What you need to know about COVID-19: Flareups in Europe lead to club closings, mask orders

New flareups of COVID-19 are disrupting the peak summer vacation season across much of Europe, where authorities in some countries are reimposing restrictions on travelers, closing nightclubs again, banning fireworks displays and expanding mask orders even in chic resort areas.“Unfortunately, this virus doesn’t play ball,” British Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told Sky News.The surges have spread alarm across Europe, which suffered mightily during the spring but appeared in recent months to have largely tamed the coronavirus in ways that the U.S., with its vaunted scientific prowess and the extra time to prepare, cannot seem to manage. The continent’s hardest-hit countries, Britain, Italy, France and Spain, have recorded about 140,000 deaths in all. In addition to clubs and alcohol-fueled street parties, large family gatherings — usually abounding with hugs and kisses — have been cited as a source of new outbreaks in several European countries.The latest numbersMore than 5.3 million Americans have been infected and at least 168,000 have died, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.Report: Post Office warns 46 states about mail voting delaysThe U.S. Postal Service has sent letters to 46 states and the District of Columbia, warning it cannot guarantee all ballots cast by mail for the November election will arrive in time to be counted, The Washington Post reported Friday.The Postal Service is bracing for an unprecedented number of mail-in ballots as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. But at the same time the need for timely delivery of the mail is peaking, service at the letter delivery agency has been curtailed amid a series of cost-cutting and efficiency measures implemented by its new leader.Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a former supply-chain CEO and a major donor to President Donald Trump and other Republicans, has pushed cost-cutting measures to eliminate overtime pay and hold mail until the next day if postal distribution centers are running late.The revelation that some voters could be disenfranchised comes amid a campaign by Trump to sow doubts about the election. Though Trump casts his own ballot by mail, he’s railed against efforts to allow more people to do so, which he argues without evidence will lead to increased voter fraud.S Korea fears infections getting out of controlNew coronavirus cases in South Korea have reached the highest level in five months, and authorities fear infections are getting out of control in the Seoul region, which is home to half the country’s 51 million people.Officials reported 166 newly confirmed cases Saturday. That was the highest since March 11, when South Korea reported 242 amid an outbreak in the southeastern city of Daegu and nearby towns.With 103 new cases reported Friday, this is the first time since late March that the daily increase surpassed 100 two days in a row.Officials say all but 11 of the new cases were local transmissions, and most were in the Seoul area.Fauci: Herd immunity attempts would cause more deaths If the United States allowed coronavirus infections to run rampant to achieve possible herd immunity, the death toll would be massive especially among vulnerable people, the nation’s top infectious doctor said.Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, recently explained the risks during a live Instagram session with actor Matthew McConaughey.”If everyone contracted it, even with the relatively high percentage of people without symptoms … a lot of people are going to die,” Fauci said.”You look at the United States of America with our epidemic of obesity as it were. With the number of people with hypertension. With the number of people with diabetes. If everyone got infected, the death toll would be enormous and totally unacceptable,” he said.Herd immunity is reached when around 70% to 90% of a population becomes immune to a disease either through infection and recovery or vaccination. When that happens, the disease is less likely to spread to people who aren’t immune because there just aren’t enough infectious carriers to reach them.It is still unclear whether survivors of COVID-19 have immunity, though some have still suggested that allowing COVID-19 to plow through populations might help reach herd immunity more quickly if possible — but it would be a disaster for hospitals. Doctors would be overwhelmed and more people would die, not just from coronavirus but from other infections, too. In the next three weeks, that number will go up with a total of nearly 189,000 projected, according to an ensemble forecast published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.The new projections released Thursday forecast 188,982 deaths by Sept. 5 — with a possible range of 181,375 to 201,431 deaths.”State- and territory-level ensemble forecasts predict that the number of reported new deaths per week may increase over the next four weeks in Colorado and may decrease in Arizona, the Northern Mariana Islands, Vermont and Wyoming,” the CDC said.The prediction relies on about two dozen individual forecasts from outside institutions and researchers.Unlike some individual models, the CDC’s ensemble forecast offers projections only about a month ahead. A previous ensemble forecast, published July 23, projected roughly 164,477 coronavirus deaths by Saturday.”You can’t run away from the numbers,” Fauci said. “You can’t run away from the numbers of people who’ve died, the number of people getting hospitalized, the surges we’re seeing.”The U.S. has averaged over 1,000 reported daily deaths for 18 consecutive days.Georgia records highest death toll since pandemic startedGeorgia was one of the first states to reopen after being one of the last ones to shut down. This week, it recorded its highest death toll since the pandemic started.The state reported 136 deaths Tuesday — its most in a single day — and an additional 109 deaths Wednesday, according to health officials. Its health department reported 2,674 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday. The virus has killed a total of 4,538 people in the state.And in North Carolina, the department of health said “an error” has reduced the total official count of cumulative coronavirus tests performed since the pandemic started. The number has gone down from 2,044,727 to 1,823,283, said Dr. Mandy Cohen, the state’s top health official.The error was due to a discrepancy between electronic and manual reporting of test data submitted by the company LabCorp. The error affected the overall number of tests previously reported but it does not change the total confirmed positive cases, the total deaths or the percent positive calculation, the department of health said.In a sign the virus may be around for a while, Kansas City, Missouri, is extending its coronavirus state of emergency into the beginning of next year. Emergency orders will be in effect until at least January 16, 2021.”It is now obvious to everyone that COVID-19 is not going away over the next five months,” said Dr. Rex Archer, the director of the city’s health department.House party is same as going to a bar, official saysAs Labor Day weekend gets closer, officials are warning against social events.Adm. Brett Giroir, a member of the White House coronavirus task force, emphasized the need for coronavirus mitigation measures during the upcoming holiday weekend. He urged people to avoid crowds — particularly in indoor spaces.”We talk about bars, but if you have a house party with a hundred people in your living room, that’s the same equivalent,” he said. He described a crowd of people indoors, drinking, talking and not wearing masks a formula for disaster.”What you really need to do — whether you’re in a hot area or not — please wear a mask,” Giroir said.Good hand hygiene is also essential, he said.Stop the spread of COVID-19To help stop the spread of the coronavirus, the CDC recommends wearing a face mask.Masks are required in public places in some states and businesses. Multiple major retailers have announced mask requirement policies as the nation continues to see a large number of cases reported in certain areas.The CDC also recommends you keep 6 feet of distance between yourself and others.Make sure to wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.For more tips on how to stay safe, CLICK HERE.The Associated Press contributed to this report.

New flareups of COVID-19 are disrupting the peak summer vacation season across much of Europe, where authorities in some countries are reimposing restrictions on travelers, closing nightclubs again, banning fireworks displays and expanding mask orders even in chic resort areas.

“Unfortunately, this virus doesn’t play ball,” British Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told Sky News.

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The surges have spread alarm across Europe, which suffered mightily during the spring but appeared in recent months to have largely tamed the coronavirus in ways that the U.S., with its vaunted scientific prowess and the extra time to prepare, cannot seem to manage. The continent’s hardest-hit countries, Britain, Italy, France and Spain, have recorded about 140,000 deaths in all.

In addition to clubs and alcohol-fueled street parties, large family gatherings — usually abounding with hugs and kisses — have been cited as a source of new outbreaks in several European countries.

The latest numbers

More than 5.3 million Americans have been infected and at least 168,000 have died, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

Report: Post Office warns 46 states about mail voting delays

The U.S. Postal Service has sent letters to 46 states and the District of Columbia, warning it cannot guarantee all ballots cast by mail for the November election will arrive in time to be counted, The Washington Post reported Friday.

The Postal Service is bracing for an unprecedented number of mail-in ballots as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. But at the same time the need for timely delivery of the mail is peaking, service at the letter delivery agency has been curtailed amid a series of cost-cutting and efficiency measures implemented by its new leader.

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a former supply-chain CEO and a major donor to President Donald Trump and other Republicans, has pushed cost-cutting measures to eliminate overtime pay and hold mail until the next day if postal distribution centers are running late.

The revelation that some voters could be disenfranchised comes amid a campaign by Trump to sow doubts about the election. Though Trump casts his own ballot by mail, he’s railed against efforts to allow more people to do so, which he argues without evidence will lead to increased voter fraud.

S Korea fears infections getting out of control

New coronavirus cases in South Korea have reached the highest level in five months, and authorities fear infections are getting out of control in the Seoul region, which is home to half the country’s 51 million people.

Officials reported 166 newly confirmed cases Saturday. That was the highest since March 11, when South Korea reported 242 amid an outbreak in the southeastern city of Daegu and nearby towns.

With 103 new cases reported Friday, this is the first time since late March that the daily increase surpassed 100 two days in a row.

Officials say all but 11 of the new cases were local transmissions, and most were in the Seoul area.

Fauci: Herd immunity attempts would cause more deaths

If the United States allowed coronavirus infections to run rampant to achieve possible herd immunity, the death toll would be massive especially among vulnerable people, the nation’s top infectious doctor said.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, recently explained the risks during a live Instagram session with actor Matthew McConaughey.

“If everyone contracted it, even with the relatively high percentage of people without symptoms … a lot of people are going to die,” Fauci said.

“You look at the United States of America with our epidemic of obesity as it were. With the number of people with hypertension. With the number of people with diabetes. If everyone got infected, the death toll would be enormous and totally unacceptable,” he said.

Herd immunity is reached when around 70% to 90% of a population becomes immune to a disease either through infection and recovery or vaccination. When that happens, the disease is less likely to spread to people who aren’t immune because there just aren’t enough infectious carriers to reach them.

It is still unclear whether survivors of COVID-19 have immunity, though some have still suggested that allowing COVID-19 to plow through populations might help reach herd immunity more quickly if possible but it would be a disaster for hospitals. Doctors would be overwhelmed and more people would die, not just from coronavirus but from other infections, too.

In the next three weeks, that number will go up with a total of nearly 189,000 projected, according to an ensemble forecast published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The new projections released Thursday forecast 188,982 deaths by Sept. 5 — with a possible range of 181,375 to 201,431 deaths.

“State- and territory-level ensemble forecasts predict that the number of reported new deaths per week may increase over the next four weeks in Colorado and may decrease in Arizona, the Northern Mariana Islands, Vermont and Wyoming,” the CDC said.

The prediction relies on about two dozen individual forecasts from outside institutions and researchers.

Unlike some individual models, the CDC’s ensemble forecast offers projections only about a month ahead. A previous ensemble forecast, published July 23, projected roughly 164,477 coronavirus deaths by Saturday.

“You can’t run away from the numbers,” Fauci said. “You can’t run away from the numbers of people who’ve died, the number of people getting hospitalized, the surges we’re seeing.”

The U.S. has averaged over 1,000 reported daily deaths for 18 consecutive days.

Georgia records highest death toll since pandemic started

Georgia was one of the first states to reopen after being one of the last ones to shut down. This week, it recorded its highest death toll since the pandemic started.

The state reported 136 deaths Tuesday — its most in a single day — and an additional 109 deaths Wednesday, according to health officials. Its health department reported 2,674 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday. The virus has killed a total of 4,538 people in the state.

And in North Carolina, the department of health said “an error” has reduced the total official count of cumulative coronavirus tests performed since the pandemic started. The number has gone down from 2,044,727 to 1,823,283, said Dr. Mandy Cohen, the state’s top health official.

The error was due to a discrepancy between electronic and manual reporting of test data submitted by the company LabCorp. The error affected the overall number of tests previously reported but it does not change the total confirmed positive cases, the total deaths or the percent positive calculation, the department of health said.

In a sign the virus may be around for a while, Kansas City, Missouri, is extending its coronavirus state of emergency into the beginning of next year. Emergency orders will be in effect until at least January 16, 2021.

“It is now obvious to everyone that COVID-19 is not going away over the next five months,” said Dr. Rex Archer, the director of the city’s health department.

House party is same as going to a bar, official says

As Labor Day weekend gets closer, officials are warning against social events.

Adm. Brett Giroir, a member of the White House coronavirus task force, emphasized the need for coronavirus mitigation measures during the upcoming holiday weekend. He urged people to avoid crowds — particularly in indoor spaces.

“We talk about bars, but if you have a house party with a hundred people in your living room, that’s the same equivalent,” he said. He described a crowd of people indoors, drinking, talking and not wearing masks a formula for disaster.

“What you really need to do — whether you’re in a hot area or not — please wear a mask,” Giroir said.

Good hand hygiene is also essential, he said.

Stop the spread of COVID-19

To help stop the spread of the coronavirus, the CDC recommends wearing a face mask.

Masks are required in public places in some states and businesses. Multiple major retailers have announced mask requirement policies as the nation continues to see a large number of cases reported in certain areas.

The CDC also recommends you keep 6 feet of distance between yourself and others.

Make sure to wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.

For more tips on how to stay safe, CLICK HERE.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.