Surges in Europe, US push exponential COVID-19 rise

Coronavirus sign
Coronavirus sign

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As Europe's second COVID-19 surge intensifies with rising hospitalizations and deaths, government officials are announcing or considering sweeping new restrictions, some met by protests, while hospitalization rates in the United States are increasing across many states in the nation's third spike.

Europe cases surge, France mulls lockdown

Europe's cases rose by 33% last week, accounting for the greatest proportion of all new cases in the world, with France the hardest hit country, the World Health Organization (WHO) said in its weekly epidemiological update. The region also reported one third of the newly reported global deaths.

A return to whole-country lockdowns in Europe seemed remote a few weeks ago, but they are now being considered by more countries, following Ireland's decision last week. France over the past several days has reported Europe's highest daily case totals and has now passed Spain to become the country with the world's fifth highest total

Intensive care unit (ICU) capacity is already half full of COVID-19 patients and curfews are already in place in dozens of administrative regions. And yesterday, France reported its biggest 1-day jump in coronavirus hospitalizations (1,302) since Apr 2, Reuters reported.

French Prime Minister Jean Castex said today that new measures are essential, and President Emmanuel Macron is expected to address the nation tomorrow after meeting with government ministers to unveil new measures, which could include another lockdown, Le Figaro reported.

Meanwhile, protesters took to the streets in several Italian cities yesterday in response to a new round of restrictions, such as 6 pm closures for restaurants and shutting down movie theaters and gyms, NBC News reports. Clashes in Turin and Milan turned violent, with attacks on government offices and shops.

Germany's rise in cases hasn't been as dramatic as other European hot spots, but cases nearly doubled over the past week, and Chancellor Angela Merkel is meeting with state officials this week to address the situation, according to the NBC report. The country's economic minister today warned that the country could see daily cases reach 20,000 by the end of the week, Reuters reported.

Nordic countries are also reporting rises in cases, with Sweden recently reporting a record daily high and Norway's government tightening its restrictions on gatherings and foreign workers.

Elsewhere in the world:

  • Health officials in China's Xinjiang province are wrapping up mass testing on 4 million residents of Kashgar district, following a report of one asymptomatic case, the South China Morning Post reported. So far, 163 cases have been reported, up from 137 last week. Officials said all were asymptomatic and that the case that prompted the testing involved a 17-year-old girl whose results were positive upon routine testing.

  • Cases in the WHO's Eastern Mediterranean region have increased steadily over the past 2 months, with Iran reporting the highest number of cases, but with rises also occurring in Jordan and Bahrain, the group said in its weekly epidemiologic update.

  • The global total today climbed to 43,806,468 cases, and 1,163,805 people have died from their infections, according to the Johns Hopkins online dashboard.

US states report rising hospitalizations, deaths

Rates for COVID-19 hospitalization are also rising in the United States, which is now well into its third spike in cases. Compared to late September, 41 states and Puerto Rico have more hospitalized patients now, and 22 of the states have experienced increases of more than 50%, the Washington Post reported.

Both hospitalizations and deaths, which typically lag increases in cases, are among the markers showing that the surge in COVID-19 cases isn't just due to increased testing. The US average deaths per day are up 10% over the past 2 weeks, from 721 to 794, according to an Associated Press analysis of Johns Hopkins data. It also found that new cases are on the rise in 47 states, with deaths increasing in 34.

In other US developments:

  • Eli Lilly announced that it is ending a clinical trial of its monoclonal antibody drug bamlanivimab in hospitalized patients after researchers from the National Institutes of Health found that it isn't likely to help severely ill patients. However, it said trials are still under way to see if the drug can prevent disease progression earlier in the illness course.

  • A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) survey on mitigation behaviors found that behaviors such as mask wearing were lowest in adults ages 18 to 29 and highest in those older than 60. Mask use increased over time, but adherence to other steps decreased or remained the same. The survey, part of an effort to gauge the impact of COVID-19 , was conducted at three different points between April and June, and the findings appear today in an early online edition of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

  • Pfizer said today that a phase 2/3 trial of its COVID-19 vaccine has enrolled more than 42,000 participants and nearly 36,000 have received their second dose.

  • City and state officials continue to tighten COVID-19 restrictions, due to rising cases. For example, Newark, N.J., officials ordered all businesses to close at 8 pm and are urging resident not to trick-or-treat or have Halloween parties, the Wall Street Journal reported. And Illinois officials ordered new restrictions on bars and restaurants in suburban Cook County, starting tomorrow, WBEZ reports.

  • The US today rose to 8,755,581, with 226,383 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins online tracker.

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