 hospital beds in use by COVID-19 patients – not far below the highest-ever total of 1,711 beds, reached at the end of April.
— Madeleine O’Neill, USA TODAY NETWORK
Michigan couple who did ‘almost everything together’ dies of COVID-19 at the same time
Leslie and Patricia McWaters – Jackson, Michigan, natives who were married almost 50 years – did “almost everything together,” relatives said. They danced together. They watched their kids, grandkids and great-grandkids grow up together. And in the end, they contracted the coronavirus and died together.
Leslie, better known to friends and family as LD, and Pat, who relatives said was “definitely the boss,” died at the same time, 4:23 p.m. last Tuesday, at Henry Ford Allegiance Health in Jackson. They were 75 and 78, respectively.
“It should be no surprise that they went to be with the Lord together within the very same minute,” their funeral home obituary said. “The hospital staff that cared for them, as they lost their battle to COVID, said it was too close to call. They recorded their deaths at the exact same time.”
But, the obituary added: “Those of us that know them, know that mom went first and said, ‘LD, it’s time to go!’ “
Their story is both romantic and tragic as more than 9,000 Michiganders have died from the pandemic since March, and more than 350,000 people have had the virus.
– Frank Witsil, Detroit Free Press
Calif. official eats out hours after voting to ban outdoor dining
A Los Angeles County supervisor enjoyed an al fresco meal at a restaurant just hours after voting last week to ban outdoor dining at the county’s 31,000 restaurants over coronavirus safety concerns, according to a news report.
Supervisor Sheila Kuehl was seen eating outside Nov. 24 at Il Forno Trattoria near her home in Santa Monica, Fox 11 reported. Earlier in the day Kuehl was among the supervisors who voted 3 to 2 in support of prohibiting outdoor dining in Los Angeles County. Indoor dining has been banned for months during the pandemic.
“She did dine al fresco at Il Forno on the very last day it was permissible,” Kuehl’s office said in a statement Monday. “She loves Il Forno, has been saddened to see it, like so many restaurants, suffer from a decline in revenue. She ate there, taking appropriate precautions, and sadly will not dine there again until our Public Health Orders permit.”
Los Angeles County imposed a new stay-at-home order for its 10 million residents effective this week as coronavirus cases surge across the state and country.
– Associated Press
COVID-19 may have been spreading in the US at least a month before first case was reported, CDC says
The novel coronavirus may have been circulating in the United States undetected weeks before the first case was reported in 2020, a new government study suggests.
Study authors came to the conclusion after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found evidence of coronavirus antibodies in blood collected in December 2019, according to the report published Monday in the Clinical Infections Journal.
Researchers analyzed blood donations collected by the American Red Cross from residents in nine states between Dec. 13 and Jan. 17 and found evidence of antibodies in 106 out of 7,389 samples.
Antibodies also were found in 67 blood donations in January from states that didn’t report a widespread outbreak at the time, such as Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, Rhode Island and Wisconsin.
– Adrianna Rodriguez, USA TODAY
Florida hits 1 million COVID-19 cases
But Gov. Ron DeSantis remained steadfast in his opposition to a statewide mandatory mask order or any return to lockdowns of businesses, including bars and restaurants.
“Yes, we are seeing increases, but other states are seeing even more,” DeSantis said Monday during a news conference in Kissimmee with Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran. It was his first live news conference in a month.
DeSantis reiterated his opposition to mask mandates and lockdowns on CNN on Tuesday morning, the same day it was reported that Florida added 8,797 new cases Monday for a total of 1,008,166, making it the third state to exceed 1 million cases, after California and Texas.
– Jeffrey Schweers, The Tallahassee Democrat
Alabama hospitals that already are treating a record number of COVID-19 patients are bracing for a “tidal wave” of additional cases linked to holiday gatherings, a health official said Tuesday as schools and more grappled with the worsening coronavirus pandemic.
Despite the fact that less testing is going on now than earlier in the outbreak, the state has still recorded at least 2,000 new cases daily since Nov. 15. Hospitals are treating more patients than ever, and an expected post-Thanksgiving surge of cases has yet to begin, said Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo, director of infectious diseases at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
Only 11% of the state’s intensive care beds were available Monday, according to the Alabama Hospital Association, and the remaining spaces could be filled as more patients are admitted than leave hospitals.
“We could really be in a situation in two to three weeks that compromises our ability to provide health care,” Marrazzo said. While experts have tried to avoid “alarmist terminology” during the crisis, she said: “I think this is a time when we need to start thinking about things like tidal wave imagery or tsunami imagery.”
– Associated Press
Rhode Island has opened two field hospitals that combined have more than 900 beds as the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 in the state reached a new high.
There were 410 patients in the state’s hospitals with the disease as of Sunday, the most recent date for which the information was available, the state Department of Health reported Tuesday. That is the highest number of people hospitalized with the disease on a single day since the pandemic began.
Care New England opened a field hospital with more than 300 beds in Cranston on Monday, the same day the state sent an emergency alert saying conventional hospitals had reached their coronavirus capacity.
A facility with nearly 600 beds opened Tuesday at the Rhode Island Convention Center in Providence. It is run by Lifespan, the state’s largest hospital group.
– Associated Press
The number of COVID-19 deaths in Indiana has nearly doubled for November from a month earlier as health officials continue adding to those reports and the state’s coronavirus-related hospitalizations remain at their highest point during the pandemic.
The Indiana State Department of Health added 142 deaths to the statewide toll with its daily update on Tuesday. Most of those deaths occurred over the past week with a reporting lull from local officials over the Thanksgiving weekend.
Those boost Indiana’s coronavirus deaths during November to at least 1,416 people – surpassing the previous monthly peak during April by nearly 400 and almost double October’s total of 732 deaths.
– Associated Press
As the coronavirus continues to surge in Oklahoma, nearing 200,000 total cases, Gov. Kevin Stitt has declared Thursday a day of prayer and fasting in the state.
Oklahoma’s seven-day rolling average of new cases has increased from 2,628.9 to 2,838.7, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. The Oklahoma State Department of Health on Tuesday reported a one-day high of 1,718 hospitalizations and 199,482 total cases since the pandemic began, 1,737 more than Monday.
“I believe we must continue to ask God to heal those who are sick, comfort those who are hurting and provide renewed strength and wisdom to all who are managing the effects of COVID-19,” Stitt said in a Monday statement.
Stitt, who tested positive for the virus in July and previously donated plasma in an effort to help other virus patients recover, said he will make a second plasma donation.
– Associated Press
Los Angeles won’t be shutting down its COVID-19 testing site in Union Station to allow a film shoot after all, while Atlanta plans on allowing “Spider Man” to shoot in closed high schools.
In Los Angeles, the testing sight had been set to shut down to allow Miramax to film some scenes for the movie “He’s All That.” The romcom shooting schedule ignited a frenzy of dramatic dissent, and a few hours later Mayor Eric Garcetti tweeted that “my team has worked to reopen testing at Union Station on Tuesday.”
According to a Miramax spokesperson, the shutdown was not a request from Miramax and once it learned of the disruption, production asked that the testing company resume its services at that location.
In Atlanta, where classrooms are shut down in favor of virtual learning, a production team and cast of “Spider-Man” received special permission from Atlanta Public Schools to film at two high schools starting as soon as next month, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. The approval came after the movie’s location manager “dangled a $50,000 incentive,” the Constitution wrote.
Christie Johnston, a teacher and mother, tweeted: “In person school is not only safe, it’s necessary for learning. Too bad kids don’t generate the millions a movie does, or they’d be back in front of their teacher in a classroom rather than a computer screen.”
Chicago officials shut down 300-person party amid COVID spike
Chicago officials shut down a 300-person basement party early Sunday where attendees were not wearing masks or social distancing. A city task force issued multiple violations and closed the location.
“Actions like this are a slap in the face to the thousands of businesses and millions of Chicagoans that are making sacrifices every day to keep our city safe, and we will continue cracking down on this inexcusable activity,” Rosa Escareno, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection, said in a statement.
Chicago is in the midst of a COVID-19 surge far greater than its spring spike, and indoor dining has been closed since the end of October. In the following month, the city investigated nearly 900 businesses for violations and closed a sports complex for hosting a party with over 600 people and a ballroom for hosting a party with over 200 people. Last weekend alone, officials investigated nearly 100 incidents.
The city has confirmed nearly 160,000 cases of COVID-19 and nearly 3,500 deaths since March. Upside: New daily case counts that peaked in mid-November have been steadily falling. The positivity rate Tuesday was down from the week before.
– Grace Hauck
An advisory panel of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention meets Tuesday to vote on who should get the first doses of a COVID-19 vaccine. Front-line health workers will be first in line. First responders, long-term care patients, people with underlying conditions, people over 65 and essential workers are also being considered. Each state ultimately makes the decision based on the panel’s recommendations. The FDA will consider the first vaccine candidate Dec. 10; Vice President Mike Pence told governors the first vaccines could be shipped out in two weeks.
“We strongly believe the vaccine distribution process could begin the week of Dec.14,” Pence told governors, according to a summary of the call provided by Washington Gov. Jay Inslee. “The American people deserve to know the cavalry is on the way.”
It can’t get here fast enough. In November alone one of every 76 Americans tested positive for coronavirus. The country reported almost 37,000 coronavirus deaths for the month – a human cost of the 9/11 attacks every 2 1/2 days.
– Mike Stucka
Entire Spanish town faces testing after 70% positivity rate
A small town in southern Spain is carrying out COVID-19 testing on its entire population after a random screening suggested 70% of its inhabitants were infected with the virus. Public health officials made the decision after 130 out of 182 people tested on a single day in Cuevas del Becerro were positive for the virus, EuroWeekly News reports. Mayor Ana Maria Garcia, among those who tested positive in the town of about 1,600, said residents will be called by phone or SMS and if they fail to show up they could be charged with a crime against public health. Local authorities have set up a volunteer service to distribute food to residents.
CDC warning serves as another hit for traditional stores
Brick-and-mortar malls and stores have struggled in recent years amid the boom in online shopping, but they could usually count on big crowds during the Christmas season. But there may not be a holiday reprieve this year. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says holiday shopping in crowded stores is a “higher risk” activity and that people should limit any in-person shopping. Instead, the agency recommends shopping online, visiting outdoor markets or using curbside pickup, where workers bring orders to your car. Try to spend as little time inside stores as possible, says Dr. Isaac Weisfuse, a public health expert at Cornell University.
“You just want to go in and out,” he says. “Get your shopping done and move on.”
It’s Giving Tuesday and donations are up 20% already this year
Giving Tuesday, an annual day recognized for charitable giving, kickstarts December this year – a month big for donating.
Woodrow Rosenbaum, chief data officer for Giving Tuesday, said giving is up 20% year over year in all categories to both nonprofits and small businesses – despite the decline in the first quarter. “The pandemic is motivating a lot of generosity,” he said. “People are finding generosity as an antidote to fear, uncertainty, division.”
If you are unable to give financially or otherwise this year, Rosenbaum suggested virtual volunteering, letter-writing campaigns and even sidewalk chalk messages as safe options amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Generosity, an ‘antidote’ to fear, division’: How to help those in need on Giving Tuesday
Canada promises to spend tens of billions to help country recover
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government vowed Monday to spend billions more to help the country recover from the pandemic. The cost to date has the federal deficit reaching a record $381.6 billion Canadian ($294 billion) this year, but the government said it could close in on $400 billion Canadian ($308 billion) if widespread lockdowns return in the coming weeks. Toronto, Canada’s largest city, is on lockdown.
The government’s fall economic update proposes to send extra child-benefit payments to families next year. The government is proposing $25 billion Canadian ($19 billion) in new spending.
Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland said Canada entered the pandemic in the strongest fiscal position of any G7 country. “We can afford the investment,” Freeland said.
– Rob Gillies, Associated Press
A modified stay-at-home order begins Tuesday in Anchorage, the largest city in Alaska. The order begins at 8 a.m. local time and is scheduled to go until Jan. 1, 2021. The new order requires restaurants and bars to shut down indoor dining. Takeout, delivery and outdoor dining are still allowed with some restrictions. Indoor gatherings are limited to six people and outdoor gatherings at 10 people. Gyms and fitness centers will go from 50% capacity to 25%.
Acting Mayor Austin Quinn-Davidson announced the new order last week as the city experienced a “record-breaking surge” of coronavirus cases. Former Mayor Ethan Berkowitz issued a similar order in August for a “four-week reset,” according to the Anchorage Daily News. Anchorage has over 16,500 infections and 68 deaths, according to state data. Statewide there are over 31,000 confirmed cases and 120 deaths.
Another Michigan lawmaker tests positive for COVID-19
Michigan Rep. John Chirkun on Monday said he has tested positive for the coronavirus. Chirkun, a Democrat, is at least the 11th state lawmaker to have either a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19.
“Rep. Chirkun is doing well and in very good spirits. I wish him a speedy recovery and look forward to him returning to session following his quarantine,” fellow Democrat and House Minority Leader Christine Greig said in a statement.
Greig said Chirkun will not attend meetings at the state Capitol this week, which the state Legislature is scheduled to return a two-week break. The diagnosis comes at the same time businesses around the state face strict operating regulations and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer wants lawmakers to pass a $100 million COVID-19 relief plan.
– Dave Boucher, Detroit Free Press
California Gov. Gavin Newsom warns of tougher restrictions
Gov. Gavin Newsom warned a stay-at-home order could soon be implemented in counties with widespread COVID-19 transmission if they continue to see a surge of new cases that could potentially overwhelm local hospital systems.
In the past two weeks, COVID-19 hospitalizations across the state increased 89% while COVID-19 patient admissions into intensive care unit beds increased 67%. But that rise is just the tip of the iceberg, officials said.
“We anticipate another large increase in cases within the next one to two weeks from Thanksgiving activities and gatherings,” Newsom said.
Newson also said he anticipates California will receive an initial 327,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses by mid-December. The first dose will be given in mid-December and the second dose will be given three weeks later, Newsom said.
– Nicole Hayden, Palm Springs Desert Sun
COVID-19 resources from USA TODAY
Contributing: The Associated Press
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