The United States surpassed its record for single-day reported infections of the coronavirus Thursday, counting at least 89,940 cases, and pushing the total number of infections toward 9 million.
The country also tallied more than 1,000 deaths related to the virus for the second consecutive day. At least 228,000 fatalities have been linked to the virus since February.
Here are some significant developments:
With five days to go before Election Day on Nov. 3, President Trump and his Democratic challenger Joe Biden have crystallized opposing messages on a pandemic that has affected most aspects of American life, including voting.
The U.S. economy grew at a record 7.4 percent in the third quarter, a sharp reversal from its historic second-quarter plunge. Another 751,000 people applied for jobless claims last week, down about 40,000 from the week before.
WHO’s European regional director, Hans Kluge, estimated Thursday that Europe “is at the epicenter of this pandemic once again,” the Associated Press reported. The continent has now reported more than 10 million coronavirus cases, as several countries have imposed lockdowns this week to address the rampant spread of the virus.
As the outbreak in Europe worsens, the Vatican announced Thursday that Pope Francis will return to holding his weekly general audiences online and his in-person Christmas plans will be scaled down, according to AP.
Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence said Thursday he tested positive for the coronavirus, meaning the nation’s top-ranked college football team will be without its star quarterback for at least this weekend’s game against Boston College.
BRUSSELS- Across Europe, medical systems are teetering. The virus is spreading so quickly in so many places that even countries whose hospitals are relatively unscathed so far could be swamped within weeks. In Belgium, overall coronavirus-related hospitalizations on Thursday broke the April record, as did the number of people in intensive care units.
But the April peak came after weeks of a strict lockdown. This time, the lockdown is far less strict and was imposed just days ago. Cases are rocketing upward so fast that although hospital beds dedicated to covid-19 patients were 68 percent filled on Thursday, they will be completely full by Tuesday if current rates hold. Intensive care beds – where access can be a matter of life or death – can last only a little longer.
“Our intensive care capacity will be exceeded within a week to 10 days. We will then be forced to make choices,” the heads of some of Belgium’s biggest hospital networks wrote in an open letter on Thursday, pleading with the country’s leaders to impose a full lockdown.
In France, where cases have been skyrocketing, “we are going to have two to three extremely difficult weeks for the healthcare system,” Jean-François Delfraissy, the head of the scientific council that advises the French government on the pandemic, told France Inter radio on Thursday.
“We can’t allow it to crack. We are in a worse situation than in the beginning of March.”On Wednesday, French President Emmanuel Macron warned that “at this stage, we know that whatever we do, nearly 9,000 patients will be in intensive care by mid-November, which is almost the entirety of French capacities.”
Germany cited shrinking ICU bed space as it announced sweeping restrictions in social contacts and said bars, restaurants, theaters and cinemas will close for a month.
The number of coronavirus patients in intensive care has doubled in just ten days, Chancellor Angela Merkel said as she briefed parliament on the restrictions on Thursday.
“If we were to wait for our ICUs to be overwhelmed, it would be too late,” she said. Including emergency reserves, Germany’s intensive care beds are currently half full.
But at current growth rates, they will be completely full within five weeks, which is what helped spur Merkel to impose the new restrictions on Wednesday.
In central Europe, where some of the fasting spreading outbreaks in the world are now occurring, governments are ringing alarm bells about hospital beds.Both Poland and the Czech Republic have build impromptu field hospitals to ease the strain, even though both health care systems had avoided being overwhelmed by covid-19 during the spring.
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said Thursday that there were currently 14,000 beds occupied with covid-19 patients across the country — far exceeding the 10,000 beds that had been available for the outbreak at the start of October and showing the need for more beds in field hospitals considerably.
“There are more and more patients lying on beds in hospitals all over Poland,” Morawiecki said, according to the Polish Press Agency. With the field hospitals, the hope is to have as many as 32,000 beds by the end of next week.
The problem extends past beds. On Thursday, Czech Republic lawmakers approved a measure to allow up to 300 military medics from allied nations to come aid the fight, including at least 28 members of the Texas and Nebraska National Guard.
The Czech government has also received over 200 ventilators from allies, according to a NATO statement released on Tuesday.
Adam Taylor contributed reporting.
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Government imposed few penalties at nursing homes despite promises
At the outset of a looming pandemic, just weeks after the first known coronavirus outbreak on U.S. soil, the woman responsible for helping to protect 1.3 million residents in America’s nursing homes laid out an urgent strategy to slow the spread of infection.
In the suburbs of Seattle, federal inspectors had found the Life Care Center of Kirkland failed to properly care for ailing patients or alert authorities to a growing number of respiratory infections. At least 146 other nursing homes across the country had confirmed coronavirus cases in late March when Seema Verma, the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, vowed to help “keep what happened in Kirkland from happening again.”
The federal agency and its state partners, Verma said, would conduct a series of newly strengthened inspections to ensure 15,400 Medicare-certified nursing homes were heeding long-standing regulations meant to prevent the spread of communicable diseases. It was another key component of a national effort, launched in early March, to shore up safety protocols for the country’s most fragile residents during an unprecedented health emergency.
It’s not often that a city gets to revel in a championship twofer in the span of a little over two weeks. And LeBron James would like very much for Los Angeles to stage a big parade to celebrate the Lakers’ and Dodgers’ titles.
James could barely contain his excitement after the Dodgers won their first championship in 32 years Tuesday night, taking the World Series in six games. On Oct. 11, his Lakers had won the team’s first title in 10 years, beating the Miami Heat in Game 6 of the NBA Finals.
James acknowledged on social media that the kind of dual celebration he envisioned was not feasible during the novel coronavirus pandemic. Still, he made his plea.
“Man can we PLEASE have a parade!!! I know I know we can’t but DAMN I wanna celebrate with our @Lakers & @Dodgers fans!!!” he tweeted, along with emoji of two trophies. “LA is the city of CHAMPIONS”
Unions representing hundreds of thousands of nurses and healthcare workers filed a lawsuit against the Occupational Safety and Health Administration on Thursday, alleging that the agency is violating its duties to keep workers safe by failing to issue an infectious disease standard to protect health care workers during the pandemic.
The lawsuit was filed by the American Federation of Teachers, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the Washington State Nurses Association, and the United Nurses Associations of California with the U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit. It alleges OSHA’s decision not to set safety standards about infectious diseases is “unreasonable and unlawful” and a violation of federal law that requires the agency to issue standards for significant health risks.
The move is the latest example of the brewing frustrations among labor advocates and Democrats over OSHA’s refusal to aggressively enforce workplace safety during the pandemic. A similar lawsuit filed by the AFL-CIO earlier in the pandemic was dismissed by a judge in the summer, while another lawsuit, filed by a group of meatpacking workers who say OSHA’s inaction has left them in danger, is ongoing.
State health officials are expressing frustration about a lack of federal financial support as they face orders to prepare to receive and distribute the first doses of a coronavirus vaccine by Nov. 15, even though one is not likely to be approved until later this year. The officials say they don’t have enough money to pay for the enormous and complicated undertaking.
State officials have been planning in earnest in recent weeks to get shots into arms even though no one knows which vaccine will be authorized by the Food and Drug Administration, what special storage and handling may be required and how many doses each state will receive.
The United States reported 89,940 new coronavirus cases on Thursday — the highest single-day count since the start of the pandemic.
Topping the previous high from Saturday, 83,734 cases, the nation’s record-setting has accelerated as the virus surges in most states, and especially in the Midwest. Twelve states — including Illinois, Ohio and Iowa — surpassed their records for new infections on Thursday.
Twenty-two states reported that their seven-day average of new cases Thursday outpaced any previous week.
At this rate, the country’s total infections will pass 9 million Friday — 15 days after the country last crossed a million threshold. This is the shortest period it has taken the nation to count 1 million cases, tied only with when the country exceeded 4 million cases in July.
With the steady rise in cases, the country’s coronavirus-related death toll passed 228,000 Thursday. Since the start of October, deaths nationwide have mostly hovered around 900 to 1,000 a day.
South Dakota and Wyoming reported record single-day death tolls Thursday, and, with Idaho, Oklahoma and Wisconsin, saw new highs for their seven-day average of deaths.
The uptick in infections carries with it another grim trend: Hospitalizations exceeded 46,000 for the first time since mid-August.
In Utah, officials warned Thursday that the state was nearing a “crisis of care” as more people have been hospitalized with covid-19, the disease caused by the virus.
“Utah is in a very serious situation,” Utah Gov. Gary R. Herbert (R) tweeted. “COVID-19 is the most devastating when hospitals are overwhelmed and unable to provide good care to everyone who needs it. We have seen this in Italy. We have seen this in New York. We could see this in Utah if things do not change.”
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Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s school hit by fourth case of Covid-19
A third student at the South Bend private school attended by children of Justice Amy Coney Barrett tested positive for the coronavirus, according to a notice sent to school parents Tuesday.
A member of the school faculty had previously been diagnosed in the weeks after Barrett, her family and members of the Notre Dame faculty attended the White House announcement of her nomination to the Supreme Court.
There is no known link between the White House ceremony and an uptick in cases at the school and in the South Bend community — but some residents, including members of the Notre Dame faculty where Barrett has taught in the law school, are concerned.
Two people who attended the Oct. 21 Trump campaign rally in Gastonia, N.C., have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, according to a statement from the Gaston County Health Department.
The department said the “cases are not thought to be an indication of spread from the rally at this time, but rather two independent cases among individuals who were in attendance,” though it encouraged others who attended the rally to be vigilant.
“Because of the large number of potential contacts from the rally, and the inability to alert them directly, the community is being notified so they can assess their own risk and take appropriate actions,” the department wrote.
At the rally, President Trump chastised North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) for maintaining some restrictions on activity and claimed again that the United States is “rounding a corner” on the pandemic.
“I love this state. You’ve got to get your governor to open up your state here. You’re got to get him to open up. Open up your state, governor, it’s time,” Trump said.
The county health department reported earlier in the week that cases and hospitalizations were spiking, with the percentage of positive cases the highest in the county since July. Cooper has suggested the county tighten restrictions and said North Carolinians who don’t wear a mask in public should be fined.
“I’m really concerned about campaigns that fly in all over the place and come into North Carolina, hold these large events, gathering a lot of people together, also bringing people from out of state, and then leaving,” Cooper said.
“And we know, two to three weeks later, oftentimes you see spread that occurs, infections that occur,” he said. “And we are particularly concerned about our rural areas, where hospitals are a little bit thinner, and it’s more difficult for them to be able to accept a lot of patients.”
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Markets rebound as investors cheer GDP growth, slowing jobless claims
U.S. markets clawed back some ground Thursday, as promising GDP and unemployment data seemed to assuage some of the investor anxieties that have roiled Wall Street this week.
Fear over recent record-breaking climbs in coronavirus infections and the resurgence of shutdowns and other measures have sown turbulence in the markets this week, culminating in a more than 900-point swoon for the Dow Jones industrial average on Wednesday. But on Thursday, the Dow closed up nearly 140 points, or 0.52 percent, at 26,659. The S&P 500 gained nearly 1.2 percent to close at 3,310.
Optimism, as investors looked toward earnings reports from Alphabet, Amazon, Facebook and Apple after close, helped carry the Nasdaq composite index 1.6 percent higher to 11,185.
“US stocks were dangerously getting close to correction territory, so Wall Street used better-than-expected GDP and claims data as an excuse to buy the dip,” Ed Moya, an analyst with OANDA, wrote in comments emailed to The Washington Post on Thursday.
The Commerce Department reported Thursday that U.S. gross domestic product grew at a record annualized rate of 33.1 percent to $18.6 trillion in the third quarter. A record 40.1 percent spike in consumer spending helped fuel the surge as shoppers returned to stores and businesses reopened, but the economy has yet to recoup much of the losses wrought by the pandemic.
Soon after, the Labor Department reported that first-time unemployment claims had fallen to 751,000 in the past week, the lowest figure since the pandemic took hold more than seven months ago. But stimulus negotiations have collapsed, leaving millions of jobless Americans without support as pandemic conditions worsen.
“New unemployment claims are lower, but hardly in the realm where we can take a great deal of reassurance from the present situation or near-term outlook,” Mark Hamrick, senior economic analyst for Bankrate.com, wrote in comments emailed to The Post. “There are still some 22.6 million individuals receiving some form of unemployment compensation in the latest week.”
Tupperware profits soar as pandemic fuels home cooking — and lots of leftovers
Cooped-up home cooks have sent Tupperware’s profits skyrocketing during the pandemic, breathing new life into a brand whose heyday was in the 1950s.
This year, Tupperware embarked on a turnaround plan amid declining sales. But since the pandemic began, sales of Tupperware’s plastic containers have soared more than 70 percent, Tupperware chief executive Miguel Fernandez said Wednesday in the company’s earnings call. Tupperware did $477.2 million in third-quarter sales, up 14 percent from last year.
“The 21 percent growth in local currency revenue reported today reflects a rapid adoption of digital tools by our sales force to combat the social restrictions surrounding COVID-19, and the increased consumer demand for our innovative and environmentally friendly products, as more consumers cook at home and are concerned with food safety and storage,” Fernandez said in a news release.
Plastics inventor Earl Tupper created Tupperware in the wake of World War II, when plastics were widely used by the military but not yet common used by consumers. But it was the innovation of the “Tupperware parties” by Brownie Mae Humphrey, which allowed housewives to pursue careers by becoming dealers of Tupperware products, that cemented the brand’s place in American kitchens. (In 1954, Humphrey, a divorcée, became the first woman to appear on the cover of Business Week.)
In March, Tupperware’s stock was trading around $1.15 per share. On Thursday, it was trading at $32.55 per share, up 13 percent from the day before.
Taiwan celebrates record 200 days with no confirmed local coronavirus transmission
The United States recorded more than 80,000 new coronavirus infections and more than 1,000 related deaths Wednesday amid a nationwide surge in new cases. Taiwan, meanwhile, reached a milestone: 200 days without recording a single locally transmitted coronavirus infection.
The island of more than 23 million people has officially confirmed 550 cases and seven covid-19 fatalities. Given Taiwan’s density and proximity to China — they are neighbors and locked in a sovereignty dispute — Taiwan’s successful handling of the pandemic has been closely analyzed by health experts.
Early in the year, as the virus spread in China, scientists anticipated that Taiwan could have the world’s second-worst outbreak, given its location and the frequency of daily flights and travelers from China, according to a March article in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Instead, the opposite happened, as Taiwan harnessed lessons from past epidemics and took the virus seriously from the start. And while many countries that initially averted large outbreaks in the spring saw cases surge this summer or autumn, Taiwan has continued to stave off the worst of the pandemic.
United Airlines announced Thursday that it will offer free coronavirus testing to travelers on select flights between Newark Liberty International in New Jersey and London’s Heathrow Airport beginning next month — part of an effort to boost passenger confidence in air travel at a time when passenger numbers have plummeted.
The four-week pilot program will run Nov. 16 through Dec. 11. All passengers over the age of 2 on select flights between Newark and London will be given free rapid tests. Those who do not wish to be tested will be rebooked on other flights. The goal, United officials said, is to ensure everyone on board has tested negative for the virus.
However, unlike a program that United unveiled earlier this month that allowed certain Hawaii-bound travelers who tested negative for the virus to bypass quarantine requirements, that won’t be the case for those headed to London. Even with proof of a negative coronavirus test, travelers will still be required to follow local quarantine requirements. U.S. citizens can travel to the United Kingdom but must quarantine for 14 days.
Just months after deciding to send their children to college campuses amid the coronavirus pandemic, many families are now facing another difficult dilemma: How to safely welcome students home for Thanksgiving or the end of the semester without introducing a deadly virus into their households.
There is no universal approach to Thanksgiving this year for colleges and universities. Though some are encouraging students to stay on campus for the holiday, others are allowing them to go home for the long Thanksgiving weekend. Still more are sending students home to begin their winter break or finish their semesters remotely.
Students planning to be home by Thanksgiving should start preparing soon, experts say. “There shouldn’t be the expectation that you’re going to not quarantine at school, arrive home and somehow think you can do that within 48 hours of when you plan to cut turkey,” said Rochelle Walensky, chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital.
The Marshall Islands, formerly one of the last places on earth free of covid-19, have confirmed two cases of coronavirus infections this week, according to government statements.
The two cases, an unidentified 35-year-old woman and a 46-year-old man, arrived Tuesday on a direct flight from Honolulu to Kwajalein, the Ministry of Health and Human Services said Wednesday.
Kwajalein is home to a small U.S. military facility, U.S. Army Garrison Kwajalein Atoll, where the cases had been identified. Government officials emphasized that there was no suggestion of community spread.
On Thursday, the government raised the “condition level” to blue, the second-lowest level, but advised citizens to stay calm and carry on as before.
“As the case was identified at the border, and has been subject to strict quarantine and safety measures, there is no immediate risk of the virus spreading in the community,” the statement said.
“This is why in response the recent cases there will be no national lockdown measures and businesses and government operations will continue as normal until further notice,” it continued.
The Marshall Islands had formerly been one of the only countries on Earth to not have a single confirmed case of covid-19. The novel coronavirus has not spread to a handful of countries, most of which are Pacific islands.
The islands have a population of just over 58,000 spread over 29 coral atolls. The country has a long-standing military relationship with the United States, which used the islands to test atomic weapons between 1946 and 1958.