Hong Kong Overwhelmed With Exponential Rise In Covid-19 Cases 

According to Carrie Lam, the head of the city administration in Hong Kong, the city has been overwhelmed by new Covid-19 infections, which have surged within the past two weeks. Daily cases are 20 times higher when compared to two weeks ago, leaving many hospital’s struggling to keep up with the influx. 

“The onslaught of the fifth wave of the epidemic has dealt a heavy blow to Hong Kong and overwhelmed the city’s capacity of handling. Patients are having to wait longer to access isolation facilities. The situation is highly undesirable and the government feels worried and sorry about it.”

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China has stated that it will be helping Hong Kong with testing, treatment, quarantine efforts, and securing resources like rapid antigen tests and protective gear for healthcare workers. 

Deaths in Hong Kong have remained low, especially when compared to the impact of the virus on the city when the pandemic first began. However, at the rate they’re going now, Hong Kong is expecting up to 28,000 new cases to appear by the end of March. 

Hospital beds for Covid-19 patients are currently at 90% occupancy, according to the city’s Hospital Authority. Isolation facilities are also nearing full capacity, so the city is prioritizing elderly individuals and children who are in serious conditions.

According to the authorities, there are around 1,000 people waiting to be hospitalized currently. Hong Kong in general has experienced about 24,000 infections and more than 200 deaths since the pandemic first began, which proportionately is less than many other small major cities. 

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Lam said authorities would “spare no effort to implement the dynamic zero coronavirus infection strategy in Hong Kong, which, like mainland China, seeks to curb outbreaks as soon as they occur, in contrast with many other places that are trying to live with COVID.”

Currently residents of Hong Kong are banned from attending public gatherings of more than two people, while public locations like schools, churches, and gyms are shut down. Dining in restaurants is banned after 6 p.m. and most individuals are working remotely. 

Strict flight restrictions have been in place for two years now, making Hong Kong one of the world’s most isolated major cities. 

The city’s Legislative Council is set to discuss putting $27 billion HK ($3.46 billion in America) into an anti-epidemic fund which would support businesses and individuals that have been economically impacted by the pandemic and the strict social distancing measures that have been in place.

Omicron Could Infect 50% Of Europeans Within Next Two Months

The World Health Organization (WHO) warned this week that a west-to-east “tidal wave” of new Omicron infections could infect more than half of Europe’s population within the next two months. The WHO stated that the wave of infections could potentially shut down multiple health systems across Europe which would leave more individuals at risk for infection. 

The WHO’s Europe director, Hans Kluge, said that the region has already recorded more than 7 million new cases of Covid within the first week of 2022, which is two-times the amount of infections when compared to two weeks ago. More than 1% of the European population is catching Covid each week within 29 countries, according to WHO’s data. 

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Kluge also explained how the Omicron variant has been reported in 50 out of Europe’s 53 states, and was becoming the dominant strain in western Europe.

“At this rate, more than 50% of the population in the region will be infected with Omicron in the next six to eight weeks. We’re deeply concerned, as we have yet to see its full impact in countries where levels of vaccination uptake are lower, and where we will see more severe disease in the unvaccinated,” Kluge explained. 

Kluge explained that Omicron cases have specifically “exploded” in Denmark, where the current Covid-19 hospitalization rate for unvaccinated patients is six times higher than for those who are fully vaccinated. 

“While vaccines provide good protection against severe disease and death, rising hospital admissions are still challenging health systems and service delivery in many countries … and threaten to overwhelm them in many more.”

The WHO warned that countries in Europe that have yet to be impacted by Omicron have a small window of time to protect themselves and their most vulnerable citizens. 

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Kluge explained how every country’s government should be mandating high-quality masks in every closed and indoor space, as well as ensuring individuals have their full vaccine series and booster doses when applicable. 

“Where the Omicron surge has begun, the priority should be to avoid and reduce harm among the vulnerable, and minimize disruption to health systems and essential services.”

“This means prioritizing vulnerable people for primary course and booster doses, advising them to avoid closed, crowded spaces, and offering the possibility to work remotely wherever possible until the infection surge passes,” Kluge said.

He continued to explain how PCR testing should be prioritized for critical workers and individuals more at risk for severe disease, and rapid tests should be sent out at a larger rate. 

Keeping schools open had “important benefits for children’s mental, social and educational wellbeing, so we’re urging governments to review protocols on testing, isolation and quarantine of classroom contacts to minimize disruption to learning,” Kluge explained.

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India Surpasses 100,000 New Covid-19 Cases In A Single Day 

India reported a record-breaking number of new Covid-19 cases this week, surpassing more than 100,000 cases in a single day; this makes India the second country after the United States to report more than 100,000 cases in a given day. 

Maharashtra is reported as the worst affected state, with hospitals being completely overrun by sick patients. The state is also known as India’s richest, and has reported more than 57,000 cases overnight. The country’s daily infection rates have been on the rise since February, and most experts credit that to the slew of new variants, along with the easing of multiple restrictions from authorities; many citizens have stopped wearing masks and distancing themselves from one another. 

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The nation counted 103,558 new infections in a single day, giving India a total of 12.6 million cases; the highest after both the US and Brazil. The death rate in India is one of the lowest in the world for its size, with a total of 165,101 deaths. 

Overall though, India has recorded the most number of infections in the past week anywhere in the world. Some epidemiologists blame this rise on new virus variants completely. “The new variant, or variants of concern, probably explains a lot of it, rather than a simplistic explanation of behavior,” said Rajib Dasgupta, head of the Centre of Social Medicine & Community Health in New Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University.

Subhash Salunke, a former WHO official who advises Maharashtra on its COVID-19 strategy, claimed that “India has found hundreds of cases of the virus variants first detected in the United Kingdom, South Africa and Brazil. Cases in the state will continue to rise for a couple of weeks and the only way out is by vaccinating all adults. If we start doing this, by the end of April we will see a downward trend.” 

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India is the world’s biggest producer of vaccines, and has already injected more than 77 million doses into residents at home since they began distributing the vaccine back in January. The amount of Covid-19 vaccinations per capita occurring, however, is lower than a lot of other countries; including China which has a larger population and a larger amount of individuals vaccinated.

India is currently only vaccinating people over the age of 45, including all health and frontline workers who at this point are thought to be all vaccinated. Officials recently discussed increasing the amount of vaccinations being distributed and exported within the country. Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to the press about these efforts over the weekend as well. 

“It was highlighted that all the efforts are underway to secure adequate quantities of vaccines to meet the rising domestic requirements as well as to meet the genuine needs of other countries.”

Health ministers are also condemning the multiple election rallies that have been occurring throughout the nation that have gained crowds of tens of thousands of mask-less people. It’s reported that Maharashtra will begin closing its shopping malls, theaters, bars, restaurants, and places of worship this week and will work to impose a complete lockdown by the end of the week, especially in smaller cities.

CDC Tells Americans To ‘Limit Travel’ As Covid-19 Surges Continue Throughout Nation 

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) gave Americans a stark warning this week, claiming that they should limit all travel, as Covid-19 cases are beginning to spike throughout the nation again, despite the roll out of multiple vaccines. 

Dr. Rochelle Walenshy is the director of the CDC, who said that travel is helping spread the coronavirus, as it has been for the past year now. During a White House briefing she said: “I would just sort of reiterate the recommendations from the CDC that tell us to please limit travel to essential travel only for the time being.”

Walensky warned Americans of an “impending doom” if they continue to go about their lives as they currently are. She even went as far as to express that she herself was scared for the future of the nation. 

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“We must act now, and I am worries that if we don’t take the right actions now, we will have another avoidable surge, just like we’re seeing in Europe right now and just as we are so aggressively scaling up vaccinations.” 

President Joe Biden has also asked all state officials to reinstate mask mandates to continue to combat the pandemic. Biden claimed that reckless behavior is leading to the virus spreading again. 

“People are letting up on precautions, which is a very bad thing. We are giving up hard-fought, hard-won gains. This is not a time to lessen our efforts.. We could still see a setback in the vaccination program. And most importantly, if we let our guard down now we could see a virus getting worse, not better,” Biden proclaimed. 

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As previously mentioned, these warnings are a result of new Covid cases rising throughout the country. According to the New York Times official Covid-19 dashboard new cases have been rising by 15% for the past two weeks, and the CDC blames that rise on an increase in travel. 

TSA data shows that more than one million people have been walking throughout the airports everyday since the beginning of March. For comparison at this point last year TSA screened around 180,000 people. 

The CDC is highly recommending everyone continue to abide by proper health and safety procedures until a greater herd immunity is met, and that includes not traveling even if you’re fully vaccinated. 

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have proven to be highly effective in the real world when it comes to preventing the transmission of Covid-19, however, the CDC thinks Americans are getting too comfortable too quickly, and need to continue to be patient until the rest of the nation can catch up with vaccinations.

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Japan Enters New State Of Emergency To Contain Spread Of Covid-19 

Japan has entered into a “light” state of emergency that is projected to last a month, however, public health experts in the country already believe that it will take longer to sufficiently slow down the rate in which the Covid-19 virus is spreading. 

Japan has reported record breaking new daily infections for at least two days in the last week, and the capital of Tokyo is facing some of the worst rates it’s seen in months. Hitoshi Oshitani, a professor of virology at Tohoku University and a member of the expert panel advising the government, recently spoke with the press regarding the current timeline the nation has set up in regards to curbing the spread. 

“I’m not sure if the situation can become better within a month. It’s certainly much more difficult to control the current situation compared to the outbreak in summer.”

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Japan has entered into a more limited state of emergency, meaning remote work is being encouraged, and restaurant hours have been reduced. Movie theaters, gyms, karaoke bars, and theme parks are all set to remain open as well with reduced hours, and large events are still permitted with a reduced capacity; for reference in their initial state of emergency all of those businesses were completely shut down. 

For the time being, these measures only apply to the capital of Tokyo and three surrounding prefectures. In order for the emergency status to be lifted these regions must emerge from their current “Stage 4” rankings; stage 4 is the highest stage an area can be in Japan, and is determined by hospital capacity, positive test rates, and weekly increases in new infections. 

Shigeru Omi is the head of the panel of experts that is advising the government on these states of emergency, and recently spoke with the media about how initially he believed it would to be “next to impossible” for the nation to emerge from their state of emergency in just a month, however, after analyzing the recent data he seems more hopeful for the future. 

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“It’s not very easy but I believe it’s possible to reduce the infections to a Stage 3 level within a month if everyone does their best.” 

Omi went on to explain that residents need to fully follow the suggested measures by staying home and avoiding all nighttime dining, drinking, and partying; which as we’ve seen here in America, is quite difficult to do when the government keeps these establishments open. He also explained that the government will need to push for legal changes so that establishments that refuse to follow these rules will be punished through fines. 

Japan last entered a state of emergency in the spring which began in just seven prefectures, but eventually expanded to be nationwide. The state of emergency slowly began being phased out in May of last year. 

While Japan was highly praised in the beginning of this pandemic for its success in containing the virus without imposing strict lockdowns, after a while a slew of challenges began appearing. Cases initially began increasing across the country in November, and have remained on the rise ever since. Tokyo being the city hit the hardest, Omi and other experts are hopeful that the nation can return to a greater sense of normalcy by February.

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The WHO Claims Covid-19 Restrictions In Europe Are Paying Off 

Covid-19 lockdown procedures in Europe appear to be paying off as the World Health Organization (WHO) reported a decline in new weekly cases this week while cases continue to soar in the US. Restrictions across the continent ranged from closing schools and businesses in order to limit person-to-person contact as well as mask mandates to prevent the spread of the virus itself. 

The WHO reported this week that new Covid-19 cases in Europe dropped from 2 million to 1.8 million over the last two weeks. Hans Kluge is the WHO’s regional director for Europe who recently released a statement regarding how the slight improvement is offering all Europeans a glimmer of hope for the rest of the winter. 

“It’s a small signal, but I firmly believe that there is more hope ahead of us than despair behind us. It will be a different Christmas, but that does not mean it cannot be a merry one.”

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Kluge went on to claim that future lockdowns are definitely “avoidable,” however, more individuals need to be on board with mask mandates and the use of contact tracing technology. In total Europe has registered 15.9 million cases of Covid-19 and over 359,000 deaths, according to data from WHO, which accounts for 28% of all global cases.

WHO’s data reveals that on average, one European dies every 17 seconds due to Covid-19 complications. Intensive Care Units in France and Switzerland are being especially overrun and nearing full capacity. 

The UK accounts for the highest death-toll in Europe, hence why the country is currently in the middle of a second national lockdown. Health minister Matt Hancock spoke with the press this week regarding the lockdown, claiming that “there are encouraging signs that the number of cases is starting to flatten and the lockdown brought on earlier in the month is working.”

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In France currently residents are only allowed to leave their homes to buy essential goods or to exercise for one hour a day, and so far there are signs that these lockdown measures are working. Health ministry data for the country showed that there were only 21,150 new cases this past Thursday, which is an improvement when compared to the 28,383 new cases that appeared on Wednesday. 

In the US on the other hand, cases are continuing to climb as the nation nears 12 million total cases and 255,000 deaths, according to media data. CDC official Henry Walke spoke with the media about this dramatic rise and how the country needs to begin shutting down like Europe to curb the spread. 

“We’re alarmed with the exponential increase in cases, hospitalizations, and deaths.”

New York City’s public school system, the nation’s largest, ceased all in-person classes due to the dramatic rise in cases and on the other side of the nation California Governor Gavin Newsom is currently working on imposing new stay-at-home orders and curfews to help flatten the curve in the state. Encouraging new vaccine developments from Pfizer and Moderna have the world feeling a lot more optimistic in regard to this pandemic, however, we all must continue to remain diligent with these restrictions to protect ourselves and our loved ones in the meantime.

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Over 900 Clinic Staff Members In The Midwest Got Covid-19 Within Two Weeks 

More than 900 staff members working within the Midwest’s Mayo Clinic system have been diagnosed with the coronavirus within the past two weeks alone. That’s about 30% of the total number of cases that have appeared in the area since March. Kelley Luckstein recently spoke with the press about the severity of the situation that the Midwest is currently experiencing. 

“Our staff are being infected mostly due to community spread, which accounts for 93% of the staff infections. This impacts our ability to care for patients.”

Across the Midwest the Mayo Clinic system has about 1,500 staff members working specifically with restrictions related to Covid-19 exposures and diagnosis’. The entire Mayo clinic system consists of various clinics, hospitals, and other facilities that work to serve patients living in Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. 

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Midwestern states have been impacted severely throughout this pandemic, especially within the latest wave of new cases appearing throughout the nation. Wisconsin’s governor declared a new state of emergency this week while Minnesota’s governor announced a slew of new restrictions that would be enforced in the coming weeks. Dr. Amy Williams is the executive dean of the Mayo Clinic practice and offered the public a general Covid-19 update for the week to express her concern over all the new surges in cases. 

“There are three things you need to take care of any patient: Space, supplies and staff. And what we are most worried about is staff.”

Staff members to the clinic being infected with the virus is a worst case scenario situation, and is the main reason America has continuously needed to enforce things like mask wearing and social distancing. While like may have returned to normal in certain areas of the country, our nation’s hospitals have not taken a break from seeing all the devastation this pandemic has caused. 

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“We don’t want families to be sick. We don’t want families to lose loved ones. We want everyone to be safe. We will get through this, but we need to be safe, we need to protect each other.”

In northwestern Wisconsin, the Mayo Clinic Health System reported last week that 100% of its hospital beds were now full with Covid-19 patients. “The public urgently needs to treat COVID-19 as the health emergency it is to prevent the health care system from being overwhelmed,” the health system said in last week’s statement.

About 50% of the ICU is occupied with Covid-19 cases as well. The health system also stated that Covid-19 patients typically need to stay in the hospital two to three times longer than any non-Covid patient. 

“While we are temporarily deferring elective procedures in order to free up beds for COVID-19 patients, the public needs to understand we continue to care for other patient populations in addition to COVID patients — we remain open for trauma, emergency care, and urgent care needs while also caring for COVID patients. We need your help and we need it now,” Williams stated. 

Williams urged the public to continue to take this pandemic seriously and to protect themselves and their loved ones, and is also preparing for the coming weeks where even more cases are expected to appear and overwhelm the hospitals throughout the nation yet again. 

US Hits Over 100,000 New Covid-19 Cases Two Days In A Row

The US reported more than 121,000 new Covid-19 cases this Thursday, breaking the nation’s previous record which was set just 24 hours prior on Wednesday with 100,000 new infections. This week marked the first time the US hit a six-figure number of infections, marking a two day total of more than 220,000 positive tests, and a weekly total of 660,000. 

There are currently more than 53,000 Americans in the hospital battling the coronavirus, according to the Covid Tracking Project. Doctors warn that as the hospitalizations and cases in general increase throughout America, the number of deaths will do the same. This Thursday the US reported 1,210 deaths, marking the third day in a row the country has lost more than 1,000 individuals to this virus. 

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The US is currently averaging 895 deaths a day, a number that is rapidly increasing according to Johns Hopkins University. New Mexico, North Dakota, and Tennessee all reported record-high deaths this past Thursday. The Midwest has been hit particularly hard throughout the entire pandemic, and according to the Covid Tracking Project, hospitalizations are up “following the region’s sharply accelerating case surges.”

“More than 234,900 Americans have died since the pandemic’s start and the CDC projects another 31,000 people could lose their lives over the next two and a half weeks.”

In New Mexico specifically, for example, hospitalizations relating to Covid-19 have increased by 260% within the last month, according to Governor Michelle Gisham, adding that health officials are expecting to run out of general hospital beds within a matter of days.”The state is not trending anywhere in the right direction, residents need to follow public health guidance aimed at curbing the spread of the virus. If we don’t do them, more drastic decision-making will occur, and we will have a horrible November and a dramatically bad December,” the governor said.

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20 states in total have reported record-high days of new cases, according to Johns Hopkins. These states include: Colorado, Connecticut, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah and West Virginia.

Several state leaders are looking at these dramatic increases and are pushing for new measures to help curb the spread. For example in Connecticut new limits are being placed on restaurants, religious ceremonies and event spaces which will be going into effect this Friday. The state is also putting legal restrictions on private gatherings. 

In Rhode Island, Governor Gina Raimondo recently announced restrictions which include a stay-at-home advisory that will last from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. on weeknights. All restaurants, gyms, and recreational facilities must also close at 10 p.m. on weeknights and 10:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday nights. Restaurants will only be able to stay open later for take out purposes. 

The governor also mentioned that a main source of the virus spreading has been indoor gatherings such as house parties that have been brought on by the colder weather. The nation as a whole will need to work together in order to truly curb the spread of this virus. For now, continue to listen to your healthcare professionals and follow all the necessary protocols to keep you and your loved ones safe.

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US Hits Another Record High For New Covid-19 Cases This Week 

The United States reported 87,164 new Covid-19 cases as of Thursday night, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, which has been recording data on the pandemic since it first began. This marks the most new cases recorded in a given day in the US, however, breaking this record is unfortunately nothing new for a country that has remained relatively relaxed in terms of Covid-19 health and safety restrictions. In fact, the previous record in America was set less than a week ago when 83,731 new cases were reported. 

The US is about to hit 9 million total coronavirus cases since the beginning of the pandemic. Across the country 41 states have reported a 10% increase in new Covid-19 cases, and all 50 states have been reporting a steady rise in cases in general. Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), spoke with the press recently and claimed he won’t be surprised when the US starts seeing 100,000 new cases appear everyday at the rate we’re going currently. 

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“We’ll cross 100,000 infections at some point in the next couple of weeks, probably. We might do it this week, if all the states report on time.”

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have also predicted that by Thanksgiving the US could see 243,000 Covid-19 related deaths. At least 229,000 individuals have already died in America and there have been 8,940,000 cases. 

Ohio, specifically, has set a new high for most new Covid-19 cases to appear in one day twice within the past week, and this trend is proving to be pretty common throughout the nation. North Dakota also broke its record for daily new case numbers with 1,222 new infections reported; currently only 13% of staffed hospital beds remain open in the state. 

According to Johns Hopkins, the average number of daily new coronavirus cases is up by 24% in America. However, testing has also increased by 9% during the same time period that those increases were measured, meaning these high rates of infections have always existed, the general public and healthcare professionals of the nation just didn’t have all the proper data, and still likely don’t.

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The Covid Tracking Project has been monitoring the nation’s hospital bed occupancy rates throughout the past nine months, and this week the group reported that 13 states are struggling to cope with high hospitalization rates. Dr. Wendy Long is the president and CEO of the Tennessee Hospital Association, and recently spoke on these struggles to the press. 

“Hospitals are doing all that they can do to increase capacity, but their ability to do that is not limitless. That is especially true as we see more and more health care providers who are becoming ill from the virus and having to quarantine at home.”

The nation’s leading healthcare experts have claimed that the data shows mask mandates are a key strategy in lowering new infection/hospitalization rates. In hospitals where more than 75% of the patients came from counties that required masks in public settings, hospitalization rates began declining between the months of July and October after the initial wave of the pandemic calmed down. On the opposite end, hospitals that were treating fewer than 25% of patients from those counties saw hospitalization increases that reached 200%!

Areas of the nation that require masks to be worn in public settings are also likely to have all the other standard health and safety procedures we’ve seen put into play as well, meaning there are areas of the nation that are able to get the virus under control, however, if America as a whole doesn’t begin to get on the same page in terms of a Covid-19 plan, cases will continue to grow and citizens will continue to die.

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US Hits Highest Weekly Average Of Covid-19 Cases Since Beginning Of Pandemic 

The new seven-day average of coronavirus cases in the US hit 68,767 on Sunday, topping the previous peak average of 67,293 reported back in July, and setting the record for highest number of new cases appearing within seven-days. This past Friday and Saturday marked the two highest single days of new cases, with more than 83,000 cases being added each day. 

Health experts claim that this is the resurgence of cases that they were warning about in the summer that would spike in the fall and winter. They also warn that this will likely be the worst wave of infection the US has seen so far. The US has already seen more than 8.6 million cases of Covid-19 and 225,230 deaths; putting us in one of the most dangerous and vulnerable positions in the world in terms of this virus.  US Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb spoke with the press this past weekend about the new surges in cases.

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“We’re entering what’s going to be the steep slope of the curve. If we don’t implement some forceful policy intervention that could curb the spread this is going to continue to accelerate, and it’s going to be more difficult to get under control.”

Gottlieb claims the best way to get these outbreaks under control is a national mask mandate. “A mandate can be expressly limited to the next two months, it’s easier to wear a mask in the winter than the summer. The inconvenience would allow the country to preserve health-care capacity and keep more schools and businesses open.” Deaths are already projected to increase based on these new weekly spikes anyway, and the best way to prevent that from continuing to happen would be a mask-mandate; especially since the reinstatement of a nation-wide lockdown has seemed out of the question for months now. 

According to data released by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, if 95% of Americans wore masks in public, more than 100,000 lives could be saved in the US through February. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, claims that since so many Americans are adamant about not wearing a mask in public, a mandate would be the only way to really curb the spread entirely. 

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More than two-thirds of states have reported an increase in new Covid-19 cases this past week. No state is reporting above a 10% in terms of  improvement and case numbers going down. In El Paso County, Texas, residents are seeing one of the biggest spikes in the country, and have reported that all intensive care units in their hospitals are at 100% capacity. Because of this the county has implemented a curfew for the next two weeks. 

While researchers around the world are racing to develop a vaccine, it’s naive to think one will be ready, safe, and effective enough to be distributed in time to combat this second wave that we’re currently enduring. Gottlieb claims the next two to three months will just have to be dealt with as we’ve been. Fauci, however, is still confident that a vaccine will be available sooner rather than later. 

“We will know whether a vaccine is safe and effective by the end of November, beginning of December. The amount of doses that will be available in December will not certainly be enough to vaccinate everybody — you’ll have to wait several months into 2021.”

For now, the most imperative thing citizens in the US can do is listen to their healthcare providers and take all the necessary safety precautions to protect you and your loved ones from these spikes in cases. Also, make sure in the next week you either get out to vote early, or mail in your absentee ballot so that you vote for the candidate you want assisting you and your community/state/country through the rest of this global health crisis.