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Video: US to work with WHO on global virus response, says Fauci

TimesVideoU.S. Will work with WHO on the global virus response, says Fauci Anthony S. Fauci, the country’s leading infectious disease specialist, said the United States will remain in the World Health Organization and pledged to engage in the international Covid-19 response.

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The night before the opening, Biden mourns the victims of the virus

WASHINGTON – President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. arrived in the nation’s capital for the first time since being elected on Tuesday, and on the eve of his inauguration, he did what his predecessor refused to do by conducting a national mourning for Americans killed. by the coronavirus.

In a grim sunset ceremony at the Lincoln Memorial in a town largely occupied by troops on guard against political violence, Mr Biden paid tribute to the victims of the pandemic on the same day that the U.S. death toll United has passed the staggering 400,000 figure – and almost a year to the day since the country first reported the virus.

“To heal, we must remember,” said Biden, standing in front of the Reflecting Pool, which was surrounded by 400 lights meant to mark the 400,000 victims of the virus. “Sometimes it’s hard to remember. But that’s how we heal. It is important to do this as a nation. That is why we are here today. Between sunset and dusk, let the lights shine in the dark along the sacred reflection pool and remember all of those we have lost.

As the new president spoke, the bells of Washington National Cathedral began to ring, and the Empire State Building in New York City and the Space Needle in Seattle were illuminated. Cities from Miami to San Diego also lit buildings for the occasion, while Mr. Biden’s inaugural committee encouraged Americans to light candles in their windows as a sign of national solidarity. Events also took place in the two cities Mr. Biden calls his hometowns, Wilmington, Del., And Scranton, Pennsylvania.

The evocative ceremony provided a moment of catharsis the nation has yet to experience and highlighted the change of store as Mr. Biden is sworn in as the 46th President of the United States on Wednesday. Throughout the pandemic, President Trump has refused to host a similar national mourning event and offered little public empathy for his victims, even as he and his family and staff have themselves been infected and cured of the virus.

Mr Trump made no mention of the grim new monument of 400,000 dead on Tuesday in his farewell address to the nation and referred to the victims in one sentence. “We mourn every lost life and we pledge in their memory to eradicate this horrific pandemic once and for all,” he said in his speech, which was broadcast on video.

Otherwise, he focused on the “brutal toll” the virus has taken on the economy and bragged about his success in developing a vaccine in record time, without mentioning the problems of distributing vital vaccines.

For Mr Biden, 78, it was a melancholy day as he prepared to take the reins of a country in crisis on Wednesday. As he left Wilmington for Washington to achieve a goal he spent three and a half decades pursuing, he was openly emotional, wiping tears from his eyes and choking. He reflected aloud on his own death and said he wanted his dead son Beau Biden to become president rather than him. But he insisted that dark days would be followed by brighter days.

“It’s deeply personal that our next trip to Washington begins here, a place that defines the best of who we are as Americans,” the president-elect said during a discharge ceremony for Major Joseph R. “Beau” Biden III National Guard / Reserve Center in New Castle, Del., Named after the son who served in Iraq and as the state attorney general before he died of brain cancer in 2015. “I know that these are dark times, but there is always light. This is what makes this state so special. That’s what it taught me: there is always light.

Paraphrasing James Joyce, who once said, “When I die, Dublin will be written on my heart,” Mr. Biden paused to regroup and his voice trembled. “Excuse the emotion, but when I die Delaware will be written in my heart,” he said. Referring to Beau Biden, he added, “I only have one regret, that he’s not here. We should present him as president.

The president-elect flew to Washington rather than taking the train – the preferred mode of transportation for “Amtrak Joe” – due to security concerns less than two weeks after a crowd cheered on by Mr. Trump took to he stormed the Capitol and temporarily halted the count of Electoral College votes ratifying Mr. Biden’s victory.

He was traveling on a white and gray chartered airliner, which itself was another break from custom. Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama all sent government planes to pick up their successors to bring them to the capital for their inaugurations, but Mr. Trump has made it clear that he has little interest in helping his government. successor and Mr. Biden. staff said they chose not to request an official jet.

After months of trying to overturn Democratic election results, Mr. Trump scorned the traditional transition of power, refusing to invite Mr. Biden to the usual post-election visit to the White House and refusing to attend the inaugural ceremony of Wednesday.

But he offered his successor his best wishes in his farewell video on Tuesday without actually using Mr Biden’s name. “This week, we are inaugurating a new administration and praying that it will succeed in keeping America safe and prosperous,” Mr. Trump said. “We send them our best wishes and we also want them to be lucky, a very important word.”

The president, who has not appeared in public for days and has remained isolated in the White House in his final hours in office, used the 20-minute video uploaded to present his administration as a period of progress despite the pandemic and the assault on the Capitol.

“I didn’t look for the easiest route,” Trump said. “By far it was actually the most difficult. I didn’t look for the path that would receive the least criticism. I took the toughest battles, the toughest fights, the toughest choices, because that’s what you elected me to do. Your needs were my first and last focus. “

In listing what he sees as his achievements, the outgoing president cited the strong economy before the pandemic, tax cuts, regulatory restrictions, judicial appointments including three Supreme Court justices, revision of the Accord. of North American free trade, its investment of additional money in the military, the normalization of relations between Israel and several of its Arab neighbors and its clashes with China and Iran. “I am particularly proud to be the first president in decades not to have started a new war,” he said.

Mr Trump again condemned the Jan.6 attack on Capitol Hill without acknowledging any responsibility for encouraging his supporters, for which he was indicted by the House and is on trial by the Senate.

“All Americans were horrified by the assault on our Capitol,” the president said. “Political violence is an attack on everything we hold dear as Americans. It can never be tolerated. He made no mention of the fact that he had prompted the crowd in advance and told them even after they invaded the Capitol and he told them to go home that “we love you, you are very special ”.

Mr Trump has made it clear that he will not leave and shut up, attacking “political censorship” and the “blacklist” of social media companies that have cut his accounts. “Now, as I prepare to hand over power to a new administration at noon on Wednesday,” he said, “I want you to know that the movement we have launched is only just beginning.”

At Mr Biden’s ceremony at the Lincoln Memorial, he was joined by his wife, Jill Biden, as well as Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and her husband, Doug Emhoff. Cardinal Wilton Gregory, the Archbishop of Washington, delivered the invocation while two acclaimed gospel singers, Yolanda Adams and Lori Marie Key, performed.

Mr Biden noted at the Delaware event that 12 years ago he assumed the vice-presidency as a partner of a black man sworn in as president and that on Wednesday he would assume the presidency as than a partner of a black and South Asian woman who would. be sworn in as vice-president.

“Don’t tell me things can’t change,” he says. “They can and they do. This is America, this is Delaware, a place of hope and light and limitless possibilities. And I am honored, I am truly honored to be your next President and Commander-in-Chief and I will always be a proud son of the state of Delaware.

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New California variant could lead to virus surge there, study finds

At the end of December, scientists in California began to search for coronavirus samples for a new, rapidly spreading variant that had just been identified in Britain.

They found it, but in relatively few samples. But in the process, scientists made another unwelcome discovery: California had produced its own variant.

This mutant, which belongs to a line known as CAL.20C, appears to have arisen in July but remained low until November. Then it started to spread rapidly.

CAL.20C made up more than half of viral genome samples collected from Los Angeles labs on January 13, according to a new study that has yet to be released.

“We had our own problem that didn’t cross Europe,” said Jasmine Plummer, a researcher at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, who worked on the new study. “He was really born here, and he was lucky enough to start emerging and soaring during the holidays.”

There is no evidence that CAL.20C is more lethal than the other variants. And scientists need to do more research to determine if CAL.20C is in fact more contagious than other forms of the virus.

But Eric Vail, director of molecular pathology at Cedars-Sinai, said it was possible that CAL.20C could play a significant role in the outbreak of cases that overwhelmed hospitals in Southern California. “I have no doubts that this is a more contagious strain of the virus,” said Dr. Vail.

Dr. Charles Chiu, a virologist at the University of California, San Francisco, said statewide, he and his colleagues find the variant in about 20-30% of the samples sequenced. “It just appeared under our noses, and now it is increasing in several counties,” he said. “Overall, it’s safe to say this is going to spread outside of California.

Researchers are also looking for CAL.20C in other states, Dr Plummer said, and so far have found it in Arizona, Connecticut, Maryland, New Mexico, Nevada, New York, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wyoming, as well as the District of Columbia. It is not yet clear how common this is outside of California.

Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a formal warning about the variant flooding Britain. Although this mutant, called B.1.1.7, is still relatively rare in the United States, accounting for less than half a percent of infections, the agency said it could be responsible for the majority of cases in the countries by March.

A spokesperson for the agency said the CDC is working with California to learn more about the new variant. “Currently, it is not known if this variant is different from other SARS-CoV-2 viruses, if these differences may have contributed to its emergence, or if this emergence was simply a random event,” he said.

“I will say this particular variant is one to watch out for,” said Kristian Andersen, a virologist at the Scripps Research Institute who discovered one of the first samples of B.1.1.7 in the United States. But he warned that it’s still unclear whether CAL.C20 is becoming more common because it has a biological benefit, or just by chance.

While B.1.1.7 and CAL.C20 are both more contagious than the other variants, it is not known how a competition between the two will settle. “CAL.C20 is way ahead,” said Dr. Vail. “Even though B.1.1.7 is more infectious overall, we may never see a big increase here in LA”

Since scientists first identified the novel coronavirus a year ago in China, they have been tracking the emergence of new mutations, which occur at random and are transmitted to new generations of viruses as they replicate. in our body.

Many mutations are harmful to the virus and worsen its replication. Many others are neutral. But researchers have now found several that are worrying because they seem to help the virus infect people more effectively.

In the first few months of the pandemic, a mutation appeared in a lineage which then became dominant in much of the world. Known as D614G, the mutation is now believed to make the virus easier to pass from person to person, compared to variants without it.

In December, British researchers discovered B.1.1.7, which is around 50% more transmissible than previous versions of the virus. The variant is a major factor in the surge in cases and hospitalizations out there now.

B.1.1.7 was in the United States in early November, according to a study published online Tuesday by University of Arizona biologists Brendan Larsen and Michael Worobey. This would mean that the variant had circulated for two months before being detected.

In California, researchers looking for B.1.1.7 began to notice an unusual mutation in their samples. The mutation, called L452R, changes the shape of a protein, called a peak, which decorates the surface of the coronavirus.

“We stumbled upon this truly unexpected discovery and took it from there,” Dr. Vail said.

The mutation has appeared in different viral lineages over the past year. Scientists have studied L452R because it could help coronaviruses stick to our cells and infect them.

In California, Dr Vail, Dr Plummer and their colleagues discovered that whenever they encountered a variant with the L452 mutation, it also carried four other distinctive mutations. This combination, they said, indicated that this was a single lineage that had emerged at some point in California. The researchers named any virus carrying the five CAL.C20 mutations.

The California Department of Health held a press conference on Sunday evening to announce that the L452 mutation is becoming more common in California. On Monday evening, Cedars-Sinai released a press release on their study, which will soon be posted on the MedRxiv pre-print website.

The Cedars-Sinai team is part of a statewide network of researchers who have been tracking mutations in the coronavirus. They randomly selected nasal swabs from patients who tested positive for Covid-19 and then collected genetic material from the swabs.

The researchers pieced together the fragments to reconstruct the virus’s entire genome, then looked for distinctive mutations. They then compared their own findings to other viral genomes sequenced across the state and country.

Researchers found the first CAL.C20 sample in July in Los Angeles. They couldn’t find another sample until October. The variant became more common in November, reaching 36% of Cedars-Sinai samples in December and 50% last week.

Outside scientists are concerned about the new findings, but say it’s still not clear whether the California variant’s mutations give it an advantage – or if it happens so much by chance.

There may be a bias in the samples that scientists examine, for example. It’s also possible that CAL.C20 has become more mainstream thanks to some large super-spreader events.

“I think we need to be careful before concluding that a particular lineage is spreading because of a transmission benefit rather than because it has been riding a wave caused by human behaviors,” Dr Worobey said.

If it turns out to be more contagious, Dr Plummer said, then CAL.C20 could be partially responsible for the recent crippling outbreak of cases in Southern California hospitals.

As the total number of cases increased, Dr Plummer and his colleague found that the percentage of CAL.C20 also increased. This would be consistent with the idea that this is a more contagious variant. “I mean, the numbers speak for themselves,” she said.

Dr Chiu also noted that the variant was involved in a number of outbreaks where large numbers of people have been infected. “There are worrying signs that this variant may be highly transmissible,” he said.

Dr. Chiu and his colleagues are now growing the variant in cells to see how quickly they multiply compared to other variants. The researchers will also observe the effectiveness of the antibodies produced by the vaccines against CAL.C20.

Other scientists are also studying more closely the increased frequency of the variant in California. They are looking for evidence that could determine whether biology or chance is behind its rise.

“This is the job that needs to be done,” Dr. Vail said. “We just don’t have that information.”

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The number of deaths from the virus in the United States has exceeded 400,000.

More than 400,000 people in the United States with the coronavirus have died, according to data compiled by The New York Times on Tuesday, as the anniversary of the country’s first known death in the pandemic approaches.

The rate at which Americans are dying accelerated during the fall and winter, reaching record levels in January. For a few weeks this month, the average daily death toll exceeded 3,300, more than the number killed in the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Tuesday’s heartbreaking milestone came a day after the United States surpassed 24 million total cases.

The deadliest day in the pandemic to date was January 12, when more than 4,400 deaths were reported. Unlike the early days of the outbreak in the United States, which was concentrated in a handful of major cities, mostly in the northeast, this surge is widespread. Arizona, California, South Carolina, New York and Oklahoma had reported the most new cases per capita in the previous week on Monday. Much of the latest wave has been attributed to the gathering of people over the holidays, from Thanksgiving to New Years Eve.

The time taken to record each 100,000 deaths has dramatically decreased since the nation’s first known death from Covid-19, which occurred in Santa Clara County, Calif., On February 6, 2020. The first 100,000 deaths in the United States were confirmed by May 27; it then took the nation four months to register an additional 100,000 deaths; the next, about three months; the last, only five weeks.

Public health experts don’t expect death rates to peak until the end of the month. By the end of February, the death toll could reach 500,000, a figure that would have seemed unthinkable a year ago. Dr Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease specialist, estimated in March that up to 240,000 Americans could lose their lives, a huge figure that is still far from the reality.

The United States has recorded more deaths from the virus than any other country in the world. In total, New York alone recorded over 40,000

death. In all, more than two million people have died from the virus worldwide, a number which is almost certainly an undercount.

Responsibility for the huge loss of American lives, many experts say, lies in the failed leadership of President Trump, whose administration politicized the use of masks and left states to implement a patchwork of inconsistent measures who have not controlled the virus.

“It’s not that he was just incompetent,” said Jeffrey Shaman, a Columbia University professor of environmental health sciences who modeled the spread of the virus. “He made something that could very easily have turned into a point of patriotism, pride and national unity – protecting your neighbors, protecting your loved ones, protecting your community – into a matter of division, as he has. habit, and it cost people their lives. “

By comparison, Vietnam, a nation of 97 million people, has only confirmed 35 virus-related deaths, Dr Shaman added.

President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr., due to be inaugurated on Wednesday, called for an aggressive national strategy to defeat the virus, including increasing the availability of Covid-19 vaccines, although he has not committed to a federal government. mandate mask.

“You have my word that we will handle the hell of this operation,” Biden said Friday, pointing to the disproportionately deadly consequences of the virus for blacks, Latin Americans and Native Americans. “Our administration will lead with science and scientists.”

With the virus that has been rampant everywhere for so many months, hospitals have been stretched. In rural areas, doctors have sometimes been unable to transfer seriously ill patients to larger medical centers for more sophisticated treatment.

As of Monday, the seven-day average of cases in the United States was 200,000 per day, although it has started to decline in recent weeks. Hospitalizations have finally started to stabilize and hit their lowest level since January 2 on Sunday. In the Midwest, hit by its worst surge in the fall, the number of cases has fallen sharply in recent weeks, but that increase appears to be slowing.

However, new variants of the virus, some of which make it more transmissible, could soon spread and threaten to increase infections again.

“There is no clear end in sight in the near future,” said Ira M. Longini Jr., professor of biostatistics at the University of Florida.

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Trump orders virus travel ban lifted, but Biden Aides vows to block move

WASHINGTON – President Trump on Monday ordered an end to the ban on travelers from Europe and Brazil aimed at stopping the spread of the coronavirus in the United States, a move quickly rejected by aides-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr., who said Mr Biden will maintain the ban when he takes office on Wednesday.

In a proclamation issued late Monday, Mr. Trump said the travel restrictions, which apply to non-citizens trying to come to the United States after spending time in these areas, would no longer be necessary on January 26, when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will begin requiring all overseas passengers to show proof of a negative coronavirus test before boarding a flight.

Mr Trump wrote that Alex M. Azar II, Secretary of Health and Human Services, had recommended ending restrictions on travel from most parts of Europe and Brazil, while maintaining restrictions on Iran and China, which Mr Trump said was not cooperative.

“I agree with the secretary that this action is the best way to continue to protect Americans from Covid-19 while allowing travel to resume safely,” the president said in the proclamation.

But Jennifer Psaki, the new White House press secretary for Mr. Biden, said the new administration would not allow Mr. Trump’s directives to come into effect.

“With the worsening pandemic and the emergence of more contagious variants around the world, now is not the time to lift restrictions on international travel,” Ms Psaki tweeted shortly after the White House issued Mr. Trump’s proclamation.

“On the advice of our medical team, the administration does not intend to lift these restrictions on 1/26,” she said. “In fact, we plan to strengthen public health measures regarding international travel to further mitigate the spread of Covid-19.”

The proclamation lifting the travel ban was part of a wave of executive orders Mr. Trump issued on Monday that will most likely be rescinded or rescinded by Mr. Biden.

The president-elect has made pandemic control the centerpiece of his new administration and has been very critical of how his predecessor handled the worst public health crisis in more than 100 years.

Mr Biden said the American people must be prepared to endure a “dark winter” in which the virus spreads quickly and creates more illness and death. His advisers recommended that he institute a mask warrant in federal workplaces and for interstate travel in hopes of slowing the rise in the number of infections.

Aids to Mr Biden made it clear on Monday that easing restrictions no longer made sense.

Mr Trump has long sought to use his push to ban travel to slow the spread of the virus as proof that he acted quickly in the early days of the pandemic. In fact, medical experts have said the restrictions on travel from China, which Mr Trump imposed in late January, were riddled with exemptions that allowed tens of thousands of people who were in China to enter the country. United States in the weeks following the ban. .

Mr Trump’s restrictions on travel from Europe did not come into effect until mid-March, when the virus was well established in the United States. In May, the administration imposed a travel ban on people in Brazil.

The travel restrictions proclamation appears to be an effort to help the airline and hospitality industries, which have been hit hard by the ban.

In it, Mr. Trump said the ban was no longer necessary because unlimited travel to the United States “is no longer detrimental to the interests of the United States” and added that he judged “in the United States interest in ending the suspension of entry into the United States of persons who were physically present in those jurisdictions. “

The president’s attempt to change pandemic-related policy just two days before stepping down is in line with the unorthodox way he led the transition to a new administration. Normally, outgoing presidents refrain from issuing new decrees without consulting the incoming president.

But Mr. Trump refused to meet those standards. For weeks after Mr Biden was cast as the winner of the presidential race, the president refused to acknowledge his defeat and delayed the formal process of transitioning power to Mr Biden’s team.

And more recently, Trump administration officials have been rushing to implement policy changes that could disrupt the new president.

Mr. Trump’s other executive orders on Monday included one that would allow federal agencies to issue new regulations only at the behest of people appointed by politicians.

The order appeared to be intended to allow those appointed by Mr. Trump’s administration to maintain control of the new regulations until Mr. Biden replaced them with his own people, a process that can sometimes take weeks or weeks. months.

Mr. Trump also issued an executive order directing the federal government not to purchase drones “which present unacceptable risks and which are manufactured by or contain software or critical electronic components from foreign adversaries.” This order seemed to target China.

Mr. Trump ordered the creation of a National Garden of American Heroes that would include statues of famous people. The order followed complaints from Mr. Trump over the summer that protesters were degrading statues, which he used as a cultural wedge issue in his losing presidential campaign.

He also issued an executive order to increase protection for prosecutors and another to protect Americans from “overcriminalization” through regulations.

None of Mr. Trump’s executive orders are likely to be in effect Wednesday afternoon. Mr Biden has pledged to work to reverse Mr Trump’s legacy and plans a flash of his own executive orders – many of which reverse the Trump agenda – in the early hours and days of his presence at the House White.

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CDC Warns New Virus Variant Could Fuel Huge Spikes in Covid Cases

Federal health officials sounded the alarm on Friday that a rapidly spreading and much more contagious variant of the coronavirus is expected to become the main source of infection in the country by March, potentially fueling a new wave of cases and deaths.

In a study released Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said its forecast indicated that outbreaks caused by the new variant could lead to a booming pandemic this winter. He called for a doubling of preventive measures, including more intensive vaccination efforts across the country.

The variant is not known to be more fatal or to cause more serious illness. But the dreadful warning – covered by limited data on the prevalence of the variant first identified in Britain – landed in a week when the country’s nascent vaccination campaign was hampered by confusion and limited supply. as demand increased among a growing number of eligible people.

Only 76 cases of the variant have been identified in the United States so far, but the actual number is believed to be higher and is expected to increase in the coming weeks, officials said. They pointed out that current mitigation strategies were effective against the new strain, urging Americans to be vigilant by wearing face masks, keeping a distance of six feet or more from other people, washing their hands frequently, reducing interactions with people outside their home, limiting contact and avoiding contact. crowds.

But spikes in cases threaten to cripple already overwhelmed hospitals and nursing homes in many parts of the country. Some are at or near capacity. Others have faced troubling infection rates among their staff, causing shortages and surging patient numbers.

“I want to stress that we are deeply concerned that this strain is more transmissible and may accelerate epidemics in the United States in the weeks to come,” said Dr. Jay Butler, deputy director of infectious diseases at the CDC. “We are sounding the alarm bells and urging people to realize that the pandemic is not over and that it is by no means time to throw in the towel.”

“We know what is working and we know what to do,” he said.

Covid cases and deaths have broken record after record across the country, with a death maximum of 4,400, announced on Tuesday. At least 3,973 new deaths and 238,390 new cases were reported Thursday, and the country is nearing the 400,000 death mark.

One in 860 Americans died from Covid-19 last year, according to new figures released by the CDC But the burden of deaths has not fallen equally across races, ethnicities and geographies, and we fears that vaccines will not reach the hardest-hit communities, where access to health services is limited and mistrust is rampant.

The new variant, called B 1.1.7, was first identified in Britain, where it quickly became the main source of infections, accounting for up to 60% of new cases diagnosed in London and the surrounding area .

It has since been detected in at least 30 countries, including the United States and Canada. In the United States, it represents less than 0.5% of cases, based on the analysis of a limited number of samples.

Other variants circulating in South Africa and Brazil are also believed to be more contagious, but have not yet been identified in the United States. Japanese authorities said this month that they had detected one of the variants in four passengers from Brazil.

The CDC had announced earlier that from January 26, all air passengers arriving in the United States, regardless of their vaccination status, would be required to show proof of a negative result of a test for the coronavirus. or recovery from Covid.

In the new report, scientists at the CDC modeled how quickly the variant could spread in the United States, assuming that about 10-30% of people have pre-existing immunity to the virus, and an additional 1 million people will be vaccinated every week from this month. .

If the variant is around 50% more contagious, as British data suggests, it will become the predominant source of all infections in the United States by March, according to the model. A slow deployment of vaccinations will hasten this destiny.

The variant differs by approximately 20 mutations from previous versions of the virus, of which at least two mutations may contribute to its greater contagiousness. As of Jan. 13, it had been detected in 76 cases from 12 states, but the actual numbers are likely much higher, Dr Butler said. “The CDC expects these numbers to increase in the coming weeks,” he said.

National and local laboratories have pledged to sequence around 6,000 samples per week, a goal the agency expects to achieve in about three weeks.

Agency officials also warned that standard tests for the virus could miss one of the genes altered in the new variant. This shouldn’t be a problem for most lab tests, they said, but some antigen tests can produce “false negatives,” missing infection cases.

“So far we haven’t found any evidence of this, but we are looking at it more closely,” Dr. Butler said.

It is not yet clear what makes the newer variants more contagious. They share at least one mutation, called N501Y, which is believed to be involved. One possibility, the researchers said, is that the mutation could increase the amount of virus in the nose but not in the lungs – potentially explaining why it’s more contagious, but not more deadly.

A greater amount of virus in the nose means that anyone infected would expel more virus when speaking, singing, coughing or even breathing, said Trevor Bedford, evolutionary biologist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle.

“It makes the same situations that are spreading now – people living in the same household, those kinds of unventilated indoor contacts – more likely to spread,” he said.

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The state of the virus this week: a milestone looming

The state of the virus: an imminent milestone

Mitch smith

Mitch smithCoronavirus Reports

Spencer Platt / Getty Images

New York is struggling to contain his epidemic. Cases continue to rise in New York City, with more than 6,100 emerging over several days. In Long Island, infections are appearing at rates that rival some hard-hit areas of Arizona and California.

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What does a more contagious virus mean for schools?

“When we look at what happened in the UK and think about this new variant, and we see all the numbers of cases increasing, we have to remember that in the context of open schools with virtually no changes at all. Dr Jenkins told me. “I would like to see a concrete example of this type of country, state or place, which has succeeded in controlling things in schools.”

There are a few examples in the United States.

Erin Bromage, an immunologist at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, has advised the governor of Rhode Island, as well as schools in southern Massachusetts, on the preventive measures needed to roll back the coronavirus. Schools that have adhered closely to the guidelines haven’t seen many infections, even when the virus was circulating at high levels in the community, Dr Bromage said.

“When the system is designed correctly and we get the kids to school, they are as safe, if not more secure, than they would be in a hybrid or remote system,” he said.

The school attended by Dr. Bromage’s children took extra precautions. For example, administrators closed the school a few days before Thanksgiving to reduce risk at family gatherings and operated remotely the week after the holidays.

Officials tested nearly 300 students and staff at the end of this week, found only two cases and decided to reopen.

“It gave us the confidence that our population was not representative of what we saw in the wider community,” he said. “We were using data to determine the return together.”

The tests cost $ 61 per child, but schools that can’t afford it might consider testing only teachers, he added, as data suggests the virus is “more likely to pass from a teacher to the other than from pupil to teacher ”.

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Adriano Espaillat is the last member of Congress to test positive for the virus after the Capitol siege.

Representative Adriano Espaillat, Democrat of New York, announced Thursday that he had tested positive for the coronavirus, as concerns continue to mount on Capitol Hill that efforts to lock lawmakers in safe places during the siege of last week by Trump supporters could have led to a super spreader event.

Mr Espaillat, 66, who received his second dose of the Pfizer vaccine last week, said he had no symptoms and was isolating himself at home. In a report, he said he understood that it took time for the vaccine to be fully effective and that he had continued to take all the necessary precautions. Guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that people who test positive for the virus must self-isolate for at least 10 days after the onset of their symptoms.

The two vaccines licensed for emergency use in the United States, manufactured by Pfizer and Moderna, have been shown to be about 95% effective in preventing symptomatic cases of Covid-19. But neither of the two vaccines is perfect, and researchers are still unsure how much vaccines reduce the virus’s ability to silently infect people. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two injections, separated by three or four weeks, and they are not expected to work fully until about a week or two after a person has received the second vaccine.

Capitol Hill has long struggled to control the spread of the pandemic within its marble walls, a random effort escalated last week as hundreds of unmasked Trump supporters stormed the building and forced lawmakers to take shelter in confined secure places throughout the Capitol complex. Lawmakers, assistants and journalists who took refuge in two separate rooms on either side of the Capitol have been warned of possible exposure to the coronavirus.

Although cases have continued to emerge since the 117th Congress was sworn in almost two weeks ago, House Democrats have blamed a group of their fellow Republicans who refused to wear masks during the attack pending in a safe place that the police regain control of the building.

Representatives Bonnie Watson Coleman, Democrat of New Jersey, Pramila Jayapal, Democrat of Washington, and Brad Schneider, Democrat of Illinois, all tested positive following the attack and cited the Republican refusal to wear masks during the siege. Rep. Ayanna S. Pressley, Democrat from Massachusetts, is in isolation after her husband, who was with her in the room, tested positive and said in a statement the diagnoses were the result of “my callous Republican colleagues” who refused to wear masks. .

In response to these accusations and concerns about the spread of the virus on Capitol Hill, the House earlier this week approved a system of fines for members who refuse to adhere to a mask mandate on the floor.

It is not known whether Mr. Espaillat took refuge in the secure room. But on Wednesday, he was among lawmakers who spoke in the House – while wearing a mask – before voting to impeach President Trump for the second time.

Mr. Espaillat noted that colleagues who had tested positive in recent days “collectively occupy a range of gender, age, race and ethnicity”.

“Covid-19 does not discriminate,” he said. “It is incumbent upon each of us to prioritize social distancing from each other – even if this poses a temporary inconvenience – and to wear a face mask. There is no single panacea and we must adjust our daily habits and practices for our own health and safety as well as for the health and safety of those around us and in our communities.

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‘Our New York moment’: Southern California bounces back as virus rises

By almost all major metrics, the spread of the virus is profoundly more severe in Southern California. The San Francisco Bay Area has 4 percent of its intensive care beds still available and the far north of California 25 percent. Southern California hit zero percent weeks ago.

Los Angeles County has reported more cases this week than San Francisco has reported throughout the pandemic.

“It’s day and night,” said Dr. Bob Wachter, professor and head of the Department of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco.

The reasons for the split, according to experts, are complex and numerous.

The Bay Area has one of the highest average incomes in California, possibly giving residents more ways to protect themselves. Many in the North are employed in the tech industry, which at the onset of the pandemic led to working from home. Compared to Southern California, the Bay Area also has a higher percentage of White and Asian households, groups that had the lowest infection rates in the state.

In the Los Angeles area, in the parking lot outside the Huntington Park Community Hospital, Mr Estrada saw more than a dozen bodies brought into an unmarked white refrigerated container, the makeshift mortuary.

“You basically wait until you see your family member come out in a bag,” he says.

Her 72-year-old grandmother was recently placed on a ventilator.

“She’s fighting right now,” he said. “So if she’s fighting, we have to stay here fighting for her.

Manny Fernandez reported from Los Angeles, Thomas fuller from Moraga, California, and Mitch smith from Chicago. Reporting was contributed by Louis keene of Huntington Park, California, Ana Facio-Krajcer from Los Angeles and Joe Purtell from San Francisco.