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Coronavirus update: Trouble in the Northeast, hospitalizations rise in New York

Why you still need to clean surfaces

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Coronavirus (COVID-19) tally as compiled by Johns Hopkins University. (Previous numbers in parentheses.)

Total U.S. confirmed cases: 7,772,099 (7,729,108)

Total U.S. deaths: 214,882 (214,573)

Total global cases: 37,614,668 (37,288,362)

Total global deaths: 1,078,274 (1,074,276)

‘Troubling signs’ in the Northeast

Dr. Deborah Birx, a key member of the White House Coronavirus (COVID-19) Task Force, says she sees “troubling signs” of a spreading virus in the northeastern U.S. Cases have recently risen sharply in some states where mitigation efforts were thought to have brought the virus under control.

Birx says the virus appears to be spreading in a different way than it did before. She says it’s spreading faster within small gatherings of families and small social groups. In the spring, many of the cases stemmed from church services and other large gatherings.

Birx says she worries that people will be spending more time indoors in colder weather. Another concern is indoor dining because people have to remove their masks to eat and drink. That said, Birx said it’s clear that the virus is not spreading as fast in areas where mitigation measures are strictly adhered to.

Hospitalizations rising in New York

After bringing the coronavirus under control through strict mitigation measures, New York is seeing a sharp rise once again in hospitalizations. Over the weekend, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that 826 people are in the hospital for COVID-19 treatment, the largest number since mid-July.

Cuomo said public health authorities have traced 18 percent of recent positive tests to one area of the state that’s highly populated. The governor said there appear to be six clusters of the virus in Brooklyn and Queens, with a number of other cases in Orange and Rockland counties.

Study: Virus can live 28 days on surfaces

While scientists now believe the coronavirus germs spread mostly through the air, it is definitely possible to get infected from contact with a contaminated surface. New research shows that the virus can live for up to 28 days on some surfaces.

The peer-reviewed study by  Australia’s national science agency found that SARS-CoV-2 not only had a longer-than-expected life on surfaces but was “extremely robust” at room temperature.

The researchers say the main takeaway is that, in addition to wearing masks in public, people cannot let up on efforts to frequently wash hands and clean surfaces.

Carnival cancels the rest of November’s cruises

With cases of the virus rising around the world, Carnival has dropped anchor on its remaining November cruise schedule. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had blocked cruises from U.S. ports though Oct. 31.

Following the CDC order, Carnival canceled all cruises from the U.S. except for the liners scheduled to sail from Port Miami and Port Canaveral, Fla. The recent rise in U.S. cases has led to the change in plans.

“It has now [been] determined that November 2020 operations will not be feasible,” Carnival said in a statement. “Carnival continues to work on protocols and procedures that would allow for the resumption of cruise operations, with a gradual, phased-in approach, designating Miami and Port Canaveral as the first two homeports for embarkations.”

Tennessee Titans still impacted by the virus

The National Football League (NFL) continues to wrestle with COVID-19 after five weeks of the season. The Tennessee Titans, which sidelined several players late last month because they tested positive for COVID-19, reports that a staff member has now tested positive.

"This morning we learned that a staff member tested positive. We have temporarily closed our facility and are in communication with the league on the next steps," the team said in a Sunday morning statement.

As a team, the Titans have recorded 24 positive test results since Sept. 24. Thirteen of those positive tests involved players.

Around the nation

  • Arizona: A new CDC report that looked at mitigation efforts in Arizona determined that requirements to wear masks and the closure of certain businesses led to a 75 percent decline in coronavirus cases in the state.

  • Indiana: The revolt against requirements to wear masks appears to be particularly strong in Indiana. Political analysts say Gov. Eric Holcomb’s mask mandate may hurt him among conservatives who would ordinarily support the Republican in his campaign for another term.

  • Utah: Most schools are choosing between classroom instruction or online learning. Increasingly, schools in Utah are embracing a third option, holding classes in outdoor settings because of COVID-19.

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