Today’s In Crisis headlines


(NEW YORK) — Here are today’s In Crisis headlines:

Unemployment update: 787,000 new claims filed last week
The U.S. Department of Labor reports 787,000 new jobless claims were filed in the week ending October 17.  While the number is lower than expectations and the lowest number since March, it still represents the 31st straight week of historically high unemployment claims during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Also, while the lower number, which is 55,000 less than the previous week’s revised level of 842,000, could be interpreted as showing more people are finding work, there are also concerns that unemployment numbers are coming down because some people have run out of their benefits rather than gone back to work.  Thursday’s report also shows that 23,150,427 people are currently receiving unemployment benefits under state and federal programs.

COVID-19 numbers
Here’s the latest data on COVID-19 coronavirus infections and deaths.

Latest reported numbers globally per Johns Hopkins University
Global diagnosed cases: 41,310,004
Global deaths: 1,132,676.  The United States has the most deaths of any single country, with 222,220.
Number of countries/regions: at least 189
Total patients recovered globally: 28,167,502

Latest reported numbers in the United States per Johns Hopkins University
There are at least 8,338,413 reported cases in 50 states + the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Guam.  This is more than in any other country.
U.S. deaths: at least 222,220.  New York State has the greatest number of reported deaths in the U.S., with 33,371.
U.S. total patients recovered: 3,323,354
U.S. total people tested: 127,825,177

The greatest number of reported COVID-19 cases in the U.S. is in California, with 887,658 confirmed cases out of a total state population of 39.51 million.  That ranks third in the world after Maharashtra, India, which has 1,617,658 reported cases, and Sao Paulo, Brazil, which has 1,073,261 reported cases.

CDC study shows multiple, brief “close contact” exposures can result in COVID-19 transmission
The Centers for Disease Control and prevention has updated its guidance, now declaring that even brief exposure, if repeated, can increase your risk of contracting COVID-19.  A study posted Wednesday on the CDC website cites an incident where a “correctional officer had multiple brief encounters” with six asymptomatic inmates in quarantine, and later tested positive for the coronavirus.  Previous CDC guidance declared that “close contact” exposure of at least 15 minutes within six feet of someone with COVID-19 was necessary in order to transmit the disease.

“Although the initial assessment did not suggest that the officer had close contact exposures, detailed review of video footage identified that the cumulative duration of exposures exceeded 15 minutes,” the study states.  The CDC say the new study demonstrates that virus transmission can occur even with multiple exposures, each less than a minute in duration.  The CDC has subsequently updated its published guidance to define close contact as “Someone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period starting from 2 days before illness onset (or, for asymptomatic patients, 2 days prior to test specimen collection) until the time the patient is isolated.”

Operation Warp Speed advisor confident Americans could be vaccinated for COVID-19 by June
Dr. Moncef Slaoui, chief advisor for the White House’s Operation Warp Speed COVID-19 vaccination effort, told ABC News Wednesday that he feels “pretty confident” Americans can have been vaccinated by June 2021.  “It’s not a certainty, but the plan — and I feel pretty confident — should make it such that by June, everybody could have been immunized in the U.S.,” Slaoui told ABC News’ Bob Woodruff Wednesday morning.  Saloui also insisted he hadn’t been improperly pressured by the White House to rush vaccine development beyond what he considered to be safe.  “I’ve had absolutely no pressure, really, no pressure,” Slaoui said, “And I have [always] said, if I get undue pressure, I will say it and I will resign.”

Slaoui also said pharmaceutical companies Moderna and Pfizer are likely to be the first with vaccine candidates to apply to the Food and Drug Administration for emergency use, possibly as soon as November or December.  If a vaccine is authorized before the end of the year, Slaoui said approximately 20 to 40 million doses of it will be stockpiled and ready for distribution for a limited population.  According to The New York Times, there are currently 11 potential COVID-19 vaccines undergoing phase 3 human trials around the world.

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