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Almost 100,000 people are hospitalised in the US from coronavirus, a record high, as states and cities scramble to implement strict new social measures following Thanksgiving and with the Christmas holidays looming.
According to Axios, the Food and Drug Administration commissioner, Stephen Hahn, was summoned to the White House on Tuesday to explain why no vaccine has yet been approved.
The White House coronavirus taskforce was digesting the resignation of Scott Atlas, a controversial Stanford neuroradiologist who gained Trump’s ear despite having no expertise in infectious diseases.
Top public health expert Dr Anthony Fauci, a member of the taskforce, said the US was “not in a good place” after many ignored guidance not to travel for Thanksgiving, and warned that a further surge in cases was likely in two to three weeks.
The number of people being treated in hospital for Covid-19 stood at 96,039 on Monday, almost double the total at the start of November, according to the Covid Tracking Project. There have been 13.5m coronavirus cases in the US and 268,045 people have died.
In an interview with the Facebook chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, on Monday, Fauci said the US was about to experience “a surge, superimposed on a surge”.
“What we have done with Thanksgiving, Mark, we’re not going to see the repercussions of that for two to three weeks now,” Fauci said. “So because of travel, people congregating etc, you don’t see the difference in two, three, five days. You see the difference in two to three weeks from now.
“Which would put it right at the time that people would be traveling for Christmas. So all things considered, we are not in a good place.”
Los Angeles county, home to 10 million, imposed a stay-at-home order on Monday, while Santa Clara, also in California, announced a quarantine for anyone who had travelled further than 150 miles from the city.
In Hawaii, the mayor of Hawaii county said trans-Pacific travellers arriving without a negative Covid-19 test must quarantine for 14 days, and even those who had tested negative might be randomly selected for another test upon arrival.
New Jersey is suspending all youth sports. On Sunday California, the most populous state, became the first to record more than 100,000 cases in one week, the New York Times reported. That prompted strict new measures in parts of the state, as Governor Gavin Newsom warned that hospitals could be close to full by Christmas.
“If these trends continue, California will need to take drastic action,” Newsom said in a briefing.
On Monday, Moderna submitted a coronavirus vaccine, which it said shows 94% efficacy, to the FDA for emergency use approval. With a Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine, the FDA now has two vaccines it could approve in December.
Pfizer and BioNTech submitted their vaccine for approval on 20 November. The FDA is due to hold a public meeting to discuss approving the vaccine on 10 December.
On Tuesday morning, the White House press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, told Fox News the FDA was working “around the clock” but said Trump would “never apologise for putting the fire under these agencies”.
In his Facebook interview, Fauci called for people to “be part of the solution” by getting vaccinated when possible.
“Say: ‘I’m not going to be one of the people that’s going to be a stepping stone for the virus to go to somebody else. I’m going to be a dead end to the virus,’” Fauci said, though he added that vaccines would not be available to the wider public until April or May.
“By the time we get to April they will have likely taken care of the high-priority and then the general population of normal, healthy young men or women, 30, 40 years old, no underlying health conditions, can walk into a CVS or a Walgreens and get vaccinated.
“I would think through April and May, the overwhelming majority of those who want to can get vaccinated. The challenge will be to convince people to get vaccinated.”
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: US hospitals fill with 100,000 Covid-19 cases amid fear of pre-Christmas surge | Coronavirus