US doctors and nurses, in a letter published on Tuesday, urged the Trump administration to share critical COVID-19 data with President-elect Joe Biden's transition team to avoid unnecessary delays in tackling the pandemic as states crack down on skyrocketing infections.
Members of several medical associations made the plea for cooperation a day after Biden warned that "more people may die" if outgoing President Donald Trump continues to block a smooth transition following his defeat in the Nov. 3 presidential election.
Health officials have warned that the winter may usher in a new wave of COVID-19 deaths with community spread rampaging across the country and hospitalizations at record levels.
"Real-time data and information on the supply of therapeutics, testing supplies, personal protective equipment, ventilators, hospital bed capacity and workforce availability to plan for further deployment of the nation’s assets needs to be shared to save countless lives," said the letter, signed by the leadership of the American Medical Association, the American Nurses Association and the American Hospitals Association.
The soaring rate of new infections this fall, even in states that had managed to keep the virus at bay over the summer, has prompted health officials to sound the alarm, and government officials in at least 15 states to issue sweeping new public health mandates this month
Forty-one U.S. states have reported record increases in COVID-19 cases in November, 20 have seen a record rise in deaths and 26 reported record hospitalizations, according to a Reuters tally of public health data. Twenty-five states reported test positivity rates above 10% for the week ending on Sunday, Nov. 15. The World Health Organization considers a positivity rate above 5% to be concerning.
Ohio and Maryland on Tuesday became the latest states to announce curfews aimed at reducing the virus' spread this winter, while the prospect of a widely available vaccine is still months away.
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced a new curfew for businesses that will shutter them from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. for 21 days starting Thursday. Maryland Governor Larry Hogan issued orders effective Friday requiring restaurants and bars to close by 10 p.m. and restricts businesses and organizations to 50% capacity.
"We are in a war right now and the virus is winning," Hogan told reporters.
The United States crossed 11 million total infections on Sunday, just eight days after reaching the 10 million mark.
The number of coronavirus patients hospitalized in the United States hit a record of 73,140 on Monday and hospitalizations have increased over 46% in past 14 days, according to a Reuters tally.
Several state officials also have urged citizens to exercise caution around the Thanksgiving holiday and not travel or socialize with extended family for the traditional indoor feast.
Governors of seven midwestern states, Minnesota, Michigan, Illinois, Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky and Wisconsin, released a statement urging citizens to follow medical expert guidance to not celebrate Thanksgiving with people outside their households.
The Midwest remains the hardest-hit U.S. region. It reported 444,677 cases in the week ending on Monday, Nov. 16, 36% more than combined cases of the Northeast and West regions.
"We understand that our fight against COVID-19 will be more effective when we work together,” the Midwest governors said in the statement.
New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell was even more forward-looking in her holiday warnings, announcing on Tuesday that the city's Mardi Gras parades would be canceled in February.
"Experts are predicting a 'winter spike' in cases this winter in December and January – right when our carnival calendars get rolling," Cantrell said on the city's website.