The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that Americans should not travel for Thanksgiving, and has posted updated guidelines for safely celebrating the holiday.
“CDC is recommending against travel during the Thanksgiving Day period,” Dr. Henry Walke, Covid-19 incident manager for the CDC, told reporters in a conference call.
“Right now, especially as we are seeing exponential growth in cases and the opportunity to translocate disease or infection from one part of the country to another leads, to our recommendation to avoid travel at this time,” he added.
Walke warned that if people gather in multiple generations, someone in that gathering could have diabetes or kidney disease, or simply be older and more vulnerable.
“What is at stake is the increased chance of one of your loved ones becoming sick and then being hospitalized and dying around the holidays,” Walke said.
Plus, about 40% of infections are asymptomatic.
“One of our concerns is people over the holiday season will get together and they may actually be bringing infection with them to that small gathering and not even know it,” Walke said.
Walke said he is not visiting his own family. “I haven’t seen my parents since January. I’m staying home and I have older parents who would like to see me and who would like to see my children as well,” he said.
The CDC also advised that students who have been away at college don’t count as household members and need to keep their distance when they come home for holidays.
The same goes for people who have been away on military duty.
“People who have not been living in your household for the 14 days before you are celebrating should not be considered members of your household and so you should take those extra precautions, even wearing masks within your own home,” Dr. Erin Sauber-Schatz, the CDC’s lead for Community Intervention and Critical Population Task Force, told reporters.
Families can also ask college students or other people who would normally be loosely considered household members to quarantine as much as possible for 14 days before coming home.
Safer gatherings can be held outside as much as possible, the CDC recommends. People can wear masks when together, and place chairs and furniture farther apart.
The White House coronavirus task force will hold a press briefing at 4 p.m. ET today, according Vice President Mike Pence’s office.
It is unclear whether or not President Trump will attend.
The briefing comes a day after the US death toll from coronavirus surpassed 250,000 deaths. In less than 10 months, Covid-19 has killed more people than strokes, suicides and car crashes typically do in a full year — combined.
German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz said Thursday that the country’s new restrictions are already helping and the country is on “the right path.” However, he warned “there is nothing someone can say about the next month because no one knows what the virus will do.”
Germany is in a nationwide partial lockdown that requires restaurant and bars to remain closed. It also requires people to avoid travel, “keep their contacts to an absolute minimum” and limit public meetings to members of two different households.
Schools and shops have remained open. German federal and state leaders will meet next week to decide on introducing further restrictions.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with Bioreports’s Richard Quest, Scholz said that he is “quite confident” about the economic future.
“We stabilized the economy with extra 14 billion euros just for the month of November and this will help that we can continue with our economic development which is better than we expected weeks and months ago,” he said.
Bioreports’s Eleanor Pickston contributed to this report.
Delirium was common among elderly patients with Covid-19 who came to the emergency department, according to a study published Thursday in JAMA Network Open, and many of them did not have other typical signs or symptoms of the disease.
“In this multicenter retrospective cohort study, 28% of 817 older patients with Covid-19 infection had delirium on arrival to the ED, and delirium was the sixth most common presenting symptom or sign overall,” read the study, from lead authors Dr. Maura Kennedy of Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School and Benjamin Helfand of the University of Massachusetts Medical School.
“Delirium at presentation was significantly associated with increased risk for poor hospital outcomes, including ICU stay, discharge to a rehabilitation facility, and death,” the study said.
Of the 226 patients with delirium, 37, or 16%, had delirium as their primary symptom. Importantly, the authors said, 84 of those 226, or 37%, had no fever or shortness of breath.
More on the study: The study was conducted at seven sites across the United States and included older adults who went to emergency departments on or after March 13.
Some of the factors associated with delirium included being older than 75, living in a nursing home or assisted living facility, prior use of psychoactive medication, vision or hearing impairment, stroke and Parkinson’s disease.
“Our study demonstrates that it is critical to recognize that older adults with Covid-19 may present with delirium as the primary or sole symptom,” the study says. “In addition, delirium is an important risk marker to identify patients at high risk for poor outcomes, including death.”
Remember: The study does have some limitations, including the fact that they suspect that the delirium rate observed is an underestimate, they were unable to evaluate site-specific data and enrollment occurred primarily in the Northeast during a time when it was undergoing a surge in Covid-19 infections.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said he expects New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo will close indoor dining and gyms in the next week or two.
The mayor said in a news conference this morning that after speaking with the governor at length yesterday and with cases showing a clear uptick, the city will move to the orange zone. In that zone, indoor dining and gyms will be closed.
The mayor also reiterated, “We will bring our schools back, but we have to reset the equation.”
Yesterday, de Blasio announced that the city’s public schools would close today as coronavirus cases rise in the city.
De Blasio said for those who might feel a little better if they knew indoor dining and gyms were going to be closed, “It’s just a matter of time.”
“It’s very likely to be in the next week or two,” de Blasio said.
This comes after the governor said Wednesday New York City’s Covid-19 numbers could warrant putting the city into an orange zone soon.
Chairman of the NYC Council Health Committee, Mark Levine responds:
Karin Smith, a Florida resident and single mom of a 14-year-old boy, is one of millions of Americans who may lose expanded unemployment benefits on Dec. 26.
She said she is able to qualify for food stamps, but has given up on going to food banks because “if they open at 9, you have to be there at 5 a.m. to hope to get anything.”
“It’s constant stress. There’s no time of day when it’s a little bit easier. You don’t get home from work and, you know, have a glass of wine and it’s all better. It’s never-ending. I don’t know who thinks that you can live on $275 a week,” she said in an interview on Bioreports.
Smith previously worked for the Department of Education in data compliance and has been searching for a new job.
“It’s not laziness … A job making $8 an hour is not going to pay my $1,650 rent, let alone all the other expenses I have because I had a good job,” she said.
Smith said her son is old enough to understand her stress and has tried to help with his own suggestions, like buying a motor home and moving them into it because he doesn’t want to lose their dog or cat.
“Your kids watch you. They can read you like a book, and he knows way more than I would like about how frail it is,” she said. “… His level of anxiety is through the roof.”
The economic fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic is driving up food insecurity across America.
“What we’ve seen, has been, unfortunately, a steady level of greatly, significantly increased need, since the pandemic started,” said Katie Fitzgerald, Chief Operating Officer of Feeding America.
Feeding America, the nation’s largest hunger-relief organization, says more than 54 million people in the country could soon face food insecurity. That is 17 million more than before the coronavirus outbreak. The non-profit has seen a 60 percent increase in food assistance needs since March.
Several federal programs are available to help people make ends meet during these difficult times.
If you, or someone you know, is one of those people facing food insecurity at the moment, Bioreports has a list of resources that can help. You can see the full list here.
An ensemble forecast published Thursday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now projects there will be 276,000 to 298,000 coronavirus deaths in the United States by Dec. 12.
Unlike some individual models, the CDC’s ensemble forecast only offers projections a few weeks into the future.
The previous ensemble forecast, published Nov. 12, projected up to 282,000 coronavirus deaths by Dec. 5.
At least 250,652 people have already died from Covid-19 in the United States, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
The US just surpassed a tragic milestone of more than 250,000 coronavirus deaths and more than 11.5 million infections nationwide, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
Just how bad things could get will be determined by Thanksgiving celebrations next week. Health officials have warned against traditional indoor gatherings that seem to be a big driver in the surge of cases.
Each family will need to weigh the risks of celebrating Thanksgiving in person or virtually depending on individual circumstances. As well as taking precautions like masks and hand sanitizer, Dr. Sanjay Gupta has said the dose of the virus you receive might make the difference between being asymptomatic, getting mildly sick or becoming critically ill.
“It’s not because you need a certain number of particles of virus to infect a cell – it just increases the odds that one of those viral particles will make it into the cell and infect it, setting off the chain reaction,” he explains.
Another way to think of it is like conception: You don’t need millions of sperm to fertilize an egg – you only need one – but men make millions of sperm to improve the chances that one will reach the egg, overcome its defenses and fertilize it.
“Each person has a different amount of virus that they need,” explains Erin Bromage, an associate professor of biology at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth.
“Somebody that is immunosuppressed, or somebody that is stressed, for example, may need less of a [virus] challenge in order to get the same outcomes as somebody that is in a healthy condition,” she adds.
Put it all together, and the chance of infection depends on the physiology of the potential host, as well as their personal behaviors and health habits such as smoking status, diet, physical activity and sleep. An elderly or unhealthy host in the face of large, recurrent exposures is clearly the worst case scenario. But a medically fragile person could be sickened by even a low dose of virus; conversely, a healthy person can be overwhelmed with a high enough dose.
If you are planning on gathering with family or friends this holiday season, Bioreports’s Dr. Leana Wen explain some of the safest ways to do so in this video.