WASHINGTON — A spokesman says President Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., has been infected with the coronavirus.

Donald Trump Jr.

Donald Trump Jr., shown this month, has been infected with the coronavirus, has no symptoms and has been quarantining. John Bazemore/Associated Press

The spokesman says the younger Trump learned his diagnosis this week, has no symptoms and has been quarantining.

Trump Jr. campaigned in Maine on Oct. 30, when he held an event at Orrington Calvary Chapel that was attended by several hundred people, many of whom were not wearing masks despite Maine guidelines.

Trump Jr. is the latest member of the president’s family to become infected with the virus.

The president, the first lady and their son Barron have recovered from the virus.

Canada extends border closure with U.S. to Dec. 21

Americans hoping to travel to visit their northern neighbors might not be able to this year. Canada’s border closure to nonessential travel has been extended until Dec. 21, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced in a tweet on Friday. Border conditions were set to expire on Saturday if they were not renewed.

Canada’s border has been closed since March 18 because of the coronavirus pandemic, and the closure has been renewed every month. The terms of the border closure state: “To protect Canadians and to reduce the possible burden travellers could place on our health care system due to COVID-19, travel restrictions are in place across all ports of entry.”

Justin Trudeau

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau takes part in a press conference during the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa, Ontario, on Tuesday, Oct. 13. Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press via AP

Only essential workers, such as health-care employees needed in Canada, can enter. Canadian citizens, permanent residents and registered Indians under Canada’s Indian Act are also permitted, but they are subject to health screenings.

In October, Canada relaxed the terms for family members or significant others of Canadians to cross the border for family visits. Those terms allow for Canadians’ spouses, children, grandchildren and partners “in an exclusive dating relationship” who have been in the relationship for at least one year, to enter for visits under new terms.

Nonessential American visitors hoping to fly to Canada are also out of luck: The border closure applies to air travel. “The Government of Canada has restricted non-essential travel of foreign nationals across its border,” Air Canada says on its website. “Foreign nationals wishing to enter Canada by air for optional, non-essential or discretionary purposes will not be permitted. Non-essential travel includes travelling for purposes such as tourism, sightseeing, recreation, entertainment, social visits and religious functions.”

The closure prevents Americans from nonessential entry, except for those who are passing through, such as truck drivers heading to Alaska.

A U.S. tourist was arrested in Canada in August for breaking quarantine guidance to visit Banff National Park.

McConnell proposes shifting unspent business lending funds to COVID aid

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is proposing that Congress funnel $455 billion of unspent small business lending funds toward a new COVID-19 aid package.

The Republican leader’s offer Friday comes after a morning meeting with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. They are trying to kickstart stalled negotiations with Democrats on a year-end virus aid package in the lame-duck Congress.

Mitch McConnell

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., arrives to talk to reporters after a Republican Conference luncheon, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Nov. 17. AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

“Congress should repurpose this money toward the kinds of urgent, important, and targeted relief measures that Republicans have been trying to pass for months,” McConnell said in a statement.

Congress has been at a standstill as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is pushing for $2 trillion in new coronavirus aid, but McConnell insists on a more narrow $500 billion package. The availability of new funds could raise the pricetag closer to a compromise.

On Thursday, Mnuchin announced he would not extend some of the Federal Reserve’s emergency loan programs that had been aimed at COVID relief. The Fed’s corporate credit, municipal lending and Main Street Lending programs will end as of Dec. 31.

Critics said the Treasury Department’s move was designed to hinder President-elect Joe Biden’s administration by halting needed lending. Mnuchin said Friday on CNBC that Congress could make better use of the money.

Pizzagate – How a lie locked down South Australia

ADELAIDE, Australia — It began with a lie about a pizza bar. And it led to the lockdown of an entire state.

Fearing a super-strain of the coronavirus, officials in Australia’s fifth-largest city earlier this week ordered an extreme six-day shutdown of South Australia — they even banned outdoor exercise and dog-walking — after detecting a cluster of cases apparently linked to a pizza shop in an Adelaide suburb.

The severe response was based on the account of a kitchen hand at a quarantine hotel, who told health workers he became infected after collecting a takeout meal from the restaurant Woodville Pizza Bar, which was being investigated as a possible virus hot spot.

Tables stood vacant in a nearly empty pedestrian mall in Adelaide, Australia on Thursday, the first day of a six-day lockdown that will end earlier than planned. David Mariuz/AAP Image via Associated Press

But on Friday, authorities dramatically reversed course after determining in a follow-up interview that the man had lied to contact tracers. The man was, it emerged, not a patron but a pizza chef employed at the restaurant, alongside a security guard who had contracted the virus while working at a second quarantine hotel. Suddenly, the transmission chain was clearer.

“Had this person been truthful to the contact-tracing teams, we would not have gone into a six-day lockdown,” Grant Stevens, the state’s police commissioner, told reporters.

“We were operating on a premise that this person had simply gone to a pizza shop — very short exposure — and walked away having contracted the virus,” he added. “We now know they are a very close contact of another person who has been confirmed as being positive with COVID. It has changed the dynamic substantially.”

Australia has almost eliminated the coronavirus — by putting faith in science

Steven Marshall, the premier of South Australia, expressed anger over the pizza chef’s “selfish actions” as he announced that the lockdown — which affected 1.8 million people — would be lifted on Saturday.

Florida Republican Sen. Rick Scott tests positive for COVID-19

MIAMI — Florida Republican Sen. Rick Scott tested positive for COVID-19, his office announced Friday, making him the second U.S. senator to test positive this week as cases surge across the country.

In a statement, Scott said he was experiencing mild symptoms. He’s been in self-quarantine at his home in Naples since Saturday after coming into contact with an individual who tested positive, though he did not register a positive test himself until six days later.

“After several negative tests, I learned I was positive this morning,” Scott said in a statement. “I am feeling good and experiencing very mild symptoms. I will be working from home in Naples until it is safe for me to return to Washington, D.C. I want to remind everyone to be careful and do the right things to protect yourselves and others.”

Rick Scott

Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., speaks during a campaign rally for Republican candidates for U.S. Senate Sen. Kelly Loeffler and Sen. David Perdue on Friday, Nov. 13, in Cumming, Ga. AP Photo/Brynn Anderson

Scott’s absence in Washington this week helped sink, at least temporarily, President Donald Trump’s Federal Reserve Board nominee Judy Shelton, who faced opposition from Democrats and enough Republicans for her nomination to fail in Scott’s absence. Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley, the president pro tempore of the Senate and third in the line of presidential succession, also tested for COVID this week.

In addition to Scott and Grassley, at least four members of the House of Representatives tested positive for COVID this week, a potential public health risk as lawmakers travel across the country to work in Washington and are often in close proximity to one another and their staffs while on Capitol Hill. The Democratic-controlled House of Representatives is allowing lawmakers to cast a proxy vote during the pandemic, while the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate is not.

In his statement, Scott did not encourage people to stay home for the holidays, as the CDC recommended on Thursday amid rising case counts nationwide, but he did urge Floridians to take other measures, including wearing a mask, something many Republican politicians have not done at events across the state.

“Wear a mask. Social distance. Quarantine if you come in contact with someone positive like I did,” Scott said. “As we approach Thanksgiving, we know this holiday will be different this year. But, listen to public health officials and follow their guidance. We will beat this together, but we all have to be responsible. I want to thank all the incredible health care workers who are working around the clock to care for patients and I pray that by next Thanksgiving, COVID-19 will be a thing of the past.”

Scott said that on the evening of November 13 he came into contact with someone who tested positive after returning to Florida following a week of Senate votes. His office said he had multiple rapid tests that came back negative until a PCR test he took on Tuesday came back positive on Friday morning.

In Florida, 17,810 people have died from COVID since March 1, while over 914,000 people have tested positive through Thursday, according to data from the Florida Department of Health.

Americans hoping to travel to visit their northern neighbors might not be able to this year. Canada’s border closure to nonessential travel has been extended until Dec. 21, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced in a tweet on Friday. Border conditions were set to expire on Saturday if they were not renewed.

Canada’s border has been closed since March 18 because of the coronavirus pandemic, and the closure has been renewed every month. The terms of the border closure state: “To protect Canadians and to reduce the possible burden travellers could place on our health care system due to COVID-19, travel restrictions are in place across all ports of entry.”

Justin Trudeau

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau takes part in a press conference during the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa, Ontario, on Tuesday, Oct. 13. Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press via AP

Only essential workers, such as health-care employees needed in Canada, can enter. Canadian citizens, permanent residents and registered Indians under Canada’s Indian Act are also permitted, but they are subject to health screenings.

In October, Canada relaxed the terms for family members or significant others of Canadians to cross the border for family visits. Those terms allow for Canadians’ spouses, children, grandchildren and partners “in an exclusive dating relationship” who have been in the relationship for at least one year, to enter for visits under new terms.

Nonessential American visitors hoping to fly to Canada are also out of luck: The border closure applies to air travel. “The Government of Canada has restricted non-essential travel of foreign nationals across its border,” Air Canada says on its website. “Foreign nationals wishing to enter Canada by air for optional, non-essential or discretionary purposes will not be permitted. Non-essential travel includes travelling for purposes such as tourism, sightseeing, recreation, entertainment, social visits and religious functions.”

The closure prevents Americans from nonessential entry, except for those who are passing through, such as truck drivers heading to Alaska.

A U.S. tourist was arrested in Canada in August for breaking quarantine guidance to visit Banff National Park.

How the pandemic compares to other deadly events in U.S. history

Nearly 250,000 people in the United States have died from COVID-19 since February, and many public health officials warn the pandemic is just entering its deadliest phase. Yet, as the country confronts this horrifying death toll, there is little understanding of what a loss of this size represents.

Here is some historical perspective about losing a quarter of a million people, looking at major events in our past that have cost American lives.

More than 58,000 Americans were killed during the decade-plus of involvement in the Vietnam War. So the pandemic’s fatalities represent four Vietnam Wars since February.

During the Korean War, nearly 37,000 Americans were lost – COVID-19 has claimed nearly seven times more.

During World War II, the country mourned 405,000 members of the “Greatest Generation.” The pandemic has taken nearly two-thirds as many people, a lot of them old enough to remember the fight against the Nazis and the Japanese.

World War II veterans gathered to commemorate Pearl Harbor Day at the World War II Memorial in Washington in 2016. Michael Robinson Chavez/The Washington Post

And World War I? 116,000 U.S. dead in two years of fighting. The pandemic has more than doubled that number in a fraction of the time.

What about our deadliest conflict, the Civil War? Death toll estimates range from 600,000 to 850,000. Even at the high end of that range, the pandemic has permanently taken nearly 30% as many family members from Thanksgiving tables.

On Sept. 11, 2001, almost 3,000 people were killed in terrorist attacks in New York, Washington and Shanksville, Pa.

The deadliest day of the pandemic so far – April 14 – nearly equaled that, at 2,967 deaths. On Wednesday, as the virus surged across the country, the daily death toll had risen again to 1,894. Public health officials fear that by the end of this month, the U.S. could lose more people per day from the pandemic than the 2,403 Americans killed in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.

And how does this pandemic compare to others in U.S. history?

A Red Cross Emergency Ambulance Station in Washington, D.C., during the influenza pandemic of 1918. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention keeps records on four of them. The 2009 H1N1 pandemic killed 12,469 Americans. The 1968 Influenza A pandemic killed about 100,000 people. And the 1957-1958 Influenza A pandemic took 116,000 U.S. lives.

The deadliest event in U.S. history was the 1918 flu pandemic, which is estimated to have killed 675,000 Americans.

One of the more conservative disease models currently projects the United States could reach 438,000 deaths, more than during World War II, by March 1, 2021.

Evangelical doctors urge churches not to defy public health restrictions, hold in-person services

A group representing evangelical Christian doctors is pleading with churches to stop holding in-person services, calling it “tragic to see Christians become even more reviled because we appear to care only about our individual freedoms and don’t care that we may be contributing to others getting this illness because of our selfishness.”

Since the start of the pandemic, some churches have made a point of defying public health restrictions that ban large gatherings, or attempting to overturn them in court. But voluntarily choosing to hold services online in the interest of protecting community members “allows us to make a statement that is not overshadowed by a government restriction,” leaders of the Christian Medical & Dental Associations write.

Virus_Outbreak_California_Church_School_69829

A Bethel Church leader criticized masks while an outbreak of COVID-19 at its affiliated college resulted in over 270 cases in March. Mike Chapman/The Record Searchlight via Associated Press

Citing the need to “slow the rising tide” of coronavirus infections, the association argues that choosing to hold services online is not a decision made from fear, but instead is about “loving one another and minimizing risk to the vulnerable around us.” In an appeal published Thursday, the group said that it was “saddened” that many church leaders had avoided its recommendations to avoid large gatherings, and that some worshipers had contracted the coronavirus as a result.

“One of us is personally aware of several recent weddings when people did not mask or engage in social distancing which resulted in the entire wedding party and family being infected with SARS-CoV-2,” the letter says.

Earlier this year, the CMDA called on churches to obey government health orders, pointing to a Bible passage that states that “whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God.” The new appeal, which was first reported by NPR, pushes back against the notion that banning in-person gatherings is an attack on religious rights. No one is being prevented from reading the Bible, singing hymns and connecting with other congregants from home, the group’s leaders note.

213 cases, 12 deaths stem from a church convocation, NC health official say

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Health officials said Thursday that three more people have died of coronavirus complications linked to a series of convocation events at a North Carolina church last month, raising the death toll to 12.

Large crowds attended events at the United House of Prayer for All People in October in west Charlotte.

In that time, public health contact tracers and Mecklenburg County officials have connected 213 COVID-19 cases to the events, which includes attendees and people who came in close contact with participants, The Charlotte Observer reported.

Of the deaths, 10 were from Mecklenburg County and two were from Gaston County, officials said in a statement.

Pfizer to file Friday for regulatory clearance of their coronavirus vaccine

Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech announced they plan to file Friday for emergency authorization of their coronavirus vaccine, a landmark moment and a signal that a powerful tool to help control the pandemic could begin to be available by mid- to late December.

The filing is a significant step in the effort to develop a vaccine and will move the race to its next, deliberative phase – a weeks-long process in which career scientists at the Food and Drug Administration scrutinize the data and determine if the vaccine is safe and effective.

Only after the agency has given the green light will a first, limited group of high-risk people be able to access the shots. Government officials anticipate having enough vaccine to inoculate about 20 million people in the U.S. in December, between Pfizer’s vaccine and a second shot likely to be considered for emergency authorization soon, from biotechnology company Moderna. The United States will receive about half of the 50 million doses Pfizer is aiming to produce by the end of the year.

There will probably be enough vaccine for 25 million to 30 million people a month in early 2021, according to Moncef Slaoui, chief scientific adviser of Operation Warp Speed, the federal government initiative to speed up vaccine development.

Glimpses of the Pfizer data through news releases have so far exceeded expectations: The two-dose vaccine regimen was 95% effective at preventing disease in clinical trials and had no major safety problems, according to the company. It was 94%effective in people over 65, a group of critical concern because older people are more likely to develop life-threatening illness after contracting the virus. The companies are also submitting two months of follow-up data on 38,000 people, far more than the minimum of half the participants in their 44,000-person trial. They will also present safety data on 100 children between 12 and 15 years old, a group they only recently began to include in their trial.

Once Pfizer and BioNTech file their application, those broad findings will be scrutinized by regulators – including at a full-day advisory committee meeting in which external scientists will meet to make recommendations to the agency on whether it should clear the vaccine for broader use.

The hope that many scientists and physicians feel about unprecedented scientific success in developing a remarkably effective vaccine has been tempered by a grim reality. No vaccine will arrive in time to alter the current surge of virus, as hospitals are overwhelmed, testing capacity is stretched and intensive care units fill with sick people – right before holidays that may seed even more outbreaks.

Nevada, Oregon report record high new virus cases

CARSON CITY, Nev. — Nevada health officials reported a record-high 2,416 new coronavirus cases on Thursday and six additional deaths as the virus continues to surge throughout the state.

The latest figures increased the state’s totals to 127,875 cases and 1,953 known deaths since the pandemic began. The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.

The Nevada Hospital Association reported 1,288 confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patients are currently hospitalized. Both the number of reported daily cases and total hospitalizations are the highest since the start of the pandemic in Nevada.

SALEM, Ore. — The Oregon Health Authority reported three grim COVID-19 record high’s Thursday, the state’s largest daily number of confirmed cases, most daily deaths and people hospitalized for the virus.

There were 1,225 new confirmed COVID-19 cases increasing the state total to 60,873. There were 20 new deaths reported, surpassing the 800 death toll since the start of the pandemic.

The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Oregon is 414, the highest number since the pandemic began and a 142% increase since the beginning of November, according to state health data released Thursday.

El Paso health care workers echo CDC request not to gather for Thanksgiving

EL PASO, Texas — Health care workers in the border city of El Paso, Texas, where the coronavirus pandemic has overwhelmed hospitals, are joining the nation’s top public health officials in urging people not to gather for Thanksgiving.

Surgical technologist Michelle Harvey said Thursday that personal protective equipment is in high demand at the hospital where she works. She and colleagues are frustrated that they often receive only one N95 respirator for 10- to 12-hour shifts and often have to reuse shoe covers.

There is a time-consuming process to request new equipment from locked storage units, Harvey said, and sometimes “the patient just doesn’t have enough time to wait for you to get new stuff.”

Harvey said she usually has 10 to 15 people in her home for the Thanksgiving holiday, but that this year she won’t.

“If you don’t take these precautions, this might be the last time,” said Harvey, 49. “This might be your last holiday with them.”

 


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