WHO discourages lockdowns as U.S. hospitalizations continue climb; 11 states set records for new COVID-19 cases

John Bacon, USA TODAY
·3 min read

Coronavirus hospitalizations were continuing a dangerous trend in the United States while Brazil and India each reached ominous milestones as the global pandemic showed little sign of retreat Sunday.

Hospitalizations, which peaked at nearly 60,000 across the nation in July, had fallen by more than half last month. But since dipping below 29,000 on Sept. 20, the number of people being treated in hospitals each day has crept higher, to almost 35,000.

And a USA TODAY analysis of Johns Hopkins data through late Saturday shows 11 states set records for new cases for a seven-day period – Alaska, Colorado, Indiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota and Utah.

Some governors are unmoved by the data. South Dakota is experiencing an increase in daily cases, hospitalizations and even deaths, but Gov. Kristi Noem has stressed that South Dakota's hospital capacity has not been strained by the pandemic.

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"I always knew that South Dakota could be an example to the nation," Noem said in a recent statement lauding her state's efforts. "I never expected that such an example would be set in the midst of a global pandemic."

Nationwide, a fourth consecutive day of more than 50,000 new COVID-19 cases represents a streak not seen in two months. The U.S. has now reported more than 7.7 million cases and almost 215,000 deaths since the first U.S. case was confirmed Jan. 21.

Record numbers of deaths over a seven-day period were reported Saturday in Kansas and North Dakota.

"Our state's robust testing capacity, combined with North Dakotans' commitment to personal responsibility, can continue to help slow the spread of COVID-19 in our communities," Gov. Doug Burgum said in a tweet.

Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft and benefactor of the Gates Foundation, warns that the nation must be ready for "lots of additional deaths" if COVID-19 testing does not improve.

US reports more than 50K cases for third straight day: 9 states set record

"Testing results don't come back within 24 hours (and) we reimburse for these worthless things," Gates said on NBC's "Meet the Press." "We are running the worst testing system, in terms of who gets access to it, of any country."

The world is not faring much better in its battle with the virus.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to unveil tougher restrictions Monday, including a three-tier system based on severity of cases in each region of England. Graham Medley, professor of infectious disease modelling at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and the director of the Center for the Mathematical Modelling of Infectious Diseases, warned that "thousands will die" unless Britain can alter the trajectory of the disease.

"We are clearly in a difficult position," Medley tweeted. "The level and rise of infections, admissions and deaths puts us in a similar position to early March. (But) we know the harms that 'lockdown' will bring. Very, very hard choices."

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Dr. David Nabarro, the World Health Organization’s special envoy on COVID-19, urged world leaders this week to stop “using lockdowns as your primary control method" for blunting a virus surge.

“We in the World Health Organization do not advocate lockdowns as the primary means of control of this virus,” Nabarro told "The Spectator." Nabarro said lockdowns can only be justified "to buy you time to reorganize, regroup, rebalance your resources, protect your health workers who are exhausted. But by and large, we’d rather not do it.”

In Brazil, the death toll surpassed 150,000 on Saturday night, second only to the U.S., according to the data amassed by Johns Hopkins University. President Jair Bolsonaro has followed President Donald Trump's lead in downplaying the virus, ignoring social distancing guidelines and encouraging boisterous political demonstrations.

And like Trump, Bolsonaro has contracted the infection, surviving a bout with COVID-19 in July.

In India, health officials reported that total infections have surpassed 7 million. That total is second only to the U.S.

Contributing: Michael Stucka; The Associated Press

President Donald Trump speaks from the South Portico of the White House in Washington, DC during a rally on October 10, 2020.
President Donald Trump speaks from the South Portico of the White House in Washington, DC during a rally on October 10, 2020.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: COVID: Hospitalizations up; 11 state records; WHO questions lockdowns