COVID-19 cases climb in the US and Europe

Oct. 16, 2020

A third COVID-19 spike in the United States continues to intensify, as several European countries take more steps to reverse steep case rises, some of which are at record levels according to a report by the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP). 

The global total today is 39,002,007 cases, and 1,099,469 people have died from their infections, according to the Johns Hopkins online dashboard. On Thursday, the United States added 59,494 new cases and 985 deaths to its totals, according to the Johns Hopkins tracker. The trend shows the start of a third rise in infections, which is coming as the weather cools and more people are gathering indoors. 

Tony Fauci, MD, director of the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and member of the White House coronavirus task force, in a CBS Evening News  urged Americans to be cautious during the Thanksgiving holiday, especially with out-of-town visitors who could pose a risk to older relatives or those with underlying health conditions. 

The cautious recommendation for the holidays tracks with two new polls that indicate Americans are wary of traveling during the pandemic, USA Today reported. An AAA Travel survey found that 67 percent of respondents are uncertain about taking a vacation, and a Travelocity survey revealed that 57 percent wouldn't travel this year for year-end holidays. 

On a positive note, Los Angeles officials are linking a dramatic decline in COVID-19 deaths and cases among blacks and Latinos over the past two months to aggressive workplace enforcement and opening tip lines to report violations, Kaiser Health News reported. 

In other developments: 

Pfizer and BioNTech will enroll children as young as 12 in the phase 3 trial of its COVID-19 vaccine, which follows U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) permission earlier this month to enroll younger participants, Reuters reported. 

Europe's fall and winter surge continues to unfold, with exponential increases in daily cases and matching percentage increases in daily deaths, Hans Henri Kluge, MD, MPH, director of the World Health Organization (WHO) European regional office, said in a briefing. He added that the region just registered its highest weekly incidence since the start of the pandemic, adding about 700,000 cases. 

The region isn't in the same situation as it was in March, because deaths are five times fewer and hospitalization doubling time is still two to three times longer, Kluge said. Lower mortality could reflect higher testing rates among younger, healthier people, but he warned that the situation could worsen dramatically if the disease spreads back into older age-groups with more indoor multigenerational social gatherings. 

Epidemiological models show that simple measures like greater use of masks and stricter social distancing measures could save up to 281,000 lives across the region by February 1. "These projections do nothing but confirm what we always said: the pandemic won’t reverse its course on its own, but we will," Kluge said.

CIDRAP has the report.

More COVID-19 coverage HERE.