Tag: deaths

 

US sets coronavirus infection record; deaths near 224,000

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The U.S. coronavirus caseload has reached record heights with more than 83,000 infections reported in a single day, the latest ominous sign of the disease’s grip on the nation, as states from Connecticut to the Rocky Mountain West reel under the surge.

The U.S. death toll, meanwhile, has grown to 223,995, according to the COVID-19 Dashboard published by Johns Hopkins University. The total U.S. caseload reported on the site Friday was 83,757, topping the 77,362 cases reported on July 16.

The impact is being felt in every section of the country — a lockdown starting Friday at the Oglala Sioux Tribe’s reservation in South Dakota, a plea by a Florida health official for a halt to children’s birthday parties, dire warnings from Utah’s governor, and an increasingly desperate situation at a hospital in northern Idaho, which is running out of space for patients and considering airlifts to Seattle or Portland, Oregon.

“We’ve essentially shut down an entire floor of our hospital. We’ve had to double rooms. We’ve bought more hospital beds,” said Dr. Robert Scoggins, a pulmonologist at the Kootenai Health hospital in Coeur d’Alene. “Our hospital is not built for a pandemic.”

In the southern Idaho city of Twin Falls, St. Luke’s Magic Valley Medical Center said it would no longer accept children because it is overwhelmed with coronavirus patients. Except for newborns, all under age 18 will be sent 128 miles (206 kilometers) away in Boise.

Among those in northern Idaho joining Scoggins at a meeting of Idaho’s Panhandle Health District was board member Walk Kirby.


“People are dying, they’re going to keep dying and catching this stuff,” Kirby said. “How many people won’t wear a mask? The same people that won’t get vaccinated for it.”

Utah’s Gov. Gary Herbert proclaimed Friday to be “a record day for Utah — but not a good one” as COVID-19 cases reached an all-time high for the state.

“Up until now, our hospitals have been able to provide good care to all COVID and non-COVID patients who need it,” he said. “But today we stand on the brink. If Utahans do not take serious steps to limit group gatherings and wear masks, our healthcare providers will not have the ability to provide quality care for everyone who needs it.”

By public health order, masks are required in 21 counties, said Herbert, urging Utah residents to wear one whenever they are around someone outside their immediate household.

The seven-day rolling average for new daily COVID-19 cases in the U.S. surpassed 61,140 Thursday, compared with 44,647 two weeks ago. The record was reached July 22 when the rolling average was 67,293 in the midst of a summer outbreak driven largely by surges of the virus in Florida, Texas, Arizona and California.

The U.S. surge mirrors a similarly widespread spike in Europe, where Rome, Paris and other major cities are reining in nightlife as part of the increasingly drastic measures undertaken to slow the spread of the pandemic. French authorities

South Korean authorities stick to flu vaccine plan after deaths rise to 48

By Heekyong Yang

SEOUL (Reuters) – The number of South Koreans who have died after getting flu shots has risen to 48, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said on Saturday, adding that the vaccines would continue to reduce the chance of having simultaneous epidemics.

The health authorities said they found no direct link between the deaths and the shots. They plan to carry on with the state-run vaccination programme to try to avoid having to fight both the flu and the coronavirus over the coming winter.

“After reviewing death cases so far, it is not the time to suspend a flu vaccination programme since vaccination is very crucial this year, considering … the COVID-19 outbreaks,” KDCA Director Jeong Eun-kyung told a briefing.

Jeong said the review had shown no direct link between the flu shots and the 26 deaths that have been investigated.

Some 20 initial autopsy results from the police and the National Forensic Service showed that 13 people died of cardiovascular, cerebrovascular and other disorders not caused by the vaccination.

The death toll among those who have been vaccinated rose by 12 cases from a day earlier to 48 on Saturday.

The rising deaths have caused some doctors and politicians to call for a halt to the government campaign to vaccinate about 30 million of the country’s 54 million people.

While encouraging people to get flu vaccines, Jeong issued precautions to take before getting the shot, such as drinking enough water and telling healthcare workers about any underlying medical conditions. She also advised people to wait 15-30 minutes before leaving the clinic where they receive their vaccine.

“If possible, try to get the flu shot when it’s warm, since there are concerns that low temperatures could affect cardiovascular disease or cerebrovascular disease,” she said.

The KDCA said 9.4 million people had been inoculated as of Friday in the programme that began in September, with 1,154 cases of adverse reactions.

South Korea reported 77 new coronavirus cases as of Friday midnight, bringing total infections to 25,775, with 457 deaths.

(Reporting by Heekyong Yang; Editing by Tom Hogue)

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South Korean officials find no direct link between flu vaccine and recent deaths

The country’s government has rolled out a flu vaccine campaign, concerned about the potential simultaneous spread of coronavirus and influenza.

At least 36 people have died after taking flu vaccinations since last Friday, including a 17-year-old. The average age of those who died was 74, according to the South Korean Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA).

As of Friday, more than 14 million people had gotten the flu vaccine, of which 9.4 million were children, elderly, and pregnant women, according to the KDCA.

Ki Moran, a professor at South Korea’s National Cancer Centre, said the flu vaccine is known to cause serious side effects in one out of 10 million people.

In 2019, 227,000 people over the age of 65 died in South Korea, she added. That’s an average of 621 deaths a day, to put the recent figures into perspective.

The KDCA decided on Friday not to suspend the flu vaccinations. The vaccination expert committee will hold a meeting Saturday morning to review additional data, according to a KDCA statement.

Rare side effects

This might be your most important flu shot ever

The KDCA’s Friday meeting came after rising scrutiny from experts and politicians.

On Friday, South Korean Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun called for a thorough investigation into the deaths, citing public anxiety, according to a press release by the Health Ministry. He did not call for a halt to the vaccination campaign.

The Korean Medical Association, a coalition of 130,000 doctors, has urged the government to suspend the vaccination program for a week until they determined the cause of the deaths.

In a statement, the Korean Vaccine Society emphasized the importance of the flu vaccine, especially “for children, the elderly, and patients with chronic diseases and low immune system.” The organization cited concerns about the possible spread of flu during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Experts globally are preparing for flu season in the middle of the pandemic. “This is a critical year for us to try to take flu as much off the table as we can,” said Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in an interview with the AMA’s JAMA Network.

One reason is to decrease the strain on public health services and hospitals, which are bracing for a winter wave. Experts say it possible to get Covid-19 and the flu simultaneously — and, because flu symptoms look so similar to that of Covid-19, it will be impossible to rule out a coronavirus diagnosis without a test. That means a case of the flu can cause substantial disruption to work and school.

In South Korea, Covid-19 has infected 25,775 people and killed 457, according to Johns Hopkins University.

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Blocked by lobbyists for years, law puts more aides in N.J. nursing homes after 7,400 deaths

They feed, bathe and comfort residents of long-term care facilities, but the thousands of certified nursing aides who work in New Jersey’s nursing homes for little pay have said for years that their workload is often too much to handle.

On Friday, Gov. Phil Murphy signed a bill that will require operators beginning in early 2021 to increase the number of aides in each facility and for the first time set a ratio for the number of residents an aide is asked to handle.

The legislation had been vigorously blocked by industry lobbyists and some lawmakers for five years, but there was a renewed urgency to get the bill passed after the coronavirus pandemic claimed the lives of an estimated 7,400 long-term care residents in New Jersey — more than any other state based on population size.

Compliance will cost the industry $30 million or $5 a day per resident, according to the Health Care Association of New Jersey, a lobbying group for long-term care facilities.

CNA’s, who get paid an average of about $36,000 a year, have long complained they have more responsibilities than they can handle, especially on nights and weekends. The coronavirus outbreak sickened thousands of these workers and killed 121, according to state data, making the CNA shortage worse.

“Sadly, too many nursing homes are run by companies more interested in making money than protecting patients,” Murphy said in a statement after signing the bill Friday morning. “These long-sought reforms will help bring accountability to the industry and protect residents, staff, and family members with a loved one living in a long-term care facility. I am proud to have worked with our partners in organized labor, health care advocates, and legislative sponsors to finally implement safe staffing ratios in our nursing homes, as well as other long overdue reforms.”

The legislation, (S2712) will take effect in Feb. 1, and require long-term care facilities to abide by these staffing ratios:

* One CNA per 8 patients during the day shift;

* One direct care staff member — defined as a certified nurse assistant, a licensed practical nurse or a registered nurse — for every 10 residents during the evening shift, “provided that no fewer than half of all staff members are to be certified nurse aides, and each staff member will sign in to work as a certified nurse aide and will perform certified nurse aide duties,” according to bill;

* One direct care staffer for every 14 residents during the overnight shift, with the same rules that applied during the evening shift.

The law also creates a “Department of Labor and Workforce Development the Special Task Force on Direct Care Workforce Retention and Recruitment.” Long-term care facility operators have said they could not meet any worker-resident ratios without help retaining staff.

The law has been hailed as a victory for nursing home employees led, by 1199SEIU United Healthcare East, but it is a compromise since the union was seeking an even lower ratio of aides to

U.S. Faces Half a Million COVID-19 Deaths by End-February, Study Finds | Top News

LONDON (Reuters) – More than a half million people in the United States could die from COVID-19 by the end of February, but around 130,000 of those lives could be saved if everybody were to wear masks, according to estimates from a modelling study on Friday.

The estimates by researchers at the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation showed that with few effective COVID-19 treatment options and no vaccines yet available, the United States faces “a continued COVID-19 public health challenge through the winter.”

“We are heading into a very substantial fall/winter surge,” said IHME Director Chris Murray, who co-led the research.

He said the projections, as well as currently rising infection rates and deaths, showed there is no basis to “the idea that the pandemic is going away,” adding: “We do not believe that is true.”

President Donald Trump said in Thursday’s election debate of the pandemic: “It’s going away.”

The Friday update was the first time the IHME has projected deaths beyond Feb. 1. Its current forecast on its website is for 386,000 deaths as of Feb 1.

Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 221,000 Americans so far, has become the top issue for him and Democratic candidate Joe Biden in the Nov. 3 election. Polls have shown that Americans trust Biden more than Trump to handle the crisis.

The IHME study forecast that large, populous states such as California, Texas and Florida will likely face particularly high levels of illness, deaths and demands on hospital resources.

“We expect the surge to steadily grow across different states and at the national level, and to continue to increase as we head towards high levels of daily deaths in late December and in January,” Murray said.

The modelling study, which mapped out various scenarios and their projected impact on the spread of the COVID-19 epidemic in the United States, found that universal mask-wearing could have a major impact on death rates, potentially saving 130,000 lives.

Current mask use in the United States varies widely. While some states, like New York, set strict rules on when to wear masks, others have no requirements. The issue has become political, in which some supporters have taken their cues from Trump, who is often seen without a mask and has repeatedly questioned their usefulness.

“Expanding mask use is one of the easy wins for the United States … and can save many lives,” Murray said.

He added that, just as parts of Europe and some local U.S. areas of high transmission are doing now, many U.S. states would need to re-introduce social distancing measures to curb the winter surge.

(Reporting by Kate Kelland, additional reporting by Caroline Humer, editing by Steve Orlofsky and Cynthia Osterman)

Copyright 2020 Thomson Reuters.

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Total U.S. COVID-19 deaths could hit 500,000 by February, researchers say

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The U.S. death toll from COVID-19 could surpass 500,000 by February unless nearly all Americans wear face masks, researchers said on Friday, as 14 states set new records for one-day increases in infections.

The latest estimate by the widely cited University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation reflects fears that cold winter weather will drive Americans indoors, where the virus is more likely to spread.

Nationwide, 76,195 new cases were reported on Thursday, according to a Reuters analysis, just shy of the single-day record high of 77,299 reported on July 16. Only India has reported more cases in a single day: 97,894, on Sept. 17.

“We are heading into a very substantial fall/winter surge,” said IHME director Chris Murray, who co-led the research.

The number of possible deaths could drop by 130,000 if 95% of Americans would cover their faces, the IHME said, echoing a recommendation by Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

U.S. Health Secretary Alex Azar attributed the increase in cases nationwide to the behavior of individuals, saying household gatherings have become a “major vector of disease spread.”

Asked about an assertion by President Donald Trump during Thursday night’s presidential debate that the United States is “rounding the turn” on the pandemic, Azar told CNN that Trump was trying to provide hope to Americans waiting for a vaccine.

FILE PHOTO: Certified nursing assistant (CNA) Shameka Johnson, wearing NFL Green Bay Packers apparel, processes a nasal swab at a drive-thru testing site outside the Southside Health Center as the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak continues in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, U.S., October 21, 2020. REUTERS/Bing Guan

Pennsylvania, a swing state which is expected to play a crucial role in the Nov. 3 presidential election, reported its largest single-day increase in cases since the pandemic began.

“Daily increases are now comparable with what we saw in April 2020,” the Pennsylvania Department of Health said in a statement issued on Friday.

Also reporting record one-day increases were the states of Alaska, Arkansas, Illinois, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

HOSPITALIZATIONS CLIMB

On Thursday, there were 916 reported fatalities in the United States, a day after the country recorded over 1,200 new deaths for the first time since August.

Also on Thursday, the number of COVID-19 patients in U.S. hospitals climbed to a two-month high. There are now more than 41,000 hospitalized patients with coronavirus across the country, up 34% from Oct. 1, according to a Reuters analysis.

North Dakota, with 887 new cases on both Thursday and Friday, remains the hardest-hit state, based on new cases per capita, followed by South Dakota, Montana and Wisconsin, according to a Reuters tally.

Eight states reported record numbers of COVID-19 patients in the hospital on Friday: Alaska, Kentucky, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, West Virginia and Wyoming.

In Tennessee, hospitals in Nashville said they have experienced a 40% increase in

Kansas sees record 7-day spikes in COVID-19 cases, deaths

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas set new records Friday for its largest seven-day increases in new coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths with what its top public health official called “a generalized spread” of the COVID-19 virus.

The state has averaged more than 700 new cases a day this month, and the figure was a record 768 for the seven days ending Friday, beating the previous high mark of 757 for the seven days ending Wednesday. The state Department of Health and Environment reported 1,774 new confirmed and probable coronavirus cases since Wednesday, an increase of 2.4% that brought the total for the pandemic to 76,230.

Dr. Lee Norman, the state health department’s head, said the generalized spread of the virus in Kansas has resulted from resistance to wearing masks in public, continuing to have mass gatherings, crowded school athletic events, and bringing students back to college and university campuses.

“This is absolutely what we’ve been predicting,” Norman said in a text to The Associated Press. “It is the natural consequence of not following the anti-contagion measures in our communities.”

Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly said this week that she wants to work with leaders of the Republican-controlled Legislature on imposing a bipartisan, statewide mandate for people to wear masks in public. She issued such an order July 2, but state law allowed counties to opt out, and most did.


Top Republican lawmakers have argued against a “one-size-fits-all” mandate on diverse communities. But rural counties are seeing the largest numbers of new cases per 1,000 residents, and of the 20 counties with the biggest per capita spikes over the past two weeks, only two, Nemaha and Reno counties, have more than 10,000 residents.

Some Kansas elected officials have argued that a decline in the COVID-19 death rate since the start of the pandemic represents real progress as production of a widely available vaccine grows nearer. But in Kansas, where deaths represent about 1.3% of the reported cases, that figure has slowly inched up this month.

The state health department reported an additional 23 COVID-19-related deaths since Wednesday, bringing the pandemic total to 975. The state saw a record average of 16.57 new deaths a day during the seven days ending Friday, though some of that high mark can be attributed to earlier deaths being included when death certificates are reviewed by local and state health officials.

Kansas also reported another 78 coronavirus hospitalizations to bring the total to 3,584. The state averaged a record 31 new hospitalizations a day in the seven days ending Friday. The previous high mark was 29, also set earlier this month.

Kansas’ latest report comes as Missouri and perhaps a handful of other states are seeing alarming increases in hospitalizations but are unable to post accurate data on COVID-19 dashboards because of a flaw in the federal reporting system.

Meanwhile, the Kansas City suburb of Overland Park has angered some residents and split local elected officials by allocating $350,000 in federal relief funds for buying cameras to

Study Projects Up To Half a Million U.S. Coronavirus Deaths by End of February | Health News

As the U.S. enters what some experts are calling the third peak of its coronavirus outbreak, a new study predicts a massive death toll by the end of February – more than half a million lives.

The study, published in the journal Nature Medicine on Friday, was performed by researchers at the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, which produces a well-known coronavirus model.

It found that the current death toll of 224,000 could swell to more than 511,000 by Feb. 28, a little more than four months away. However, universal mask use would reduce that number by almost 130,000. Fewer than half of U.S. residents in September reported “always” wearing a mask in public, according to the study.

“Under all scenarios evaluated here, the United States is likely to face a continued public health challenge from the COVID-19 pandemic through 28 February 2021 and beyond, with populous states in particular potentially facing high levels of illness, deaths and ICU demands as a result of the disease,” the study said.

Photos: Daily Life, Disrupted

TOPSHOT - A passenger in an outfit (R) poses for a picture as a security guard wearing a facemask as a preventive measure against the Covid-19 coronavirus stands nearby on a last century-style boat, featuring a theatrical drama set between the 1920s and 1930s in Wuhan, in Chinas central Hubei province on September 27, 2020. (Photo by Hector RETAMAL / AFP) (Photo by HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP via Getty Images)

The study comes after President Donald Trump at Thursday’s presidential debate repeated his claim that the U.S. is “rounding the corner” on its outbreak. Former Vice President Joe Biden, meanwhile, said the U.S. is in for a “dark winter.”

IHME said in an update this week that the current surge in the U.S. will likely intensify in November and December and reach its peak in January.

“Many states will face enormous pressure on hospital capacity and will likely have to re-impose some social distancing mandates,” it said. “The best strategy to delay re-imposition of mandates and the associated economic hardship is to expand mask use.”

Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s mortality forecast, which is an ensemble of models from dozens of groups, predicts the total death toll in the U.S. will reach 235,000 to 247,000 in the next roughly three weeks.

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More than 100 coronavirus cases and 3 deaths linked to North Carolina church event

A North Carolina church’s multi-day event has led to more than 100 cases of the coronavirus and three deaths, health officials said.

The outbreak is linked to the United House of Prayer for All People in Charlotte, which held convocations from Oct. 4 to Oct. 11.

Mecklenburg County’s Deputy Health Director said that a large number of people, including many from out of state, attended the events.

“I do not have a definitive count, I can say confidently from video that we’ve seen there were at least hundreds of people,” Raynard Washington said during a briefing Tuesday. “My understanding is that there were probably more than 1,000 involved over the course of that week.”

Local health departments in South Carolina, Georgia, New Jersey and New York have been made aware of the outbreak.

The United House of Prayer for All People in Charlotte, N.C., on Oct. 23, 2020. (Google Map)
The United House of Prayer for All People in Charlotte, N.C., on Oct. 23, 2020. (Google Map)

Health officials in Mecklenburg County, where the church is located, said Friday that 99 residents have tested positive, along with two in Iredell County. Of those confirmed cases, five have been hospitalized and a dozen are at the Madison Saints Paradise South Senior Living center.

One of the three deaths was at the center, Washington said, noting that at least four residents attended the church’s convocations.

The senior center declined to comment Friday and the church could not immediately be reached.

The health department said it is in the process of reaching out to more than 137 people who had close contact with the confirmed cases.

Around the country, church events have been linked to several coronavirus outbreaks.

In Maine, more than 40 people tested positive for the virus after Brooks Pentecostal Church in Waldo County held a fellowship rally earlier this month. Maine’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Nirav Shah said that about 100 to 150 people attended the rally and masks were available, but not routinely used.

And at least 10 cases have been tied to Calvary Baptist Church, also in Maine, after its pastor officiated an indoor wedding that has since been labeled a superspreader event linked to over a hundred infections and at least eight deaths.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said one outbreak at a church in Ohio County “spread like wildfire” after a man with the virus attended a single church service leading to at least 91 infections across five counties.

“We have been very careful throughout this pandemic to exempt religious services from any regulations,” the governor said. “The only exception to that is that we are now asking people who attend church to wear a mask.”

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How many coronavirus deaths are truly attributable to Trump?

“In total,” it concluded, “in an unmitigated epidemic, we would predict approximately 510,000 deaths in [Great Britain] and 2.2 million in the U.S.,” even excluding the number of deaths that would result from hospitals being filled with coronavirus patients.

The key word there is “unmitigated.” That’s what the death toll could have been by midsummer if the country were to do literally nothing: keeping everything open, yes, but also not even isolating sick people. Even had the federal government done nothing, states would nonetheless have acted, as some did in advance of the White House’s eventual embrace of shutdown measures. In other words, it was not the case that 2.2 million deaths was the baseline of what should have been expected.

It’s obvious why it’s useful for Trump to cite that number, of course: the bigger the worst-case outcome, the better the actual outcome looks. By the White House’s own measure, though, the actual outcome has been bleak.

When Trump’s coronavirus task force first called for closing parts of the economy to contain the virus in March, it produced a graph using that figure as the upper limit of what could have happened. A mitigated pandemic, on the other hand, would mean that only 100,000 to 240,000 deaths would occur.

As of writing, at least 222,000 people have died of the virus. The key phrase here is “at least,” but we’ll come back to that.

Shortly after Trump’s 2.2-million claim, former vice president Joe Biden used the confirmed death toll to criticize how the administration had handled the pandemic.

“Two hundred and twenty thousand Americans dead,” Biden said. “If you hear nothing else I say tonight, hear this: anyone who’s responsible for not taking control, in fact, [saying] I take no responsibility initially — anyone who’s responsible for that many deaths should not remain as President of the United States of America.”

This, too, is misleading. Trump can’t be considered accountable for 220,000 American deaths from the coronavirus. At least: not yet.

Assessing the number of people who might have died had the federal government acted differently is tricky for three reasons. First, the actual number of deaths so far is a bit murky. Second, the number of deaths the country might have seen involves a fair amount of speculation. And, third, people are still dying at the rate of 1,000 a day, meaning that we’re nowhere near knowing what the final toll from the virus will be.

As noted above, there are at least 222,000 confirmed deaths to date. Many of those came at the outset of the pandemic, when undetected infections spread from person-to-person before containment measures were implemented.

Because of how the virus works — infections are identified a week or two before patients succumb — surges in new cases have preceded surges in deaths. You can see that in the recent data: cases began to increase at the end of last month; deaths began to increase over the past week.

What isn’t captured is any