Illinois institutes COVID-19 restrictions in all 11 regions as U.S. reports 81K new cases

Nov. 1 (UPI) — U.S. COVID-19 cases spiked in the Midwest on Sunday as current and former health officials warned that Thanksgiving gatherings could further increase the spread of the virus.

The United States reported 81,227 new cases and 862 new deaths bringing its world-leading totals to 9,189,715 infections and 230,870 fatalities, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University.

All 11 regions in Illinois will be placed under resurgence mitigations including prohibiting indoor dining and bar service, closing outdoor dining at 11 p.m. and limiting gatherings to 25 people or less beginning on Wednesday as Region 2 recorded an average positivity rate above 8% for three consecutive days.

“As cases, hospitalizations and deaths are rising across our state, across the Midwest and across the nation, we have to act responsibly and collectively to protect the people we love,” Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said.

Illinois recently reported three consecutive record-breaking case days including 7,899 new infections on Saturday.

The state broke the streak on Sunday as it reported 6,980 new cases and 35 additional deaths, bringing the state’s total to 417,280 infections and a death toll of 9,792, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

A surge in hospitalizations has also been reported in the region as Ohio recorded 1,629 hospitalizations as of Friday — the state’s highest number since the pandemic began in March.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a member of the White House’s coronavirus taskforce, drew heat from the White House on Sunday as he contradicted President Donald Trump’s message that the United States is “rounding the turn” on the virus, warning the country is primed to experience “a whole lot of hurt” as winter approaches.

Dr. Scott Gottlieb, who served as commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration under the Obama administration, said “things are getting worse around the country” citing 23 states that are accelerating the spread of the virus and 15 states reporting a positivity rate above 15%.

“I think Thanksgiving is really going to be an inflection point. I think December is probably going to be our toughest month,” Gottlieb told CBS News’ Face the Nation.

Gottlieb said, however, he doesn’t believe the United States will reinstate widespread lockdowns as Europe has done in recent weeks.

“I don’t think the political support is here for that even at the state level. I think you’re going to see targeted mitigation. States take local actions, but we’re going to have to start taking more aggressive actions,” he said.

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Protests in Brazil support president in anti-vaccine stance

SAO PAULO (AP) — Small groups of protesters gathered in Brazil’s two biggest cities Sunday to demonstrate against any mandate for the taking of a coronavirus vaccine, supporting a rejection campaign encouraged by President Jair Bolsonaro.

People assembled in downtown Sao Paulo calling for the removal of Sao Paulo state Gov. Joao Doria, who has said state residents will be required to take a vaccine, likely the one being developed by Chinese biopharmaceutical company Sinovac and the local Butantan Institute.

“Doria will fall!” the protestors chanted. “Out with Doria!”


The CoronaVac, as it is being called, has been a prime target for skepticism from Bolsonaro and others, with the president saying Brazilians will not be guinea pigs to the Chinese. The issue has become a talking point in mayoral and city council campaigns for elections later this month, and as most health professions support vaccination, social media campaigns have raised questions about possible perils of vaccines.

Demonstrators supporting Bolsonaro on the question also protested on Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro.

A PoderData poll said this week the percentage of Brazilians who say they would take a coronavirus vaccine dropped to 63% in October from 85% four months earlier. The percentage rejecting the idea of taking a vaccine rose to 22% from 8% in July.

The Getulio Vargas Foundation think tank said an analysis of 2 million Twitter postings found that 24% of profiles identified as pro-Bolsonaro and they accounted for 56% of mentions against the vaccine. On the other side, 47% of profiles identified as pro-vaccine and represented 32% of the postings.

In October, Doria said vaccination would be mandatory in his state, and Bolsonaro’s health minister, Eduardo Pazuello, announced that the country had agreed to purchase CoronaVac doses produced locally.

The president quickly responded that he would not allow the import of vaccines from China. Though the health regulator later gave permission for Butantan to import 6 million doses, on Thursday the president said on his weekly live program that he would not buy the vaccine and that the governor should “find someone else to buy your vaccine.”

On Friday, Vice President Hamilton Mourao told the magazine Veja that “of course” the country will buy the Butantan-Sinovac vaccine. Bolsonaro immediately responded that he is the one with the power and he won’t spend on any vaccine that is not approved by the Brazilian health regulator.

Brazil has reported more than 5.5 million confirmed cases of coronavirus infections, and about 160,000 people have died from COVID-19, the disease that can be caused by the virus. While the spread of the virus has begun slowing, public health experts warn people not to let their guard down.

Health professionals are also speaking out in an effort to shore up support for vaccines.

“Vaccination en masse with high coverage would be the only mechanism we have to control the epidemic, at least in the medium-term,” Jesem Orellana, an epidemiology researcher at the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, a scientific research institution, said in a

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For Mexico’s doctors, an especially mournful Day of the Dead

MEXICO CITY (AP) — The diminutive figure of a skeleton in a face mask and medical cap has a hand on a bedridden patient. At its side is the sort of skull made of sugar common on Day of the Dead altars. And behind is the photo of a white-haired 64-year-old man in glasses smiling at the camera: the late Dr. Jose Luis Linares.

He is one of more than 1,700 Mexican health workers officially known to have died of COVID-19 who are being honored with three days of national mourning on these Days of the Dead.

Linares attended to patients at a private clinic in a poor neighborhood in the southern part of the city, usually charging about 30 pesos (roughly $1.50) a consultation. Because he didn’t work at an official COVID-19 center, his family doesn’t qualify for the assistance the government gives to medical personnel stricken by the disease, his widow said

“I told him, ‘Luis, don’t go to work.’ But he told me, ‘Then who is going to see those poor people,’” said his widow, Dr. María del Rosario Martínez. She said he had taken precautions against the disease because of lungs damaged by an earlier illness.

In addition to the usual marigolds and paper cutouts for Day of the Dead altars, hers this year includes little skeleton figures shown doing consultations or surgeries in honor of colleagues who have died.

It’s echoed in many parts of a country that as of September, according to Amnesty International, had lost more medical professionals to the coronavirus than any other nation.

They include people like nurse Jose Valencia, and Dr. Samuel Silva Montenegro of Mexico City, whose images rest atop altars in the homes of loved ones in Mexico City,

Martínez’s altar is in a living room beside a room in their apartment where she and her husband gave consultations. Martínez, who also fell ill but recovered, now sees patients only online or by phone.

Linares died May 25 after being hospitalized at a peak of infections in Mexico City. Martínez lost consciousness at the news, but when she came to, she found her only son and her sister were hugging her. “Don’t touch me, don’t touch me!” she yelled, fearing they too would be infected.

At the peak of her own illness, she trekked from saturated hospital to overflowing clinic, looking for help.

Martínez, 59, said she now feels better, and at peace, though not resigned to the loss of her husband of 36 years, who she first met as a girl selling gum outside a movie theater to help support her eight brothers and sisters.

“I feel strange,” she said. “But I owe it to the patients and they are going to help me get through this.” She said, though, that she expects to work fewer hours.

“I’m afraid because we don’t know how much immunity you’re doing to have, how long it will work,” she said. “The illness is very hard, very cruel. …

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State reports 22 new confirmed COVID-19 deaths, 1,139 new confirmed cases

The state’s Department of Public Health reported 22 new confirmed deaths due to the coronavirus Sunday, as well as 1,139 new confirmed cases.

The latest state data brought Massachusetts’ confirmed death toll to 9,788, while the total number of confirmed cases climbed to 155,660.

In Massachusetts, the three-day average of COVID-19 deaths was 19 as of Thursday, the state reported Sunday. Over the course of the preceding week, that average had fluctuated between a low of 17 and a high of 22.

On Sunday, the state reported 16,724 new people received molecular tests for the virus, bringing the total number of people who received that test to nearly 2.76 million.

The state’s seven-day average positive rate, calculated from all those tests administered, dipped slightly, to 1.8 percent Saturday. In data released by the state Sunday, that rate dropped from 1.9 percent reported a day earlier.

Another measure of positivity, based on daily positive tests per people tested, was 6.1 percent Saturday, according to the state. Some experts have suggested that positive tests per people tested is a better measure of the pandemic.

The three-day average number of COVID-19 patients in hospitals reached 602 Saturday, the state reported. And the state reported one hospital Saturday was using surge capacity to treat those patients.

Across the US, more than 230,000 people have died from the virus, and nearly 9.2 million cases have been reported, according to Johns Hopkins University Sunday.


John Hilliard can be reached at [email protected]

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Caregivers Have Witnessed the Coronavirus’s Pain. How Will They Vote?

Over all, he thinks the reaction to the virus was “overkill,” but he also thinks Mr. Trump was wrong to suggest it was “nothing to worry about.”

”He did a terrible job,” Mr. Lohoefer said of Mr. Trump’s handling of the pandemic. “But everybody did a terrible job.”

As the virus spread across her facility, Ms. Frazier, the caretaker who witnessed dozens of deaths, said she would see Mr. Trump on television without a mask and grow frustrated. And although she has voted for Republicans and had been a fan of Mr. Trump’s when he was on reality television, she began to blame his cavalier response for her worsening situation at work.

Americans, she came to believe, would not act until the virus affected them personally.

“If we want to make America great again, then we need to change the political face of our country,” she said, noting that she has made a point of discussing her view of Mr. Trump with Republican friends. Ms. Frazier said she would vote for Mr. Biden somewhat begrudgingly, mostly as a vote against Mr. Trump.

“I can’t even tell this story without having a tear coming down my face,” she added. “How can you, as the leader of our country, stand in front of our thousands and not show emotion?”

Ms. Frazier began to cry as she recalled her final moments in April with a resident with whom she had built a rapport over several years.

During better times, the woman assumed the role of floor matriarch. She was “sassy,” and would tell you “exactly what she felt,” Ms. Frazier said. Sometimes, when she had a spare moment during her shift, Ms. Frazier would pop by and say “Hey, beautiful!” — and the woman would beam.

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Paralympic athlete, others work through Ability360 gym closure due to COVID-19

For people with disabilities, Ability360’s fitness center is not just a gym. It’s a gift, a lifeline, a privilege, a necessity.

The 45,000-square-foot fitness center, part of a 62,000-square-foot campus tucked in a business area east of Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport and along the light rail route, is the first of its kind in the western United States and one of only a few in the nation.

Its equipment is designed with accessibility in mind. For example, the lap pool has a lowered bench for transferring directly from a wheelchair to the water. The fitness room features strength, cardio and free weight equipment like any gym, but they’re designed to accommodate people with disabilities.

The campus is also home to a slew of nonprofits that help people with various disabilities and is typically bustling with activity. Ability360’s fitness center started the year with 2,800 members.

For those with recent injuries, the gym is a place to see and meet others who have coped with and grown stronger from their injuries, a place for encouragement.

For others, it’s the only place they ever get to use accessible equipment. It might be the only reason they leave the house.

For a select few, like those who had been training to play in the 2020 Summer Paralympics in Tokyo, it’s one of the best and most adaptive training facilities in the state.

“This is a place like nowhere else,” said Ability360 vice president and general manager Gus LaZear. “It’s warm, it’s welcoming, people are friendly but also keep you accountable for working out.”

Like many gyms, Ability360 shut down March 17. But when other gyms raced to reopen, Ability360 leaders were more cautious. They serve a more vulnerable population.

The Arizona Republic followed three Ability360 members over several months, documenting as they coped with the rollercoaster of closures and re-openings at the facility they described as being like a second home, a place where their disability didn’t define them.

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When Ability360, a Phoenix gym for people with disabilities closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, they adapted.

Arizona Republic

For a Paralympic athlete, Ability360 is essential

Joe Jackson, 30, has been paralyzed from the waist down since being injured during a Hamilton High School football game in 2005.

Breaking his C6 vertebrae in his lower neck left him without the ability to sweat, meaning he can quickly overheat — a common result of spinal cord injuries.

He didn’t used to have to think about it because of the air conditioned rooms at Ability360. He’d been going there three to five days a week for sessions spanning several hours since the gym’s opening in 2011.

Ability360’s focus on accessibility has been a “game-changer” for Jackson, he said.

Jackson in 2007 started playing quad rugby and joined Ability360’s team, which practiced three times per week for three hours at a time at the facility on top of regular games and tournaments.

In 2017, Jackson became a member of the U.S. Paralympic wheelchair rugby team,

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Tests Show Genetic Signature of Coronavirus That Likely Infected Trump

President Trump’s illness from a coronavirus infection last month was the most significant health crisis for a sitting president in nearly 40 years. Yet little remains known about how the virus arrived at the White House and how it spread.

The administration did not take basic steps to track the outbreak, limiting contact tracing, keeping cases a secret and cutting out the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The origin of the infections, a spokesman said, was “unknowable.”

But one standard public health technique may still shed some light: tracking the cluster’s genetic fingerprints.

To better understand the outbreak, The Times worked with prominent geneticists to determine the genetic sequence of viruses that infected two Times journalists believed to been exposed to the coronavirus as part of their work covering the White House.

The study reveals, for the first time, the genetic sequence of the virus that may have infected President Trump and dozens of others, researchers said. That genome is a crucial clue that may allow researchers to identify where the outbreak originated and whether it went on to infect others across the country.

The White House has not disclosed any effort to conduct similar genetic testing, but the study’s results show that it is still possible, even weeks after positive tests. Additional sequencing could help establish the path of the virus through the White House, the role of a possible super-spreading event for Judge Amy Coney Barrett and the origin of an outbreak among the staff of Vice President Mike Pence in the last week or so.

The journalists, Michael D. Shear and Al Drago, both had significant, separate exposure to White House officials in late September, several days before they developed symptoms. They did not spend any time near each other in the weeks before their positive tests.

Mr. Shear traveled with Mr. Trump and other staff on Air Force One on Sept. 26, when Mr. Trump approached within five or six feet without a mask. Mr. Drago covered the Judge Barrett event that day and a news conference the next day near officials who were not wearing masks and later tested positive.

The viral genomes of the two journalists shared the same distinct pattern of mutations, the research found. Along with their exposure history, the findings suggest that they were infected as part of the broader White House outbreak, said Trevor Bedford, a geneticist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and the University of Washington who led the research team.

“These mutations that are possessed by these viruses are quite rare in the United States,” Dr. Bedford said. “I am highly convinced that these viruses come from the same outbreak or cluster based on their genomes.”

The study, which has been posted online but not yet peer reviewed or published in a science journal, followed academic protocols that require genetic samples to be anonymous. Mr. Shear and Mr. Drago chose to disclose their identities for this article.

Viruses constantly mutate, picking up tiny, accidental alterations

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Are Trump’s rallies spreading coronavirus? Why it’s hard to know the full impact

(Reuters) – Stanford University economists estimate that President Donald Trump’s campaign rallies have resulted in 30,000 additional confirmed cases of COVID-19, and likely led to more than 700 deaths overall, according to a paper posted online this weekend.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump waves to supporters from the presidential limousine while departing a campaign rally in Newtown, Pennsylvania, U.S., on October 31, 2020. REUTERS/Tom Brenner/File Photo

The research, led by B. Douglas Bernheim, chair of economics at Stanford University, analyzed data following 18 Trump rallies held between June 20 and Sept. 22, three of which were indoors. Bernheim said in an email the work relies on statistical methods to infer causation after an event has occurred.

Infectious disease experts have long suspected that the president’s rallies ahead of the Nov. 3 election might be so-called superspreader events. But so far, scientists have not been able to get a good read on their impact, in part because of a lack of robust contact tracing in many states.

WHAT IS THE CONCERN?

In recent months, Trump has held several dozen rallies in states such as Pennsylvania, Minnesota and Wisconsin, where coronavirus infection rates were already on the rise.

At each event, several thousand people were estimated to have participated. While most of the rallies were held outdoors, video footage show that participants gathered in close proximity and many were not wearing masks, creating a risk of spreading the virus as they cheered their candidate on.

“It’s not a major stretch” to say that large unmasked gatherings are likely to spread the virus, said Dr. Amesh Adalja, an infectious disease expert at Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.

Adalja said the Stanford paper was “suggestive” of spread from the events, but not definitive because it was not based on an investigation of actual cases. That would help confirm whether participants were exposed to the virus at the event, rather than other places where transmission is rampant.

WHAT DO WE KNOW?

Minnesota public health officials have attributed four COVID-19 outbreaks and more than 25 cases to Trump rallies held in the state in September and October.

An additional 11 state health departments contacted by Reuters said they had not been able to trace infections to the rallies, although some, including Michigan and Wisconsin, have determined that individual people who later tested positive for COVID-19 were present at Trump campaign events.

WHAT DATA ARE NEEDED?

Disease experts say that rigorous contact tracing from one such large event could help arrive at an accurate prediction of how infectious such rallies can be.

But the United States has fallen behind other developed countries in this regard, due to a lack of funding and coordination for contact tracing by the Trump administration.

“The problem is we’ve not done anything to get real numbers,” said Dr. Eric Topol, a genomics expert and director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute in La Jolla, California. Instead, it is subject to conjecture and mathematical models.

For

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New backlog adds 1,700 coronavirus cases in Alabama for second consecutive day

The Alabama Department of Public Health reported an increase of exactly 1,700 new coronavirus cases in Alabama on Sunday, including 944 confirmed cases and 756 probables. The state also reported six new virus deaths.

The majority of those probable cases came in just two counties in northwest Alabama, and ADPH reported many of those new cases are the result of a new backlog of cases entering the system.

“On October 31, the Alabama Department of Public Health processed a historic lab result file from an entity in Northwest Alabama,” a notice on the state’s coronavirus dashboard read. “This file will result in 846 positive lab results from June, July and August of 2020. These results primarily affect data from Limestone, Lawrence, Franklin, Colbert, and Lauderdale counties.”

Lauderdale County reported 270 new probable cases Sunday, and neighboring Colbert County reported 149 probable cases.

Similar backlogs have been frequent lately – APDH reported two very large backlogs of probable cases on Oct. 22 and 23, and the state dashboard currently shows a message about a backlog of 90 confirmed cases from Covington County, in south Alabama, that entered the system on Oct. 30.

Those data problems make tracking the state’s virus outbreak difficult. The 7-day average for total new virus cases – including both confirmed and probable cases – has moved around drastically in the last two weeks because of those backlogs. But the 7-day average for confirmed cases has been more reliable, and despite the backlog in Covington County reported on Halloween, it’s clear that number continues to trend up.

[Can’t see the chart? Click here.]

On Saturday, the 7-day average for new confirmed virus cases topped 1,000 for the first time since Sept. 1. On Sunday it ticked up again, and stood at 1,051 – the highest it’s been since Aug. 14. With probable cases included, the state’s 7-day average for new cases was 1,376 as of Sunday morning.

The state now has a total of 193,985 cases since the start of the pandemic, including 165,239 confirmed and 28,746 probable cases. It has also reported 2,973 deaths due to the virus.

Jefferson County, the most populous county in the state and home to Birmingham, saw the largest increase in new confirmed cases on Sunday at 172. Jefferson has now added at least 100 new confirmed cases in each of the last 13 days, and the county’s 7-day average for new cases has ticked up steadily over the last few weeks.

[Can’t see the chart? Click here.]

The 7-day average in Jefferson for new total cases – including probables – rose to 169 on Sunday, the highest it’s been there since Sept. 3, and an 80 percent increase since Oct. 8, when the average fell below 100 cases per day.

Only two counties reported new deaths on Sunday. Jefferson reported four deaths, bringing its total to 374 since the start of the pandemic. Two new virus deaths were reported in Mobile on Sunday, bringing the total there to 317. Those two

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Breast cancer sufferer fast-tracks plans to end life at Dignitas

Health insurance, The patient was treated at the hospital with the health of the insured.
A breast cancer sufferer said she has brought forward her plans to travel to Dignitas in Switzerland due to the impending second lockdown in England. (Stock picture: Getty)

A 45-year-old woman suffering from breast cancer has fast-tracked her plans to end her life at Swiss clinic Dignitas due to “antiquated laws” and the impending second national lockdown in England.

The British woman has reportedly been granted a special waiver by the Swiss government to allow her to travel to Switzerland for a final appointment at the euthanasia clinic near Zurich without having to self-isolate for 10 days.

The woman told the Sunday Times she has brought her plans forward to avoid an “agonising, protracted death” due to the UK’s ban on assisted dying as well as the imminent second national lockdown, set to start on Thursday.

This picture taken on July 14, 2009 shows the building of the assisted suicide clinic, Dignitas in Pfaeffikon near Zurich. A renowned British conductor and his wife have died in the assisted suicide clinic Dignitas in Switzerland, their family said. Edward Downes, 85, was almost blind and deaf, and his 74-year-old wife Joan was terminally ill when they chose to end their lives, a statement released to the BBC said. AFP PHOTO/ SEBASTIAN DERUNGS (Photo credit should read SEBASTIAN DERUNGS/AFP via Getty Images)
The Dignitas clinic near Zurich, where the woman plans to go. (Stock picture: Getty)

Writing in the newspaper, she said she felt she should go now, before she was “truly ready”, saying that coronavirus regulations would mean she would be “forced to die in the presence of strangers, in unfamiliar surroundings, without my husband, family or friends to comfort me”.

The woman, who previously worked as a senior mental health professional in the NHS, said the current UK laws that rule assisted suicide illegal and punishable by up to 14 years in prison have created a ‘cruel’ situation and said she had been met by a “wall of silence” when trying to discuss the issue with medics.

She said: “When I have attempted to speak openly about what I feel is a perfectly rational desire to avoid a traumatic death, I have been met by a wall of silence from doctors.”

Watch: Assisted dying could be legalised in the UK within four years

She told the Sunday Times that she was diagnosed with stage four secondary breast cancer last September, then learned in August that it had spread to her liver.

She said she is in considerable pain and suffers from extreme fatigue and nausea, and is likely to die from blood poisoning, suffocation or strokes due to cancerous tumours in her brain.

The woman told the newspaper she “desperately wants to live” but since she cannot she is trying to seek an option that will allow her a peaceful death – something that is currently impossible due to UK laws.

Watch: What is long COVID?

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