Small gatherings are becoming a growing source of Covid-19 spread, a leading health expert said, as cases and hospitalizations are on the rise nationwide.
“In the public square, we’re seeing a higher degree of vigilance and mitigation steps in many jurisdictions,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield said during a call with the nation’s governors on Tuesday. Audio of the call was obtained by CNN.
“But what we’re seeing as the increasing threat right now is actually acquisition of infection through small household gatherings,” Redfield said. “Particularly with Thanksgiving coming up, we think it’s really important to stress the vigilance of these continued mitigation steps in the household setting.”
Dr. Jonathan Reiner, professor of medicine at George Washington University, said Wednesday he’d advise people to consider not having indoor Thanksgiving dinners with others who aren’t in their immediate household.
“If you’re lucky enough to live in a part of the country where the weather will be moderate in November, do an outdoor Thanksgiving. (But) I think in the … places in the country where the winter comes early, I think you have to really be careful,” Reiner told CNN’s “New Day.”
“The consequences of this virus, particularly for older folks — the people that we really want to gather with on Thanksgiving — can be really dire,” he said. And, frankly, I’d rather do a Zoom Thanksgiving with people that I love than expose them to something that might kill them,” he said.
“Next year is going to be much better. Let’s get through this, and let’s get through it safely.”
These comments come as the country’s seven-day average of new daily cases surpassed 51,000 Tuesday — the first time in more than two months that the figure was above 50,000, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
The average is now more than 48% higher than it was about a month ago, when it dipped to as low as 34,354.
And hospitalizations have been increasing nationwide. More than 36,000 Covid-19 patients were in US hospitals Tuesday, the highest number since the end of August.
White House coronavirus task force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx gave a warning similar to Redfield’s last week, urging Americans to carefully weigh gatherings over Thanksgiving. Even if non-household members appear healthy, it’s impossible to know for sure without testing, she said.
Health officials have warned that the spike in cases probably will worsen as cold weather prompts more indoor social gatherings, and that surges could overwhelm the health care system and kill thousands in the coming months.
Studies add to evidence that blood type might be linked with Covid-19 risk
Two new studies are adding to evidence that suggests your blood type could be linked with your Covid-19 risk, but more research is needed.
Published in the journal Blood Advances on Wednesday, the studies suggest that people with blood type O may be less vulnerable to Covid-19 infection and have a reduced likelihood of getting severely ill.
A Danish study found that among 7,422 people who tested positive for Covid-19, only 38.4% were blood type O — even though, among a group of 2.2 million people who were not tested, that blood type made up 41.7% of the population. By contrast, 44.4% of group A tested positive, while in the wider Danish population that blood type makes up 42.4%.
That study involved analyzing data on Danish people who were tested between February 27 and July 30, and the distribution of blood types among those people was compared with data from people who had not been tested.
The other study, conducted by researchers in Canada, found that among 95 patients critically ill with Covid-19, a higher proportion with blood type A or AB — 84% — required mechanical ventilation compared with patients with blood type O or B, at 61%. The study also found those with blood type A or AB had a longer stay in the intensive care unit, a median of 13.5 days, compared with those with blood type O or B, who had a median of nine days.
That study involved analyzing data on ICU patients who were admitted to six metropolitan Vancouver hospitals between February 21 and April 28.
Both studies come with limitations. They show only an association between blood type and Covid-19 risk. More research is needed to determine whether this connection is true and what could be driving it.
Wisconsin judge blocks public gatherings mandate
A circuit court judge in Wisconsin has issued a temporary restraining order against Gov. Tony Evers’ executive order limiting public gatherings to 25% occupancy.
In his ruling issued Tuesday, Judge John Yackel said that the state health department as well as the Sawyer County health department, where the plaintiffs are based, cannot enforce the emergency order until further ordered by the court.
It is unclear whether the restraining order is statewide or just for the county where the filing was placed.
Evers spokesperson Britt Cudaback said the governor will challenge the ruling.
“This is a dangerous decision that leaves our state without a statewide effort to contain this virus,” Cudaback wrote in an email. “We need Wisconsinites to stay home and help us prevent the spread of COVID-19.”
In a statement before the ruling, the Tavern League of Wisconsin, a nonprofit trade association, said that it supports the efforts to limit the spread of Covid-19 but want to “allow our members to continue to serve their communities.”
The league said the restaurants, taverns and bars are facing bankruptcy, closure or economic ruin.
“We do not have the financial wherewithal to survive the blunt force of another business shutdown which have not proven effective and will result in catastrophic losses in the hospitality industry in Wisconsin,” TLW President Chris Marsicano said Tuesday.
A different circuit court judge on Friday upheld Evers’ statewide mask mandate that is scheduled to expire on November 21.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story inaccurately reported how many of the people who tested positive in the Danish study were blood type O.