Kentucky governor Andy Beshear said the state is seeing “a real and significant increase in cases and our positivity rate due to the gatherings of people around the holiday”.
“This rise that we are currently in is at least twice the severity of the previous increases that we have seen,” said the governor on Friday. “This is our most dangerous time.”
Colorado State Epidemiologist Dr. Rachel Herlihy warned on Friday of “early signs” of a surge in Covid-19 cases. “We’re starting to see how the effects of the holidays show up in our data,” she said. Health experts believe that about one in 105 people is currently contagious, Herlihy added.
The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned Friday that the riot was likely to be a “spike” event that will have “public health consequences”. “They had largely exposed largely exposed people all across the Capitol,” said Dr. Robert Redfield to the McClatchy newspaper group. “Then these people will all ride in cars, trains and planes that are going home all over the country.”
“So I think this is an event that is likely to lead to significant spread,” he added.
In the nine days since the start of 2021, the US has registered more than 2 million new Covid-19 cases and 24,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.
The nation has recorded an average of 247,200 Covid-19 cases per day for the past week as of Friday – an all-time high and more than 3.7 times higher than a summer summit set in late July, Johns Hopkins data shows.
And the country has recorded an average of 2,982 deaths per day for the past week – the highest number in the pandemic, according to Johns Hopkins. This week, the US reported more than 4,000 coronavirus deaths in a single day for the first time on Thursday. In the meantime, hospitalizations have pushed some facilities and medical staff to their limits. There were 131,889 Covid-19 patients in US hospitals on Friday – the third highest number recorded according to the COVID Tracking Project.
California is fighting
California, in particular, is grappling with brutal waves of cases and hospitalizations. And the daily mortality rates there have been so overwhelming that the morgues of some California hospitals are full and coroners, who have been asked to help store them until the funeral directors can get them, are also out of space.For example, the state has sent 88 refrigerated trailers to hospitals and counties to give them the space they need, officials said Friday. The Los Angeles district – the most populous district in the country – has recorded one Covid-19 death on average about every eight minutes, City Mayor Eric Garcetti said this week. On Friday, county health officials reported the highest number of Covid-19 deaths ever reported in a single day: 318.
The district’s hospitals “take ICU patients to unusual locations in the hospital to find room for them,” said Dr. Harbor-UCLA Medical Center’s chief medical officer Anish Mahajan told CNN on Saturday.
Mahajan said with hospitals already so congested he was afraid to think about the kind of waves that Christmas gatherings could bring.
“It takes two to three weeks for patients to be sick enough to need the hospital after they catch the virus. Christmas was only two weeks ago and we are already full,” Mahajan said.
Already in this county, due to the congestion in hospitals in general, ambulance workers have been instructed not to transport a cardiac arrest patient if they cannot be resuscitated locally.
Overwhelmed funeral directors share hearses
In Montebello, just outside Los Angeles, the headquarters of two large funeral directors paints a picture of tiredness and despair.
At Guerra & Gutierrez Mortuaries, owner Richard Gutierrez says his six funeral burials would typically handle around 28 services a day prior to the pandemic. They now run about 56 daily – about 70% of them for coronavirus victims.
At the Continental Funeral Home, just a few blocks from Beverly Boulevard, on Friday, owner Magda Maldonado stood in front of a freezer trailer she had recently bought to hold dozens of bodies.
She said she felt stress inside. Aside from all of the people they serve, both she and Gutierrez must turn away dozen of grieving families.
And because of the government’s pressing demand and restrictions on the assembly pandemic, they are unable to provide normal service – with a prayer vigil, mass, and wake over two – to the large Hispanic, working-class Catholic families they serve Days distributed. Montebello is a city of around 77% Hispanic or Latin American residents.
“I am overwhelmed. Because of that, I now have an anxiety disorder,” said Maldonado. “My employees are overwhelmed and tired.”
On Friday, mourners, most of them Latino and dressed in black, gathered in front of both overcrowded funeral centers.
Gutierrez said he was grateful to Continental for lending him hearse when he went out.
The pressures to serve so many families well and the grief that so many people have been prematurely killed by Covid-19 also worries him, he said.
He recalled situations where he realized he needed to arrange funerals for two family members who had both died from the virus, such as a husband and a wife.
“We’re going to say, ‘Well, wait – we have the same last name together. Oh my god,'” he said. “It was just unbearable – and both Covid.”
CDC shoots speculations about “USA variant”
According to the CDC, more than 60 cases of a Covid-19 variant identified for the first time in Great Britain have been identified in eight US states.
The CDC said that this is not the total number of cases circulating in the country, only those found through analysis of positive samples. While the variant seems to be spreading more easily, there’s no evidence to suggest it’s more deadly or causing more serious illness, the agency said.
The CDC also shot down a January 3 coronavirus task force report speculating about the existence of an easily transferable “United States variant”. There is no evidence yet that such a native variant exists, the CDC said on Friday.
“There is a strong possibility that there are variants in the US. However, it may take weeks or months to determine if there is a single variant of the virus that is causing Covid-19 to be similar to the surge in the US as fired in the US. ” Increase in the UK, “a spokesman said in an email to CNN.
The task force’s speculation began with a conversation with governors, during which officials discussed whether the country’s steep rise in Covid-19 cases could be due to a more transmissible variant similar to the one found in the UK, a government official told CNN.
The speculation made it into the written report. Like the CDC, the official told CNN that no such variant had actually been identified.
Scott Hensley, an expert on viruses and immunity at the University of Pennsylvania, said he was confused by the speculation.
“There are many reasons why infection rates rose in the fall and winter,” said Hensley. “The rise in cases doesn’t necessarily need a genetic explanation.”
CNN’s John Bonifield, Stella Chan, Lauren Mascarenhas, Naomi Thomas, Betsy Klein, Jim Acosta, Maggie Fox and Michael Nedelman contributed to this report.