The number of coronavirus cases is soaring to record daily numbers in the US, and cities and states are clamping down again, much like we saw in the spring. It's an effort to curb a second wave of the virus that promises to be fueled by the coming holidays.
On Thursday, 150,000 new COVID-19 cases were reported, setting a record. And consider this: one in every 378 Americans has tested positive this week alone.
In Chicago, where the rate of positive tests has tripled to 14%, the mayor is asking Chicagoans to only leave home for essential activities like work or groceries and to restrict social gatherings to 10 people starting Monday – less than two weeks before Thanksgiving.
"Our goal now is the same as it was during the early days of the pandemic and that is to bend the curve," said Mayor Lori Lightfoot. "We are back there." Critics of Lightfoot's move have pointed out that just one week ago, Lightfoot took to the crowded streets of Chicago with a bullhorn to cheer for Joe Biden with a large crowd, and she was not wearing a mask.
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In New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is also restricting private gatherings to 10 people, and ordering restaurants, bars, and gyms statewide will have to close at 10 p.m. starting today.
It's a major blow for small businesses still struggling to survive after previous restrictions. "There's only a few people sitting down in the restaurant at 10 o'clock and now we can't accept those 10, 20 customers we get a night," said restaurant manager Paolo DeGatto.
New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio is threatening to close schools again if the positivity rate gets above three percent. Right now, it's at 2.6%.
In California, restrictions are being renewed as cases are now topping a million.
And, Ohio Republican Governor Mike DeWine issued a new mask mandate. "We know that masks work," DeWine said. "They're the easiest, most cost-effective way to limit the spread of COVID-19."
The CDC is now predicting that by the end of Thanksgiving weekend, at least a quarter of a million Americans will have died from COVID.
"I said if we did not get control of this, that we could reach 100,000 infections a day, and people thought I was being hyperbolic," said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. "And now look what's happening."
But Dr. Fauci believes new vaccine development will be a game-changer.
Pfizer says early data shows its vaccine could be 90-percent effective and may apply for emergency authorization, as soon as next week. Moderna is not far behind with their vaccine and could be ready to apply for FDA approval by next month.
"The good news about vaccines means if we hunker down for another 6-8 months, we could be in a much, much better place next year," said Dr. Robert Wachter of the University of California San Francisco.
Plus, new antibody treatments are beginning to stave off the virus for those who have mild to moderate cases and catch it in the early days.
"This is a treatment that can keep them from becoming sick enough to be in the hospital, so it keeps them out of the healthcare system," said Martin Padgett, CEO of Clark Memorial Health.
In the midst of this, a debate over religious freedom continues to brew. As restrictions tighten, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn is asking the Supreme Court to block limits on in-person church attendance. The church argues it should not be effectively forced to close while some secular businesses remain open.
The Supreme Court rebuffed similar challenges over the summer, but with the addition of Justice Amy Coney Barrett, church leaders are hoping to find more success before the now more conservative court.