As the Virus Rages, Some Are Convinced It’s Too Late to Stop It

COEUR d’ALENE, Idaho — The congregation of Candlelight Christian Fellowship gathered around tables in the church sanctuary one night last week to sip coffee and grapple with theological questions. From down the hall came the laughter of dozens of children at play.

With a potluck dinner, no masks and plenty of shared hugs, the night felt like a throwback to the pre-pandemic era except for a noticeable exception on the stage: The lead pastor, Paul Van Noy, was addressing the congregation with the aid of supplemental oxygen, piped into his nostrils from a small tank.

About a month ago, Mr. Van Noy, 60, was discharged from a hospital in a wheelchair after a Covid-19 infection brought him to the brink of death. But while that scare ravaged his lungs and rattled the church, it has done little to alter the growing sentiment among many people in northern Idaho that the coronavirus cannot be stopped and efforts to contain it are doing more harm than good.

“I think we just open up and we just let it take its course,” said Nancy Hillberg, 68, as church members mingled after the service. “Just let it be done.”

Amid a record spike of coronavirus cases and the final days of the presidential election, President Trump and his administration have expressed increasing helplessness at containing the virus, focusing instead on improvements in survivability and trying to hold the economy together. While it is a theme welcomed by many of the president’s supporters, it has proved alarming to health officials, including those at the hospital that cared for Mr. Van Noy, who are encountering rising resistance to their calls for unity in combating a pandemic that has already claimed nearly 230,000 Americans and threatens to take many more.

In northern Idaho, which is facing record cases and hospitalizations, the local health board last month repealed a requirement that people wear masks in Kootenai County, where Candlelight Christian Fellowship is.

“I personally do not care whether anybody wears a mask or not,” Walt Kirby, a member of the board, said at a public hearing on the issue. “If they want to be dumb enough to walk around out there and expose themselves and others to this, that’s fine with me.

“I’m just sitting back and watching them catch it and die. Hopefully I’ll live through it.”

In an interview later, Mr. Kirby said that he initially supported the mask mandate as a strategy to contain the virus and that, at age 90, he wears one whenever he is out in public.

But the mask requirement resulted in immense backlash, he said, in a part of the country where many people moved to escape what they see as an overbearing government.

Governors around the country, particularly Republican ones, are following the president’s lead in resisting new restrictions against a virus that has powerfully persisted despite lockdowns in some areas over the spring and summer.

Gov. Kristi Noem of South Dakota wrote that “there is no way

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Resurgent Virus Rages Across the American Heartland


New reported cases by day in the United States

March

April

May

June

July

Aug.

Sept.

Oct.

New cases

7-day average

Source: New York Times database of reports from state and local health agencies

See maps and charts showing Covid-19 cases around the country »

The latest coronavirus surge is raging across the American heartland, most acutely in the Midwest and Mountain West.

This harrowing third surge, which led to a U.S. single-day record of more than 85,000 new cases Friday, is happening less than two weeks from Election Day, which will mark the end of a campaign dominated by the pandemic and President Trump’s much-criticized response to it.

As of Friday evening, 15 states have added more cases in the past week than in any other seven-day stretch of the pandemic: Wisconsin, a battleground in the presidential election, Colorado, Kentucky, Illinois, Wyoming, Idaho, Utah, South Dakota, Montana, Arkansas, Alaska, Tennessee, Ohio, Indiana and North Dakota. And four states have added more deaths this week than in previous weeks: Wisconsin, Kentucky, South Dakota and Oklahoma.

North Dakota leads the nation in coronavirus cases per capita. Illinois is averaging more than 4,100 new cases per day, up 85 percent from the average two weeks ago. And Pennsylvania, another battleground state, on Friday reported a record of 2,258 cases.

The virus will be front of mind for voters in several key states: in Ohio, where more people are hospitalized than at any other time during the pandemic, and especially Wisconsin, home to seven of the country’s 10 metro areas with the highest numbers of recent cases. On Friday, the Wisconsin Supreme Court blocked Gov. Tony Evers’ emergency order restricting the size of indoor gatherings to 25 percent capacity on Friday.

Experts worry that the growing numbers in need of hospital care will only get worse if cases continue to mount, especially in rural areas where medical facilities could be quickly overwhelmed.

Credit…Hannah Mckay/Reuters

Citing a rise in hospitalizations across the state, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment announced a strengthening of coronavirus restrictions in certain counties, capping gatherings at 10 people from no more than two separate households. For the third straight day, Colorado announced a new single-day cases record on Friday.

Overnight, nearly 2,500 people were hospitalized in Illinois, the state’s top public health official, Dr. Ngozi Ezike, said in a news conference Friday afternoon. The mayor of Chicago, Lori E. Lightfoot, announced a curfew on nonessential businesses beginning at 10 p.m. on Friday.

In the latest presidential debate on Thursday night, President Trump asserted that the virus was “going away” as he defended his management of the pandemic. Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Democratic nominee, attacked Mr. Trump’s handling, calling for much more aggressive federal action for the “dark winter” ahead.

President Trump and many supporters blame restrictions on business activity, often

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Covid-19 Live Updates: Harrowing New Surge Rages Across America’s Heartland


New reported cases by day in the United States

March

April

May

June

July

Aug.

Sept.

Oct.

New cases

7-day average

Source: New York Times database of reports from state and local health agencies

See maps and charts showing Covid-19 cases around the country »

The latest coronavirus surge is raging across the American heartland, most acutely in the Midwest and Mountain West.

This harrowing third surge, which led to a U.S. single-day record of more than 85,000 new cases Friday, is happening less than two weeks from Election Day, which will mark the end of a campaign dominated by the pandemic and President Trump’s much-criticized response to it.

As of Friday evening, 15 states have added more cases in the past week than in any other seven-day stretch of the pandemic: Wisconsin, a battleground in the presidential election, Colorado, Kentucky, Illinois, Wyoming, Idaho, Utah, South Dakota, Montana, Arkansas, Alaska, Tennessee, Ohio, Indiana and North Dakota. And four states have added more deaths this week than in previous weeks: Wisconsin, Kentucky, South Dakota and Oklahoma.

North Dakota leads the nation in coronavirus cases per capita. Illinois is averaging more than 4,100 new cases per day, up 85 percent from the average two weeks ago. And Pennsylvania, another battleground state, on Friday reported a record of 2,258 cases.

The virus will be front of mind for voters in several key states: in Ohio, where more people are hospitalized than at any other time during the pandemic, and especially Wisconsin, home to seven of the country’s 10 metro areas with the highest numbers of recent cases. On Friday, the Wisconsin Supreme Court blocked Gov. Tony Evers’ emergency order restricting the size of indoor gatherings to 25 percent capacity on Friday.

Experts worry that the growing numbers in need of hospital care will only get worse if cases continue to mount, especially in rural areas where medical facilities could be quickly overwhelmed.

Credit…Hannah Mckay/Reuters

Citing a rise in hospitalizations across the state, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment announced a strengthening of coronavirus restrictions in certain counties, capping gatherings at 10 people from no more than two separate households. For the third straight day, Colorado announced a new single-day cases record on Friday.

Overnight, nearly 2,500 people were hospitalized in Illinois, the state’s top public health official, Dr. Ngozi Ezike, said in a news conference Friday afternoon. The mayor of Chicago, Lori E. Lightfoot, announced a curfew on nonessential businesses beginning at 10 p.m. on Friday.

In the latest presidential debate on Thursday night, President Trump asserted that the virus was “going away” as he defended his management of the pandemic. Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Democratic nominee, attacked Mr. Trump’s handling, calling for much more aggressive federal action for the “dark winter” ahead.

President Trump and many supporters blame restrictions on business activity, often

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European Cities Plead for More Flu Shots as Winter Looms, Pandemic Rages | Top News

By Alicja Ptak, Emilio Parodi and Francois Murphy

WARSAW/MILAN/VIENNA (Reuters) – A surge in demand for vaccines to ward off the winter flu has led to shortages in some European cities, raising the risk of a potentially lethal “twindemic” as COVID-19 cases spike.

Many governments boosted vaccine orders this year and launched campaigns to encourage citizens to get shots.

The aim was to inoculate earlier than usual and cover a bigger portion of the continent’s 450 million population to reduce the burden on health services.

Top manufacturers such as GlaxoSmithKline

, Sanofi

, Abbott

and Seqirus have boosted supplies to the region by an average of 30% in anticipation of higher demand. But they are operating at full capacity and cannot meet all the late extra demand, Vaccines Europe, which represents the producers, said in a statement on Wednesday.

Interviews with at least 10 city and government officials, as well as medical experts, also show systems in major cities such as Warsaw are struggling with the strong early demand, causing delays and temporary shortages.

“This year, patients come all the time and ask about vaccines, more than 10 people every day,” said Grazyna Lenkowska-Mielniczuk, manager at Apteka Non Stop pharmacy in Warsaw’s Wola district.

“The wholesalers tell us the same thing as we tell patients: that there are no vaccines and we have to wait.”

Europe’s flu season begins in October and infections typically pick up between mid-November and the start of December, according to data from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.

Seasonal flu viruses cause between 4 and 50 million infections each year and up to 70,000 Europeans die each year of causes linked to flu, particularly among older adults and at-risk groups.

Precautionary measures to curb COVID-19 transmission such as social distancing, mask wearing and hand washing may help curb infections this season.

There was “very limited” flu transmission in the southern hemisphere this year for that reason, Sylvie Briand, director of Global Infectious Hazard Preparedness at the World Health Organization said in a briefing last week.

Even so, surging coronavirus infections across the continent prompted EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides to warn last month of the risk of a “twindemic of COVID-19 and the flu”.

Medical experts are urging more people get inoculated to prevent a deeper crisis.

“There is a need to prevent a double wave of influenza plus COVID-19,” said Clemens Wendtner, chief physician of infectiology and tropical medicine at the Munich Schwabing Clinic, who recommends people younger than 60 get the jab this year.

Poland’s Ministry of Health said it bought 3 million doses this year and will buy more if needed – as of Tuesday it had received 1.6 million shots.

But Mylan’s Influvac Tetra and Sanofi’s Vaxigrip Tetra vaccines are available in only 1% of pharmacies in Poland, according to gdziepolek.pl, a Polish website that helps patients find the nearest pharmacy with a drug they are seeking.

GSK’s Fluarix Tetra is not available and AstraZeneca’s

Fluenz Tetra is available

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As fighting rages in Nagorno-Karabakh, coronavirus spreads

STEPANAKERT, Nagorno-Karabakh (AP) — People infected with the coronavirus pack into cold basements along with the healthy to hide from artillery fire in Nagorno-Karabakh, while doctors who have tested positive do surgery on those wounded in the shelling. These are the grim realities of the pandemic in a region beset by weeks of heavy fighting.

Nagorno-Karabakh, which lies within Azerbaijan but has been under the control of ethnic Armenian forces backed by Armenia for more than a quarter-century, is facing the largest escalation of hostilities since a war there ended in 1994. In just over three weeks, hundreds of people have been killed. Two attempts at cease-fires have failed to stop the conflict.

The fighting has diverted the region’s scarce resources from containing the outbreak, which spread unchecked during the first two weeks of fighting that began on Sept. 27.

Contact-tracing ground to a halt, and intense artillery and rocket strikes forced people into overcrowded bunkers, where it was impossible to separate the sick from the healthy. Health workers have been hit particularly hard.


“Almost everyone got infected, some had it in a light form and others in a more serious one,” Malvina Badalyan, chief doctor at the infectious disease clinic in the regional capital of Stepanakert, said of health workers in the region.

But in the middle of a war, with wounded people flooding into hospitals, there’s nothing to do but keep working.

“Many doctors and nurses knew that they were infected, but they kept mum about it,” said Ararat Ohanjanyan, the health minister for Nagorno-Karabakh’s regional government. “They may lie down in a corner to bring the fever down and then get up and continue to perform surgeries.”

“No one has the right now to step aside,” he added.

When the the latest escalation of fighting started, medical workers had no time or resources to deal with the outbreak, Ohanjanyan said.

“We didn’t have time to track down those infected while Stepanakert came under heavy shelling, and it allowed contagion to spread,” he said.

Ohanjanayan himself tested positive for the virus just over a week ago — and he, too, has continued working despite running a fever and fighting pneumonia.

In the past week, the shelling of Stepanakert has become less intense, and ambulance crews have finally been able to visit shelters and basements to track down the sick, Ohanjanyan said, adding that regular testing and isolation of the infected has resumed.

Patients in the most serious condition have been sent to Armenia, while others have been admitted to hospitals or received treatment at their homes in the region.

But Ohanjanyan said authorities still don’t have a good handle on how many people are infected.

Armenia, which supports the separatist region via a land corridor, has also seen a sharp increase in cases over the past weeks. The seven-day rolling average of daily new infections has nearly tripled since early October to 44 per 100,000 people on Oct. 20.

As Nagorno-Karabakh’s medical system faced a massive challenge, regular

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Trump calls Fauci an ‘idiot,’ says rallies are ‘BOFFO’ while coronavirus rages on

As hospitals fill up with COVID-19 patients in Wisconsin and Chicagoans face a second surge of coronavirus cases that could lead to new shutdowns, President Donald Trump is calling medical professionals “idiots.”

As most states across the country face rising coronavirus numbers and hospitalizations, the president effectively says he’s “tired” of it all.

Of course he didn’t use the first person. He always puts his own gripes in the mouths of others, pulling a page from the narcissist’s playbook, as he can’t imagine anyone thinking differently than he does.

In a call with his campaign staff Monday, Trump said: “People are tired of COVID. I have these huge rallies. People are saying whatever. Just leave us alone. They’re tired of it. People are tired of hearing Fauci and all these idiots.”

Ah, “people.” Those “people” who just say “whatever” about a deadly virus that has claimed more than 220,000 American lives and left millions with, at best, a preexisting condition and at worse lingering health issues.

Those “people” who say “leave us alone” without acknowledging their own health affects everyone they’re around, young and old, weak and strong, friend and stranger.

Those people are certainly out there. They’re the ones showing up maskless at Trump rallies and acting like COVID-19 is much ado about nothing while sneering at “people” like me and saying, “Get out of your mama’s basement, coward.” (Fun fact: Thanks to the virus, I, like millions of Americans, haven’t been able to see my mama all year, much less hang out in her basement. And when it comes to a pandemic, I am very much a coward. And proud of it.)

But hey, Trump and the people he’s using to channel his own childish, “I DON’T WANNA DEAL WITH THIS MEAN PANDEMIC ANYMORE!” attitude are tired of it all.

Well, let me find someone to play a sad trombone sound for them, one that can be heard from coast to coast. Because guess what? I’m tired of it too.

I don’t think there are any Americans who aren’t tired of COVID-19 and the pandemic that has thrown our lives wildly out of whack.

But rather than whining about it, denying science and wasting time deriding those who share best practices to slow the spread, many in this country are wearing masks, avoiding crowded gatherings and bending over backward to keep ourselves, our families and our communities safe.

But it’s not enough. There are too many adopting the president’s “I’m SO over this” attitude.

Don’t take my word for it. Listen to people like Melissa Resch, a registered nurse who works in a coronavirus medical unit in Wisconsin. She told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel this week that she’s seeing patients ranging in ages from their 20s to their 90s.

“This doesn’t discriminate against age,” Resch told the newspaper.

She asked people to stay home, social distance and wear masks so she can avoid having to help families FaceTime with a loved one “as they take their

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