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US Covid-19 hospitalizations hit another record high

Dr. Shirlee Xie, Associate Director of Hospital Medicine at Hennepin Healthcare in Minnesota, tells CNN's Ana Cabrera what it's like treating Covid-19 patients day after day as her state experiences a surge of coronavirus cases.

Posted: Dec 6, 2020 10:15 AM
Updated: Dec 6, 2020 6:00 PM


A record 101,487 Covid-19 patients were in US hospitals on Sunday, according to the Covid Tracking Project, underscoring the immense pressure on the nation's hospitals and health care workers.

'Our hospitals are already at the brink,' said CNN medical analyst Dr. Leana Wen, a former Baltimore City health commissioner. 'And they are just at the brink of becoming so overwhelmed that patients are going to get less than ideal care.'

Already stretched thin, experts and health care workers fear things will only get worse, with a potential surge of infections fueled by Thanksgiving travel and gatherings.

Just one week after the holiday, the US has yet to feel the full effects. But Wen said we will see an 'exponential rise' in cases in the next few weeks, and she urged Americans do their part to combat the spread of the virus and relieve the strain on hospitals.

'Because otherwise we have a catastrophe on our hands that's worse than any of us can possibly imagine,' she said.

December has brought the highest hospitalization numbers in the US since the pandemic began as the virus continues to spread like wildfire.

It took almost 100 days for the US to reach 1 million coronavirus infections after the first cases were confirmed on January 20. But in the first five days of the month, from Tuesday to Saturday, 1,000,882 cases were reported in the US, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

More than 14.7 million confirmed cases had been reported in the US as of Sunday night, and more than 282,200 people have died.

As of Saturday, the US averaged 190,948 new cases over the last week, another record high, according to a CNN analysis of Johns Hopkins data.

Millions of Californians face stay-at-home orders Sunday

Roughly 33 million residents of the country's most populous state will find themselves under new stay-at-home orders beginning Sunday in an effort to prevent hospitals from being overrun.

New restrictions will go into effect at 11:59 p.m. PT for large portions of California, including the Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley regions, after intensive care unit capacity dropped below 15%, triggering a mandate issued by Gov. Gavin Newsom last week.

The orders come as Los Angeles County on Sunday reported more than 10,500 new cases in one day, surpassing the 10,000 mark for the first time. Statewide, there were more than 30,000 new cases, the highest ever recorded in the state.

Under the orders, businesses like bars, hair salons, museums, movie theaters and indoor recreational facilities will be forced to close. Restaurants will be limited to takeout and delivery service while retail businesses can continue to operate at 20% capacity.

Schools already open for in-person learning can stay open, along with other critical infrastructure businesses.

Similar restrictions will take effect in the San Francisco Bay Area after six jurisdictions announced a stay-at-home order even though the region's ICU capacity remains above 15%. It affects the counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Santa Clara and San Francisco, as well as the city of Berkeley.

Orders there will begin to go into effect Sunday, with Alameda County's restrictions beginning Monday and Marin putting restrictions in place on Tuesday. Restrictions will remain in place until at least January 4, 2021.

Adults must get vaccinated for students to return to school

The US Food and Drug Administration's independent vaccine advisory committee is set to meet this week to review Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine and consider its application for emergency use authorization.

It will likely be months before all adults in the US can be vaccinated against the virus, and the wait will be even longer for children -- but they can still be protected by vaccine distribution, said Dr. Robert Wachter, chairman of the department of medicine at University of California, San Francisco.

Wachter says that if adults get vaccinated, children could reap the benefits.

'If we can get everybody else vaccinated -- we can get all the adults vaccinated and get the virus to die out because we get somewhere near herd immunity -- the kids may be less important.'

'I think it's reasonable to expect that the kids will be back in school in the fall, not so much because all of them have been vaccinated -- although I hope they will -- but everybody around them has been vaccinated, and the rate of virus in their communities has fallen to a point that is perfectly safe for them to be in school,' Wachter said.

Earlier this week, vaccine advisers to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention voted 13-1 to recommend that both health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities be first in line for any vaccines that get the green light from the US Food and Drug Administration.

Kids are likely to be vaccinated relatively late in the game because Covid-19 vaccines are largely untested on children. The National Vaccine Advisory Committee voted Friday not to recommend emergency use of a Covid-19 vaccine in children, noting that children generally experience a milder version of the disease.

Vaccine chief hopes for drop in elderly Covid-19 deaths

Moncef Slaoui, chief scientific adviser for the public-private vaccine program known as Operation Warp Speed, said he hopes to see a 'quite significant' drop in coronavirus illness and death among the elderly population by January's end.

Noting that 40% to 50% of US deaths are coming from elderly Americans residing in long-term care facilities, Slaoui told CNN, 'We should be able to have immunized that full population, and the health care workers that take care of them by the end of the month of December or by the middle of the month of January.'

By the middle of March, he said, the United States should have vaccinated its highly susceptible population, which is about 100 million people, while the rest of the country 'will not all have the vaccine in our arms before May or June.'

Manufacturing the vaccine has been 'somewhat more complicated and more difficult than we planned,' Slaoui said, adding that scientists are six to eight weeks behind 'an ideal scenario where we would have had 100 million doses by the end of this year.' The nature of fast-tracking a vaccine means more issues may arise, he said.

'This is not an engineering problem. These are biological problems. They are extremely complex, and we don't control 100% of everything as it happens,' he said. 'There will be small glitches.'

The vaccine, which will come in two doses -- a challenge to produce and distribute in the necessary quantities -- will likely reach healthy, non-elderly Americans with no known underlying health conditions in late March to early April, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 206851

Reported Deaths: 2756
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah40371614
Washington26781248
Marion23425323
Clackamas18932235
Lane13908164
Jackson11535146
Deschutes1001882
Umatilla859387
Linn561181
Yamhill478279
Klamath477678
Polk399356
Douglas388483
Malheur361463
Josephine360672
Benton326522
Jefferson237039
Coos216637
Columbia192129
Union149924
Wasco144430
Lincoln143021
Crook129223
Hood River121633
Morrow115416
Clatsop10589
Baker101115
Curry71011
Tillamook6604
Grant5507
Lake4678
Harney4339
Wallowa1945
Gilliam801
Sherman671
Wheeler351
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 3809710

Reported Deaths: 63356
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles124774424456
Riverside3016684627
San Bernardino2992894845
San Diego2818103771
Orange2730575113
Santa Clara1201632188
Kern1107991404
Sacramento1078211736
Fresno1029471724
Alameda896591277
Ventura816611031
San Joaquin747271440
Contra Costa70730813
Stanislaus634971070
Tulare49776849
Monterey43836432
San Mateo42681581
San Francisco37269556
Santa Barbara34613455
Solano33762266
Merced32313478
Sonoma30884317
Imperial28855741
Placer23589299
Kings23195247
San Luis Obispo21421261
Madera16638245
Santa Cruz16246208
Marin14206230
Yolo14160212
Butte12668194
Shasta12630233
El Dorado10396116
Napa1002680
Sutter9663113
Yuba648951
San Benito610963
Lassen578424
Tehama573463
Nevada491975
Humboldt449948
Mendocino434050
Tuolumne421271
Amador374047
Lake356345
Glenn243427
Siskiyou239637
Colusa228418
Calaveras220756
Del Norte14588
Inyo143438
Mono12954
Plumas7366
Modoc5585
Mariposa4657
Trinity4225
Sierra1160
Alpine890
Unassigned280
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