The United States had more than 481,372 new cases of COVID-19 last week, setting a record for the most new infections reported in a week since the pandemic began.
Nearly half the country set records for new COVID-19 cases in a week while five states had a record number of deaths in a week: Montana, North Carolina, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
Wisconsin’s public health officials and contact tracers say they’re struggling to keep up with virus spread, while El Paso, Texas, is airlifting COVID-19 patients to neighboring hospitals and converting the civic center into a medical site for an additional 100 beds.
The U.S. reports a new COVID-19 case every 1.26 seconds, according to a USA TODAY analysis of Johns Hopkins University data. Worldwide, there have been more than 43 million coronavirus infections.
In Washington, Vice President Mike Pence plans to attend several scheduled events this week, including the final vote to confirm Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court on Monday, despite several of his aides testing positive for COVID-19.
📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has reported more than 8.6 million cases and 225,500 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: 43.3 million cases and 1.15 million deaths.
🗺️ Mapping coronavirus: Track the U.S. outbreak in your state.
When will there be a COVID-19 vaccine? Our panel of experts expects at least one COVID-19 vaccine will be approved in the coming months. Then things could really get complicated.
Contact tracers in Wisconsin can’t keep up with COVID-19 spread
With an average of 3,400 new cases each day just in the last week in Wisconsin – the third highest per-person rate in the U.S. – contact tracers are now so overrun that some have begun to wonder whether the job is futile.
A person who tests positive might report 10 or more close contacts who need to be reached quickly. Multiply that by 3,400 and the task becomes impossible: close to 40,000 people for the state’s little more than 1,000 tracers to reach with each new day.
Some Wisconsin counties are now stopping short of reaching out to an infected person’s contacts, instead asking the infected person to do it themselves. That includes Dane County, the second-most populous in the state, which said in a news release this week it has switched to a “crisis model.”
DHS chief medical officer Dr. Ryan Westergaard told reporters last week that Wisconsin’s entire public health infrastructure – including state, local and tribal health departments – “cannot keep up.”
– Madeline Heim, USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin
California’s financially battered restaurants filed government claims Monday to recover more than $100 million in fees for liquor and health permits and tourism charges that they say were assessed even though their businesses were shuttered or only partially operating under long-running coronavirus orders.
Few industries have been hit as hard during the pandemic as restaurants, which in California were ordered closed, reopened, closed for a second time and then were allowed to welcome customers again with restrictions. Thousands of restaurants have closed permanently.
Owners say one thing has remained constant amid the turmoil: State and county governments have continued to charge fees for liquor licenses, health permits and tourism assessments, even though the restaurants were closed down by government orders or limited in how they could operate.
— The Associated Press
US sets another record for most new cases of COVID-19 in a week
The United States had more than 481,372 new cases of COVID-19 last week, setting a record for the most new cases reported in a week since the pandemic began. Ohio, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, all of them considered battleground states in the upcoming election, all reported their 200,000th cases Monday.
Twenty states set records for new cases in a week: Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky Montana, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
Meanwhile, five states reported a record number of COVID-19 deaths in a week: Montana, North Carolina, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
The U.S. reports a new COVID-19 case every 1.26 seconds, according to a USA TODAY analysis of Johns Hopkins University data.
– Michael Stucka
The capital of the state with the nation’s highest incidence of new coronavirus cases per capita has drawn a rebuke from the White House coronavirus response coordinator for its careless ways.
Dr. Deborah Birx, whose tour has taken her to nearly 40 states, said Bismarck, North Dakota, has the worst COVID-19 protocols she’s seen in her travels, calling the absence of face coverings and the lack of social distancing in the capital city “deeply unfortunate” and a danger to public health.
North Dakota has ranked first in the U.S. for new virus cases per capita in the last two weeks, according to The COVID Tracking Project. Republican Gov. Doug Burgum has urged people to wear masks out of personal responsibility and care for others but declined to issue a mask mandate.
Hospitals in El Paso, Texas, overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients
The El Paso civic center will be converted into a medical care site and some patients will be flown to other cities as local hospitals are being inundated with COVID-19 patients.
The civic center site will have a capacity of 50 beds and can expand to 100 beds, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is also deploying two 35-member disaster medical assistance teams and a trauma critical care team to El Paso, Abbott added. The teams will arrive this week.
El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego on Sunday evening issued a stay-at-home order with a daily curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., unless going to work or going to an essential service. Violation of the order is punishable by a $500 fine.
As of Sunday morning, a record 786 patients were hospitalized for COVID-19 in El Paso, an increase of 71 patients from the day before, and the number of known active cases was a 11,321, according to city-county health data.
– Daniel Borunda, El Paso Times
Democrats criticize Mike Pence for not isolating after aides’ positive tests
Senate Democrats on Sunday lodged harsh criticisms at Vice President Mike Pence, who plans to preside over the chamber during a vote on Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation to the Supreme Court on Monday night despite several of his top aides contracting COVID-19.
The plans drew harsh criticism from Democrats, but Republicans mostly shrugged off Pence coming to Capitol Hill, explaining they were sure the vice president would do so responsibly. Pence was at a campaign event in Minnesota on Monday but had enough time to return for the confirmation.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., railed against Pence’s plans and said the visit would put “the health of everyone who works in this building at risk,” noting that Pence should quarantine as CDC guidelines dictate.
Pence and his wife, Karen Pence, tested negative for COVID-19 on Monday morning, according to the vice president’s office.
– Christal Hayes
Wisconsin quarterback Graham Mertz tests positive for COVID-19
Wisconsin redshirt freshman quarterback Graham Mertz, who put on a sparkling performance in his starting debut Friday night, has tested positive for COVID-19.
Two people familiar with the situation told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, part of the USA TODAY Network, that Mertz has had one positive test. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.
Mertz completed 20 of 21 passes for 248 yards and five touchdowns in the Badgers’ 45-7 victory over Illinois on Friday. Wisconsin is ranked No. 11 in this week’s Amway Coaches Poll. A Wisconsin official declined to comment on Mertz’s status.
According to Big Ten protocols released last month, athletes who test positive through point of contact (POC) daily testing will require a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test to confirm the first result.
– Jeff Potrykus, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Mexico health officials acknowledge higher COVID-19 death toll
Mexican health authorities acknowledged the country’s true death toll from the coronavirus pandemic is far higher than previously reported, saying there were 193,170 “excess” deaths this year through Sept. 26.
Of those, 139,153 are now judged to be attributable to COVID-19. Mexico’s official, test-confirmed death toll is about 89,000, but officials previously acknowledged many people didn’t get tested or their tests were mishandled.
Authorities had previously presented an estimated death toll of 103,882, after taking into account mishandled tests. But the Health Department said Sunday that they had analyzed databases to come up with the latest figure. The analysis picked up symptoms related to COVID-19 mentioned on death certificates even if they weren’t listed as the cause of death.
UK police to enforce travel ban in effort to slow coronavirus infections
A police force in England says it will try to stop people from leaving Wales, which has started a 17-day lockdown to slow a surging rate of coronavirus infections.
The Gloucestershire Constabulary will patrol routes from Wales and pull over drivers they believe are making long journeys. Travelers without a good excuse will be asked to turn around. If they don’t comply, officers will inform their Welsh counterparts so they can take action because Gloucestershire police don’t have the authority to fine people traveling from Wales, the department said.
The situation illustrates the patchwork of coronavirus restrictions imposed by authorities throughout the U.K., which has Europe’s deadliest coronavirus numbers, with 44,661 confirmed virus deaths. About 1,756 of those occurred in Wales, which has a population of about 3 million.
COVID-19 resources from USA TODAY
Contributing: Mike Stucka, The Associated Press