COVID Live Updates: Many hospitals overwhelmed in US, jail inmates help morgues in Texas

COVID-19 Live Updates, News and Information

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Thursday, November 19, 2020
Many hospitals overwhelmed with COVID patients across country
Elizabeth Schulze reports on the pandemic.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Overwhelmed hospitals are converting chapels, cafeterias, waiting rooms, hallways, even a parking garage into patient treatment areas. Staff members are desperately calling around to other medical centers in search of open beds. Fatigue and frustration are setting in among front-line workers.

Conditions inside the nation's hospitals are deteriorating by the day as the coronavirus rages across the U.S. at an unrelenting pace and the confirmed death toll surpasses 250,000.

The number of people in the hospital with COVID-19 in the U.S. has doubled in the past month and set new records every day this week. As of Tuesday, nearly 77,000 were hospitalized with the virus.

Newly confirmed infections per day in the U.S. have exploded more than 80% over the past two weeks to the highest levels on record, with the daily count running at close to 160,000 on average. Cases are on the rise in all 50 states. Deaths are averaging more than 1,155 per day, the highest in months.

In the Texas border city of El Paso, overwhelmed morgues have begun paying jail inmates $2 an hour to help transport the bodies of virus victims. The crush of patients is forcing the city to send its non-COVID-19 cases to hospitals elsewhere in the state.

What to know about coronavirus:

Where to get tested in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut

Coronavirus by zip code - New York City

How coronavirus changed the New York region

Do you have coronavirus symptoms?

NYC COVID-19 positivity rate tracker

Here are more of today's headlines:

Street closures in Newark

Newark Public Safety Director Anthony F. Ambrose announced that the Department of Public Safety and the Ambassador Unit will close streets leading into the East Ward to control the spread of COVID-19 beginning at 8 p.m. to 3 a.m. this Friday, November 20, 2020 and Saturday, November 21, 2020.

Residents who live in the affected area, namely zip code 07105, will be allowed to travel to address essential needs. Proof of area residency or proof that an essential need is being addressed will be required.

Pausing sports in Connecticut

Gov. Ned Lamont said all club and other team sports must pause activities until Jan. 19 Earlier this week, the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference voted to postpone all interscholastic winter sports to January 19

The pause takes effect Monday. It does not apply to college or professional sports

Lamont said 17 school closures were due to sports team contacts, 29 outbreaks attributed to sports teams, and 235 teachers have had to quarantine due to contact with a sports team member.

COVID-19 update in Connecticut

In Connecticut, 36,339 COVID tests were administered and 2,353 came back positive (6.48% rate). In addition, 840 patients are currently hospitalized (increase of 24) and there have been 21 additional deaths.

Smithsonian museums announce temporary closure

Due to rising regional and national cases related to the COVID-19 pandemic, all Smithsonian museums, including the National Zoo, will temporarily close to the public starting Monday, Nov. 23. This will impact the eight Smithsonian facilities in the Washington, D.C., region that had reopened to the public to date. Due to the changing nature of the situation, we are not announcing a reopening date at this time.

CDC updates Thanksgiving guidance, recommends that Americans do not travel

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention adjusted its guidance Thursday to recommend that Americans do not travel for the Thanksgiving holiday next week.

The agency recommends that Americans celebrate the holiday at home with the people they live with, as gathering with family and friends from outside of the household can increase the chances of getting or spreading COVID-19 or the flu.

Coronavirus results in 11 minutes? Here's how Lucira's new at-home test kit works

Lucira Health, a California-based biotech company started by four UC Berkeley graduate students, is releasing a COVID-19 home test kit under emergency FDA approval.

The company developed the kit to diagnose flu but was able to modify it for COVID-19 in a matter of months. The palm-sized test kit produces results in 30 minutes or less. The optimum time to test, according to Lucira Health, is a couple of days after symptoms develop.

Intubated COVID patient plays violin in ICU to thank health care workers: VIDEO

A retired orchestra teacher battling Covid-19 in a Utah hospital turned to his true passion -- music -- to help spread some joy in the ICU.

Even while being intubated and unable to speak, Grover Wilhelmsen wanted to show his gratitude to the health care workers at McKay-Dee Hospital in Ogden. The 70-year-old patient used pen and paper to communicate with a nurse and had one request.

NY adding or expanding micro-cluster targets in Westchester, Rockland and Orange counties

New York is adding to or expanding the micro-cluster zones in Westchester, Rockland and Orange counties, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Thursday. In Rockland, the yellow zone is being expanded to include Pearl River, West Haverstraw, Stony Point, Suffern. In Orange County, the state is adding a yellow zone around Newburgh, New Windsor, Middletown and Highland Falls. A yellow zone is also being added in Westchester County which includes New Rochelle, Ossining, Tarrytown, Yonkers and Peekskill.

Outraged parents, lawmakers lash out over New York City school closure

Many parents are frustrated after New York City officials announced the largest school district in the nation would be closed through at least Thanksgiving.

The city's rolling 7-day coronavirus positivity rate crossed the 3% threshold, prompting the move to close school buildings and switch to remote learning. Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza said it was not a happy day for the Department of Education. Parents angry with Mayor Bill de Blasio rallied outside City Hall on Thursday.

250,000 COVID deaths: Where are the hardest hit communities in our area?

The country reached a grim but inevitable milestone Wednesday -- 250,000 coronavirus-related deaths. That's a quarter of a million Americans in just eight months.

No one knows the loss more than families living in the Tri-State area, where close to 55,000 people from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut have died of COVID-19 since March.

That's enough to fill every single seat inside Yankee Stadium. 7 On Your Side Investigates analyzed death rate data for every community around the region to find the hardest hit areas.

New Jersey high school winter sports competition to begin after New Year

The New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association's Sports Advisory Task Force, the statewide group of athletic administrators tasked with developing return-to-play protocols for New Jersey high school sports, issued its final plan for the winter sports season on Thursday.

Competition for all winter sports will begin after the New Year. Click here for specific sports' start dates.

Member of Gov. Lamont's security detail tests positive

A member of Gov. Ned Lamont's security team has tested positive for COVID-19, according to test results that came back Wednesday. The member of the security detail has immediately entered self-isolation.

Lamont remains in self-quarantine at his private residence following exposure to a member of his senior staff last week.

Regional governors encourage college students to get tested

New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont, Delaware Governor John Carney, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf, Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo and Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker today announced they will encourage residential colleges and universities in their respective states to provide testing for all students traveling home for Thanksgiving break to the maximum extent possible before they leave campus. Any student who tests positive will be encouraged to isolate on campus before they can travel or detail arrangements of their safe travel home with the local department of health.

Cuomo's Thanksgiving warning

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is offering some personal advice for all New Yorkers on Thanksgiving: Don't be a turkey. On Wednesday, Cuomo warned that his personal theory is there will be a "tremendous spike" of COVID-19 cases after Thanksgiving. He said this is not based on scientific data, but it is his personal theory. He urged families to show love this holiday season by not seeing each other.

Know your NYC COVID Zone

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CDC updated Thanksgiving guidelines

New York, New Jersey, Connecticut out-of-state travelers information

New CDC guidelines on masks

New York City Positivity Tracker

How coronavirus changed the New York region

Do you have coronavirus symptoms?


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