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A member of a COVID-19 testing team prepares to administer a COVID-19 swab at a drive-thru testing site in Lawrence, N.Y. (AP)
A member of a COVID-19 testing team prepares to administer a COVID-19 swab at a drive-thru testing site in Lawrence, N.Y. (AP)

US covid-19 cases exceed 100,000 for third straight day

Hospital capacity is re-emerging as a concern in the US

US cases rose by more than 100,000 for the third straight day Saturday, as Covid-19 continues its escalation around the nation. The day’s cases, tallied by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg, weren’t completely counted and could rise. Infections on Friday reached a record 126,714.

President-elect Joe Biden’s victory signals a turning point in the U.S. response to the pandemic with his promise of an aggressive federal effort to contain a virus surge across the country. He plans to name a 12-member virus task force on Monday.

Hospital capacity is re-emerging as a concern in the U.S. and in countries such as France, where cases rose to a record of almost 87,000 after officials added data from earlier in the week. After one of the world’s strictest and longest lockdowns, residents of Melbourne will be allowed to travel freely to other areas of Victoria state from midnight as the “ring of steel" surrounding the Australian city of 5 million is lifted.

Worker in China’s Tianjin Tests Positive

A worker in a refrigerated storage facility in northern Tianjin tested positive for coronavirus around 2 a.m. Sunday, according to state broadcaster CCTV, which added that the virus was also found on a door handle at the facility. The case was tracked after active Covid-19 virus was found on the outer packaging of some imported food, CCTV said. Authorities are now testing close contacts of the worker.

Biden Mentions Virus in Speech

In a speech where he declared victory in the presidential election, Biden said his coronavirus plan “will be built on a bedrock of science. It will be constructed out of compassion, empathy and concern."

Portugal to Limit Movement at Night in Some Regions

Portugal is adding more restrictions and will limit movement in its capital Lisbon and other regions at night, Prime Minister Antonio Costa said. The country on Saturday reported a record number of daily new confirmed virus cases for a second day with 6,640 new cases, bringing the total to 173,540.

Melbourne’s ‘Ring of Steel’ Lifted

The Australian city’s residents will be allowed to travel freely to other areas of Victoria state as the “ring of steel" surrounding the Melbourne will be lifted following more than a week without new coronavirus cases.

Community transmission fell from a daily peak of around 700 in early August, putting a heavy economic and social toll on a state that lost an estimated 1,200 jobs on average a day. The new measures come into effect at 11:59 p.m. local time on Sunday.

Some restrictions remain: people must still work from home when they can, and pubs, restaurants and cafes can only operate with strict distancing protocols that restrict capacity. There are also limits on the size and frequency of visits to households.

Biden to Announce Task Force for Coronavirus Response

Biden will announce a 12-member task force on Monday, his first step toward fulfilling one of his biggest campaign promises -- to mount an effective response to the pandemic.

The task force will be co-chaired by former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner David Kessler and Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, a professor of public health at Yale University, according to a person familiar with his plans. It will also include Ezekiel Emanuel, a former Obama administration health adviser.

The co-chairs of the task force are scheduled to brief Biden on Monday after the members are announced.

New York Cases Top 3,000 for Second Day

New York reported 3,587 cases Saturday, the second day over 3,000 and the most since early May at the tail of the deadly spring outbreak. Governor Andrew Cuomo has focused on reining in “clusters" of the virus that have spread in parts of New York City and upstate, where the positive rate is double the rest of the state.

Overall, hospitalizations remain over 1,000 and the statewide positive rate is over 2%. On Friday, Mayor Bill de Blasio said New York City was “really threatened with a second wave."

“There are several warning flags in New York," Cuomo said in a statement Saturday. “As we head into winter months, it’s going to take the work of all New Yorkers to ensure we don’t go back to where we were this spring."

Idaho Capital Cuts Trash Pickup With Workers Ill

Boise, Idaho, is cutting back on refuse pickup because of a shortage of workers “related to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic," city authorities said in a statement.

Daily cases in the state reached a record 1,330 and hospitalizations rose to almost 300, also a record.

France Reports Almost 87,000 New Cases

France reported 86,852 new cases on Saturday, the third consecutive daily record. That’s more than the trailing seven-day average of about 54,000, which itself has doubled in little more than two weeks.

The latest data include cases from the previous three days, according to French health authorities.

France also reported a rise in the number of patients occupying intensive care wards. As of Saturday, 87.2% of intensive-care capacity was occupied by patients infected with the virus, an increase from 85.4% on Friday, health authorities reported.

Slovakia May Repeat Nationwide Tests

Slovakia may need to screen all citizens for Covid-19 again in December to allow the government to relax pandemic restrictions, Premier Igor Matovic said.

The country of 5.5 million people is doing a second round of nationwide testing using $5 antibody tests. Two-thirds of citizens participated in the first round a week ago, uncovering a 1.1% infection rate.

Biden Win Signals a Turning Point in Virus Response

Biden’s victory signals a turning point in the U.S. response to the coronavirus pandemic, as he promises a newly aggressive federal effort to contain a virus that is spiking nationwide in contrast to a president who has consistently downplayed the outbreak’s dangers and promised it would disappear.

While the president-elect can begin to lay the groundwork, Biden will have to wait until he’s inaugurated on Jan. 20 to put any of those plans into place.

Biden’s transition team has been working for months on how to coordinate federal agencies to execute the plans Biden outlined months ago. The proposals include a national mask mandate -- although Biden has acknowledged that would be difficult to enforce except on federal property.

Ohio Hits Record for Third Straight Day

Ohio reported 5,549 infections Saturday, the third consecutive record day as cases continue to rise rapidly. Average daily cases increased this week to 4,290 compared with 2,842 the week before, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg. Republican Governor Mike DeWine has been issuing stark warnings for the state to follow the health precautions he’s mandated, noting that hospitalizations too are at an all-time high.

Arizona Cases Spike

Arizona reported 2,621 cases Saturday, the most since August when the state was beginning to recover from the summer surge of infection in Sun Belt. It was the fifth day in the last week with infections over 1,000 and the second day over 2,000. Hospitalizations have more than doubled since the beginning of October to more than 1,000 virus cases, still well below the peak of roughly 3,500 in mid-July, according to the Covid Tracking Project.

New Jersey Reports Most Cases Since April

New Jersey reported 3,207 new cases on Saturday, the most since April, and the first time since May it added more than 3,000 in one day. The additions pushed New Jersey to more than 250,000 cumulative infections since the outbreak’s start, and Governor Phil Murphy has warned that tougher restrictions may be coming.

Of 21 counties, Essex has the most cases. That county includes Newark, New Jersey’s most populous city, which this week reported a citywide positive test rate of 19%, compared with the state’s 7.7%, according to Mayor Ras Baraka.

The state has 1,392 hospitalizations for Covid-19, with 276 in intensive care. More than half of those hospitalized are in the northern region of the state.

More Than 1% in Wyoming Infected

In Wyoming, the nation’s least populated state, “more than one in every 100" residents is infected with the coronavirus when factoring in probable patients, the Casper Star-Tribune said, citing state health department data. Wyoming’s population is about 600,000.

Italy Nears 40,000 Cases in Another Record Day

Italy reported new 39,811 coronavirus cases setting a third consecutive day with record infections. The country reported 425 fatalities versus 446 Friday. Number of patients in intensive care rose to 2,634. That compares to a peak of over 4,000 in early April.

Italy’s government approved overnight an extra pandemic relief package for businesses hit by the country’s second lockdown.

With Covid-19 surging around Europe, Italians are prohibited from leaving or entering areas in high-risk areas, including Milan, Italy’s financial hub, and key northern industrial cities. The extra 2.5-billion-euro ($3 billion) aid seeks to shield companies and families in the highest-risk areas.

Trump’s Aides Frustrated After Meadows’s Silence on Infection

Some of Donald Trump’s White House and campaign aides are frustrated that the president’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, didn’t issue a statement after he tested positive for the coronavirus this week, instead informing only a close circle of advisers.

His infection was not widely known across Trump’s staff until late Friday, after Bloomberg News reported it. He tested positive on Wednesday, according to a senior administration official.

Geneva Has Most Cases in Europe: Broadcaster

Switzerland’s Geneva canton leads European regions with the most virus cases in the past 14 days, ahead of Wallonia in Belgium and three other Swiss regions, Radio Television Suisse reported, citing World Health Organization data.

Geneva closed bars, restaurants, cultural venues and nonessential stores earlier this week until Nov. 29.

U.S. Fatalities Are Rising With Infections

As U.S. virus cases break daily records, deaths are rising: the nation counted 1,153 on Friday, the fourth day this week with more than 1,000, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg.

That’s almost 100 a day more than the previous week and 31% higher than average daily deaths in the first week of October. It is significantly lower than the outbreak’s first spike last spring, when several days neared or passed 2,500 daily deaths. The U.S. death toll is now 236,099.

The U.S. had a record 126,714 new cases on Friday, according to the data.

Georgia Brings Back Night Curfew in Major Cities

Georgia ordered a curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. in Tbilisi and all larger major cities starting Nov. 9 to tackle the spread of the virus. The country reported 2,859 new cases and 18 deaths in the last 24 hours. The restrictions ban all pedestrian and car movement, with exceptions for media, transport of groceries and health-related issues, according to Deputy Prime Minister Maia Tskitishvili. The previous nighttime curfew lasted from March to May.

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