North Carolina hit a single-day record high today in COVID-19 case reports of 2,885, a number that well eclipses the previous single-day record of 2,716 cases, set just six days ago. Nationwide, daily new cases reportedly are averaging about 70,000.
The COVID-19 death toll in North Carolina has reached 4,283, and 1,181 people are currently hospitalized with the disease, according to the N.C. Dept. of Health and Human Services dashboard.
Small indoor gatherings with family and friends are driving COVID-19 outbreaks throughout the country, Dr. Anthony Fauci said yesterday in a live-stream interview with Dr. Howard Bauchner, the editor of “The Journal of the American Medical Assn.”
Dr. Mandy Cohen, secretary of the NCDHHS, and Dr. Sheila Davies, director of the Dare County Dept. of Health and Human Services, also have implicated social gatherings as a significant cause of rising cases statewide and locally, respectively, but neither has been as forthcoming as Dr. Fauci.
“You get one person who’s asymptomatic and infected, and then all of a sudden, four or five people in that gathering are infected,” the Director of the National Institutes of Allergies and Infectious Diseases explained, a “precarious” scenario that is likely to occur, he said, during upcoming Thanksgiving get-togethers, if people do not exercise caution.
The combination of indoor holiday festivities and people of various age groups from different households socializing in close proximity to each other, he said, is “a bad recipe for a tough time ahead.”
The infectious diseases expert suggested protecting those people who are most vulnerable to severe illness from a coronavirus infection, such as older adults and people with underlying health conditions, by keeping them safe at home.
You “want to take a couple of steps back,” he said, “and say, ‘Is it worth it [this year] to bring those people together when you don’t know what the status of everybody [in the newly created holiday pod] is?”
Dr. Fauci has given other interviews recently—for example, to CBS Evening News anchor Norah O’Donnell—in which he has suggested canceling Thanksgiving gatherings, concerned that they could provoke spikes in COVID-19 cases.
“[Y]ou may have to bite the bullet and sacrifice that social gathering unless you’re pretty certain that the people you are dealing with are not infected,” he told Ms. O’Donnell.
The 79-year-old Fauci said he and his wife are not gathering for Thanksgiving with their three children, who live in three separate states, because of the infection risks associated with air travel and other public transportation and their own vulnerability because of age-related immune deficiency.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released guidelines for Thanksgiving and other holiday celebrations, identifying activities that are lower-risk, moderate-risk, and higher-risk.
Mingling among a crowd in a pumpkin patch, for example—even when people are using hand sanitizer, wearing masks, and keeping socially distant—is rated as a moderate-risk activity. Shopping in a crowded department store for holiday gifts, needless to say, is among the higher-risk activities.
Not surprisingly, the national public-health agency concludes that “Staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others.”
For Ms. O’Donnell’s full interview with Dr. Fauci, see https://www.cbsnews.com/news/fauci-thanksgiving-covid-different/.
Dr. Fauci also expressed support in an interview yesterday with CNBC for a national mask mandate, as well as state and local mask mandates, if a national one is not imposed—which he is not anticipating from the Trump White House.
Face coverings are currently the best option available for slowing the spread of the virus, he said.
The NIAID Director used the same language in describing current U.S. trends in coronavirus infections as Dr. Davies and Dr. Cohen have recently in describing the local and state situations: U.S. trends, he said, are “moving in the wrong direction.”
TOWN COUNCIL MEETING, NOV. 4, 5:30 p.m., IN THE PITTS CENTER
The Town has posted the meeting packet of materials for the Town Council’s Nov. 4 regular meeting. You may access it here: https://www.southernshores-nc.gov/wp-content/uploads/minutes-agendas-newsletters/Meeting-Packet_2020-11-04.pdf.
Ann G. Sjoerdsma, 10/29/20