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US officials worried about peak holiday as coronavirus rises

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The seven-day moving average of new COVID-19 cases reached over 165,000 on Thursday, while the seven-day average for deaths climbed to 1,359, more than on any day since late May, according to a tally of Reuters public health data.

With hospitalizations on the rise across much of the country, straining already exhausted medical staff, authorities in more than 20 states have imposed restrictions to curb the spread of the virus.

White House coronavirus task force coordinator Dr Deborah Birx said the virus is spreading at a high rate in more than half of the country and Thanksgiving gatherings should be limited to members of the immediate family rather than a maximum number of people.

“I don’t like that it’s just any number … if you say it can be 10, and it’s eight people from four different families, then it’s probably not the same level of security as 10 people in your immediate household, ”Birx told CNN Friday.

A positive sign to tackle the pandemic, Pfizer Inc said it would seek authorization from U.S. health regulators on Friday for emergency use of its COVID-19 vaccine, the first such application in a major step towards virus protection.

Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech SE reported this week the final results of trials which showed the vaccine to be 95% effective in preventing COVID-19 without major safety concerns.

If the data is solid, “we could literally be weeks away from clearing a 95% effective vaccine,” US Secretary of Health Alex Azar said on CBS’s “This Morning.” .

The governor of California on Thursday imposed some of the tightest restrictions on the vast majority of the state’s population, with a curfew on social gatherings and other non-essential activities that will begin Saturday night and end in the morning December 21.

“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,” Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, said in a statement announcing measurement. a week before the Thanksgiving holiday.

Similar restrictions went into effect in Ohio this week, while Minnesota ordered restaurants, bars, fitness centers and entertainment venues to close from Friday to December 18 at the earliest, as units from intensive care in state hospitals were exhausted.

The number of patients hospitalized for COVID-19 in the United States has climbed nearly 50% in the past two weeks, with more than 80,000 people being treated for the disease in hospitals across the country as of the end of Thursday, a Reuters tally, most at any time during the pandemic.

Daily COVID-19 deaths surpassed the 2,000 mark for the first time since late June Thursday.

Thanksgiving fears

U.S. officials have pleaded with the public to avoid unnecessary travel and to exercise caution as the Thanksgiving and Christmas winter holidays approach.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday issued a “strong recommendation” asking Americans to refrain from travel for the holidays.

With cases and deaths rising steadily in most states, the University of Washington Institute for Health Measurement and Evaluation has updated its widely cited model.

It now projects 471,000 coronavirus deaths by March 1, compared to less than 440,000 in its previous forecast.

In Wisconsin, which has seen a record number of deaths and cases this week and where the average seven-day positivism rate is 33%, the state hospital association pleaded with lawmakers to deal with the crisis increasing by providing more resources to health workers and facilities. .

“With few tools currently available to curb the spread, other than increasingly urgent public appeals, our COVID numbers are rising rapidly and predicting, with enough accuracy so far, a health care crisis in Wisconsin. which, without meaningful, swift and unified action, will turn into a disaster. Wisconsin Association of Hospitals President and CEO Eric Borgerding wrote in a letter to lawmakers and the governor on Thursday.

(Reporting by Maria Caspani in New York and Brendan O’Brien in Chicago; additional reporting by Anurag Maan in Bengaluru, Sharon Bernstein in Sacramento and Steve Gorman in Los Angeles, CA; editing by Dan Grebler)

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