All gatherings pose virus spread risk

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Gatherings large and small are likely to blame for a slight uptick in daily coronavirus cases in California’s largest county, according to a top health official who warned Monday that upcoming holiday parties pose a risk for renewed spread and a spike in hospitalizations.



FILE - In this Oct. 11, 2020, file photo, Los Angeles Lakers fans celebrate outside of Staples Center in Los Angeles, after the Lakers defeated the Miami Heat in Game 6 of basketball's NBA Finals to win the championship. Gatherings large and small are likely to blame for a slight uptick in daily coronavirus cases in California's largest county. That's according to a top Los Angeles County health official who warned Monday, Nov. 2, 2020, that upcoming holiday parties pose a risk for the renewed spread and a spike in hospitalizations. (AP Photo/Christian Monterrosa, File)


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FILE – In this Oct. 11, 2020, file photo, Los Angeles Lakers fans celebrate outside of Staples Center in Los Angeles, after the Lakers defeated the Miami Heat in Game 6 of basketball’s NBA Finals to win the championship. Gatherings large and small are likely to blame for a slight uptick in daily coronavirus cases in California’s largest county. That’s according to a top Los Angeles County health official who warned Monday, Nov. 2, 2020, that upcoming holiday parties pose a risk for the renewed spread and a spike in hospitalizations. (AP Photo/Christian Monterrosa, File)

There’s been a steady increase in the number of residents of Los Angeles County who have been getting together with people from outside their households, according to weekly survey data from the University of Southern California Center for Social and Economic Research.

That may be partly because of championship runs by the Los Angeles Lakers and Dodgers in recent weeks that brought fans together through watch parties and celebrations.

“With our case numbers already on the rise, we are concerned about the upcoming holiday gatherings and cooler weather, where people are more likely to gather indoors are perfect conditions for spreading COVID-19,” said Barbara Ferrer, the county’s public health director. “And while it’s easy to believe that the virus won’t spread among your family and friends, and that none of you are infected, there are so many examples that prove otherwise.”

For the week ending Oct. 20, more than 10% of respondents reported that they’d been at a gathering of 10 or more people in the past seven days, Ferrer said. She warned that if just 10% of Los Angeles County’s 10 million residents attended a gathering outside their households, that translates to about a million people.

“And if we assume that 2% of people can be infected, we could possibly have 20,000 people capable of infecting others who are milling about at these gatherings, each week,” she said.

Los Angeles County, the nation’s most populous, reported more than 1,400 new cases Monday for a total of 310,595. There have been more than 7,000 deaths in the county.

The state is moving more slowly than the reopening last spring that brought with it a dramatic spike in cases, hospitalizations and deaths. California, the most populous state, is second in the nation with more than 930,600 confirmed cases. There have been a total of 17,672 deaths in the state.

Statewide hospitalizations have increased by about 11% in the last week to 2,537 while the seven-day daily average is 4,231 confirmed cases, down about 1% from previous week.

Many businesses remain closed as Los Angeles County remains in California’s most restrictive tier, purple.

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Governor urges New Mexicans to avoid Halloween gatherings

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Saturday said the spread of coronavirus is out of control in New Mexico as she urged residents to stay home and avoid gathering with others to celebrate Halloween.

“Please — do your part to protect yourself and your fellow New Mexicans by celebrating a COVID-SAFE Halloween,” the Democratic governor’s office said in a Facebook post. “Stay home. Do not gather with others.”

State officials on Saturday reported 592 additional known virus cases and 11 additional deaths but said the case data for the day was incomplete due to a technical problem.


“Due to a technical disruption of the electronic laboratory reporting system, the following data reflects only a partial total for today’s case update,” state officials said in a statement. “The delayed results will be included in the state’s reporting as soon as they are received and confirmed.”

The additional cases and deaths reported Saturday increased the state’s totals to 46,490 cases and 1,018 deaths.

The state reported over 1,000 additional cases on Friday when it also reported a single-day record of 13 deaths and when the state’s death toll exceeded 1,000.

Lujan Grisham on Friday ordered flags to fly at half-staff starting Monday for a week of mourning. She called the toll “an unfathomable tragedy,” saying the drumbeat of a few more deaths every day should not diminish the acute feeling of loss.

State health officials also renewed their pleas that people adhere to the public health order, which calls for residents to stay home whenever possible, limit contact with others and wear face coverings, among other things.

Coronavirus related hospitalizations reached 354 on Saturday, the ninth consecutive day the state has set a record for that metric.

State officials and administrators from some of the largest hospital systems in New Mexico have warned that the health care system could be overloaded if the trends continue.

The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.

The additional 11 deaths reported Saturday included six in Dona Ana County, four in Bernalillo County and one in Otero County.

The additional cases included 187 in Bernalillo County, 127 in Dona Ana County, 41 in Chaves County, 33 in Santa Fe County, 31 in Sandoval County, 22 in McKinley County and 17 in San Juan County.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death. The vast majority of people recover.

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Colorado limits more gatherings as COVID cases spike

DENVER (AP) — Citing a steady increase in Colorado’s coronavirus hospitalization caseload, state health officials announced new limits Friday on personal gatherings of people from different households in more than two dozen counties.

An amended state health order affecting 29 of the state’s counties limits personal gatherings to 10 people from no more than two households. Gatherings of up to 25 people were previously permitted in those counties, Colorado Public Radio reported.

Personal gatherings in 30 other Colorado counties were already restricted to 10 people. No new limits were imposed for five counties with lesser caseloads.


The Department of Public Health and Environment said it took the action after investigators determined that COVID-19 cases associated with social gatherings and community exposure had been more common since July.

“We need to keep gatherings smaller and with people from fewer households — we are asking everyone to ‘shrink their bubble’ to reduce the spread,” said Jill Hunsaker Ryan, the department’s executive director.

On Tuesday, Gov. Jared Polis appealed to residents to help stem what he called an alarming acceleration of new cases and hospitalizations. Upward trends in new confirmed cases and hospitalizations could strain hospital intensive-care capacity in December, the Democratic governor said.

There are roughly 1,800 intensive-care beds statewide for all health emergencies. More than three-quarters of those beds were occupied for all reasons over the week leading up to Monday, the state health department said.

The state reported 458 virus hospitalizations Friday. Health officials reported there were nearly 20 positive COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents Friday, one of the highest, if not the highest, recorded rates of the pandemic.

More than 2,000 people have died of the virus in Colorado, which has reported more than 85,000 positive cases. The number of cases is probably higher because of a lack of testing and other reasons.

The coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death.

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COVID cases may surge after Thanksgiving, Christmas gatherings

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Dr. Eric Cioe-Peña and his wife come from large families and typically split the holiday festivities, getting together with one group of relatives for Thanksgiving and another one at Christmas.

This year, they’ll reluctantly keep their distance from both.

“We’re going to have to make sacrifices,” said Cioe-Peña, an emergency room physician and director of Global Health at Northwell Health in New Hyde Park, New York. “My wife and I decided this year’s going to be nuclear family, and we’re not inviting anybody over.”

As the holidays approach and the number of coronavirus cases surge, millions of Americans face the decision whether to eschew traditional gatherings with family and friends or risk spreading the virus among loved ones.

Anthony Fauci, the nation’s foremost authority on infectious diseases, and Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, warned about the potential for a spike in infections stemming from holiday parties, even if they’re small and only among relatives.

Memorial Day get-togethers were partly blamed for an increase in COVID-19 cases the USA experienced early in the summer. Events such as a Sweet 16 party late last month in Long Island, New York – linked to 37 positive tests – and a wedding in August in Maine – which led to more than 175 infections – underscore the danger of relatively small social functions turning into superspreaders.

Last week, health officials in the Washington area said small gatherings have been a factor in the region hitting a two-month high in coronavirus cases.

“All along, there have been issues about attending weddings, funerals, religious gatherings and other events that are part of our normal life,” said Dr. Steven Woolf, director emeritus of the Center on Society and Health at Virginia Commonwealth University. “They bring people together and potentially become vectors for the virus. As many public health experts mention, the virus is attending these events and can be transmitted from person to person.”

The traditional gatherings of relatives and friends during Thanksgiving and other holidays are a source of concern for public health experts, who fear they may lead to a spike in coronavirus cases. (Photo: Getty Images / skynesher)

Don’t let the virus get to Grandma

The CDC, which discourages traditional trick-or-treating this Halloween, updated its guidance Monday about holiday celebrations with advice on how to reduce risk of infection.

The tips for in-person gatherings include commonly known mitigation measures such as holding events outdoors, limiting their size, having participants wear masks and maintaining social distance. The CDC encourages hosts to request that guests avoid contact with people from outside their household for two weeks before the activity.

Safe inside: Fauci warns against Thanksgiving celebrations: How to stay safe indoors from the coronavirus during cold seasons?

The impracticality of some of the safety measures – it’s hard to fit everybody at a table 6 feet apart 

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US borders; Wisconsin gatherings; Mississippi mask mandate

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The top U.S. infectious disease expert is shrugging off sharp criticism from President Donald Trump while the U.S. is keeping its borders with Canada and Mexico closed for another month in an effort to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, tapped “The Godfather” in describing his relationship with Trump.

“It’s like in ‘The Godfather’ – nothing personal, strictly business as far as I’m concerned,” Fauci told Southern California AM radio station KNX1070. “I just want to do my job and take care of the people of this country.”

Homeland Security Acting Secretary Chad Wolf said restrictions on non-essential travel will be extended through Nov. 21. The announcement comes days after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said it would keep its borders closed until the U.S. gains control of the coronavirus.

Some significant developments:

  • Fargo became the first city in North Dakota to issue a face mask mandate on Monday amid the state’s rising coronavirus caseload.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a “strong recommendation” for people to wear a mask on trains, planes, buses and other transportation.
  • As states finalize their distribution plans for a COVID-19 vaccine, California Gov. Gavin Newsom said the state will independently review any FDA-approved vaccines before passing one out.

📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has reported more than 8.2 million cases and 220,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins data. The global totals: More than 40.5 million cases and 1.1 million deaths.

📚Read this: The latest in USA TODAY’s Deadly Discrimination series looks at the 10 U.S. counties with the highest death rates from COVID-19. Seven have populations where people of color make up the majority.

🗺️ Mapping coronavirus: Track the U.S. outbreak in your state.

This file will be updated throughout the day. For updates in your inbox, subscribe to The Daily Briefing newsletter.

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Senate to vote on PPP reauthorization Tuesday as Pelosi backs away from stimulus deadline

The Republican-controlled Senate is set to vote on the reauthorization of the Paycheck Protection Program for small businesses as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi seemed to back away from a Tuesday deadline to reach a deal on a COVID-19 stimulus plan before the election. 

The bill reauthorizes another round of the small business loans but is likely to be blocked by Democrats, who have opposed standalone relief bills. 

Pelosi said in an interview with Bloomberg her Tuesday ultimatum was not actually a deadline to have a deal but in fact “the day where we would have our terms on the table, to be able to go to the next step.” 

Asked how a bill could come together, Pelosi left open the possibility a bill might not be passed until after the election, saying “we could still continue the negotiations. It might not be finished by Election

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