COVID cases rising locally, nationally

PAGE – Daily cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. have more than doubled since the July 24 peak. The novel coronavirus has taken over a quarter-million lives in the U.S. and 1.3 million worldwide.

The numbers only account for confirmed cases. The actual number of cases is unknown. Many cases were undiagnosed because of limited test availability early in the pandemic. For total infections, according to National Institute of Health, “…most states likely had 5 to 10 times more cases than reported.”

Nationwide, testing increased 12.5% from last week, confirmed cases increased by 40.8%, and deaths increased by 22.9%. The string of record-breaking daily cases began Oct. 23 with 81,808 new cases. Friday, Nov. 20, total cases for the day exceeded 200,000. Over 1,950 people died of COVID-19 Friday. Total deaths in Arizona reached 6,427 Friday.

Friday, Coconino County reported 211 cases of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the last 30 days for Page, bringing the total to 465 known cases since the pandemic began. In other words, one out of 16 people in Page has tested positive for the virus.

Utah reported over 21,000 cases of the coronavirus in the last week. The state hit record highs in COVID-19 infections, deaths and hospitalizations. According to the Salt Lake Tribune, “85% of all intensive care unit beds are currently occupied with coronavirus patients.”

States across the country are reporting new single-day records for the infection. Over 1 million people in the U.S., 1 in 331, tested positive in the last week.

More appear to survive the virus now than in April when over 2,500 were losing their lives daily. This points to an improved understanding of treatment options. There are also reports from a few doctors that the virus is weakening, though there is no scientific proof to support the claim.

Scientists have identified at least six strains of the virus, but the mutations and differences are subtle.

Mark Cameron, who holds a doctorate, an associate professor of population and quantitative health sciences at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine said, “One of the golden rules of virology is that viruses that circulate in the community do change and mutate.”

A virus that kills all its hosts will not survive. A weaker form of a virus, like a cold, is more successful. Cameron said, “A virus is interested in its own survival. It needs to maintain high viral fitness and not kill its host – us. COVID-19 has already struck that perfect balance.”

According to the COVID Tracking Project, hospitalizations for COVID-19 has set national records each day for the last six days. 

On Nov. 15, 69,864 were hospitalized compared to 30,328 Sept. 15. What’s different about the current spike is it’s not concentrated in geographic areas, it’s widespread. When New York was the hot spot, doctors from around the country came to assist.

With the current wide dispersion of the virus, these doctors are needed in their own communities, potentially leaving some areas to fend for themselves with inadequate resources.

Around the country, mandates and lockdowns are beginning. Mask mandates were recently ordered in Utah and in North Dakota. In all, 35 states have mask mandates. Arizona recommends but does not mandate masks at this time.

The Navajo Nation and New Mexico have ordered strict lockdowns. Oregon ordered restaurants, gyms, and event venues to close for two weeks, and other businesses to restrict capacities.

Page Mayor Levi Tappan issued a mask mandate for Page over the summer but rescinded the order Aug. 5. Bill Diak was sworn in as Mayor of Page Wed. evening. He immediately reactivated the mask mandate. Governor Ducey changed course earlier in the summer and allows local governments to decide what’s best for them. He claims 90% of Arizona counties and municipalities enforce mask mandates.

The fast-spreading virus is disrupting operations at the White House. Members of the president‘s family and administration have tested positive. At least 30 Secret Service officers recently tested positive for COVID-19. Around 60 were asked to quarantine.

Friday, Anthony Fauci said on CBS This Morning, “If we do the things that are simple public health measures, that soaring will level and start to come down. You add that to the help of a vaccine, we can turn this around. It is not futile.”

Still, there are economic consequences. Congress returns Nov. 16 and will begin working on a new stimulus package after a string of failures to reach an agreement. President Trump tweeted Saturday, “Congress must now do a Covid Relief Bill. ‘Get it done!’”

If and when the bill passes and is signed into law, it will take the IRS weeks or months to send out new stimulus payments.

Walter Schrading, associate professor of Emergency Medicine at University of Alabama At Birmingham Hospital said, “I have been in contact with colleagues in the Midwest and Mountain West and their hospitalization rates for COVID-19 patients are at all-time highs. Their ICUs are full, and many places are starting again to cancel scheduled surgery! The U.S. has had new daily highs of COVID-19 infection across the country in the past week.” He said, “This is going to get bad.”

Schrading advises, “I encourage you to re-double your efforts to keep yourselves and your families, and others safe. What can you do? There is limited evidence that surgical masks may be more effective than cloth masks and since these are now readily available – use one. If you like your designer cloth mask, wear one of them underneath. Don’t gather in large groups or go indoors without a mask. Be very careful even with small groups without masks. I am not eating indoors in restaurants.”

Schrading said, “Help is on the way. I am working with other researchers and the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) on a vaccine effectiveness trial among health care workers. New vaccines are the only off-ramp to this pandemic and will be (hopefully) coming soon. Please stay safe and help us again try to flatten the curve so that we can continue to provide optimal care to all of our patients.”

Schrading, has a special connection to the area. He’s a descendant of the John Wesley Powell family. Schrading and other members of the Powell family gathered in Page July 2019 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of John Wesley Powell’s journey down the Colorado River. 



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