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With the Thanksgiving holiday just a week away, the United States is approaching 200,000 new COVID-19 infections per day.

Local leaders in the United States are struggling to contain record spikes in COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations and deaths before Thanksgiving, as many people across the country reunite with family and friends.

The United States approaches 200,000 new infections each day as the holiday season begins and colder weather in many parts of the country pushes people indoors, where the new coronavirus can more easily spread.

In California, the country’s most populous state, authorities are enforcing a nighttime curfew on nearly all residents to prevent a surge in COVID-19 cases that threatens to overwhelm its healthcare system.

Coalition of business owners rally for legal action against California Governor Gavin Newsom over coronavirus shutdowns in San Diego, California [Mike Blake/Reuters]The state’s limited stay-at-home order requires people who do not do essential groceries to stay home from 10:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. local time starting Saturday. The restriction will be in place until at least December 21, but could be extended if disease trends do not improve, officials said.

The ordinance will be in place in 41 of the 58 county states that have seen the largest increases in cases and are already subject to the tightest restrictions. These areas are home to 94 percent of California’s nearly 40 million people.

The state imposed tougher restrictions limiting business operations in those 41 counties earlier this week.

The virus is spreading at a rate that we have not seen since the start of this pandemic, and the next few days and weeks will be critical in stopping the outbreak. We are sounding the alarm bells, Governor Gavin Newsom said in a statement.

Hospitalizations soared nearly 64% in two weeks and the positivity rate for the percentage of people who tested positive for the virus increased by more than 50%; it is now 5.6% for the last seven days.

The state recorded 11,478 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, its highest total since mid-August.

Healthcare workers treating people waiting in line at a COVID-19 test site at United Memorial Medical Center in Houston, Texas [David J. Phillip/AP]The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Thursday recommended that people not travel for the next few weeks of Thanksgiving to mitigate the spread of the virus.

But in Texas, which set a new one-day infection record with 12,293 new cases reported Thursday, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott ruled out another lockdown and accused local leaders of not enforcing existing restrictions.

Texas is set to surpass 8,000 COVID-19 hospital patients for the first time since a deadly summer outbreak. At that time, Abbott ordered bars to close and limit restaurant occupancy.

During a visit to Lubbock, a town in the northwestern states where local health officials said firefighters were building shelving for the dead as mortuaries ran out of space, Abbott said Texas would not institute no new closing.

It’s important for everyone in the state to know that, statewide, wasn’t going to have another shutdown, Abbott said. There’s an overestimate of what a shutdown will achieve.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott chats with US President Donald Trump in Orange, Texas, United States [File: Tom Brenner/Reuters]Meanwhile, the Smithsonian Institution has announced that it is shutting down operations at all of its facilities indefinitely. As of Monday, the measure affects seven museums, as well as the national zoo.

The Smithsonian said in a statement that its top priority was to protect the health and safety of its visitors and staff. No reopening date is planned.

The move comes at a time of growing speculation over whether the District of Columbia will tighten virus restrictions in the face of the nationwide spike.

Johns Hopkins University says the United States has now recorded at least 11.7 million cases of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, as well as more than 252,000 deaths linked to the virus, the highest total in the world .

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