The U.S. could nearly double its current number by January 20 – about 12.4 million reported infections – according to a forecast model from the University of Washington in St. Louis.
Covid-19 cases and nationwide hospitalizations are projected to be explosive, with more than 3.1 million infections reported in the United States since early November – the most in a single month.
Some experts have predicted that health workers, already overwhelmed and exhausted, will soon face difficult decisions about scaling care as hospitals reach their capacity.
And as the numbers keep growing, hundreds of Americans lose their lives every day because of the virus. More than 10,000 people have died in the past week – many of them able to say goodbye to their loved ones alone and without a chance.
Expert: The safest thing this week is to stay home
Things will get worse in the coming weeks before they get better with potential vaccines, experts warned.
In a live interview with The Washington Post on Monday, Dr. Anthony Fauci called on Americans to consider traveling on Thanksgiving as cases are accelerating across the United States – and warned of what might happen next.
“The cases are escalating very steeply in the middle of the fall season,” he said. “If you’re really in a situation where you’re doing risk-increasing things – travel, church settings, not wearing masks – you’re likely to put the surge on a surge.”
He said this week, “the safest thing you can do is to narrow down your own activities to the immediate occupants of that particular house.”
This proposal has been reiterated in recent weeks before the holiday by experts, health officials and local and state leaders across the country.
Alabama’s chief physician said Monday that “our numbers are worse than ever” before the holidays and asked residents to think about more vulnerable members of their community when making their vacation plans.
“What Thanksgiving we have, it will go a long way in determining what December looks like, what our holiday season will look like,” said Dr. Scott Harris, a state health officer. “Will we be here in a month and try to have the same conversation?”
– I really, really hope not.
“Buy a better mask”
In the midst of the crisis, Americans can take a simple step to protect, according to Dr. Scott Gottlieb, a former commissioner with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, “Buy a better mask.”
“While the medical mask is still lacking, health workers intended separate supply chains,” Gottlieb wrote in the Wall Street Journal on Sunday. “It’s time to review the guide for consumers.”
N95 masks and their equivalents provide the best protection against the virus, he wrote, and at least 95% of infectious particles are filtered out. Their equivalents include KN95 from China and FFP2 from Europe.
Surgical masks provide about 60% protection, Gottlieb said. But quality matters.
“The Food and Drug Administration deletes a real medical procedural mask and designates it to offer one of three levels of protection. Usually a level 2 or 3 medical mask is best,” he wrote.
The least protective is a fabric mask, but if that’s the only option, it should be made of thick, body-fitting and cotton-polyester blends.
“Slowing the current proliferation cycle will be difficult. But encouraging Americans to wear better quality masks is a simple step that could make a difference,” he wrote.
In North Carolina, Governor Roy Cooper has announced that he will tighten the state’s mask requirement to make it clear that “everyone should wear a mask when they are with someone who is not from the same household.”
The governor’s new order also requires the use of masks in public indoor spaces when residents keep six feet apart, practice gyms during training, all schools, and all public or private transportation when residents travel with people outside their household. The order also requires large retailers to place an employee near the entrances so that customers can wear a mask and keep busy.
“I have a sharp warning to North Carolina today: we are in danger,” Cooper said in a statement. This is a pivotal moment in the fight against the coronavirus. Our actions now will determine the fate of many. “
28% increase in pediatric cases over 2 weeks
It is not just adults that become infected at a rapidly increasing rate.
According to a joint report by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association, more than 256,000 new cases of Covid-19 were reported in children between November 5 and November 19.
This means that on November 19, nearly 1.2 million children had tested positive for the virus since the outbreak began – nearly 12% of all Covid-19 cases in states that report infections by age. The figures in the report come from 49 states, New York City, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Guam.
The report comes when more leaders across the country start shutting down schools amid possible attacks.
The Metro Nashville Public School district has announced that Monday’s schools will return from Thanksgiving break to fully virtual learning and stay that way for the rest of the semester.
“This is a serious and dramatic public health emergency that requires all of us to renew our vigilance and take the safety precautions necessary to protect ourselves, our families, our friends and those who wear masks, social distancing and social isolation. we can keep it safe and avoid large gatherings, especially indoors.
The FDA is asking the Vaccination Advisory Committee to meet twice next month
Meanwhile, as state leaders orient themselves in the coming weeks, there could be a potential vaccine candidate on the way.
The FDA has now asked members of the Vaccine Advisory Committee to hold Dec. 17 and 18 for meetings, presumably to discuss a vaccine developed by Moderna, according to a source familiar with the process.
The FDA consults with the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee before placing any vaccine, including the Covid-19 vaccine, on the market.
The FDA also convened a December 10 committee meeting to review Pfizer’s application for an emergency license.
Moderna is awaiting further data on participants in the study who became ill with the coronavirus, and a Moderna spokesman said they could apply to the FDA for emergency use next week.
“Over the next week or so, we expect to receive efficacy data based on 151 COVID-19 cases according to our protocol, and, if appropriate, submit an EUA submission based on the data shortly thereafter,” spokesman Ray Jordan told CNN.
CNN’s Shelby Lin Erdman, Naomi Thomas, Elizabeth Cohen, Eileen McMenamin, Cheri Mossburg, Artemis Moshtaghian, Jacqueline Howard, Jamiel Lynch and Hollie Silverman contributed to the report.