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U.S. coronavirus: leaders in several states warn residents to be on their guard if worrying Covid-19 trends emerge



In New York, several Covid-19 clusters have created zip codes for “hotspots,” the governor said, with a positivity rate about five times higher than the nationwide number. The clusters are a “strong reminder” that New Yorkers need to remain vigilant, said Governor Andrew Cuomo.

“Wear a mask, socially aloof, follow public health guidelines – because this thing is not over yet,” Cuomo said in a statement.

Senior health officials including Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute for Allergies and Infectious Diseases, have also warned that the US could experience a particularly challenging fall and winter this year. They say cities and counties should prepare by following safety measures and guidelines.

“We are knee-deep in the first wave,”

; said Fauci in a livestream on Facebook and Twitter.

In Kentucky, Governor Andy Beshear called on the state to halt a recent “escalation” of cases after reporting more than 1,000 new infections for the second straight day.

“Today’s report is too high,” said the governor. “I need your help. It’s up to us and we have to do it.”

Wisconsin reported the highest number of Covid-19 hospital stays, almost doubling since September 18, according to hospital officials. And in Illinois, the governor is tightening restrictions in part of the state after a surge in positivity rates.

At least 27 states have reported more new cases since the previous week, and only nine are reporting a decline, according to Johns Hopkins University. Nationwide, more than 7.2 million people have been infected and more than 206,000 Americans have died.

When could a vaccine be available to the US population?

On Wednesday, Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel said that if the Covid-19 vaccine was shown to be safe and effective, it could be available to the general population in late March or early April.

Moderna began its Phase 3 clinical trial for a Covid-19 vaccine in the United States in July. It is one of four companies that have started Phase 3 vaccine trials of Covid-19 in the US – the others are Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer / BioNTech and AstraZeneca. The AstraZeneca study was suspended after an unexplained illness in a volunteer, and U.S. health officials are still reviewing crucial issues related to the injections of the experimental vaccine.

“I think a late approval for the first and second quarters is a reasonable timeline based on what we know from our vaccine,” Bancel said at a conference hosted by the Financial Times.

Before that, however, there are a few more steps that need to be taken.

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If the safety and efficacy data are reviewed, Bancel expects Moderna to file a Biologics License Application (BLA) with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration by late January or early February. This application asks the FDA to consider full approval of a drug, while an Emergency Authorization (EUA) expedites a drug candidate for emergency use.

Moderna could apply for an EEA as early as November 25 for high-priority individuals, including healthcare workers and the elderly, Bancel said at a conference hosted by the Financial Times.

Until a vaccine is available, experts have long said that the country’s strongest tools against the pandemic are face masks and other safety measures like social distancing. But even if a vaccine is ready, health officials like Fauci have announced that the virus can still spread as the vaccine is unlikely to be 100% effective or taken by 100% of the population.

“I think if we can get 75 to 80% of the population vaccinated it would be a really good accomplishment,” Fauci said last week.

Mississippi cancels mask mandate

Despite officials continuing to advocate the use of masks, Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves announced on Wednesday that he would not renew the state’s mask mandate. The state’s numbers for average new Covid-19 cases have declined.

“It’s been a great week for Covid-19 numbers,” said the governor. “We’ve cut our average number of new cases in half, we’ve cut hospital admissions by two-thirds from what they used to be.”

Mississippi has reported more than 98,000 infections since the pandemic began. According to Johns Hopkins, Mississippi is one of 14 states that saw a constant number of new cases compared to the previous week.

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More and more communities across the country have eased restrictions further in the past few days, including Florida where the governor cleared the way for bars and restaurants to be fully reopened.

Wyoming, which set a daily record for new Covid-19 cases last week, also relaxed rules on restaurants. Nevada eased restrictions on public gatherings, while in California several counties received the go-ahead to enter less restrictive levels of the state’s reopening plan.

Despite the lifting of the mask mandate in Mississippi, the governor urged residents to continue wearing face covering, saying it was the “smart, prudent and wise thing to do”.

CNN’s Kristina Sgueglia, Lauren Mascarenhas, Claudia Dominguez and Kay Jones contributed to this report.


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