A Holiday Season Surge, Outbreaks in Swing States, and More Coronavirus News

 wired.com  10/30/2020 19:49:07   Eve Sneider

Coronavirus cases rise dramatically, drugmakers prepare for distribution, and the pandemic collides with the upcoming election. Heres what you should know:

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Coronavirus cases surge across the US ahead of the holiday season

Cases skyrocketed nationwide this week, with all but three states reporting rising numbers. In a weekly report, the White House coronavirus task force wrote, We continue to see unrelenting, broad community spread in the Midwest, Upper Midwest and West. Experts say the US is once again following the trajectory of Europe, where countries like Germany and France are implementing new shutdowns as the days get shorter and colder. With hospitals across the US filling up, local officials have had to make difficult decisions about imposing curfews and triaging care. And to make matters worse, a fresh wave of cyberattacks has targeted already overwhelmed American hospitals.

The rise in cases comes just weeks before the holiday season begins. This year, many face tough decisions about whether to be togetheran inevitably tricky decisionand how to mitigate risk if they are choosing to do so. My personal advice is, you dont have family gatheringseven for Thanksgiving, Governor Andrew Cuomo advised New Yorkers. A top Trump health official warned this week that local governments could start imposing draconian measures if Americans dont begin to take the necessary steps to curb the spread of the virus on their own.

Vaccine and treatment makers prepare to distribute drugs

On Wednesday, the US government agreed to pay drug manufacturer Eli Lilly $375 million for 300,000 doses of its experimental antibody treatment. The drug will be delivered over two months following emergency use approval from the FDA. A study earlier this month found that it is not an effective treatment for hospitalized patients, but these doses will go to people earlier in their diagnosis in the hopes of helping them avoid a trip to the hospital. Because the drug is administered intravenously, it could be prohibitively expensive even once its more readily available.

Preparations are also underway for vaccines to be delivered rapidly once they are approved. Moderna announced yesterday that it has already taken in $1.1 billion in deposits from governments eager to secure doses of its vaccine, which is currently in the middle of Phase III trials. Preliminary analysis of the trial is expected some time next month. Pfizer, another front-runner in the vaccine race, had previously said that Phase III trial data might be ready as early as October. This week, its CEO said that it is highly unlikely that will be the case.

Rising cases and the upcoming election collide

During his whirlwind final week of campaigning before Tuesdays election, President Trump has maintained that America is rounding the turn on the pandemic. However, many of the states hardest-hit by this fresh wave of cases are the most hotly contested in the election, notably those in the upper Midwest and the Mountain West. In Wisconsin, a state currently battling one of the worst outbreaks in the country, polling indicates that perceptions of Trumps performance are slipping.

In Washington, the Congress adjourned earlier this week until November 9, dashing any lingering hopes of another stimulus bill before Election Day. Since then, Speaker Pelosi has continued to press the treasury secretary to resume talks, so far to no avail. The Commerce Department reported on Thursday that the US economy grew at a historic pace during the third quarter of this year, but that was owed in large part to previous government stimuli. Without further aid, the trend is unlikely to continue through the fourth quarter.

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