Dozens of U.S. Air Force nurses dispatched to North Dakota

Dozens of U.S. Air Force nurses are being dispatched to North Dakota as the coronavirus continues to surge across the state and hospitals face dire shortages of medical workers.

In a statement, the office of North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum said that 60 medical personnel — most of them nurses — will be deployed Saturday to at least six hospitals in four cities: Grand Forks, Fargo, Minot and Bismark. The deployment comes after federal officials granted a request for assistance from Burgum.

“With hospitals projecting a surge in COVID-19 patients in the coming weeks, we’re deeply grateful to the Department of Defense and FEMA for granting our request for additional resources to help save lives and alleviate the immense pressure on North Dakota’s hospitals and long-term care facilities,” Burgum said.

The state has seen a steep rise in cases since last month, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Roughly eight percent of the state’s population has tested positive for the virus, the tally shows. Nearly 800 people have died.

North Dakota has been so short-staffed on medical workers that last week Burgum announced that personnel who have tested positive for the disease can continue working in coronavirus units, a move criticized by local nurses.

“Nurses are saying: ‘If we get positive at this point, we want to take the break. It’s a welcome break,” the head of the state’s nursing association, Tessa Johnson, told NBC News. “We’re exhausted, we’re overworked, we need the rest. So, how can I get positive and come down with this disease and I still continue going at my best?’”

Mexico becomes fourth country with 100,000 Covid deaths

MEXICO CITY — Mexico passed the 100,000 mark in COVID-19 deaths Thursday, becoming only the fourth country — behind the United States, Brazil and India — to do so.

José Luis Alomía Zegarra, Mexico’s director of epidemiology, announced that Mexico had 100,104 confirmed COVID-19 deaths.

But the living will bear the scars too: along with their lost friends and loved ones, many surviving coronavirus victims in Mexico say the psychosis caused by the pandemic is one of the most lasting effects.

Mexico resembles a divided country, where some people are so unconcerned they won’t wear masks, while others are so scared they descend into abject terror at the first sign of shortness of breath.

Photo: Video call prayer with Covid-19 patient in hospital

Chaplain Kevin Deegan prays for Covid-19 patient Pedro Basulto while on a video call with the patient’s daughter, Grace, at Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in the Mission Hills section of Los Angeles on Thursday. “These video calls have been a lifeline for families,” said Deegan. “It can be emotionally exhausting and very draining, but it also an honor to be a bridge for the family.”Jae C. Hong / AP

 

New Jersey, Maryland, Minnesota among the states that set daily records Thursday

On a day the CDC warned those in the U.S. to not travel on Thanksgiving, six states have set new daily records for Covid-19 cases or deaths.

The states and the counts:

  • Kentucky with 3,637 cases
  • Maryland with 2,912 cases
  • 72 reported dead in Minnesota
  • 2,416 new cases in Nevada
  • 4,491 new cases in New Jersey
  • Vermont reported 149 new cases

Track the Covid-19 surges here.

Pfizer expected to submit vaccine for approval on Friday, distribution to begin hours after authorization

Pfizer could submit its vaccine for emergency approval as soon as Friday and distribution and injection will begin hours after federal regulators authorize it, officials said Thursday at the first White House coronavirus task force briefing in four months.

Gen. Gus Perna, a four star U.S. Army general and top official in the White House’s Operation Warp Speed, said that shipping will begin 24 hours after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issues emergency use authorization for vaccines developed by Moderna and Pfizer.

Vice President Mike Pence, who leads the task force, said that injection of the vaccines will begin 24 hours after that.  

“We could be a matter of a few short weeks away for a vaccine being available,” Pence said.

Operation Warp Speed expects to vaccinate 20 million Americans against coronavirus by the end of December, though they have not briefed President-elect Biden’s transition team on the effort and don’t plan to do so at this point, Trump administration officials told senators Thursday.

Pfizer is expected to apply for the authorization on Friday, according to Alex Azar, Secretary of Health and Human Services. Moderna is expected to file soon after that, he said.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said that a panel of independent experts “who have no allegiance to anybody” had deemed data showing that the vaccines were highly effective “to be sound.”

That data will now be reviewed by an FDA advisory committee before the department issues the emergency authorization.

President Donald Trump, who has said little about a recent surge in coronavirus cases across the United States, did not appear at the briefing and officials did not take questions from reporters.

Parents upset after NYC schools close due to surge

Many New York City parents are outraged that all in-person instruction was abruptly halted at city schools, with many expressing their frustrations over the decision and having no time to prepare for it.

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the shutdown Wednesday.

Leah Truell, a 34-year-old single mother in Staten Island, said she learned of the news after she left work. Her son, Preston, is part of the blended learning system — a mix of remote and in-person classes — and was supposed to go back to school at P.S. 45 John Tyler on Monday.

Truell, who works with Silver Lake Head Start, now has to quickly make arrangements for her son to switch to fully remote learning. She said she’s hoping a friend will be able to step in and help.

“That’s not enough time. They don’t take into consideration single parents, those of us who don’t have any other option, no family, or anything like that,” she said during a phone interview Thursday. “It’s a very stressful situation.”

Read the full story.

California announces limited stay-at-home order

Amid an alarming increase in Covid-19 cases across California, Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office announced a limited stay-at-home order that will go into effect Saturday night.

The order requires all non-essential work, movement and gatherings to stop between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. in the counties hardest hit by the pandemic, including Los Angeles County. 

“The virus is spreading at a pace we haven’t seen since the start of this pandemic, and the next several days and weeks will be critical to stop the surge. We are sounding the alarm,” Newsom said Thursday in a statement. “It is crucial that we act to decrease transmission and slow hospitalizations before the death count surges. We’ve done it before and we must do it again.”

He did not say how the order would be enforced. The directive does not prevent people from the same household from leaving their residence as long as they don’t interact with people from outside their home. In other words, they can still walk their dog during those hours.

It comes as California’s largest and most populous county, Los Angeles, reported more than 5,000 new coronavirus cases Thursday, the most the county has seen on any single day since the pandemic started. L.A. County Health Officer Dr. Muntu Davis also announced 1,238 new Covid-related hospitalizations.

Statewide, more than 1 million coronavirus cases and 18,469 deaths have been confirmed as of Thursday, according to NBC News counts.

Archdiocese of New York sues N.Y.C.’s Department of Education for failing to provide required Covid testing

The Archdiocese of New York and several parents are suing the New York City’s Department of Education claiming it has failed to provide Covid-19 testing  to parochial students as required by state law.

And the testing the DOE has provided thus far has been “inferior,” the lawsuit states. 

The lawsuit was filed Wednesday in the state Supreme Court on Staten Island, a New York City borough that has been contending with some of worst Covid-19 outbreaks in recent months.



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