American Coronavirus: Experts Encouraged By First Findings Of Covid-19 Vaccine, But Warn United States To Still Face Difficult Months To Come

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“We have learned that in these colder months when people congregate indoors, the numbers are going to increase,” CNN chief medical correspondent Dr Sanjay Gupta said Monday evening. “Hospitalizations may even reach 100,000.”

“We used to talk about the number of people newly infected every day, hitting 100,000 people seemed outrageous. There can be as many people in hospitals, ”he added.

Across the country, hospitals are filling up.

“When you look at Utah or Montana or the Dakotas, they have so much less beds and critical care specialists that when they’re at full capacity it’s going to be a breaking point for them, which it wasn’t. for them. us in cities and coastal states, ”said Dr. Dara Kass, an emergency physician at Columbia University Medical Center, on Monday at an online event hosted by Stat.

In Saint-Louis, officials announced modeling data suggesting that intensive care unit capacity could run out around the first week of December if current rates hold.

“The Covid-19 is spreading far too quickly and sending far too many people to our hospitals and intensive care units,” said the operations commander of the Saint-Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force, Dr Alex on Monday. Garza. “We are now at a tipping point. The actions we take today will determine what the weeks and months ahead look like. ”

And as hundreds of Americans continue to die every day, that number is likely to only increase as hospitalizations continue to rise, former FDA commissioner Dr Mark McClellan told CNN on Monday. .

“The problem is we have these epidemics, these hot spots where we’re really approaching the capacity of the health system across the country now, it’s not just part of the country or the region,” he said. he declares.

Preparing for a vaccine

And while the high efficacy rates from Moderna and Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine trials are a good first step, a vaccine has yet to be approved and experts will also need to decide which groups should be vaccinated first.

An advisory committee from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is due to meet next week to decide who will get the vaccine first, a longtime committee member said.

Members of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices were advised last week that they will meet on Nov. 23 for five hours, according to committee member Dr. William Schaffner.

Among the first to be vaccinated, there are likely to be healthcare workers and essential workers as well as people over 65 and people with medical conditions. The question is what order these groups should come in, Schaffner said.

“Healthcare workers are done – it’s the first thing to happen, no doubt about it,” he said. But after that, committee members will need to work out what underlying conditions would deserve to be vaccinated quickly and what defines “essential workers” – a group that could include everyone from police officers to supermarket clerks.

And even once a vaccine is approved and more doses become available, it will be months before the United States returns to something that looks like normal.

“There won’t be a day when, you know, the light switch is going to go on and everyone will be immune,” McClellan said. “But we must do a better and better job gradually to contain the spread, avoid hospitalizations and overcome the pandemic in the months to come.”

“But we have a few difficult months to go first,” he added.

Statewide measures take effect this week

More and more state leaders announced new restrictions last week to help slow the spread.

The governor of Oklahoma announced that starting Thursday, all restaurant tables must be spaced at least six feet apart and added that bars and restaurants will have to close at 11 p.m. And from Tuesday, the 33,000 state employees reporting to the executive branch will be required to wear masks in common areas or when around other people, the governor’s office said.

In California, Gov. Gavin Newsom said the state is experiencing “the fastest increase in cases we’ve seen yet” and announced 28 countries are entering the most restrictive level of the state’s reopening plan .

New restrictions went into effect in Washington state on Monday that limit bars and restaurants outside with capacity limits and take-out service. Indoor social gatherings with people outside the home are also prohibited under the restrictions, unless participants are quarantined for 14 days prior, or quarantined for seven days prior to the rally and are given a negative result for the Covid-19 test no more than 48 hours before.

New measures will also take effect in Oregon on Wednesday, when the state enters a “two-week freeze.” Social gatherings will be limited to a maximum of six people in total out of a maximum of two households and restaurants will be limited to delivery and take-out only, among other measures.

Advice for returning students

As the Thanksgiving holiday approaches, Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont on Monday released advice for out-of-state students planning to return home to the state for Thanksgiving.

Lamont asked returning students to self-quarantine for 14 days before or after returning home, to get tested for the virus before leaving school and after returning home, not to attend parties or meetings and not to quarantine with elderly or high-risk family members.

Don't count on a negative test result to see your family for Thanksgiving

“We cannot apply this,” he said. “I’m going to have to rely on your good judgment… that you follow the protocols, that you follow the quarantine and that you follow the tests. ”

Public health officials and heads of state have repeatedly stressed how critical the upcoming holidays are and expressed concern that family and friends reunions would help fuel an already rampant spread .

“Separation should be the norm,” Schaffner also urged this year.

“Less is more this Thanksgiving,” he says. “It’s the Covid Thanksgiving. We don’t want to give away the virus as we give thanks. “

CNN’s Lauren Mascarenhas, Elizabeth Cohen, Kelly Christ and Raja Razek contributed to this report.

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