Many Americans are bracing for increased virus restrictions and the possibility of fall and winter lockdowns, even as leaders in some areas are doubling-down on their hands-off approach, despite a national surge in COVID-19 cases.
Nevada Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak, who tested positive for the virus on Friday, has repeatedly argued that containing the virus is largely up to individuals. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has emphasized new treatments and vaccines that are expected to become available soon.
South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem’s office said she has no intention of using state resources to enforce any federal COVID-19 orders that might come from a Biden administration. South Dakota is a current global hot spot for the virus.
Meanwhile, the Republican governors of North Dakota and West Virginia mandated face masks in public.
And the nation surge in cases continues: On Friday, the U.S. recorded 184,514 new daily infections, breaking yet another record, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The U.S. has continued to surpass 100,000 new daily cases since Nov. 5.
Some major developments:
📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has reported more than 10.7 million cases and 244,300 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: 53.4 million cases and 1.3 million deaths.
🗺️ Mapping coronavirus: Track the U.S. outbreak in your state.
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West Virginia, North Dakota mandate masks, capacity limits as virus surges
The Republican governors of North Dakota and West Virginia have mandated the wearing of masks in businesses and indoor spaces in their states.
“It’s just silly to be in a public building with strangers walking around without a mask on,” West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice said Friday. “Even if you have this macho belief or whatever it may be, it’s silly.”
Justice’s first indoor mask order in July did not require masks if social distancing was possible. The new order, effective Friday, requires masks at all times except when eating or drinking. The state’s 11 new deaths caused by COVID-19, brings the death toll to at least 565.
More: The Dakotas are ‘as bad as it gets anywhere in the world’ for COVID-19
North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum’s order followed increased pressure from doctors, nurses and other health care professionals.
The directive goes into effect Saturday and will last until Dec. 13. Burgum said in a statement that doctors and nurses “need our help, and they need it now.” The state’s COVID-19 death toll has risen to 707, according to state health data.
Burgum also directed all bars and restaurants to limit capacity to 50%, and closed all in-person service between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m. Large-scale venues are limited to 25% capacity.
— Associated Press
Coronavirus spike is sending more kids back to online learning
The nation’s new COVID-19 spike is poised to send hundreds of thousands of students who were in school at least part-time back to 100% remote learning. A quick look around the country:
New York City — where some 300,000 public school students are receiving some in-person instruction — is quickly approaching the community spread threshold that would trigger another shutdown. Mayor Bill de Blasio on Friday told parents to prepare for school buildings to close as early as Monday.
County officials in Indianapolis on Thursday ordered all public and private schools to close and return to online learning by Nov. 30 for safety reasons, a move that affects around 200,000 students.
Meanwhile, a number of urban districts that have operated fully online since the start of the year, such as San Diego, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Detroit, Anchorage and several big, suburban districts outside of Washington, D.C., are further delaying plans for in-class learning because of rising infections.
Before the most recent surge, districts were facing pressure to get more children back into classrooms. Mounting evidence shows schools that carefully reopened with safety protocols have not had major outbreaks. Most of the virus spread, experts have said, appears to be happening in the community, not schools. Read more here.
— Erin Richards
One of last COVID-19-free counties in US reports first case
The last remaining Nevada county — and one of the last two in the U.S. — reported its first case of COVID-19 on Friday.
Esmeralda County Commissioner Tim Hipp said the positive case is believed to be a poll worker who was working last week during the election.
“In response to that, we have shut down the courthouse. And the people that were working with the volunteers with the election are all going to get tested. So we’re just kind of waiting to see what the results are,” Hipp said.
Esmeralda County, whose biggest town is Goldfield, pop. 268, lies isolated in the Mojave Desert three hours north of Las Vegas. At the turn of the last century, gwas the center of a gold mining boom and was Nevada’s biggest town.
— Taylor Avery, Reno Gazette Journal
Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak tests positive for coronavirus
Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak announced Friday he has tested positive for COVID-19, saying he has no symptoms and will begin a 10-day quarantine at his home in Carson City.
“I am not experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms and I have returned to my residence to begin the quarantine process,” Sisolak told reporters during a call Friday afternoon. “It’s nearly impossible to pinpoint where I contracted the virus.”
Sisolak undergoes weekly coronavirus testing. His last negative test was Nov. 6. He also tested negative on Nov. 2.
Since the pandemic began, governors in Missouri, Virginia, and Oklahoma have tested positive for COVID-19. Ohio’s governor tested positive, then negative, in August. Sisolak’s positive test comes as Nevada is experiencing a surge in coronavirus cases. The state marked a new daily record for new cases on Friday, reporting 1,857 infections.
— Anjeanette Damon, Reno Gazette Journal
Trump says a vaccine would be widely available by April
Trump took a swipe at drug maker Pfizer and the governor of New York over their previous comments on a coronavirus vaccine during his public remarks Friday. Trump said his administration would not go into a “lockdown” and said that a vaccine would be widely available by April.
Slaoui urged Americans to get vaccinated once one if approved and encouraged people to volunteer to participate in ongoing trials.
“The vaccines and the therapeutics that we have helped develop and accelerate will be judged independently and, if approved, should be used by all in the population because I believe vaccination is likely to be the cornerstone among all the other measures that we have to take to help us really control this pandemic,” Slaoui said.
– John Fritze and David Jackson
More than 100 Secret Service officers infected with COVID-19 or quarantining
More than 100 U.S. Secret Service officers are either infected with the COVID-19 virus or been told to quarantine because of close contact with someone who has, a person familiar with the matter said Friday.
While the total was not broken down by infection and quarantine, the person who is not authorized to comment publicly said the number skewed largely to quarantine as a precaution because of the officers’ past contacts.
The number included only those who are part of the service’s 1,600-member Uniformed Division, which generally has the most contact with the public as they perform screening at events and patrol the White House grounds. The source declined to comment on the number of infections and quarantines within the corps of agents, including those in the Protective Division who maintain the closest contact with the president and other top White House officials.
The Washington Post first reported the infections and quarantines among service officers, indicating that the number was more than 130.
– Kevin Johnson and Ledyard King
Want to gather with family for Thanksgiving? Start quarantining now
The holiday season is upon us and so is another surge of the coronavirus pandemic. So what’s a family to do?
While some state and city officials have advised against large family gatherings, folks may still be trying to find a way to spend time with loved ones this fall and welcoming students back into the fold.
Dr. Adam Jarrett, who serves as the chief medical officer at Holy Name Medical Center in New Jersey, said that the safest way to try to gather would be to get tested and then “truly self-quarantine for 10 days to two weeks.”
With Thanksgiving falling on Nov. 26, that means quarantine should begin now.
“That’s the only way that we can be pretty close to 100% safe,” Jarrett said.
– Katie Sobko, The Bergen Record
A man walks past a coffee shop with an informational sign about COVID-19 precautions in Chicago on Thursday.
COVID-19 resources from USA TODAY
Contributing: The Associated Press
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: COVID updates: North Dakota mask mandate; Steve Sisolak; Trump vaccine