No region of the country is being spared from the onslaught. Twenty states reported record single-day increases Thursday, spanning New England, the Midwest, the Great Plains and the Pacific Northwest. Those witnessing the most dramatic increases over the past week include Maine, Iowa, Colorado, Minnesota and Nebraska.
Illinois joined an undesirable club Friday: the now-five states that have logged more than 10,000 new coronavirus cases in a day. Florida, California, New York and Texas have also reached that mark.
But nowhere looked more bleak than North Dakota, which broke records Thursday for the number of new infections and fatalities reported in a single day, as well as the number of hospitalized coronavirus patients. Adjusted for its population, North Dakota has reported more coronavirus-related deaths over the past week than has any other state, and its seven-day average for new cases set a record Friday.
Since cases began climbing in mid-September, states have periodically introduced incremental restrictions but largely steered clear of sweeping actions. Some health officials hope that will change in a post-election landscape.
“There’s been this sense of people giving up,” Michael Fraser, chief executive of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, told The Post. “You had state leaders looking at the election and deciding it was not worth taking bold, unpopular moves against the virus that might save lives but hurt your side politically. There’s been state health officials debating whether to continue telling people to do things, because they know many are not going to listen.”
Former Food and Drug Administration commissioner Scott Gottlieb predicted that officials would avoid stay-at-home orders in favor of more targeted restrictions in areas suffering the most. In an interview with CNBC on Friday, he noted that Google’s location data shows people have recently been voluntarily leaving their homes less, especially in the hard-hit Midwest.
“You’re going to see people pull back, and then policymakers are going to try to fit a framework around that,” Gottlieb said.
Maine tweaked its statewide mask mandate Thursday to cover all public settings, including those where people are able to remain more than six feet apart. Meanwhile, D.C. largely abandoned its mandatory two-week quarantine for visitors from most states, which was widely ignored and not strictly enforced.
Far tougher restrictions are being rolled out in Asia and Europe, with China banning entry to non-Chinese nationals from 10 countries on three continents as infections rise worldwide.
Greece became the latest nation to bar residents from leaving their homes for all but a handful of essential tasks.
In London, more than 100 people were arrested Thursday night during a demonstration against England’s month-long lockdown, which took effect earlier in the day. The London Metropolitan Police Service said in a statement that the majority of arrests were for breaches of the new lockdown rules, which include a 10 p.m. curfew and a ban on large gatherings.
The English city of Liverpool, one of the hardest-hit regions in the country, began mass testing its residents, including people who don’t have symptoms. The pilot effort is part of the British government’s vision to test everyone in the country every week, a plan known as Operation Moonshot.
The aim, ministers say, is that blanket testing will allow a return to greater normalcy, where people could go to work or the theater and not have to worry about spreading the virus. Liverpool residents can go to a new testing center for a swab test or a lateral flow test, which can produce results in 20 minutes but is not as accurate as a swab.
In Austria, Health Minister Rudolf Anschober warned that “the second wave is much stronger, more serious, more dynamic and more powerful.” The country could run out of beds in intensive care units within weeks, he said.
In Denmark, where a coronavirus mutation has started spreading from minks to humans, authorities ordered the closure of most businesses in seven affected communities Thursday and told residents not to venture outside the municipal boundaries, according to Politiken. All 15 million minks in the country will be killed by the country’s military and police.
The British government reimposed its quarantine requirement Friday for travelers arriving from Denmark, with British Transport Secretary Grant Shapps citing the coronavirus outbreaks at the country’s mink farms.
Since June, more than 200 coronavirus infections linked to minks have been detected, Reuters reported. The mutation that triggered the decision to kill the country’s mink population has so far been found in only 12 people. Scientists consider that mutation particularly concerning because the infected individuals showed less ability to produce antibodies, which could reduce the potential effectiveness of a vaccine.
The World Health Organization said Friday that it is in touch with Danish authorities and is analyzing the situation.
Jacqueline Dupree and Loveday Morris contributed to this report.