The Latest: Washington state sees record hospitalizations

Health

A Greek Presidential Guard, wearing a protective mask against the spread of coronavirus, salutes during a wreath laying ceremony, in Athens, Saturday, Nov. 21, 2020. The government imposed a second lockdown nationwide on Nov. 7, expanding regional restrictions, following a dramatic surge in COVID-19 cases. (AP Photo/Yorgos Karahalis)

SEATTLE — Health officials in Washington state said the number of people who were hospitalized to receive treatment for the coronavirus has reached a record high.

KOMO-TV reports there were 762 people receiving hospital care for the virus in Washington as of Saturday.

At the Swedish First Hill campus of Seattle’s Swedish Medical Center, 10 coronavirus patients were admitted within a span of five hours Wednesday.

Leaders from hospitals statewide met last week to consider strategies to ensure they have room to care for COVID-19 patients as the hospitalization rate climbs.

Washington State Hospital Association CEO Cassie Sauer says the cancellations of elective procedures under consideration to make room for coronavirus patients include joint and heart valve replacements and some cancer surgeries.

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CARSON CITY, Nev. — Gov. Steve Sisolak announced plans Sunday to tighten restrictions on casinos, restaurants and private gatherings such as Thanksgiving dinner in an effort to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

The new restrictions, which are scheduled to go into effect on Tuesday, come amid an unprecedented surge that has broken records in the state in terms of cases, deaths and infection rates throughout November.

The virus has surged throughout the United States and prompted governors to issue a patchwork of area-specific restrictions. California has curfew order in effect in the majority of its counties and, earlier Sunday, Los Angeles County moved to only allow outdoor dining.

Sisolak, who has avoided tightening mandates throughout the fall due to the havoc they could wreak on Nevada’s tourism-based economy, said the trends led to an “inescapable conclusion.”

“We are on a rapid trajectory that threatens to overwhelm our health care system, our frontline health workers, and your access to care. So it’s time to act,” said Sisolak, who recently contracted COVID-19.

The new restrictions reduce the capacity limits for high-risk areas including restaurants, bars, gyms, places of worship and casinos.

They will also be applied to public and private gatherings, which case investigators have identified as a major source of spread in Nevada. That includes on Thanksgiving, when home celebrations will be limited to no more than 10 people, from no more than two households.

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HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:

— Russia’s health system under strain as virus surges back

— Inequality ‘baked into’ virus test access as cases soar.

— Many ignore virus precautions at funeral of Serbian Patriarch Irinej who died after contracting the coronavirus.

— Madrid’s emblematic Rastro flea market has reopened Sunday after a contentious eight-month closure because of the pandemic.

—Fears about infection while serving on juries have derailed plans to resume jury trials in many courthouses for the first time since the pandemic started.

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Follow AP’s coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

PORTLAND, Ore. — New confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 have reached a record high for the third straight day in Oregon.

The Oregon Health Authority reported 1,517 new infections Sunday, bringing the state total to 65,170.

The state reported one additional death from COVID-19 on Sunday, a 65-year-old man in Multnomah County who tested positive Nov. 15 and died the same day. That brings the state’s death toll to 820.

The director of the state health department urged residents to cancel indoor Thanksgiving plans and those that involve large groups of family and friends.

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LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles County officials have announced new coronavirus-related restrictions that will prohibit in-person dining for at least three weeks as cases rise throughout the holiday season.

The new rules will take effect Wednesday at 10 p.m.

Restaurants, breweries, wineries and bars will only be able to offer take-out, drive-through and delivery services.

Officials had warned that these restrictions could come into play if the county’s five-day average of new cases was above 4,000. Sunday’s five-day average was 4,097 cases.

Most of California, including Los Angeles County, has been under a curfew since Saturday night at 10 p.m.

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Millions of Americans bought tickets to fly somewhere for Thanksgiving before the nation’s top public health agency pleaded with them not to travel for the holiday.

So what are they doing now? In many cases, they’re still crowding airports and boarding planes. That’s despite relatively lenient cancellation policies that major airlines have implemented since the coronavirus pandemic emerged earlier this year.

According to the Transportation Security Administration, more than 2 million people were screened at U.S. airports on Friday and Saturday. While that’s far lower than during the same time last year, Friday was only the second time since mid-March that daily airport screenings topped 1 million.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said Americans should skip Thanksgiving travel and not spend the holiday with people from outside their household.

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NEW YORK — Hundreds of bodies are still stored in freezer trucks at a disaster morgue set up during New York City’s coronavirus surge in the spring, according to the city’s Office of Chief Medical Examiner.

Many of the 650 bodies at the disaster morgue on the Brooklyn waterfront are of people whose families can’t be located or can’t afford a proper burial, officials told The Wall Street Journal.

Normally, the deceased would have been buried within a few weeks in a gravesite for the indigent on Hart Island in the Long Island Sound. But as COVID-19 deaths surged in New York in April, with as many as 800 deaths in one day, Mayor Bill de Blasio pledged that mass burials in temporary graves wouldn’t take place.

The medical examiner’s office is having trouble finding relatives of about 230 deceased people, officials said. When next of kin have been contacted, many bodies haven’t been collected because families haven’t arranged burial for financial reasons, nor have they requested free burial on Hart Island.

The city is slowly reducing the number of bodies in storage, with the number declining from 698 to 650 since mid-September, according to Dina Maniotis, the chief medical examiner’s office’s executive deputy commissioner. New York state has reported at least 34,187 deaths of people due to COVID-19, according to data from John Hopkins University.

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ATHENS, Greece — Police interrupted a Sunday Mass in a northern Greek village and fined a priest 1,500 euros ($1,780) for allowing two people to attend the service.

They also arrested the priest’s 30-year-old son and one of the two worshippers, who they said attacked the police officers.

The priest had been urging parishioners to attend, despite a ban, saying, “You’re either with Christ or the coronavirus.” The two attendees were from a neighboring village.

Authorities are strictly enforcing a lockdown and nightly curfew after a recent surge in COVID-19 cases. In the northern city of Thessaloniki, where most cases have appeared, an 18-year-old university student was given a 6-month suspended sentence and fined 3,000 euros ($3,560) for hosting her birthday party, which police raided at 1.30 am Saturday. The six guests were fined 300 euros ($356) each.

Health authorities announced 1,498 new coronavirus cases Sunday, along with 103 deaths, five less than the daily record set Saturday. The number of confirmed cases since the start of the pandemic is 91,619, with 1,630 deaths.

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SANTIAGO, Chile — Chile says it will open its main border crossing and principal airport to foreign visitors on Monday after an eight-month pandemic shutdown.

Arrivals will have to present evidence of a recent negative test for the new coronavirus as well as health insurance. They’ll also have to report their whereabouts and health status for a two-week watch period. Those coming from high-risk countries will have to quarantine for 14 days.

President Sebastián Piñera on Sunday urged people to maintain precautions to prevent another wave of COVID-19: “The coronavirus is still among us and so we cannot be careless.”

Officials plan to gradually reopen other airports and border posts as the South American nation tries to reactivate the tourism industry.

Chile closed its borders on March 18, two weeks after reporting its first new coronavirus infection. Since then, the nation of some 18 million people has recorded 540.640 infections and more than 15,000 deaths.

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WASHINGTON — The United States’ top infectious diseases expert says he’s worried that crowding at U.S. airports from Thanksgiving travel could lead to a perilous situation as COVID-19 cases surge.

Dr. Anthony Fauci told CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday that the “people at airports” despite federal guidance to avoid travel “are going to get us into even more trouble than we’re in right now.”

He noted that new COVID-19 cases from Thanksgiving won’t become evident till weeks later, making it “very difficult” as the virus spirals out of control heading into colder weather and the December holiday season.

Fauci said a substantial portion of people being hospitalized for the virus are now between the ages of 40 and 59, as well as the elderly and vulnerable.

He stressed that vaccines should become available in the coming months, but said Americans will need to “hang in there” in the meantime by taking precautions to stem the spread. That includes limiting holiday gatherings to people in the same household if possible, wearing masks, socially distancing and washing hands.

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ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey saw a record number of people diagnosed with COVID-19 for the second day running on Sunday as 6,017 new symptomatic patients were documented, the health ministry said.

The number of new daily cases has surpassed the outbreak’s previous peak in April.

Evening lockdowns were introduced over the weekend for the first time since June, with businesses such as restaurants and bars ordered to close.

The ministry said 446,882 patients with symptoms have been identified since the country’s first recorded case in March. Turkey does not publicly report confirmed coronavirus cases in people without COVID-19 symptoms, a policy that has been criticised for masking the true scope of the national outbreak.

Turkey recorded 139 COVID-19 deaths over the previous 24 hours, taking the country’s total to 12,358, the health ministry reported.

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ROME — Italy’s daily new caseload of confirmed COVID-19 cases dropped by several thousand on Sunday, but nearly 50,000 fewer swab tests to detect the virus were conducted than on the previous day, according to the Health Ministry.

Italy added 28,337 confirmed cases, raising to 1,408,868, the country’s total in the pandemic.

Weekends usually see a drop in number of tests performed. In the last 24 hours, 562 deaths of persons with COVID-19 were registered, increasing to 49,823 Italy’s known death toll.

Meanwhile, the autonomous Alpine province of Bolzano said that more than 320,000 residents had turned out for voluntary mass COVID-19 screening in a three-day-long campaign, with some 3,000 of them testing positive. Local officials hpe the high turnout for screening among its 520,000 residents and the low percentage of positives will better position the province to be ready again for tourism, a mainstay of the local economy.

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CAIRO — A Sudanese minister on Sunday tested positive for the coronavirus, the prime minister’s office said, the latest in a string of senior officials to be infected as the country shows an increase of confirmed cases of COVID-19.

Omar Bashir Manis, minister of cabinet affairs, was in good health after testing positive for the virus, the prime minister office said in a statement.

Over the past month, acting ministers of finance and health, the central bank governor and two associates to Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok have tested positive.

Sadiq al-Mahdi, head of the National Umma party, Sudan’s largest, tested positive for the virus last month and was taken to the United Arab Emirates where he was still being treated.

Sudan has reported more than 15,830 confirmed cases, including 1,193 deaths. The actual COVID-19 tally is believed to be higher given the country’s limited testing.

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WASHINGTON – The head of the U.S. effort to produce a coronavirus vaccine says the first immunizations could happen on Dec. 12.

A Food and Drug Administration advisory committee is set to meet Dec. 10 to discuss Pfizer Inc.’s request for an emergency use authorization for its developing COVID-19 vaccine.

Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech recently announced that the vaccine appears 95% effective at preventing mild to severe COVID-19 disease in a large, ongoing study.

Dr. Moncef Slaoui, head of the Operation Warp Speed, the coronavirus vaccine program, says plans are to ship vaccines to states within 24 hours of expected FDA approval.

Slaoui told CNN he expects vaccinations would begin on the second day after approval, Dec. 12.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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