US sets coronavirus infection record; deaths near 224,000
BOISE, Idaho (AP) - The U.S. coronavirus case count has hit record highs with more than 83,000 infections reported in a single day.
The US death toll has now risen to 223,995, according to the COVID-19 dashboard published by Johns Hopkins University. The total number of U.S. cases reported on the website on Friday was 83,757, surpassing the 77,362 cases reported on July 16.
The effects are being felt across the country - a lockdown from Friday on the Oglala Sioux Tribe reservation in South Dakota, a plea from a Florida health official to stop children's birthdays, dire warnings from the Utah governor, and an increasingly desperate situation rolled into one Northern Idaho hospital where patient space is running out and airlifts to Seattle or Portland, Oregon are being considered.
"We essentially closed an entire floor of our hospital. We had to double rooms. We bought more hospital beds," said Dr. Robert Scoggins, pulmonologist at Kootenai Health Hospital in Coeur d'Alene. "Our hospital is not built for a pandemic. "
In the southern city of Twin Falls, Idaho, Magic Valley Medical Center in St. Luke said it would no longer accept children because it is overwhelmed with coronavirus patients. With the exception of newborns, all children under the age of 18 in Boise are sent 206 kilometers away.
Among those in northern Idaho who joined Scoggins at a meeting of the Panhandle Health District in Idaho was Board Member Walk Kirby.
"People are dying, they will keep dying and catching this stuff," Kirby said. "How many people don't wear a mask? The same people who don't get vaccinated for it."
Utah Governor Gary Herbert declared Friday a "record day for Utah - but not a good one" as COVID-19 cases hit an all-time high for the state.
"So far, our hospitals have been able to provide good care for all COVID and non-COVID patients who need them," he said. “But today we're on the sidelines. Unless Utahans take serious steps to restrict group meetings and wear masks, our healthcare providers cannot provide quality care to everyone in need. "
The public health ordinance requires masks in 21 counties, Herbert said, urging Utah residents to wear one when they are around anyone outside their immediate household.
The seven-day moving average for new daily COVID-19 cases in the US topped 61,140 on Thursday, compared to 44,647 two weeks ago. The record was hit on July 22nd when the moving average was 67,293 amid a summer outbreak, mainly caused by the virus floods in Florida, Texas, Arizona and California.
The surge in the US reflects a similarly widespread surge in Europe, where Rome, Paris and other major cities are curbing nightlife as part of increasingly drastic measures to slow the spread of the pandemic. French authorities said the country has recorded over 1 million confirmed coronavirus cases since the pandemic began, making it the second country in Western Europe to hit that number after Spain.
The head of the World Health Organization warned that the countries of the northern hemisphere are at a "critical point" as cases and deaths continue to rise.
"The next few months will be very difficult and some countries are on a dangerous path," said WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at a news conference on Friday.
Some of the latest developments in the United States:
In South Dakota, the Oglala Sioux Tribe ordered a week-long lockdown on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in response to a growing number of COVID-19 cases in the state. All non-essential travel is prohibited and non-essential business must be closed until the morning of October 30th.
The tribe posted on their Twitter page that there were 391 active COVID-19 cases on Thursday in the reservation, which has a population of around 20,000.
The lockdown comes as South Dakota exceeded 9,000 active coronavirus cases on Thursday and reported an all-time high of 973 new cases in one day.
The chief health officer in one of Florida's most populous counties stopped parents from throwing birthday parties for their children, regardless of size.
Dr. Raul Pino, an Orange County state health officer, said half of the 30 attendees at a recent Sweet 16 party held in the Orlando area were infected with the virus. Last month, an Orange County high school was closed for two weeks after students who attended a birthday party tested positive.
"These parties will affect not only the people participating in this activity, but everyone else they come in contact with when they leave," Pino said. "We will continue to see consequences if we do not act responsibly."
In Texas, Governor Greg Abbott is sending further medical reinforcements to the El Paso area in response to an increase in coronavirus infections. The Texas Department of Health and Emergency Management in Texas will provide more medical personnel and equipment this week.
El Paso County reported 3,750 new coronavirus infections this week, including 1,161 on Thursday. That number represents 17.5% of the 21,321 cases reported this week by the state's 254 counties.
Even as the health situation in northern Idaho deteriorated, a regional health agency voted to lift a local mask mandate. It acted shortly after it was announced that the Kootenai Health Hospital in Coeur d’Alene had reached 99% capacity.
Kootenai is the third largest county in conservative Idaho.
The state is seeing its biggest surge in coronavirus since the pandemic began. In the past two weeks, new cases increased by 46.5% nationwide. Governor Brad Little, a Republican, has refused to take action such as: For example, to require masks nationwide to slow the spread of the virus.
Dr. Joshua Kern, vice president of St. Luke's in the Magic Valley area, which includes Twin Falls and Jerome, said during a virtual press conference Thursday that he and other medical professionals are scared.
"The purpose of any coronavirus-related intervention has been to prevent the hospitals from becoming overwhelmed and here I say today that the hospital is overwhelmed," he said.
A day later, on Friday, his hospital announced the move of younger patients to Boise.
NEW JERSEY and CONNECTICUT
For a while, as the number of new COVID-19 cases increased in the Midwest and elsewhere, the number of new cases in the Northeast, which had previously been badly hit by the pandemic, remained low. Several states, including New Jersey and Connecticut, imposed 14-day quarantine requirements on travelers from dozens of states with higher rates of positive tests.
This week, however, rates in New Jersey and Connecticut soared to the point where they qualify for their own quarantine restrictions.
After some confusion, the Democratic governors of New Jersey, Connecticut and New York, where rates remain lower, decided to keep their travel rules but not put each other on their quarantine lists.
Crary reported from New York. Associate Press Writer Amy Forliti in Minneapolis; Dave Collins from Hartford, Connecticut, Brady McCombs from Salt Lake City, and Freida Frisaro from Orlando, Florida contributed to this report.
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