As coronavirus cases once again surge around the country, the nation’s schools are also entering a new phase of reopening as some of the largest districts return for in-person instruction.
Most of the largest school districts have some form of in-person learning now, increasing since September when only two did.
Meanwhile, at a campaign rally in Florida on Sunday, President Donald Trump suggested he might fire Dr. Anthony Fauci after the election. “Don’t tell anybody, but let me wait until a little bit after the election,” Trump said as his supporters chanted “Fire Fauci.”
Eighteen states set records for new cases in a week and, in the week ending Sunday, the U.S. set a record of new coronavirus cases reported for the week at 569,350 new cases, according to a USA TODAY analysis of Johns Hopkins University data.
Five states also reported a record number of deaths in a week: Alaska, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Wisconsin.
📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has reported more than 9.2 million cases and 231,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: 46.6 million cases and 1.2 million deaths.
🗺️ Mapping coronavirus: Track the U.S. outbreak in your state.
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Pregnant women with SARS-CoV-2 infection during pregnancy may be at risk for preterm birth, according to a study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The report, published Monday in the agency’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, studied 3,912 infants who were born to women with COVID-19.
Researchers found that 12.9% of infants were premature, higher than the national estimate of 10.2%. The study primarily comprised of women who were infected during their second or third trimester.
The CDC emphasizes these are preliminary findings and highlights several limitations in the study.
For example, non-Hispanic Black and Hispanic mothers were “disproportionately represented” in the study. In 2019, the rate of preterm birth among Black women (14.4%) was about 50 percent higher than the rate of preterm birth among white or Hispanic women (9.3% and 10%, respectively), according to the CDC.
Additionally, researchers did not account for risk factors associated with preterm delivery for the study.
President Donald Trump hinted that he might fire Dr. Anthony Fauci after the election, telling a raucous rally in Florida that the infectious disease expert got much wrong about the coronavirus pandemic.
Trump was responding to the crowd in Opa-locka, Florida, which began chanting “Fire Fauci” shortly after the president took the stage for the final of five rallies Sunday night. “Don’t tell anybody, but let me wait until a little bit after the election,” Trump said in response to the crowd.
Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984, drew renewed criticism from Trump and White House aides following a weekend interview in the Washington Post in which he criticized Trump’s assertion that the nation is “rounding the turn” on COVID-19 despite a surge in cases and hospitalizations.
On Monday, what was largely a high-level public health discussion by some of the leading scholars in the world ended with a virtual group hug for Fauci.
As an hour-long public Zoom call sponsored by the Harvard Medical School Department of Global Health and Social Medicine was wrapping up, the four health experts began their thanks for the chance to speak. But it immediately became a love fest for their long-time friend and colleague Fauci.
“We love you Tony,” said Dr. George Daley, Dean of Harvard Medical School. “Hey, Tony. If you happen to be out of a job in a few weeks, come on and talk to us. We have a wonderful landing pad for you right here in Boston…though we hope you’ve got another few decades ahead of you at NAIDA,” he said.
– John Fritze, Courtney Subramanian and Elizabeth Weise
Dr. Scott Atlas, one of President Donald Trump’s science advisers, is apologizing after appearing on the Russian state-funded TV channel RT to criticize lockdown measures aimed at stemming the coronavirus.
In a tweet Sunday, Atlas wrote he was unaware that RT was a registered foreign agent. He said he regretted the interview and apologized, particularly to the national security community, “for allowing myself to be taken advantage of.”
Atlas told RT over the weekend that he considered the COVID-19 pandemic to be mostly under control and that it was actually lockdowns that are “killing people.”
U.S. intelligence agencies have alleged RT served as a propaganda outlet for the Kremlin as part of a multi-pronged effort to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Russia denies interfering.
Britain’s Prince William contracted COVID-19 in the spring but kept his diagnosis secret to avoid worrying the nation, according to the BBC and other media.
The Duke of Cambridge, 38, second in line to the throne, is believed to have tested positive for the virus in April. His father, Prince Charles, the eldest son of Queen Elizabeth II, was confirmed to have the virus March 25. William’s apparent diagnosis was revealed as Britain prepares for another national lockdown Thursday.
Kensington Palace said it would not confirm or deny William’s April diagnosis.
The Sun tabloid newspaper, which first reported the news, said William was treated by palace doctors and followed official guidelines by isolating at the family home in Norfolk. It claimed that at one point in his sickness, William was “struggling to breathe.”
– Susan Haas and Kim Hjelmgaard
Airlines have reported encouraging holiday booking signs in the past two weeks – a welcome boost during a year of devastating financial losses.
Airline traffic is still severely depressed from normal levels, but passenger counts have been on the rise. American Airlines said 45% of its flights were more than 80% full in September, compared with just 20% of July flights.
However, the improvement comes on the heels of COVID-19 surge in most parts of the country. As of Sunday, 18 states had set records for new cases in a week while five states reported a record number of deaths in a week, according to Johns Hopkins data.
More than seven months into the pandemic, some states – including most of the Northeast – still have travel quarantines in place. Some state officials have urged residents not to travel out of state for the holidays for fear of inviting a second wave of coronavirus.
– Dawn Gilbertson
The El Paso County Medical Examiner’s Office is getting a fourth mobile morgue as COVID-19 deaths continue to rise, according to KVIA-TV.
County data showed deaths had exceeded 600 by Monday morning and officials expect more this week as 237 people remain in intensive care and 143 on ventilators. COVID-19 patients made up 43% of all county hospitalizations.
El Paso County reported 1,643 new coronavirus cases Saturday, a new record high. Public health officials reported 1,148 new cases on Sunday.
El Paso County ordered a two-week shutdown of nonessential services on Thursday starting at midnight, however, many businesses have reportedly defied those orders citing economic concerns.
More than 93 million Americans have cast their ballots in early voting so far, shattering previous records. Experts expect about 100 million early votes may be cast by Tuesday, according to Michael McDonald, a University of Florida professor who specializes in American elections.
Democratic voters accounted for 48.3% of all early votes cast, and Republicans accounted for 41.5%, according to TargetSmart, a Democratic elections data firm that combines party information from states and its own modeling. Voters with no party affiliation made up 10.2% of early voters.
The spread of the COVID-19 virus is surging in several Midwest battleground states – Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan – where President Donald Trump needs Republican voters to flock to the polls on Election Day.
Former Vice President Joe Biden maintains a 52%-44% lead over Trump nationally, according to a USA TODAY/Suffolk University poll released last week. Of the 33% of voters who say they plan to vote on Election Day, 48% are Republicans and 20% are Democrats.
The U.S. has entered a second round of back-to-school, just as the coronavirus surges around the nation. In smaller school districts, careful in-person reopenings in August and September didn’t lead to an explosion of COVID-19 cases. And now, the country’s largest school systems, which had largely eschewed in-person instruction, are venturing partially back into the classroom.
The majority of the 15 largest districts in the nation now have at least some students in school buildings. Only two of those districts had any form of in-person learning as of early September.
Large schools had faced bigger hurdles than smaller ones as they waited out case spikes in major cities and concerns grew about possible outbreaks in school buildings. Now, as several major districts have decided to try to meet in person, rising COVID-19 cases again threaten their efforts.
“Any district that hasn’t already introduced in-person learning is facing serious headwinds” to doing so anytime soon, said Dennis Roche, president of Burbio, an organization that’s tracking school calendars and reopening plans nationwide.
– Elinor Aspegren and Erin Richards
Emerging research suggests infected people start shedding the coronavirus in their bowel movements early in their infection, and possibly days before they begin shedding it from their mouths and noses.
In normal times, Colorado State University molecular biologist Carol Wilusz studies stem cells and muscular dystrophy. Now, her team is on the front lines of defense against the massive COVID-19 outbreaks that, for a campus with more than 23,000 undergraduates alone, always seem to be lurking around the corner. The sewage review is part of a multipronged attack that includes the usual weapon of contact tracing plus a specialized “paired pooling” form of testing saliva samples. So far, the school has had about 500 cases since the semester started.
– Rae Ellen Bichell, Kaiser Health News
New York is scrapping its weekly list of states from where visitors had to quarantine and instead implementing a new COVID-19 testing system for all travelers outside contiguous states.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the change Saturday, saying a rigorous testing standard is a better way to control the virus’ spread in New York.
Almost all states were on the state’s 14-day quarantine list, making its weekly metrics to determine who met the criteria a fluid system. Even New York itself was trending toward making its own list on Tuesday, when it was next due to be updated.
“Given the changing facts, we’re coming up with a new program,” Cuomo said on a conference call with reporters. “And all the experts suggest we shift to a testing system, and that’s what we are going to do.”
– Joseph Spector and Jon Campbell, New York State Team
The chief of the World Health Organization said Sunday that he is self-quarantining after being in contact with a person who tested positive for COVID-19.
In a tweet, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he was “without symptoms.”
“I have been identified as a contact of someone who has tested positive for #COVID19. I am well and without symptoms but will self-quarantine over the coming days, in line with @WHO protocols, and work from home,” Tedros said on Twitter.
Tedros’ tweet came the same day as authorities in Geneva, where the U.N. health agency is based, announced a tightening of restrictions aimed to curb the spread of the virus. A recent spike has more than 1,000 new cases recorded each day recently in an area of about 500,000 people.
A Turkish politician from President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling party died Sunday from the coronavirus.
Burhan Kuzu, 65, had been receiving treatment for COVID-19 since Oct. 17, the country’s health minister tweeted. A constitutional lawyer and a founding member of the governing Justice and Development Party, Kuzu served in parliament four times.
Two senior officials close to Turkey’s leader – presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin and Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu – tweeted on Saturday that they had contracted COVID-19. Both said they were doing well. Soylu was in a hospital.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced plans for a four-week national lockdown in England starting this week that will shut pubs, restaurants, entertainment facilities and nonessential businesses.
Schools, universities and manufacturing facilities will remain open during the period from Thursday until Dec. 2. France, Germany, Belgium and Greece have become the latest countries to announce second lockdowns, while Spain and Italy are among European nations increasing restrictions in recent days.
“Unless we act, we could see deaths in this country running at several thousand a day,” Johnson said.
Johnson said people will only be allowed to leave their homes for specific reasons such as medical appointments, shopping for essentials, education and work that cannot be done from their residence. Professor Chris Whitty, chief medical officer for England, told reporters at a news conference that England is experiencing 50,000 new cases daily and that the figure is rising.
COVID-19 resources from USA TODAY
Contributing: The Associated Press