Physician predicts 'unprecedented surge' in US Covid-19 cases after Thanksgiving

CNN's Nick Watt reports the US set a record of 150,000 new coronavirus cases in a twenty four-hour period across the country Thursday. The country is seeing an upward trend in daily coronavirus cases for the tenth straight day.

Posted: Nov 15, 2020 3:21 PM
Updated: Nov 15, 2020 3:21 PM

Coronavirus cases in the US will spike after Thanksgiving, further stressing health care systems and prompting new restrictions, an emergency physician said Saturday, as states continued to report soaring numbers of new cases, hospitalizations and deaths.

Dr. James Phillips, chief of disaster medicine at George Washington University Hospital, told CNN's Erica Hill he is "terrified" about what's going to happen this holiday season.

"We're going to see an unprecedented surge of cases following Thanksgiving this year, and if people don't learn from Thanksgiving, we're going to see it after Christmas as well," Phillips said.

Already, grim indicators offer a glimpse of what's to come. A little more than a week after the US first topped 100,000 daily infections, it reported a record of more than 184,000 new cases Friday. Hospitalizations also hit a new high -- for the fourth consecutive day -- with more than 68,500 Covid-19 patients nationwide, according to the COVID Tracking Project. And the country's daily death toll has topped 1,300 at least three times this week.

"Things are going to get much, much worse," said Dr. Leana Wen, a CNN medical analyst and former Baltimore Health Commissioner. She expressed concern over the impact on the already-strained health care system when the new cases added in recent days are reflected in hospitalizations.

"We have this firestorm of coronavirus all across the country," Wen said. "It's not one or two hotspots, the entire country is a hotspot of coronavirus infection."

Leaders implement new restrictions

On Saturday evening, Johns Hopkins University data showed the US has had at least 10,888,372 cases and at least 245,574 deaths. By 4 p.m. ET, the country had already recorded 116,716 cases, marking the 12th consecutive day the US reported more than 100,000 cases.

Meantime, governors across the country have announced new prevention measures in hopes of gaining better control of the pandemic before winter arrives.

In New Mexico, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced Friday a temporary "statewide order closing in-person services for all nonessential activities," beginning Monday through November 30. Residents are instructed to stay home except for essential trips, like emergency medical care or getting food.

On Friday, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown announced a statewide "two-week freeze" that will take effect Wednesday. New measures include limiting gatherings to six people from two households; allowing only takeout and delivery for restaurants and bars; closing gyms; and requiring businesses to mandate work from home as much as possible. The measures will likely last "much longer" than two weeks for "hot spot" counties, Brown said.

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced the creation of a winter Covid-19 task force. And New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Friday there will be an emergency meeting this weekend with the leaders of six northeastern states.

The Navajo Nation will also implement stricter measures for three weeks beginning Monday, including a stay-at-home advisory that also restricts travel off the Navajo Nation. Orders also require the closure of government offices -- except for essential employees and services -- and require schools to institute virtual learning.

"We are inching closer and closer to a major public health crisis in which we could potentially see our hospitals filling up with patients," Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez said in a statement. "Our health care system on the Navajo Nation cannot sustain a long-term surge in COVID-19 cases."

Americans should prepare for restrictions similar to the stay-at-home orders seen in the spring, Phillips said. He cited restrictions that have recently been implemented in Chicago, Oregon and New Mexico as "the first dominoes to fall."

States report soaring rates

On Saturday, California reported 9,875 new cases, according to the California Department of Health.

On Friday, health officials warned the state was seeing the fastest rate of increase in the number of daily coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic, with a 47.1% increase in new cases in a one-week period since the beginning of the month.

"When cases are increasing at this pace, it is really important for us to act quickly," said Dr. Erica Pan, California's acting public health officer.

Maryland confirmed an additional 2,321 coronavirus cases across the state, "by far the largest daily increase we've ever seen," Gov. Larry Hogan said in a tweet Saturday.

Minnesota reported a record 8,703 new cases on Saturday, according to the state Department of Health. This marks the most cases ever reported by state officials in a single day.

Arizona had 3,476 new cases on Saturday, the third day with more than 3,000 this week alone, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS). This breaks the record set on July 31, when the state had 3,212.

New Jersey reported nearly 4,400 cases on Saturday, a figure Gov. Phil Murphy called "alarming and concerning, to say the least."

"Wear a mask. Social Distance. Stay Safe," he said in a tweet.

A 'grim day' for the US

How people act over the coming weeks will have a "profound impact," former Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy said Friday.

"This is a grim day for the country, because we're seeing cases skyrocketing, we're seeing hospitals fill up and we're also seeing the death toll march up," Murthy, co-chair of President-elect Joe Biden's Transition Covid-19 Advisory Board, said.

"We're at a point now, even pre-Thanksgiving, where we are surging beyond any level that we have seen over the last eight months," he added.

As the holiday season starts, it's important to wear masks, keep a safe distance, and wash hands regularly, Murthy said.

"If you're thinking about going home for Thanksgiving, ask yourself if you can observe these kinds of precautionary practices, because if you can't, then you may be putting yourself and others at risk," he said.

Health officials urge Americans to use masks during Thanksgiving celebrations but fear the holiday, and the friend and family gatherings that are likely planned, will fuel the Covid-19 surge. Experts say people who plan to visit family should quarantine ahead of the holiday.

Less than 9% of North Dakota staffed hospital beds are available

The rampant spread has put a massive strain on the country's health care system that's now hosting the highest number of Covid-19 patients ever.

Data from North Dakota's health department shows only about 8.5% of staffed hospital beds remain available, with at least 421 people currently hospitalized who tested positive for the virus. About 50 patients are in the ICU.

On Friday, Gov. Doug Burgum announced new Covid-19 prevention measures, including a face covering mandate for indoor businesses and public settings and outdoor settings where social distancing isn't possible.

"Since the beginning, we've taken a data-driven approach to our pandemic response, focusing on saving lives and livelihoods," the governor said. "Right now, the data demands a higher level of mitigation efforts to reverse these dangerous trends, to slow the spread of this virus and to avoid the need for economic shutdowns."

As of Saturday, the state's daily positivity rate was 19.51% -- far above the 5% mark the World Health Organization recommends governments see for 14 days before reopening.

In Oklahoma, health officials reported a 7% ICU bed capacity Friday, up from 5% a day earlier -- with now 64 ICU beds available.

In Massachusetts, where reported infections have increased "by seven times" since Labor Day and hospitalizations have increased "by two times," the governor announced a field hospital with 240 beds will be reestablished at the DCU Center -- an indoor arena and convention center complex in downtown Worcester.

Vaccines will be distributed by population, official says

When a Covid-19 vaccine is approved, it will be distributed across US states and territories based on population, a top Operation Warp Speed official said Friday. Drugmaker Pfizer, which this week announced early data shows its vaccine is more than 90% effective, is expected to apply for emergency use authorization from the US Food and Drug Administration by the end of this month.

"We expect to have tens of millions of doses immediately following EUA and we will distribute them as soon as the FDA applies the EUA," Gen. Gustave Perna, who is helping oversee Operation Warp Speed, said. "We will do that within 24 hours of the EUA."

Pfizer has said it will distribute its vaccine outside the federal framework. State health officials have said they have not heard many details from the federal government about how the vaccine distribution will be organized, and they have not received the funding they need to get infrastructure in place.

Meanwhile, retail drug chain Walgreens says it's "rapidly expanding" its ultra-cold storage capabilities to accommodate a potential Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 319704

Reported Deaths: 7369
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto22276267
Hinds20677421
Harrison18407317
Rankin13880282
Jackson13689248
Madison10249224
Lee10056176
Jones8464167
Forrest7827153
Lauderdale7260242
Lowndes6509150
Lamar634888
Lafayette6310121
Washington5420137
Bolivar4837133
Panola4669110
Oktibbeha466098
Pearl River4604147
Marshall4573105
Warren4440121
Pontotoc425373
Union415777
Monroe4155135
Neshoba4061179
Lincoln4008112
Hancock386687
Leflore3515125
Tate342486
Sunflower339491
Pike3369111
Alcorn325972
Scott320174
Yazoo314171
Adams307486
Itawamba305178
Copiah299966
Coahoma298784
Simpson298189
Tippah291968
Prentiss283861
Leake271974
Marion271280
Covington267283
Wayne264442
Grenada264087
George252051
Newton248663
Tishomingo231568
Winston229981
Jasper222148
Attala215073
Chickasaw210559
Holmes190374
Clay187854
Stone187833
Tallahatchie180041
Clarke178980
Calhoun174132
Yalobusha167840
Smith164034
Walthall135347
Greene131833
Lawrence131024
Montgomery128643
Noxubee128034
Perry127138
Amite126342
Carroll122330
Webster115032
Jefferson Davis108033
Tunica108027
Claiborne103130
Benton102325
Humphreys97533
Kemper96629
Franklin85023
Quitman82216
Choctaw79118
Wilkinson69532
Jefferson66228
Sharkey50917
Issaquena1696
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 548323

Reported Deaths: 11288
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson809531565
Mobile42066826
Madison35663525
Tuscaloosa26162458
Shelby25595254
Montgomery25081612
Baldwin21839313
Lee16265176
Calhoun14718325
Morgan14626285
Etowah14171363
Marshall12449230
Houston10764288
Elmore10295213
Limestone10182157
St. Clair10160251
Cullman9941201
Lauderdale9596249
DeKalb8967189
Talladega8458184
Walker7335280
Autauga7230113
Blount6944139
Jackson6922113
Colbert6414140
Coffee5627127
Dale4929114
Russell454941
Chilton4472116
Franklin431083
Covington4273122
Tallapoosa4136155
Escambia401780
Chambers3726124
Dallas3607156
Clarke352961
Marion3242106
Pike314078
Lawrence3129100
Winston283572
Bibb268464
Geneva257581
Marengo250665
Pickens236862
Barbour234659
Hale226878
Butler224071
Fayette218162
Henry193843
Cherokee187245
Randolph187044
Monroe179341
Washington170439
Macon162951
Clay160159
Crenshaw155657
Cleburne153244
Lamar146537
Lowndes142054
Wilcox127030
Bullock124242
Conecuh113430
Coosa111429
Perry108626
Sumter105732
Greene93534
Choctaw62025
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We continue to monitor a tropical disturbance in the Gulf of Mexico. This will be in heavy rainfall two locations across the southeast over the course of the weekend, and flooding rainfall could be in tow as well. Things are looking better for Father’s Day itself, thankfully.
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