R-0 may be the most important scientific term you’ve never heard of when it comes to stopping the coronavirus pandemic.
More than 220,000 Americans have now died of COVID-19, Johns Hopkins University reported Monday, and global cases surpassed 40 million.
The United States has about 4.3% of the world’s reported population and 19.7% of the world’s reported coronavirus deaths, USA TODAY data shows.
The actual worldwide total is most likely considerably higher: Testing hasn’t been widely available, many have been asymptomatic, and certain governments have concealed numbers.
The U.S., Brazil and India are reporting the highest numbers of cases.
Meanwhile, in a Sunday night interview on CBS’ “60 Minutes,” Dr. Anthony Fauci said he was “absolutely not” surprised President Donald Trump contracted an infection after attending what he described as a “superspreader event” in the Rose Garden on Sept. 26. He also said the White House has blocked him from speaking to the media on a number of occasions.
In Washington, the clock is ticking for a stimulus relief bill ahead of the Nov. 3 election. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Sunday set a 48-hour deadline for the White House, insisting that a second round of $1,200 checks for Americans, expanded unemployment benefits and additional financial aid for the Paycheck Protection program “depends on the administration.”
Some significant developments:
- Dr. Anthony Fauci dismissed the idea of a nationwide lockdown on “60 Minutes,” saying the U.S. is “fatigued” by coronavirus restrictions. He also said he’d take a vaccine upon approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
- More than 6 million households failed to make their rent or mortgage payments in September, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s Research Institute for Housing America.
- Amid a surge in cases, Italy implemented a new wave of COVID-19 restrictions but stopped short of curfews such as those imposed in France.
📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has reported more than 8.1 million cases and 220,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins data.
🗺️ Mapping coronavirus: Track the U.S. outbreak in your state.
📚 Read this:The latest in USA TODAY’s Deadly Discrimination series looks at how systemic racism in the San Francisco Bay area is making COVID especially lethal for Asian Americans.
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California to independently review FDA-approved vaccines before distribution
California Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday that the state won’t allow distribution of coronavirus vaccines until it is reviewed by the state’s own panel of experts — no matter who wins the presidential election next month.
The governor named 11 doctors and scientists to review any rollout of vaccines by the federal government or vaccine developers. The board members hail from top California top universities and medical providers, along with state and local public health officials.
Newsom’s position pledge raises the possibility that California’s 40 million residents might not receive a vaccine as distribution begins in other states.
Fargo became the first city in North Dakota to issue a face mask mandate on Monday amid the state’s rising coronavirus caseload. The mandate applies to every person, family, business and store in the state’s largest city.
“As a community, we must all do our part to greatly reduce the spread of this deadly COVID-19 disease,” Mayor Tim Mahoney said in a news release. Mahoney, who is a general surgeon, has supported Gov. Doug Burgum’s handling of the pandemic but said it “would be great” if the governor issued a statewide mandate.
Cass County, which includes Fargo, has been one of the state’s hardest-hit areas. Health officials reported 200 new positive cases on Monday, bringing the toll to nearly 8,000.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention endorsed Monday what has already become a required practice around the country, recommending that anyone traveling on airlines, trains, subways, buses or other public transport wear a mask.
If passengers don’t comply, those who won’t put on masks should be ordered to get off when possible, the CDC said in its interim guidance on the issue. Airlines or other transportation providers should, “at the earliest opportunity, disembark any person who refuses to comply.”
The CDC’s “strong recommendation” could be a boost to airlines, ride-hailing drivers and others that have seen resistance by some passengers to rules requiring they wear masks while traveling in close proximity to strangers to ward off the spread of the coronavirus.
“Wide use of masks especially helps protect those at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 as well as workers who frequently come into close contact with other people,” the CDC said in justifying its advice.
– Chris Woodyard
State public health departments say they’re ready to leap into action as soon as a COVID-19 vaccine is approved but caution so many things are still unknown that exactly what that leap looks like is hard to say right now.
For example, Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said it’s like planning an outdoor picnic for 1.3 million of his closest friends (the population of Maine) without knowing how much food he has, who’s coming, how he’s going to invite them and what they can and can’t eat.
“We plan for things we have knowledge around and move forward from there,” he said.
The good news is that the earliest date a vaccine is expected to arrive is now around Thanksgiving so that gives states a little breathing room.
On Friday, state public health departments submitted vaccination distribution plans to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The plans were as detailed as they could be given the many things that are still unknown, such as when a vaccine or vaccines will become available and which groups will be first in line to get it and who comes next.
– Elizabeth Weise
Wales has become the second nation in the United Kingdom to lock down large swaths of its economy to combat rising coronavirus infections, even as British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is resisting loud calls to do the same throughout England.
Wales’ First Minister Mark Drakeford said Monday that his administration was backing a short, sharp “firebreak” to slow the spread of COVID-19. All non-essential retail, leisure, hospitality and tourism businesses will close for two weeks beginning at 6 p.m. Friday – a lockdown similar in scope to the U.K.-wide measures imposed in March.
“This is the moment to come together to play our part in a common endeavor to do everything we can together to protect the (National Health Service) and to save lives,” Drakeford said.
Drakeford said the Welsh lockdown will definitely end Nov. 9. “The benefit will be seen in the weeks that follow,” he said.
The Transportation Security Administration crossed a long-awaited threshold Sunday, screening 1 million passengers at airport checkpoints for the first time since March 17, spokesperson Lisa Farbstein said.
TSA also screened 6.1 million passengers at checkpoints nationwide during the week of Oct. 12, its highest weekly number since the start of the pandemic.
“Although passenger volumes remain well below pre-pandemic levels, the 1 million single-day passenger volume is a noteworthy development that follows significant TSA checkpoint modifications in response to the COVID-19 outbreak,” Farbstein said, citing precautions such as plexiglass barriers and having passengers screen their own travel documents.
The TSA screening figures have been climbing slowly but steadily since hitting their lowest point in April when several days were under 100,000. At that point, many states had instituted coronavirus lockdowns, air traffic from Europe, the U.K. and Ireland had ceased because of travel bans and U.S. airlines were still several weeks away from requiring all passengers to wear masks.
– Jayme Deerwester
Improving indoor air quality: Ventilation and air filtration play a key role in preventing the spread of COVID-19 indoors
Switzerland implements nationwide mask mandate, other new restrictions
A nationwide mask mandate and new restrictions on gatherings went into effect in Switzerland on Monday.
The Swiss Federal Council announced Sunday an order that requires people to wear masks in all publicly accessible indoor areas including shops, banks, libraries, cinemas, restaurants, bars, gyms, schools and child-care facilities. The country has required people over the age of 12 who are not exempt for medical reasons to wear masks on public transportation since July 6, but the order now extends to subway platforms as well.
No more than 15 people will be allowed at public gatherings and the government recommends people work from home. At private gatherings of more than 15 people, masks are now required for anyone who is not sitting down and eating.
The new measures were put in place because of a recent “rapid rise in coronavirus cases,” according to a press release from the Swiss authorities.
Switzerland has had more than 83,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and at least 2,132 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
People wait in line to register for rapid COVID-19 testing at San Francisco International Airport on Thursday. (Photo: Jeff Chiu, AP)
Latinos were the only ethnic group who saw a statistically significant increase of deaths from COVID-19 over the summer, according to a report published Friday by the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
An analysis of 114,411 COVID-19-associated deaths published in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly report found the percentage of deaths among Latinos increased from 16.3% to 26.4% from May to August. In the same time period, decedents who were white decreased from 56.9% to 51.5%, and the percentage who were Black decreased from 20.3% to 17.4%.
The report notes there was a geographic shift in COVID-19-related deaths from the Northeast to the West and South, where Latinos account for a higher percentage of the population. However, the shift alone doesn’t explain the increase in deaths as disparities among Latinos and other racial and ethnic groups have been well-documented during the pandemic.
More in the series:Racism is a pre-existing condition | Toxic neighborhoods | Segregated housing
– Adrianna Rodriguez
A USA TODAY analysis of John Hopkins University data shows 41 states had more cases in the latest week than in the week before. New case records were set in Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wyoming.
According to an analysis of COVID Tracking project data found 36 states had a higher rate of people testing positive on testing than the week before. Those states: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Minnesota, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
The U.S. has reported 8,154,594 cases and 219,674 deaths.
– Mike Stucka
Contributing: The Associated Press
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