Coronavirus Covid-19 updates: US number of cases 8 times bigger than reported, CDC says; AstraZeneca vaccine faces questions; WHO encourages exercise
Covid-19 Coronavirus updates: U.S. misses 8 cases for every 1 counted, CDC says
Like pretty much everything in 2020, Thanksgiving looks a lot different due to COVID-19.
Many are spending their first Thanksgiving alone or without loved ones. Families are turning video calls into the dinner table. Even the Thanksgiving Day Parade balloons are social distancing.
“I know the country has grown weary of the fight,” President-elect Joe Biden said in a Thanksgiving eve address urging unity. “We need to remember we’re at war with the virus, not with one another. Not with each other.”
Biden gave his address a day after the U.S. reported its deadliest day since May, with more than 2,000 new fatalities due to the virus. It could get worse: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday published a national ensemble forecast that predicts 294,000 to 321,000 coronavirus deaths by Dec. 19.
In Los Angeles County, the nation’s most populous, public health officials said infections are skyrocketing, with approximately one out of every 145 people infected with the virus. That estimate was at 1 in 880 residents two months ago, according to the Los Angeles Times.
📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has reported more than 12.8 million cases and over 263,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: 60.8 million cases and 1.42 million deaths.
🗺️ Mapping coronavirus: Track the U.S. outbreak in your state.
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Questions emerge about results of AstraZeneca vaccine
A manufacturing error is raising questions about the early results of the coronavirus vaccine candidate produced by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, which jointly acknowledged the mistake Wednesday.
In announcing results of the vaccine trials Monday, AstraZeneca said it had yielded up to 90% effectiveness and an average of 70% based on groups that got different doses. Surprisingly, the group that received half a dose first, followed by a full dose, registered a higher efficacy than those who got two full doses.
Oxford said in a statement that some of the vials used in the trial didn’t have the right concentration of vaccine, so some volunteers got a half dose. The university said it discussed the problem with regulators and agreed to complete the late-stage trial with two groups. The manufacturing problem has been corrected, according to the statement.
The group that received the two full doses, which generated 62% effectiveness, was more than three times larger than the other one — 8,895 people compared to 2,741. That led to concerns about the statistical reliability of the 90% efficacy the smaller cluster attained. In addition, none of the volunteers in the low-dose group were over 55, an issue because younger people tend to mount a stronger immune response than older ones, which could skew the results.
Another Cleveland Browns player infected
The NFL’s schedule of Thanksgiving games was reduced by a third because of the coronavirus, which continues to impact the league’s teams.
On Thursday morning the Cleveland Browns said another player tested positive for the virus, so its facility is closed while meetings are held remotely and contact tracing is conducted. The Browns have had four players test positive for COVID-19 since late last week, bringing to five their total of infected players. Only the Baltimore Ravens (nine) and San Francisco 49ers (six) have had more.
The Ravens’ outbreak forced the NFL to postpone their Thursday game against the Pittsburgh Steelers to Sunday.
– Nate Ulrich, Akron Beacon Journal
WHO encourages exercise even in pandemic
“Every type of movement counts,’’ even in a pandemic. That’s the message from the World Health Orgaization, which has sent out a reminder about the importance of excercise.
In guidelines for people of all ages released Wednesday, the WHO emphasized the need to be physically active and limit the amount of sedentary time, which for some may have increased because of restrictions imposed to limit spread of the coronavirus.
Adults should get 150 to 300 minutes a week of moderate to vigorous aerobic activity, and that includes older adults and those with chronic conditions or disabilities, the WHO said. Children should spend an hour a day in moderate to vigorous activity. Four million to 5 million deaths a year would be averted if people were more active, the WHO said.
CDC report: US misses 8 COVID cases for every 1 counted
The United States is still severely undercounting the number of COVID-19 cases it has across its population, a new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report says. The CDC calculated that about 53 million Americans had been infected by the end of September, eight times below the confirmed cases at the time.
A previous CDC report had estimated the U.S. was undercounting cases by 10 times the amount. Of the 53 million estimated infections, the CDC says about 45 million were sick at some point and about 2.4 million were hospitalized.
Americans still travel despite COVID warnings
For weeks, public health officials repeated warnings not to travel this Thanksgiving as COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths soar, yet millions of Americans still took the skies and highways to see families and other loved ones, risking infection for a holiday together.
While travel appears to be significantly down from prior years, roughly 900,000 to 1 million people per day passed through U.S. airport checkpoints from Friday through Wednesday. That was a drop-off of around 60% from the same time a year ago, but the more than 1 million people screened at airports Wednesday was the largest since the start of the pandemic.
More Americans drive than fly during the holiday, and while AAA has said it projects car travel to be lower, it has not indicated by how much.
The CDC last week advised against Thanksgiving travel, the highest level warning Americans received, as others like Dr. Anthony Fauci encouraged families to consider virtual holiday plans.
Butler postpones game, two other college basketball teams learn of positive tests
Butler stopped all team activities and postponed Sunday’s game against Eastern Illinois, and other programs also were impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, which continued to disrupt the early part of the men’s college basketball season.
Several ranked teams, including №1 Baylor, Duke, Arizona State and Florida, have had to alter their schedules because of the pandemic.
In Butler’s case, a positive COVID-19 test among its ranks led to the postponement. №2 Gonzaga also learned a member of its program — not a player — tested positive before Thursday’s season-opener against №6 Kansas. And Temple paused team activities because of an infection within its program.
Disney to lay off 32,000 more employees
Disney plans to layoff around 32,000 more employees in the first half of 2021 as the coronavirus pandemic continue to beleaguer its theme park businesses.
The company made the revelation in an SEC filing Wednesday, and it said the layoffs would primarily affect employees in its parks, experiences and products division.
Disney has taken a sharp hit at its theme parks due to COVID-19 restrictions and decreased attendance. Its Disney World parks in Florida reopened in July after a three-month closure, though there have been some scaling back in hours. However, Disneyland in California remains shuttered.
Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade marches on
The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade celebration still took place this year, but with a different look and feel due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The usual 2 1/2-mile route through crowded Manhattan was scrapped in favor of concentrating events to a one-block stretch of 34th Street in front of the retailer’s flagship Manhattan store. Many performances were pre-taped and most of the parade’s performers were locally based to cut down on travel.
While the festivities have historically drawn massive crowds to the streets of Manhattan — there were about 3.5 million people in attendance along the parade route in 2019 — this year spectators were not allowed and the production was a made-for-TV event.
A number of entertainers performed, including Pentatonix, Keke Palmer and Sofia Carson, and a slew of Broadway shows were represented in taped performances from their casts.
“Traditions like this are comforting and they’re uplifting,” said Susan Tercero, executive producer of the parade. “Regardless of what’s happened, New York needs to be that beacon of light in the darkness, and this parade, I think, is symbolic of that.”
— The Associated Press
Supreme Court blocks NY COVID restrictions on some houses of worship
The Supreme Court placed religious freedom before pandemic precautions Wednesday night, temporarily blocking recent rules in New York that severely restricted gatherings at houses of worship in areas hit hardest by COVID-19.
The court’s new, more conservative majority ruled 5–4 that Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s limits on churches, synagogues and other houses of worship to 10 or 25 worshipers in hard-hit regions appeared to violate the First Amendment’s Free Exercise Clause.
“Even in a pandemic, the Constitution cannot be put away and forgotten,” the court’s unsigned majority opinion said.