US coronavirus: Covid-19 deaths are at unprecedented levels in the country
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said the state was seeing a “real and significant increase in cases and our positivity rate from people’s gatherings around the holiday.”
“This surge that we’re in right now is at least twice the rate, the seriousness, of the previous surges that we have seen,” the governor said Friday. “This is our most dangerous time.”
Colorado’s state epidemiologist Dr. Rachel Herlihy on Friday warned of “early signs” of a rise in Covid-19 cases. “We are starting to see the impact of the holidays show up in our data,” she said. Health experts believe about one in 105 residents are currently contagious, Herlihy added.
“We continue to see a large percentage of Colorado’s population actively infected with Covid-19 and having the potential to transmit infection to each other, so contact between individuals continues to be high risk in this state,” Herlihy said.
It’s been a warning repeated in other states since the start of 2021.
Arkansas’ governor said earlier this month the state was “certainly in the surge after Christmas.” And Mississippi officials said on Monday the state had experienced more Covid-19 patients in the ICU than ever before and was bracing for another rise in virus numbers following the holidays.
“So I do think this is an event that will probably lead to a significant spreading,” he added.
The US has averaged about 247,200 Covid-19 cases a day over the last week as of Friday — an all-time high, and more than 3.7 times greater than a summertime peak set in late July, Johns Hopkins data shows.
California is struggling
Once a hospital reaches a phase called “crisis care mode,” triage officers will be tasked with deciding how to allocate and reallocate scare resources like ventilators for critically ill patients with a focus of “doing the most good for the most people,” according to the guidelines.
CDC shoots down speculation of ‘USA variant’
The CDC said that’s not the total number of cases circulating in the country, but only those that have been found by analyzing positive samples. While the variant appears to spread more easily, there’s no evidence that it’s any more deadly or causes more severe disease, the agency said.
“There is a strong possibility there are variants in the United States; however, it could (take) weeks or months to identify if there is a single variant of the virus that causes Covid-19 fueling the surge in the United States similar to the surge in the United Kingdom,” a spokesman said in an email to CNN.
The speculation made it into the written report. Like the CDC, the official emphasized to CNN that no such variant has actually been identified.
Scott Hensley, an expert on viruses and immunity at the University of Pennsylvania, said he was puzzled by the speculation.
“There are a lot of reasons why the infection rates have increased over the fall and winter,” Hensley said. “The rise in cases does not necessarily need a genetic explanation.”
States call on non-traditional vaccinators for help
Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn said Friday he was encouraging states to broaden the criteria for who can be vaccinated now against Covid-19, as some states have utilized only about 30% to 35% of the vaccines they have.
In other parts of the country, health systems are pulling from a well of newly trained, nursing, medical and dental students to aid in the effort. And others are looking to retired health care workers who have the skills to administer vaccines and aren’t actively attending to Covid-19 patients.
CNN’s Gisela Crespo, John Bonifield, Stella Chan, Lauren Mascarenhas, Naomi Thomas, Betsy Klein, Jim Acosta, Maggie Fox, Michael Nedelman and Melissa Alonso contributed to this report.