America’s catastrophic coronavirus crisis hit new heights as the most recent daily total of numbers of new cases neared the grim landmark of 200,000 a day and the overall total of infections in the US was heading to 12m.
The New York Times reported that its database showed a seven-day average has exceeded 100,000 cases a day every day for the last two weeks and that Friday’s total number was 198,500 – a record infection rate for a single day.
Meanwhile, the John Hopkins University database showed that the total number of Covid-19 cases in the US was now more than 11,915,000 cases, by far the largest total in the world.
The news comes as vast swaths of America are imposing new restrictions on movement and businesses in a bid to contain the spiraling pandemic, even as the federal government response led by the Trump administration remains largely passive.
On Saturday California will enact a nighttime curfew as surging coronavirus cases threaten to swamp healthcare systems and the state’s largest county warned that an even more drastic lockdown could be imminent.
The newest restrictions require people not on essential errands to stay home from 10pm to 5am through 21 December, with a possible extension if rapidly worsening trends don’t improve. People will be allowed to shop for groceries, pick up food and even walk their dogs.
Authorities say the focus is on keeping people from social mixing and drinking the kinds of activities that are blamed for causing Covid-19 infections to soar after dipping only a few months ago.
Dr Mark Cullen, an infectious disease expert who recently retired from Stanford University, said the underlying goal is based on a reasonable interpretation of data.
“Large numbers of people getting together oblivious of controls no masks, no social distancing, often indoors a lot of those things are in fact occurring at night,” Cullen said. However, he also questioned whether a limited curfew will be effective.
The California move is just one of many local attempts to halt the virus’ spread. On Friday strict new restrictions in Philadelphia closed indoor dining, theaters, gyms and other indoor spots for six weeks. In New York City the nation’s largest school system shuttered, outraging many working parents. States such as Oregon, Washington, North Dakota and many others have also introduced new crackdowns.
Many experts are also worried about next week’s Thanksgiving holiday, when millions of Americans are likely to still travel and gather with family, even as top health officials have warned of the potential for a super-spreader event that could likely plunge the ongoing crisis into new depths.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued recommendations not to travel last week as hospitalizations and deaths are surging across the US and the healthcare system is being squeezed by a combination of sick patients filling up beds and medical workers falling ill themselves.
The CDC’s Erin Sauber-Schatz said: “The safest way to celebrate Thanksgiving this year is at home with the people in your household,” she said.