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US seeing unprecedented coronavirus spread, White House says

Dr. Sanjay Gupta shows that Covid-19 deaths in North Dakota and South Dakota have now surpassed South Korea despite a substantially smaller population.

Posted: Nov 19, 2020 2:25 AM
Updated: Nov 19, 2020 9:15 PM


The United States is seeing the fastest spread yet of the coronavirus, the White House Coronavirus Task Force said in its first public briefing in four months on Thursday.

Yet, task force members spoke out against the idea of nationwide lockdowns or school closures and held out hope that a vaccine will soon be available to help protect Americans.

Dr. Deborah Birx, once a senior member of the task force, said she's been traveling the country trying to encourage governors and other state and local leaders to enact measures that will stop the spread of the virus.

She's had mixed results at best.

She showed a series of graphs showing the current increase in cases is sharper and steeper than at any other time during the pandemic.

'This is more cases, more rapidly, than what we had seen before,' Birx said. 'You can see the increase in test positivity to around 10%,' she added. That's the number of people tested who get a positive diagnosis.

Breaking record after record

Birx displayed a map awash in red, showing the number of daily hospitalizations, which now regularly tops 70,000.

The US hit a new record for daily reported diagnoses on Thursday, with 182,601 new cases reported by 9 p.m., according to Johns Hopkins University.

'We do know what to do and we are asking every American to do those things today,' she added. That starts with wearing masks, but also staying apart and limiting gatherings, she said.

The virus spreads even when people do not show symptoms, Birx noted. 'It is because of this asymptomatic spread that we are asking people to wear a mask indoors,' she said. Birx also said 'decreasing those friend and family gatherings where people come together and unknowingly spread the virus,' will help slow the spread.

Earlier Thursday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention asked Americans not to travel for Thanksgiving.

But other members of the task force said they would not support a nationwide lockdown.

'President Trump wanted me to make it clear that our task force, this administration and our President, does not support another national lockdown. And we do not support closing schools,' Vice President Mike Pence said at the briefing.

CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield agreed and said, without citing the research, that studies have shown the virus does not spread in schools.

'Today there's extensive data we have gathered over the last two to three months to confirm that K through 12 schools can operate with face-to-face learning and they can do it safely,' Redfield said.

Several CDC spokespeople said they could not immediately identify what data Redfield was talking about.

'The infections that we've identified in schools, when they've been evaluated, were not acquired in schools. They were actually acquired in the community and in the household,' Redfield said.

Casual get-togethers and silent transmission of the virus by people who don't even know they are infected are a large part of the problem, Redfield said.

Families getting too comfortable

'It's small family gatherings, were people become more comfortable, they remove their face masks, and they get together. It's a silent epidemic,' he said.

'For kids, one of the safest places they can be is to remain in school. It's really important that following the data, making sure we don't make emotional decisions about what to close and what not to close, and I'm here to say clearly the data strongly supports that K through 12 schools and institutes of higher learning really are not where we are having our challenges,' Redfield added.

The big hope, the task force members agreed, is a vaccine.

Coronavirus vaccines under development by Moderna and Pfizer have shown 95% efficacy in preventing symptomatic infections and Pfizer is expected to file for Food and Drug Administration emergency use authorization Friday.

'That is extraordinary,' National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci said at the briefing. 'That is almost to the level of what we see with measles (vaccine), which is 98% effective.'

If they are approved, the task force members said the vaccines will be rolled out quickly.

'Help is on the way'

'We are telling you that help is on the way,' Fauci said.

But he said that means people must now increase their use of masks, avoiding gatherings and keeping their distance from others.

'If you are fighting a battle and the cavalry is on the way, you don't stop shooting until the cavalry gets here,' Fauci said.

'It means that we need to actually double down on the public health measures as we are waiting for that help to come, which will be soon,' said Fauci. 'If we do that, we'll be able to hold things off until the vaccine comes.'

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 65170

Reported Deaths: 820
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah14988210
Washington881596
Marion8321127
Clackamas535376
Umatilla409948
Lane382037
Jackson335623
Malheur230839
Deschutes191114
Yamhill156516
Linn126018
Polk105115
Douglas80415
Jefferson76511
Benton7097
Union6912
Klamath6854
Morrow6197
Lincoln56313
Wasco47218
Josephine4314
Columbia4223
Coos3831
Hood River3611
Clatsop3330
Baker2573
Crook1906
Grant1221
Tillamook1110
Curry1052
Lake980
Harney861
Wallowa702
Sherman230
Gilliam210
Wheeler20
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1114524

Reported Deaths: 18726
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles3645207438
San Bernardino845311129
Riverside806761400
San Diego71648968
Orange696941554
Kern38316445
Fresno35973471
Sacramento33133546
Santa Clara30676463
Alameda27485499
San Joaquin24649503
Contra Costa22412258
Stanislaus20370416
Tulare19752303
Ventura18040174
Imperial15053353
San Francisco14445158
Monterey13886113
San Mateo13203169
Sonoma11428155
Merced10986176
Santa Barbara10922133
Kings1003886
Solano934980
Marin7518128
Placer577867
Madera571480
San Luis Obispo561835
Yolo419975
Shasta409542
Santa Cruz389827
Butte366459
Napa275717
Sutter263813
El Dorado19304
San Benito174115
Yuba173210
Lassen14803
Tehama143523
Mendocino138522
Nevada10189
Lake83218
Glenn8296
Humboldt7309
Tuolumne7088
Colusa6426
Mono4993
Siskiyou4951
Amador45016
Calaveras43421
Inyo28316
Del Norte2731
Plumas1770
Trinity1130
Modoc1110
Mariposa1042
Alpine420
Sierra170
Unassigned00
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