Virus winter surge puts US on red alert, Trump stews in White House

Virus winter surge puts US on red alert, Trump stews in White House

Coronavirus infection. IANS

BY NIKHILA NATARAJAN New York, Nov 15 (IANS) Fresh off his election loss, US President Donald Trump is stewing in the White House as the coronavirus pandemic hammers America with a winter surge that is sending almost all its 50 states into red alert. As per data from Johns Hopkins, daily deaths stand at 1,800 plus end of day Wednesday - the highest level in three months. Daily cases have shot past 144,000, the highest ever. At least 65,000 people are currently hospitalised with the virus. The first case of COVID-19 in US was reported 294 days ago on January 21, 2020. The "dark winter" warning has been sounded long ago but there is deafening silence from a White House preoccupied with fighting election results and scolding Pfizer for releasing its encouraging vaccine news after the Biden victory. The US is now recording more than 100,000 new confirmed cases daily for more than a week. The death toll stands at more than 242,000, with the total caseload at 10.5 million. The worst numbers have begun ever since election day and only getting worse. Schools that waded into hybrid models are now reporting Covid-19 cases, many as a result of casual gatherings among high school students. New York City is considering shutting down in-person classes across its massive school system if positive virus tests reach the 3 percent mark. New Jersey plans to give towns and cities the option to limit hours at nonessential businesses after 8 pm. School systems in Detroit, Indianapolis, Philadelphia and Minneapolis have cancelled in-person classes, and some governors even in reliably Republican states are giving masks a harder look. America's top infectious diseases expert Dr. Anthony Fauci doubled down on universal masking and assured Americans that the "cavalry is coming," in the form of vaccines which could be delivered as early as Christmas for priority populations. "Help is really on the way," he said. Public health experts are warning Americans not to congregate indoors during the traditional Thanksgiving holiday in the last week of November. The nearly week-long lull on America's school and work calendars is typically marked by a spike in inter-state family travel and turkey dinners over large and small gatherings. This time, doctors have sounded the alarm that the risks of carrying on with this very American tradition in its undiluted form are going off the charts. Echoing President-elect Joe Biden's messaging on the virus, Fauci urged Americans to follow "universal and uniform" wearing of masks, avoid crowds, maintain social distance and wash hands frequently. All these are 101 in terms of public health advice since the beginning of the pandemic but have been roiled by counter programming by the Trump White House. Trump has branded Fauci and his ilk as "idiots", touted unproven drugs and run his entire election campaign in the form of multi-state super spreader events. "It really does make a difference," Fauci said about masks, as the US hit a new record of over 100,000 daily cases for the eighth straight day. Pfizer Inc and German partner BioNTech announced this week that their COVID-19 vaccine may be 90 percent effective, based on early and incomplete test results that sent a ripple of hope across the world. Fauci expects that two other companies will also turn up encouraging results. Pfizer is expected to deliver final efficacy results in the third week of November.

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