By WILLIAM MANSELL and EMILY SHAPIRO, ABC News
(NEW YORK) — A pandemic of the novel coronavirus has now killed more than 1.1 million people worldwide.
Over 44.4 million people across the globe have been diagnosed with COVID-19, the disease caused by the new respiratory virus, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. The actual numbers are believed to be much higher due to testing shortages, many unreported cases and suspicions that some national governments are hiding or downplaying the scope of their outbreaks. The criteria for diagnosis — through clinical means or a lab test — has also varied from country to country.
The United States is the worst-affected nation, with more than 8.8 million diagnosed cases and at least 227,703 deaths.
Nearly 200 vaccine candidates for COVID-19 are being tracked by the World Health Organization, at least 10 of which are in crucial phase three studies. Of those 10 potential vaccines in late-stage trials, there are currently five that will be available in the United States if approved.
Here’s how the news is developing Thurday. All times Eastern:
Oct 29, 9:24 am
Hospitalizations in Oklahoma could triple by December: Officials
Officials in Oklahoma are warning that COVID-19 hospitalizations in the Sooner State could triple by the end of December if people don’t change their personal behaviors or if local ordinances are not enacted.
Projections from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation showed that if local mask and social distancing mandates don’t change, cases, hospitalizations and deaths will all increase in Oklahoma.
“We elected leaders to protect us, that’s one of their main responsibilities,” Dr. George Monks, president of the Oklahoma State Medical Association, told ABC News affiliate KTUL-TV in Tulsa. “To protect their citizens, you may upset a minority number of citizens in your district, but you’ve got to step up.”
If mandates are eased, those numbers could go up even more, officials said.
From Oct. 16-22, the number of cases in Oklahoma increased 20.2% and the week-over-week deaths increased 34.5%, according to the Oklahoma Department of Health.
Monks said IHME projects said the state would reach its maximum need of 2,711 beds for COVID patients on Dec. 28. It doesn’t have to be that way, he said, if everyone wore masks.
“It is projected we will reach our maximum number of new COVID-19 cases per day on 12/09/2020 at 5,005 cases/day,” Monks said on Twitter. “This number changes significantly if we implement universal masking.”
In Oklahoma, more than 119,000 people have been diagnosed with COVID-19, with at least 1,286 deaths.
Oct 29, 9:21 am
Vaccine effectiveness will be known by December, Fauci says
Researchers should know by December whether the vaccines in development are safe and effective, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
“I can predict, I believe with some degree of certainty, that by the end of November to the beginning of December, we will know — based on the size of the trial and rate of infections that are ongoing in this country — if we will have a safe and effective vaccine,” Fauci said Wednesday in a virtual keynote address at the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s COVID-19 research symposium.
Fauci added that he’s “cautiously optimistic that we will have a safe and effective vaccine even though you can never make absolute predictions.”
Oct 29, 8:30 am
Tents set up at every hospital in El Paso
Hospitals in El Paso, Texas, are setting up tents to deal with the increase in COVID-19 patients as the U.S. sees a surge of new cases across the country.
All hospitals in the city, according to ABC News affiliate KVIA-TV, have now started to build tents as of Wednesday night.
“Our hospitals continue to implement our surge plans to expand capacity to help manage the influx of Covid-19 patients to meet the rapidly expanding needs of El Paso,” a Hospitals of Providence spokesperson told the station. “Medical tents will help decompress the Emergency Departments.”
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott also announced on Wednesday that the El Paso Convention Center is being converted into a health care facility to expand hospital capacity in the area.
“The State of Texas is also providing local hospitals with auxiliary medical units, medical staffing, and medical equipment,” the Texas Division of Emergency Management said.
There were 845 new cases of COVID-29, which brings the city to at least 13,653 active cases as of Wednesday, according to local officials. There were three new deaths, which brings the death toll in El Paso to 583.
The seven-day rate of positivity in El Paso is 15.57%. There are 908 people currently hospitalized with coronavirus in the city, with 223 patients in ICUs and 111 on ventilators. There are 285 ICU beds in total in El Paso.
With the spike in cases in El Paso, city officials asked residents this week to largely stay at home: “For the next two weeks, we are asking you to please stay home unless for essential activities to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and prevent strain on our hospitals.”
In Texas, there have been more than 911,000 diagnosed cases since the pandemic began, with at least 18,162 deaths.
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