Cases of Covid-19 in children on rise in the US, with highest 1-week spike yet

Soaring case counts around the country are impacting children at “unprecedented levels,” according to new numbers released Monday by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association, which are tracking data reported by state health departments.



a police car parked in a parking lot: An attendant talks to a person waiting in their car at a coronavirus testing site October 31 in El Paso, Texas.


© Cengiz Yar/Getty Images
An attendant talks to a person waiting in their car at a coronavirus testing site October 31 in El Paso, Texas.

There were 61,000 new cases in children during the last week of October, “which is larger than any previous week in the pandemic,” the AAP said in a statement. From the onset of the pandemic through October 29, more than 853,000 children have tested positive for Covid-19, the AAP said, including nearly 200,000 new cases during the month of October.

“This is a stark reminder of the impact this pandemic is having on everyone — including our children and adolescents,” said AAP President Dr. Sally Goza in the statement.

“This virus is highly contagious, and as we see spikes in many communities, children are more likely to be infected, too,” Goza said.

Yet these numbers are likely an undercount, the AAP said. Because symptoms in children are often mild and can look like common colds or viruses, many children go untested.

Symptoms in children

Typical symptoms of Covid-19 in both children and adults include a fever of 100 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, a dry cough, difficulty breathing, headaches, digestive issues, body aches and fatigue, runny nose, sore throat and sneezing.

Unusual symptoms can include “Covid toes” — a reddish tinge to toes and other extremities, a sudden loss of taste and smell and conjunctivitis, a highly contagious condition also known as pink eye.

However, early research has suggested children may not get fever, cough or shortness of breath as often as adults. Fever and cough was found in 56% and 54% of children in one study, compared to 71% and 80% of adults, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Shortness of breath was found in only 13% of pediatric patients, compared to 43% of adults. Sore throat, headache, muscle pain, fatigue and diarrhea were also less commonly reported in children.

While cases of severe illness due to Covid-19 appears to be rare among children, severe illness has been reported, most often in infants less than a year.

When children did need to be hospitalized, the CDC found, one in three needed to be treated in the intensive care unit — the same rate as for adults.

Long-term effects not known

Adolescents between the ages of 12 and 17, according to an early October report by the CDC, were about twice as likely to test positive for Covid-19 than kids between 5 and 11 years old.

More severe cases of Covid-19 were most likely to be found in children with underlying health conditions, the CDC said, with chronic lung disease, including asthma, the most commonly reported condition (55%). While in smaller percentages, children with disability (9%), immune disorders (7%), diabetes (6%), psychological conditions

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Officials Warn of Cyberattacks on Hospitals as Virus Cases Spike

Hundreds of American hospitals are being targeted in cyberattacks by the same Russian hackers who American officials and researchers fear could sow mayhem around next week’s election.

The attacks on American hospitals, clinics and medical complexes are intended to take those facilities offline and hold their data hostage in exchange for multimillion-dollar ransom payments, just as coronavirus cases spike across the United States.

“We expect panic,” one hacker involved in the attacks said in Russian during a private exchange on Monday that was captured by Hold Security, a security company that tracks online criminals.

Some hospitals in New York State and on the West Coast reported cyberattacks in recent days, though it was not clear whether they were part of the attacks, and hospital officials emphasized that critical patient care was not affected.

The Russian hackers, believed to be based in Moscow and St. Petersburg, have been trading a list of more than 400 hospitals they plan to target, according to Alex Holden, the founder of Hold Security, who shared the information with the F.B.I. Mr. Holden said the hackers claimed to have already infected more than 30 of them.

On Wednesday, three government agencies — the F.B.I., the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency — warned hospital administrators and security researchers about a “credible threat” of cyberattacks to American hospitals, according to a security executive who listened to the briefing.

Officials and researchers did not name the affected hospitals, but Sonoma Valley Hospital in California said it was still trying to restore its computer systems after an intrusion last week. St. Lawrence Health System in New York confirmed that two of its hospitals, Canton-Potsdam and Gouverneur, were hit by ransomware attacks Tuesday morning that caused them to shut down computer systems and divert ambulances. Sky Lakes Medical Center in Oregon was also crippled by a ransomware attack Tuesday that froze electronic medical records and delayed surgeries, a hospital representative said.

Employees at that hospital, in Klamath Falls, Ore., were told, “If it’s a P.C., shut it down,” said Thomas Hottman, the public information officer at Sky Lakes.

It was unclear whether those attacks were related to the hacking campaign underway. But the latest breaches were linked to the same Russian hackers who held Universal Health Services, a giant network of more than 400 hospitals, hostage with ransomware last month in what was then considered the largest medical cyberattack of its kind.

The hackers are also the same group behind TrickBot, a vast conduit for ransomware attacks that government hackers and technology executives have targeted in two takedowns over the past month.

In late September, United States Cyber Command started hacking into TrickBot’s infrastructure in an effort to disable it before the election. Microsoft also started taking down TrickBot servers via federal court orders over the past month. The goal of both efforts, officials and executives said, was to pre-empt ransomware attacks on the election that could disrupt voting

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EU must step up response to COVID-19, Commission warns as infections spike

By Francesco Guarascio



a flag flying in front of a building: FILE PHOTO: European Union flags flutter outside the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium


© Reuters/YVES HERMAN
FILE PHOTO: European Union flags flutter outside the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Commission proposed on Wednesday a series of new measures to fight the COVID-19 pandemic in the European Union, saying the new spike in infections on the continent was “alarming”.

As Europe again becomes the world’s epicentre of the pandemic, the EU executive urged the 27 EU governments to do more and in a more coordinated fashion against the virus.

“The relaxation of applied measures during the summer months was not always accompanied by steps to build up sufficient response capacity,” the Commission warned in a statement as part of its formal proposal to EU governments for action.

To better trace the spread of infections, Brussels said EU governments should coordinate their testing strategies and make a larger use of rapid antigen tests, despite the global supply for these kits is now tightening.

It warned the “current shortfalls in testing capacity” required swift action.

Last week, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the EU executive would direct 100 million euros ($118 million) to buy up to 22 million antigen tests to meet EU countries’ “immediate needs”. It is now urging states to buy more through a joint procurement scheme.

It also said states should have common testing requirements for incoming travellers, including tests at arrival if tests were not available in the country of departure. It called for coordinated rules on quarantines.

AVOIDING SHORTAGES

To avoid risks of new shortages of medical equipment, which dogged the bloc at the beginning of the pandemic in spring, the Commission said it had launched a joint procurement for gear needed to inoculate people, such as syringes and disinfectants.

It also extended to April a temporary suspension of customs duties and sales tax on import of medical equipment.

EU countries could also exempt COVID-19 testing kits and vaccines from sales tax, the Commission said.

The Commission also repeated its call on EU governments to quickly devise vaccination strategies so that the most vulnerable people could quickly access COVID-19 vaccines if and when effective shots will be available.

(Reporting by Francesco Guarascio @fraguarascio, editing by Robin Emmott)

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Trump continues to falsely claim that spike in coronavirus cases is due to heightened testing



Donald Trump in a suit standing in front of a crowd: LONDONDERRY, NH - OCTOBER 25: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally on October 25, 2020 in Londonderry, New Hampshire. President Trump continues to campaign ahead of the November 3rd presidential election. (Photo by Scott Eisen/Getty Images)


© Scott Eisen/Getty Images
LONDONDERRY, NH – OCTOBER 25: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally on October 25, 2020 in Londonderry, New Hampshire. President Trump continues to campaign ahead of the November 3rd presidential election. (Photo by Scott Eisen/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump has claimed over and over in the past week — at campaign rallies, on Twitter and in an interview with “60 Minutes” — that the US is only seeing so many coronavirus cases because the country is doing so much testing.

“Cases up because we TEST, TEST, TEST. A Fake News Media Conspiracy,” he wrote on Twitter on Monday morning.

Trump made similar claims during the summer spike in cases. They were flat wrong then, as we explained in a July fact check, and they are flat wrong now.

Facts First: The spike in US coronavirus cases is not being caused by an increase in testing. The number of confirmed new cases is increasing at a faster rate than the number of new tests. And the number of hospitalizations and deaths is also rising, which shows that, contrary to Trump’s repeated claims, the increase in the case numbers isn’t merely being caused by tests capturing mild cases. Taken together, the numbers tell a consistent story: the situation in the US is genuinely getting worse.

“To say that cases aren’t actually increasing is to deny reality,” Dr. Tom Frieden, who served as director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention under President Barack Obama, said in a Sunday email.

“Not only are cases and infections increasing, but hospitalizations — which follow case increases by several weeks — and deaths — which follow hospitalization increases by a week or two — are also increasing. What’s more, the proportion of tests that are positive has increased, and this correlates with increased actual spread of infection.” Frieden added: “The most reliable information is positivity, and this increased in all regions of the country.”

The national positivity rate as of Saturday was 6.1%, per Johns Hopkins University data, up from 4.6% a month prior.

If the increase in reported cases “were due to a very high level of testing, we would expect to see the percentage of tests that are positive be very low, certainly less than 3%. However that is not what we are seeing,” said Aubree Gordon, associate professor of epidemiology at the University of Michigan.

Worsening numbers

On Friday, the US set a new record for reported daily coronavirus cases: 83,757, according to Johns Hopkins data. Through Saturday, the seven-day average for daily new cases was 66,970 — the highest since late July.

The increase in daily cases is far outpacing the increase in daily testing. The COVID Tracking Project, an initiative that assembles and analyzes coronavirus data, tweeted on Saturday that “tests rose 3.8% from a week ago, while cases are up 20.6%.”

Trump has repeatedly suggested that the increase in confirmed cases is happening simply because tests are capturing cases

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Michigan Officials After Coronavirus Spike: ‘Take This Seriously’

MICHIGAN — Michigan reported 3,338 new cases of the coronavirus Saturday, its largest single-day increase in cases ever.

The spike is the latest addition in what has been a trend in growing cases, one that has state officials urging residents to wear masks, avoid large gatherings and to “take this seriously.”

“The data shows we are continuing to see alarming increases in the incidence of COVID-19 infections in Michigan,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health. “It is now more important than ever that people take this seriously. Wear a mask every time you are going to be around someone outside of your own household. Avoid large gatherings and maintain a safe distance from others. If rates continue like this, we risk overwhelming our hospitals and having many more Michiganders die.”

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As of Saturday, more than 158,000 people in the state have tested positive for the coronavirus, while over 7,100 COVID-19 deaths have been reported as well.

More than 96 percent of the test results reported Saturday originated from specimens that were collected from individuals in the past five days, the state said in a statement.

Last week, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer held a news conference to tell residents that they should wear masks and take precautions as cases continue to increase around the state.

Preventing the spread of the virus is made easier by wearing a mask and social distancing, Whitmer said. Those guidelines were once requirements included in executive orders issued by the Whitmer administration, but those orders were voided when the Michigan Supreme Court ruled on party lines that the law Whitmer cited in making the orders was unconstitutional.

Read More: Whitmer Asks Michiganders To Wear Masks As Coronavirus Cases Rise

Since that time, Whitmer said, the state has seen an increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.

“We are now at our peak when it comes to daily new cases. This peak is higher than what we saw in April,” she said.

Information provided by the governor’s staff shows that the number of new cases has been joined by an increase in new hospitalizations, something she warned could lead to issues overwhelming the state’s healthcare system.

“Our numbers are climbing,” Whitmer said. “We need to take this seriously.”

This article originally appeared on the Detroit Patch

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Fear and anxiety spike in virus hot spots across US

Preslie Paur breaks down in tears when she thinks of her state’s refusal to mandate face masks.

The South Salt Lake City, Utah, woman can’t work at her special education job due to an autoimmune disease. Her husband, also a special ed teacher, recently quit because his school district would not allow him to work remotely to protect her and their 5-year-old son, who has asthma.

“I feel forgotten,” Paur said. “We’re living in a world we no longer fit in. We did everything right. We went to college, we got jobs, we tried to give back to our community, and now our community is not giving back to us. And I’m very scared.”


As President Donald Trump barnstorms the swing states, often downplaying the coronavirus pandemic before largely unmasked crowds, the nation continues to lurch toward what his opponent Joe Biden, citing health experts, warned will be a “dark winter” of disease and death.

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows told CNN on Sunday that “we’re not going to control the pandemic.” Asked why, he said it’s “because it is a contagious virus just like the flu.”

Vice President Mike Pence will continue campaigning despite his chief of staff testing positive for COVID-19. His office said Pence and his wife both tested negative for the virus Sunday.

About half of U.S. states have seen their highest daily infection numbers so far at some point in October, and the country as a whole came very close to back-to-back record daily infection rates on Friday and Saturday.

Data from Johns Hopkins University shows that 83,718 new cases were reported Saturday, just shy of the 83,757 infections reported Friday. Before that, the most cases reported in the United States on a single day had been 77,362, on July 16.

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, which federal health officials have used as a source for their pandemic projections, currently forecasts that the U.S. COVID-19 death toll could exceed 318,000 by Jan. 1.

As of Sunday, there were nearly 8.6 million confirmed infections in the U.S., with 224,906 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.

At least seven states — Alaska, Colorado, Illinois, Michigan, New Mexico, Ohio and Oklahoma — saw record high infection levels Saturday. And some Northeastern states hit hard in the spring are seeing numbers bounce back; New Jersey’s toll of 1,909 new infections Saturday was the most it had seen in a day since early May.

The virus also is surging in the Mountain West, especially Idaho and Utah.

In Twin Falls, Idaho, new data suggest that 1 in 24 residents has contracted the coronavirus, said Dr. Joshua Kern, vice president of medical affairs at St. Luke’s Magic Valley Medical Center. Amid a crush of new cases, the hospital brought in nurses from Boise, scaled back elective surgery and, as of Friday, stopped admitting pediatric patients.

“It’s gotten kind of out of hand,” Kern told The Associated Press. “We’ve had

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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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As COVID-19 cases spike, pneumonia vaccine demand rockets and Europe runs low

By Emilio Parodi, Ludwig Burger and Michael Erman

MILAN/FRANKFURT/NEW YORK (Reuters) – As COVID-19 infections rise, people seeking to avoid one lung disease compounding another are queuing up to get inoculated against bacterial pneumonia, causing shortages of a Merck & Co <MRK.N> vaccine in parts of Europe.

Demand for Merck’s Pneumovax 23, which is used to prevent pneumococcal lung infections, has hit record highs across the world, the company said.

More than 40 companies and researchers are testing vaccines against the novel coronavirus, but none have been approved in the West.

In the meantime, doctors are giving the pneumonia shot to more people than ever as a preventative measure.

Pneumococcal prevention, the largest segment of the vaccine market by value, rang up about $7 billion in sales in 2019, contested by Pfizer <PFE.N>, Merck and GlaxoSmithKline <GSK.L>.

Pfizer’s Prevenar 13, known as Prevnar 13 in North America, is the global market leader, and brought in about $5.8 billion in sales in 2019. It works for both infants and the elderly but it covers fewer bacterial strands than the Merck product.

GSK’s Synflorix is designed for children.

Usage differs by country, but Pneumovax 23, which lasts about five years, is primarily given to the elderly.

“During the rapidly evolving COVID-19 situation, there has been increased emphasis on adult vaccination, and we have seen an unprecedented surge in demand for Pneumovax 23 around the world,” a Merck spokesman told Reuters in an email.

Pneumovax 23’s international sales more than doubled to $96 million in the second quarter, though U.S. sales fell substantially, according to the quarterly report.

The U.S. drugmaker is working to make as much as possible, but demand is outpacing supplies in some markets, the spokesman added.

And supplies in Germany, Italy, Belgium, Ireland and Austria are running low, according to drug agencies monitoring supplies for those countries.

The news is likely to stoke worries about the availability of medicines as people seek ways to boost their immunity during the cold winter months.

Stocks of seasonal flu vaccine are also low in some European cities amid worries about the risk of a potentially lethal “twindemic”.

Delfino Legnani, professor at Milan University, said he has been recommending the Pneumovax 23 shot to his older patients for years, but some have only been willing to get it for the first time this winter.

“It is practically impossible to find. Now everyone wants it, so there aren’t enough doses,” he said.

Italy’s drug agency listed the drug as being in short supply and has authorised pharmacies to buy supplies from abroad approved under a special marketing authorisation scheme.

There are no signs of supply issues in the United States.

RATIONING

Other countries are feeling the pinch too.

Ireland’s Health Products Regulatory Authority said on its website an unexpected increase in demand had caused a shortage since March and that multiple countries were affected.

Its Belgian equivalent also said that the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a global increase in demand for

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Michigan at ‘dangerous moment’ as virus cases spike

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer warned Wednesday that Michigan on average has more confirmed daily cases of the coronavirus than ever, noting a sharp increase since the state Supreme Court invalidated her sweeping orders earlier this month.

The number of COVID-19 cases had been gradually rising for months prior to the Oct. 2 ruling, from a seven-day average of 119 in June to 984 — as the Democratic governor loosened economic restrictions and allowed schools to reopen. Since the court decision, the seven-day average is up to 1,818 — nearly double — though surrounding states without legal rulings have also seen similarly big spikes over the same time period.

Virus-related hospitalizations, roughly 1,000, are double what they were a month ago but about a quarter of the April peak. The daily death rate has nearly doubled to 20, while remaining well below the high point. The seven-day average of tests coming back positive, 4.64%, was last that high five months ago.

Whitmer, whose administration quickly reinstituted virus measures under a different law amid confusion over the ruling, pleaded with people to wear a mask and maintain distance from others.

“These numbers are moving in the wrong direction,” she said, not indicating whether another lockdown may be necessary. “We are in a dangerous moment where there’s the possibility of it just becoming community spread that becomes out of control. We’re seeing that in a lot of our neighboring states. That’s what we’re trying to avoid.”

For the first time at one of her COVID-19 news conferences, Whitmer kept her mask on while speaking. Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, Michigan’s chief medical executive, urged people who dine with non-household members to keep their face covering on except to put food in their mouth.


Also Wednesday, a chiropractor in western Michigan challenged the state’s face covering rule, saying Whitmer’s health department has no authority to make it mandatory. It is one of the first lawsuits since the Whitmer administration issued new orders following the defeat at the high court.

The suit, filed in the Court of Claims, claims the health agency can regulate gatherings under state law but cannot order masks, which are widely promoted as a way to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Semlow Peak Performance Chiropractic in Grand Haven. The Ottawa County health department told the clinic that it must follow the state order.

“We live in a representative republic and are not ruled by one person,” owner Kirk Semlow said. “My business is not a health threat to anyone, and we take appropriate precautions in providing our services to patients.”

Patients are told that masks are optional, though most wear them, attorney David Kallman said.

“It’s the principle of it,” Kallman said. “They just can’t take a statute, which gives a narrow scope of authority, and apply it in 15 other different ways. Go to the Legislature and get a law passed that says people need to wear masks.”

Spokeswoman Lynn Sutfin

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Idaho’s coronavirus cases spike again, doctors urge action

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Idaho is seeing its largest coronavirus spike since the pandemic began, with new cases increasing by 46.5% percent over the past two weeks. That trend has some health care experts urging Gov. Brad Little to take additional action to slow the spread.

“As a health system, we’re all very concerned,” said Dr. Bart Hill, the vice president and chief quality officer of St. Luke’s Health System, the largest health system in the state. “It’s indicative of anticipating we’re going to see more hospitalizations affecting an older population in the next two, three, four weeks.”

Idaho is currently sixth in the nation for new cases per capita, with a positivity rate of just over 15% — one of the highest in the nation. Still, Little has declined to take additional statewide steps like requiring masks to slow the virus.

“Idaho is an expansive state, and communities and their needs vary greatly across the state,” Little’s spokeswoman, Marissa Morrison, wrote in an email to The Associated Press on Tuesday. “Governor Little remains committed to working closely with public health districts and mayors, and he supports the decisions of local officials in slowing the spread of COVID-19 in communities experiencing high virus activity.”

Little has repeatedly said that the responsibility to slow the coronavirus falls on individuals, urging people to wear masks, practice social distancing and practice good hygiene.


“Our personal actions work better to slow the spread of coronavirus than anything else,” Little said Thursday when he announced Idaho would remain in Stage 4 of his reopening plan for the 18th week in a row. “This is about personal responsibility, something Idaho is all about.”

A significant portion of Idaho residents, however, don’t seem to be taking Little’s message to heart. Photos of a volleyball game in the southern Idaho town of Twin Falls area posted to social media on Monday showed mask-less people sitting hip-to-hip in a packed school gym. St. Luke’s hospitals in the region, meanwhile, are now postponing elective surgeries to ensure there is room for an expected influx of COVID-19 patients in the coming days.

Hill said health care providers knew that the pandemic would ebb and flow over time, and the temporary statewide shutdown that Little ordered back in March gave medical facilities time to prepare for spikes like the one Idaho is currently experiencing. St. Luke’s Health System still has adequate capacity for now, he said.

“I know (St. Luke’s) leadership is having conversations with the governor today and tomorrow expressing our concerns that doing the same of what we have been doing is not likely to change our trajectory,” he said. “The direction we’re heading is one that it looks real problematic.”

Hill said he’s not advocating steps that would hurt the economy, but rather targeted interventions like information campaigns aimed at teens and young adults who are more likely to spread the virus to older and more at-risk Idahoans. Hill also said the state needs to improve testing capacity so

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