The United States set COVID-19 records for a fourth consecutive day this week.The growing number of cases in New York City prompted Mayor Bill de Blasio on Friday to warn parents with children in the nation’s largest school system that they should be ready to return to distance learning as early as Monday, reported CBS New York. The announcement comes as the city quickly approaches the 3% COVID-19 positivity rate threshold that will trigger school closures. were reported nationwide and more than 68,000 people were hospitalized with the virus on Friday alone. On average, more than 1,100 Americans have died from the virus per day over the past week.
The mayor noted that “very few people” have tested positive in schools – according to CBS New York, the positivity rate in schools is less than 1%. But de Blasio said the city’s higher rate means “we have to act very carefully.”
“Have a plan, an alternative plan, for as early as Monday,” the mayor said, adding that if schools were forced to close, “the goal is to bring it back as soon as possible”.
Gounder told CBSN that the explosion in the number of cases across the country is likely due to colder weather, forcing more people to congregate indoors. She stressed that everyone, regardless of where they live, should remain vigilant as the holidays approach.
“I understand that (people) will want to celebrate with their family and friends, the problem is we have a fire raging across the country right now,” she said, adding that coming together socially, as you would any other year, it would be “like pouring gasoline on that fire. ”
President-elect Joe Biden announced on Monday the team of public health experts and scientists who will guide him and Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris in responding to the pandemic. The COVID-19 advisory board includes 13 doctors and scientists, including Gounder, an infectious disease specialist and epidemiologist at NYU Grossman School of Medicine and Bellevue Hospital who has treated COVID-19 patients since the start of the pandemic .
Biden-Harris’s board of directors has been hampered by the General Service Administration’s refusal to formally recognize Mr. Biden as the likely winner of the presidential election. Gounder said she had not been in contact with anyone in the current White House coronavirus task force since her appointment to the advisory board.
“The fact that we don’t have a smooth flow of information and power during this time of transition is really problematic,” she said. “We are at war with the virus… In the absence of this critical information, our national security is frankly in danger. It is a risk to the health of people in the United States, it is also a risk to our economy. ”
Despite the roadblocks, Gounder said the council is moving forward with its plans to tackle the pandemic once Mr Biden is sworn in. President-elect intends to increase supplies of personal protective equipment, PPE, through, and coordinate with state and local health services, as well as the private sector, to distribute a vaccine, especially to rural communities that are less accessible.
“Small rural communities will be much more difficult. They will be further away from centralized sites where we will have the freezing capacity necessary for a vaccine, such as the one produced by Pfizer, ”Gounder explained. “They also don’t have as many CVS and Walgreens pharmacies that will help distribute the vaccine. Rural areas will therefore certainly be more difficult. ”
“We’re very proactive in interfacing with the big parties – the players in this distribution effort, including the folks at CVS and Walgreens and local and state health departments, large hospital systems,” she said. “They will be on the front lines, and we work a lot hand in hand with them. ”
When asked if the lack of communication between the Trump administration and Mr. Biden’s team would lead to overlapping plans or divergences, Gounder said that was not a problem. “It would imply that you actually have solid planning led by the current administration,” she said.