U.S. on brink of rampant coronavirus spread, Europe hospitals strained

By Maria Caspani and Bart H. Meijer

NEW YORK/AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – Nearly two-thirds of U.S. states were in a danger zone of coronavirus spread and six, including election battleground Wisconsin, reported a record one-day increase in COVID-19 deaths on Wednesday while the pandemic’s resurgence in Europe strained hospitals.

Coronavirus deaths hit fresh daily records in Hawaii, Kansas, Iowa, Minnesota, Montana and Wisconsin, a state that also reported a record daily increase in new cases together with Colorado, Illinois, Kentucky and Ohio, according to a Reuters analysis.

Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers announced that a field hospital in the Milwaukee suburbs admitted its first COVID-19 patient since it opened last week.

“Folks, please stay home,” Evers said. “Help us protect our communities from this highly contagious virus and avoid further strain on our hospitals.”

European case numbers, which were brought largely under control by the unprecedented lockdowns in March and April are also surging, and authorities in countries from Poland to Portugal expressed mounting alarm at the renewed crisis confronting their health infrastructure.

Belgium, struggling with what its health minister called a “tsunami” of infections, is postponing all non-essential hospital procedures, and similar measures are looming in other countries.

“If the rhythm of the past week continues, rescheduling and suspending some non-priority activities will become unavoidable,” said Julio Pascual, medical director at Barcelona’s Hospital del Mar.

A Belgian official said another lockdown could be imposed as soon as next week in the country, which has one of the world’s highest fatality rates per capita.

In the United States, President Donald Trump has repeatedly opposed re-imposing restrictions, saying economic recovery depended on people being able to return to normal life.

The coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 221,000 people in the United States and thrown millions out of work, has taken a toll on Trump’s re-election prospects. Negotiations on a new package of coronavirus economic aid have dragged on and a deal appeared unlikely before the Nov. 3 election.

Thirty-two of 50 states have entered a danger zone with more than 100 new cases per 100,000 residents over the past week, and nationally the case rate has reached its highest level since a peak in July, Reuters found.

A block of states in the Midwest and Mountain regions from Idaho to Illinois were a red zone along with Alaska, denoting rapidly rising infection.

Nationally, cases have been trending higher for five weeks, rising to 60,000 on average over the past seven days from a recent low of 35,000 a day in mid-September.

U.S. public health experts have warned for months that a premature rollback of social-distancing policies and politicizing the wearing of masks could trigger a resurgence of infections.

‘EXPLOSIVE GROWTH’ SEEN

“We are not far from the period of exponential, explosive growth of #covid19 in the U.S.,” said Dr. Leana Wen, former Baltimore health commissioner, on Twitter.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday tightened its definition of “close contact” exposure that puts an individual at risk,

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Rampant Napoli give Atalanta dose of their own medicine

NAPLES, Italy (Reuters) – Napoli blasted four goals in a devastating 20-minute first half spell as they thumped Atalanta 4-1 in Serie A on Saturday, handing the visitors a taste of their own medicine.



Serie A - Napoli v Atalanta


© Reuters/ALBERTO LINGRIA
Serie A – Napoli v Atalanta

Free-scoring Atalanta, last season’s top-scorers with 98 goals, had netted 13 goals in winning their first three games but had no answer to Napoli’s attacks in an extraordinary first half.

Mexican forward Hirving Lozano, out of favour with coach Gennaro Gattuso last season, set Napoli on their way with two goals in four minutes.

The player known as “Chucky” tapped in from Giovanni Di Lorenzo’s cross in the 23rd minute and curled in the second after Dries Mertens pounced on a mix-up in the Atalanta midfield.

Matteo Politano fired the third on the half hour and Nigeria forward Victor Osimhen took advantage of more poor defending to score the fourth before the interval.

Napoli goalkeeper David Ospina’s kick upfield was misjudged by Cristian Romero and Osimhen, signed from Lille in the summer, chested the ball down and scored with a shot on the turn to net his first goal for his new club.

Romero partially made amends by setting up Atalanta’s consolation for substitute Sam Lammers in the 69th minute. The Argentine won possession, charged upfield and released Lammers who clipped his shot past Ospina.

Atalanta remained on nine points from four games, one ahead of Napoli.

Napoli have won all three of their games on the pitch, scoring 12 goals and conceding one.

However, Serie A’s disciplinary committee handed them a 3-0 defeat for failing to play a match against Juventus amid confusion over the COVID-19 rules and they also had a point deducted.

(Reporting by Brian Homewood, editing by Ed Osmond)

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