Leading coronavirus advisor to President-elect Joe Biden said Friday there were no plans for a nationwide wholesale lockdown to contain the growing coronavirus as three West Coast states jointly called for unnecessary travel to be stopped.
The joint California, Oregon, and Washington advisory opinion urging residents not to venture out of the state came as health experts voiced concerns that the upcoming vacation travel season was already accelerating alarming spikes in COVID-19 infections and hospital stays.
Oregon Governor Kate Brown took the extra step of ordering social gatherings limited to no more than six people, effective immediately. This restriction is ready to be enforced.
“I’m not asking, I’m telling you to stop your social gatherings … and limit your house parties and social interactions to six and fewer, no more than one household,” Brown said.
The increasingly dire situation has led a growing list of state and local governments to reintroduce restrictions they eased during a summer low tide on COVID-19 outbreaks.
The governors of six states in the northeastern region, which were hardest hit in the early months of the pandemic, are planning an emergency meeting this weekend to coordinate responses, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said.
The country’s patchwork quilt is likely to remain intact after Biden was inaugurated on Jan. 20 following his election defeat to Republican President Donald Trump, the Democrat’s coronavirus advisory council chairman said.
“We’re not in a place where we say we’ve closed the whole country,” said Dr. Vivek Murthy, a retired US surgeon general, told ABC’s Good Morning America.
“Right now, the way we should think about it is more of a set of constraints that we choose up or down depending on how bad a spread is in a given region,” he said.
Murthy’s comments were a sharp rebuttal of Trump’s repeated campaign claims that Biden intended to lock the country down if he were elected president.
Medical experts point out that with the onset of winter, more indoor gatherings are taking place and social distancing and mask-wearing habits are no longer taken into account. These are the main factors triggering a threatening spike in coronavirus transmissions nationwide and a positive COVID-19 rate.
The increasing case load is gradually draining the resources of some hospitals and is on track to marginalize many, they warn.
“I’m 100 percent worried about the holidays,” said Dr. Khalilah Gates, a lung specialist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, told Reuters on Friday. “We don’t have an endless capacity to waver.”
California Minister of Health and Welfare Dr. Announcing the west coast travel advisory, Mark Ghaly said a strict mandate had been ruled out over concerns that “COVID fatigue” could spark a backlash that would lead people to behave in less safe ways.
The opinion calls on people entering or returning to the three states to self-quarantine for 14 days, the expected incubation period for the virus.
As of Thursday, California was only the second state, after Texas earlier this month, to have the number of confirmed infections surged to over 1 million. The daily average of new cases rose by almost 50 percent in the first week of November.
“This is the fastest rate of increase we’ve seen in California,” said Dr. Erica Pan, the acting health officer and chief epidemiologist for the state.
Illinois reported a record 15,433 new cases on Friday, the largest of any state in a 24-hour period, beating the all-time high of 15,300 set by Florida in July.
The United States has documented more than 100,000 new COVID-19 cases daily for the past nine consecutive days, while the last six consecutive days have recorded an average of over 1,000 deaths per day, a trend last seen in August.
The daily number of cases has more than doubled in 13 states in the past two weeks, most of them in the Midwest. This comes from a Reuters balance sheet from US health authorities.
Dr. Robert Kim-Farley, professor of epidemiology at the University of California at Los Angeles, attributed some of the tips to the recent Halloween celebrations. He warned of further events if Americans ignored the advice not to travel and gather for Thanksgiving in late November and Christmas.
Chicago has urged residents to stay home and avoid visitors for the next 30 days, including Thanksgiving.
In New York City, indoor restaurants were closed at 10 p.m., while Detroit public schools stopped personal learning starting Friday.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the leading U.S. infectious disease expert on Trump’s coronavirus task force, said he had no contact with Biden’s transition team, but his advice would be to continue social distancing, avoid crowds, wear masks and close hands to wash.
“Public health principles don’t change from month to month or from administration to administration,” he said in an interview.
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by GossipMantri staff and posted from a syndicated feed.)