Coronavirus update: U.S. cases increase at a double-digit rate

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Researchers say some coronavirus exposure may build immunity

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

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌confirmed‌ ‌cases:‌ 47,902,038 (47,773,956)‌

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌deaths:‌ 772,588 (771,513)

Total‌ ‌global‌ ‌cases:‌ 258,453,277 (257,896,250)

Total‌ ‌global‌ ‌deaths:‌ 5,162,675 (5,155,288)‌

U.S. cases increase sharply

With the holidays looming, bringing with it increased travel and family gatherings, the number of new cases of the coronavirus in the U.S. has moved sharply higher. Dr. Rochelle Walensky, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), says the seven-day average of reported infections has increased by 18%.

“Heading into the winter months, when respiratory viruses are more likely to spread, and with plans for increased holiday season travel and gatherings, boosting people’s overall protection against covid-19 disease and death was important to do now,” Walensky told reporters.

Both the CDC and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have approved booster shots, using both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, for all adults who are 18-years-old or older. Walensky and Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID), said the latest trend is a strong reason for people to get vaccinated and for the vaccinated population to get a booster.

Some coronavirus exposure may build immunity, researchers say

Not all coronaviruses are the same. Some that are similar to the common cold are mostly an annoyance. Others, like COVID-19, can be lethal for some who become infected.

Researchers at the University of Zurich led a scientific team that has concluded that exposure to a harmless coronavirus, some of which might not even create symptoms, may be helpful in building immunity to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

“People who have had strong immune responses to other human coronaviruses also have some protection against SARS-CoV-2 infection,” said Alexandra Trkola, head of the Institute of Medical Virology at the University of Zurich.

How to plan a coronavirus-free holiday celebration

Thanksgiving kicks off the holiday season in the second year of the pandemic. With more people fully vaccinated, there could be larger gatherings around the table this year. Experts at the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (ACAAI), have issued some tips for keeping COVID-19 at bay.

Among their suggestions is continuing to maintain a safe social distance with people outside your immediate household. It may seem a little awkward, but participants in holiday gatherings may want to avoid hugs and kisses with people who are not vaccinated. Besides COVID-19, the medical professionals say allergies and the flu can be causes for concern.

“In addition to concerns about COVID-19, those with allergies and asthma sometimes have an added layer of anxiety because they need to always be thinking about allergy and asthma triggers that can cause serious symptoms,” said allergist Dr. Mark Corbett, president of ACAAI. “With a bit of preparation ahead of your events, you can make sure everyone is safe from allergy and asthma flares, in addition to possible COVID-19 exposure.”

Around the nation

  • New York: The number of COVID-19 cases across the state is rising at the fastest rate since April, but the outbreak isn’t centered in the urban areas of the state. Health officials say Western New York and the Finger Lakes hit a seven-day average of positive cases of 9.7% and 8.6%, respectively, the highest since early this year.

  • California: The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has issued a report detailing inspections that found “significant deficiencies” at the state’s COVID-19 testing lab. The deficiencies were first exposed by a whistleblower, but the report wasn’t released for eight months.

  • Minnesota: Minnesota is one of the northern states that is experiencing a surge in coronavirus cases. Gov. Tim Walz has called up medically trained National Guard units to assist long-term care facilities as hospitals struggle with the increasing load of new cases.

  • Michigan: Students in more than 30 Michigan school districts are getting an extra-long Thanksgiving holiday break. The schools have closed classrooms early in hopes that a longer break will reduce COVID-19 outbreaks and relieve staff shortages.

  • Texas: The Southwest Area Regional Transit District, or SWART, has received national recognition from the Federal Transit Administration for the way it handled the early weeks of the pandemic. “The pandemic did, you know, force us to be a little bit more creative than normal,” said Sarah Hidalgo Cook, SWART’s general manager.

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