No region of the country is being spared from the onslaught: The 20 states reporting record single-day increases on Thursday span New England, the Midwest, the Great Plains and the Pacific Northwest. Those witnessing the most dramatic increases over the past week include Maine, Iowa, Colorado, Minnesota and Nebraska.
But nowhere looked more bleak than North Dakota, which broke records for the number of new infections and fatalities reported in a single day, as well as the number of hospitalized coronavirus patients. Adjusted for its population, North Dakota has reported more new coronavirus-related deaths over the past week than any other state, and its seven-day average for both new cases and fatalities also reached new highs on Thursday.
“Today, statistically, marks the worst day yet for North Dakota,” Gov. Doug Burgum (R) said at a Thursday news conference. He again called for “individual responsibility,” eschewing calls to introduce a statewide mask mandate.
Since cases began climbing in mid-September, states have periodically introduced incremental restrictions but largely steered clear of sweeping actions. Some health officials hope that will change in a post-election landscape.
“There’s been this sense of people giving up,” Michael Fraser, chief executive of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, told The Post. “You had state leaders looking at the election and deciding it was not worth taking bold, unpopular moves against the virus that might save lives but hurt your side politically. There’s been state health officials debating whether to continue telling people to do things, because they know many are not going to listen.”
Maine tweaked its statewide mask mandate on Thursday to cover all public settings, including those where people are able to remain more than six feet apart. Meanwhile, Washington, D.C., largely abandoned its mandatory two-week quarantine for visitors from most states, which was widely ignored and not strictly enforced.
In London, more than 100 people were arrested Thursday night during a demonstration against England’s month-long lockdown, which took effect earlier in the day. The London Metropolitan Police Service said in a statement that the majority of arrests were for breaches of the new lockdown rules, which include a 10 p.m. curfew and a ban on large gatherings.
In Denmark, where a coronavirus mutation has started spreading from minks to humans, authorities ordered the closure of most businesses in seven affected communities on Thursday and told residents not to venture outside the municipal boundaries, according to Politiken. All 15 million minks in the country will be killed by the country’s military and police.
The British government on Friday reimposed its quarantine requirement for any travelers arriving from Denmark, with British Transport Secretary Grant Shapps citing “widespread outbreaks of coronavirus (COVID-19) in mink farms” in the country.
Since June, more than 200 coronavirus infections linked to minks have been detected, Reuters reported. The mutation that triggered the decision to kill the country’s mink population has so far been found in only 12 people. Scientists consider that mutation particularly concerning because the infected individuals showed less ability to produce antibodies, which could reduce the potential effectiveness of a vaccine.
The World Health Organization said Friday that it is in touch with Danish authorities and is still analyzing the situation. “It’s too early to really jump to conclusions,” said Soumya Swaminathan, the WHO’s chief scientist.
Strict stay-at-home orders appeared to be paying off in Ireland, which last month became the first European country to enter a second national lockdown. Health officials said Thursday that case numbers appear to be declining rapidly, and the country is on track to lift some of the harshest restrictions on Dec. 1, Reuters reported.
Another glimmer of good news came from the Australian state of Victoria, once the country’s coronavirus hot spot, which has now gone a full week without reporting any new infections or fatalities. The milestone came roughly three months after Victoria hit its peak of 725 infections in a single day. Experts have credited the turnaround to leaders’ willingness to put their faith in science and residents’ compliance with one of the world’s longest lockdowns.
Jacqueline Dupree and Loveday Morris contributed to this report.