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Covid19

Europe Imposes New Restrictions As COVID-19 Cases Soar

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A waiter cleans a table after closing in Saint Germain-en-Laye, west of Paris on Oct. 16, to comply with new COVID-19 restrictions forcing restaurants, cinemas and theaters in the French capital to close. France imposed a nighttime curfew in Paris and other major cities to curb the spread of the coronavirus. Michel Euler/AP hide caption

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Michel Euler/AP

New regulations and social-distancing rules are being introduced across multiple European countries in an attempt to stop the spread of the coronavirus as a second wave of the pandemic accelerates across the continent. Europe reported more than 1.3 million new cases this past week, its highest single week count yet, according to the World Health Organization.

Spain and France each surpassed 1 million cumulative confirmed cases last week, becoming the sixth and seventh countries to do so globally. Italy, Germany, Belgium, the Czech Republic and the United Kingdom are also experiencing record numbers — threatening to overwhelm countries’ abilities to test, trace and contain the virus. Polish President Andrzej Duda tested positive for the virus over the weekend, as cases have doubled there in recent weeks.

Europe’s infection rate has been rising for over 90 days, according to European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. As authorities and experts worry that the situation in Europe may soon spin out of control, governments are imposing curfews and social restrictions in an attempt to avoid full-scale lockdowns that could hurt the economy and dim the upcoming holiday season.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez declared a national state of emergency on Sunday, which included a nighttime curfew and possible travel restrictions between regions. Italy also announced new measures to curb the virus, the harshest since its lockdown in the spring, when the country was the global epicenter of the pandemic.

U.K. Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced a move to a “high” alert level for London and other cities as of Oct. 17, banning residents from mixing with people from other households indoors and restricting outdoor gatherings to six people or fewer.

Last week, Ireland became the first country in Europe to reimpose a lockdown in the face of soaring cases.

Wales began a 17-day lockdown this weekend, shuttering all nonessential businesses and requiring people to remain home, with few exceptions. “If we do this now and if we then have a consistent set of national rules, to keep the transmission and the intensity of the virus at a lower level, then we can have a much more normal Christmas season for businesses,” Vaughan Gething, the Welsh health minister, told BBC Radio Wales.

France has become the worst-hit country in Europe’s second wave, with over 40,000 new cases every day the past few days. Nightly curfews have been in place in several cities since mid-October, and this weekend, multiple new curfews were enacted, bringing the total number of people affected to around 46 million, or about two-thirds of France’s population.

“The second wave is here,” said Prime Minister Jean Castex at a press conference when the new restrictions were announced. “The situation is grave.”

Source: https://www.npr.org/sections/coronavirus-live-updates/2020/10/25/927637746/europe-imposes-new-restrictions-as-covid-19-cases-soar?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=coronavirusupdates

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Universal Mask Wearing Could Save Some 130,000 Lives In The U.S., Study Suggests

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Midshipmen wearing face masks stand and salute before the Navy Midshipmen play against the Houston Cougars on Saturday in Annapolis, Md. Researchers have tried to estimate how many lives would be saved by universal mask-wearing. Patrick Smith/Getty Images hide caption

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Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Universal mask wearing in public could greatly reduce the number of Americans who die by COVID-19 by February, a study published Friday in the journal Nature Medicine projects.

Researchers at the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation made estimates based on some assumptions under different scenarios.

In what they describe as the worst-case scenario, they project that COVID-19 deaths could exceed a million between September 2020 and February 2021 if what they call “the current pattern of easing” restrictions continues in states.

In a second scenario that they think is more likely, they say 511,000 could die between September and February under the assumption that “states would once again shut down social interaction and some economic activity” for six weeks once deaths reach a certain threshold per million residents.

But in a third scenario where 95% of the population dons face coverings and social restrictions are in place, the projection is for deaths to be about 381,000 — or about 130,000 fewer than under the second scenario.

If that mask percentage changes to 85% of Americans with restrictions, it could still save some 96,000 lives, they say.

The study analyzed previous COVID-19 deaths and cases between Feb. 1 and Sept. 21. Researchers also pulled information from various surveys — including ones by Facebook and YouGov — to estimate that as of Sept. 21, only 49% of Americans reported always wearing a mask.

The study also assumed a 40% reduction in risk of COVID transmission due to a mask usage. Earlier studies estimated masks can reduce transmission by at least 30%.

Researchers also noted that changes in policies and behavior could affect outcomes and that epidemics progress in a way that is are “difficult to observe directly and at scale.”

“It is unreasonable to expect any model to do everything well, so each model makes compromises to serve a purpose, while maintaining computational tractability,” researchers wrote.

According to data from Johns Hopkins University, more than 224,000 Americans have died from the coronavirus.

Source: https://www.npr.org/sections/coronavirus-live-updates/2020/10/24/927472457/universal-mask-wearing-could-save-some-130-000-u-s-lives-study-suggests?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=coronavirusupdates

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U.S. Records Highest Number Of Coronavirus Cases In 1 Day Since Pandemic Began

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A University of Washington research coordinator holds up a swab after testing a someone for coronavirus on Oct. 23 in Seattle. The U.S. recorded a record high number of new daily cases Friday. Elaine Thompson/AP hide caption

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Elaine Thompson/AP

The United States hit a record high number of confirmed daily coronavirus cases Friday, recording more than 83,000 new cases, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. The number surpasses the previous record of more than 77,000 cases in mid-July.

The U.S. also recorded 943 deaths due to COVID-19 on Friday. More than 8 million people in the U.S. have been infected with the virus, and more than 223,000 people have died from the disease since the pandemic began, according to Johns Hopkins University. More than 42 million cases have been reported worldwide.

One day earlier, 71,671 new coronavirus cases were reported in the U.S. on Thursday. Cases have been rising sharply in the U.S. since mid-September, with new outbreaks picking up in several states. Hospitalizations have also been on the rise. The COVID Tracking Project reports 41,485 coronavirus patients were hospitalized as of Friday. The number is more than half of the highs recorded during the coronavirus surges in the spring and summer.

Unlike past surges, where a few states drove up case numbers, the current high is being propelled by many states. Texas currently has the most recorded cases, followed by Illinois, Wisconsin and Florida.

Despite the rise in cases, there has been some good news. Two peer-reviewed studies recently showed a drop in mortality among patients hospitalized with COVID-19, suggesting health care workers have gotten better at helping patients survive the disease. One study found that the mortality rate among hospitalized patients dropped from 25.6 percent to 7.6 percent.

The mortality rate remains high compared with other diseases, and some continue to suffer complications long after recovering.

Source: https://www.npr.org/sections/coronavirus-live-updates/2020/10/24/927389093/u-s-records-highest-number-of-coronavirus-cases-in-1-day-since-pandemic-began?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=coronavirusupdates

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