Crackdowns as US faces post-holiday virus surge
Americans returning from the Thanksgiving break faced strict new coronavirus containment measures around the country on Monday as health officials brace for a disastrous worsening of the nationwide surge because of holiday gatherings over the long weekend.
Los Angeles County imposed a stay-at-home order for its 10 million residents, and Santa Clara County, in the heart of Silicon Valley, banned high school, college and professional sports and decreed a quarantine for those who have traveled more than 240 kilometers outside the county.
In Hawaii, the mayor of Hawaii County said trans-Pacific travelers arriving without a negative COVID-19 test must quarantine for 14 days, and even those who have tested virus-free may be randomly tested.
“The red flags are flying in terms of the trajectory in our projections of growth,” said California Governor Gavin Newsom.
“If these trends continue, we’re going to have to take much more dramatic, arguably drastic, action.”
Health experts had pleaded with Americans to stay home over Thanksgiving and not gather with anyone who didn’t live with them. But almost 1.2 million people passed through US airports on Sunday, the most since the pandemic gripped the country in March.
Now they’re being urged to watch for any signs of illness and get tested right away if they experience symptoms.
The virus is blamed for over 267,000 deaths and more than 13.4 million confirmed infections in the US. The country on average is seeing more than 160,000 new cases per day and over 1,400 deaths — a toll on par with what the nation witnessed in mid-May.
A record 90,000 people were in the hospital with the virus in the US as of Sunday, pushing many medical institutions to the limit.
West Virginia Governor Jim Justice said hospitals across the state will reduce elective surgeries to ensure there is room for coronavirus patients. The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 jumped 29 percent in the past week.
In Kansas City, Kansas, hospital and nursing officials said they fear there will not be enough nurses to staff new hospital beds. Health officials on Monday added 4,425 confirmed infections and 87 hospitalizations to the state’s pandemic tally since Friday.
Rhode Island’s hospitals reached their COVID-19 capacity on Monday.
Under restrictions announced by Governor Gina Raimondo, some businesses will be required to shut down and people are asked to restrict social activity to family. “This will not be easy, but I am pleading with you to take it seriously,” Raimondo said.
Dr Anthony Fauci, the federal government’s foremost infectious-disease expert, warned on ABC TV over the weekend the country could see a “surge upon surge” of infections tied to Thanksgiving.