Many Americans are bracing for increased virus restrictions and the possibility of fall and winter lockdowns, even as leaders in some areas are doubling-down on their hands-off approach.
The nation's surge in cases continues: On Friday, the U.S. recorded 184,514 new daily infections, breaking yet another record, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The U.S. first surpassed 100,000 new daily cases on Nov. 5 and has continued to break the daily record since then.
Meanwhile, Nevada Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak, who tested positive for the virus on Friday, has repeatedly argued that containing the virus is largely up to individuals. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has emphasized new treatments and vaccines that are expected to become available soon.
South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem's office said she has no intention of using state resources to enforce any federal COVID-19 orders that might come from a Biden administration. South Dakota is a current global hot spot for the virus.
Late Friday, the Republican governor of North Dakota, Doug Burgum, mandated face masks in public after increased pressure from doctors, nurses and other health care professionals to require face coverings.
Some major developments:
Hospitals are getting better at treating COVID-19 patients, according to University of Washington's influential Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation model. Better treatments have helped decrease the disease's fatality rate by 30% since April, according to a model briefing.
Meanwhile, more than 68,500 people are hospitalized with COVID-19, The COVID Tracking Project reports, which is a new record.
President Donald Trump on Friday said the federal government won't deliver a vaccine to New York until Gov. Andrew Cuomo authorizes its immediate distribution. Cuomo previously said the state would require an independent review of the vaccine due to concerns the Trump administration was putting political pressure on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
The governors of Oregon, Washington and California issued travel advisories Friday morning urging visitors entering their states or returning home from travel outside these states to self-quarantine for 14 days.
📈 Today's numbers: The U.S. has reported more than 10.8 million cases and more than 245,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: 53.8 million cases and 1.3 million deaths.
🗺️ Mapping coronavirus: Track the U.S. outbreak in your state.
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Both of Connecticut’s senators self-isolating
Connecticut’s two U.S. senators were self-isolating Saturday after a member of Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont’s staff tested positive for COVID-19.
Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy each tweeted Saturday that they had not had close contact with the staffer but were taking the step out of an abundance of caution.
Lamont’s chief spokesperson, Max Reiss, identified himself as the senior staff member who had tested positive in a release posted to Twitter on Friday. Reiss wrote he wasn’t sure how or where he had contracted the virus.
Murphy tweeted Saturday that he had “attended an event yesterday with the Governor but was not in close contact with the staff member who tested positive. Out of an abundance of caution, though, I am isolating until I get tested and consult with the Office of Attending Physician Monday morning.”
Blumenthal tweeted Saturday afternoon that he had “just returned from being tested myself and am currently self-isolating.”
— Associated Press
Fire in Romanian hospital's COVID-19 ward kills 10, injures 10 more
A fire at a hospital treating COVID-19 patients in northeastern Romania killed 10 people Saturday and injured 10 others, seven of them critically, officials said. The blaze spread through the intensive care ward designated for COVID-19 patients at the public hospital in the city of Piatra Neamt, local Emergency Situations Inspectorate spokesperson Irina Popa said.
Popa said that most of the people who died or were injured in the fire were hospital patients.
Health Minister Nelu Tataru told Romanian media the fire was “most likely triggered by a short circuit.”
News outlets reported that the Piatra Neamt Regional Emergency Hospital has long been poorly managed, with eight government-appointed managers overseeing the facility in the last year.
Kentucky veterans home outbreak has claimed 24 lives
A COVID-19 outbreak at a Kentucky state veterans home has worsened, claiming the lives of 24 residents at the Thomson-Hood Veterans Center in Wilmore and infecting more than half of the 160 veterans who live there. Sixty-three staff members have tested postive, according to Gov. Andy Beshear Friday.
Beshear said at a news conference this week that the outbreak that began in October is tied to the rising number of cases in the surrounding community of Jessamine County, which remains in the "red zone" with more than 25 cases per 100,000 residents.
Jessamine has 26.9 cases per 100,000 residents, and Fayette, where some Thomson-Hood workers live, has 50.
— Deborah Yetter, Louisville Courier Journal
Another COVID-19 scare for Florida Sen. Rick Scott
Republican Sen. Rick Scott of Florida is quarantining after coming into contact with a COVID-positive individual after arriving in Florida on Friday night.
He said in a Saturday tweet that he shows no symptoms, but will be in quarantine “out of an abundance of caution.”
“I was tested this morning and the result was negative,” he said.
In October, Scott said in a Fox News interview that he tested positive for COVID-19. He retracted that initial statement, saying he misspoke and did not have the infection.
West Virginia, North Dakota mandate masks, capacity limits as virus surges
The Republican governors of North Dakota and West Virginia have mandated the wearing of masks in businesses and indoor spaces in their states.
“It’s just silly to be in a public building with strangers walking around without a mask on,” West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice said Friday. “Even if you have this macho belief or whatever it may be, it’s silly.”
Justice's first indoor mask order in July did not require masks if social distancing was possible. The new order, effective Friday, requires masks at all times except when eating or drinking. The state's 11 new deaths caused by COVID-19 brings the death toll to at least 565.
North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum's order followed increased pressure from doctors, nurses and other health care professionals.
The directive goes into effect Saturday and will last until Dec. 13. Burgum said in a statement that doctors and nurses “need our help, and they need it now.” The state's COVID-19 death toll has risen to 707, according to state health data.
Burgum also directed all bars and restaurants to limit capacity to 50%, and closed all in-person service between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m. Large-scale venues are limited to 25% capacity.
— Associated Press
Coronavirus spike is sending more kids back to online learning
The nation's new COVID-19 spike is poised to send hundreds of thousands of students who were in school at least part-time back to 100% remote learning. A quick look around the country:
New York City — where some 300,000 public school students are receiving some in-person instruction — is quickly approaching the community spread threshold that would trigger another shutdown. Mayor Bill de Blasio on Friday told parents to prepare for school buildings to close as early as Monday.
County officials in Indianapolis on Thursday ordered all public and private schools to close and return to online learning by Nov. 30 for safety reasons, a move that affects around 200,000 students.
Meanwhile, a number of urban districts that have operated fully online since the start of the year, such as San Diego, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Detroit, Anchorage and several big, suburban districts outside of Washington, D.C., are further delaying plans for in-class learning because of rising infections.
Before the most recent surge, districts were facing pressure to get more children back into classrooms. Mounting evidence shows schools that carefully reopened with safety protocols have not had major outbreaks. Most of the virus spread, experts have said, appears to be happening in the community, not schools. Read more here.
— Erin Richards
One of last COVID-19-free counties in US reports first case
The last remaining Nevada county — and one of the last two in the U.S. — reported its first case of COVID-19 on Friday.
Esmeralda County Commissioner Tim Hipp said the positive case is believed to be a poll worker who was working last week during the election.
"In response to that, we have shut down the courthouse. And the people that were working with the volunteers with the election are all going to get tested. So we're just kind of waiting to see what the results are," Hipp said.
Esmeralda County, whose biggest town is Goldfield, pop. 268, lies isolated in the Mojave Desert three hours north of Las Vegas. At the turn of the last century, it was the center of a gold mining boom and was Nevada's biggest town.
— Taylor Avery, Reno Gazette Journal
Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak tests positive for coronavirus
Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak announced Friday he has tested positive for COVID-19, saying he has no symptoms and will begin a 10-day quarantine at his home in Carson City.
"I am not experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms and I have returned to my residence to begin the quarantine process," Sisolak told reporters during a call Friday afternoon. "It's nearly impossible to pinpoint where I contracted the virus."
Sisolak undergoes weekly coronavirus testing. His last negative test was Nov. 6. He also tested negative on Nov. 2.
Since the pandemic began, governors in Missouri, Virginia, and Oklahoma have tested positive for COVID-19. Ohio's governor tested positive, then negative, in August. Sisolak's positive test comes as Nevada is experiencing a surge in coronavirus cases. The state marked a daily record for new cases on Friday, reporting 1,857 infections.
— Anjeanette Damon, Reno Gazette Journal
Trump says a vaccine would be widely available by April
Trump took a swipe at drug maker Pfizer and the governor of New York over their previous comments on a coronavirus vaccine during his public remarks Friday. Trump said his administration would not go into a "lockdown" and said that a vaccine would be widely available by April.
Moncef Slaoui, head of Operation Warp Speed, the White House group working to secure a coronavirus vaccine, urged Americans to get vaccinated once one is approved and encouraged people to volunteer to participate in ongoing trials.
"The vaccines and the therapeutics that we have helped develop and accelerate will be judged independently and, if approved, should be used by all in the population because I believe vaccination is likely to be the cornerstone among all the other measures that we have to take to help us really control this pandemic," Slaoui said.
– John Fritze and David Jackson
More than 100 Secret Service officers infected with COVID-19 or quarantining
More than 100 U.S. Secret Service officers are either infected with the COVID-19 virus or have been told to quarantine because of close contact with someone who has it, a person familiar with the matter said Friday.
While the total was not broken down by infection and quarantine, the person who is not authorized to comment publicly said the number skewed largely to quarantine as a precaution because of the officers' past contacts.
The number included only those who are part of the service's 1,600-member Uniformed Division, which generally has the most contact with the public as they perform screening at events and patrol the White House grounds. The source declined to comment on the number of infections and quarantines within the corps of agents, including those in the Protective Division who maintain the closest contact with the president and other top White House officials.
The Washington Post first reported the infections and quarantines among service officers, indicating that the number was more than 130.
– Kevin Johnson and Ledyard King
Want to gather with family for Thanksgiving? Start quarantining now
The holiday season is upon us and so is another surge of the coronavirus pandemic. So what's a family to do?
While some state and city officials have advised against large family gatherings, folks may still be trying to find a way to spend time with loved ones this fall and welcoming students back into the fold.
Dr. Adam Jarrett, who serves as the chief medical officer at Holy Name Medical Center in New Jersey, said that the safest way to try to gather would be to get tested and then “truly self-quarantine for 10 days to two weeks.”
“That’s the only way that we can be pretty close to 100% safe,” Jarrett said.
– Katie Sobko, The Bergen Record
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Contributing: The Associated Press
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: COVID updates: North Dakota mask mandate; Steve Sisolak; Trump vaccine