Virus Updates: Millions Travel Despite COVID Surge; NFL Postpones Thanksgiving Game

Governors and mayors are ratcheting up mask mandates and imposing restrictions on small indoor gatherings that have been blamed for accelerating the spread of the coronavirus. But such measures are largely unenforceable, and officials are banking on voluntary compliance.

Experts say that if people disregard the new state and local restrictions and socialize anyway, that could put greater stress on overburdened hospitals and lead to an even bigger spike in sickness and death over the holidays.

The warning comes as 10 states reported single-day records of new infections on Tuesday. The U.S. has averaged 173,766 cases of the coronavirus per day over the last seven days, up from an average 87,340 cases per day four weeks ago, according to a tally by NBC News. In all, more than 12 million cases have been confirmed in the U.S. and the virus is blamed for more than 260,000 deaths.

Ravens-Steelers Moved to Sunday Afternoon on NBC

The Thanksgiving night game between the Ravens and Steelers has been switched to Sunday because of coronavirus issues with Baltimore.

The NFL announced the move Wednesday, adding it would air on NBC at 1:15 p.m. ET.

Baltimore placed outside linebacker Pernell McPhee on the reserve/COVID-19 list, joining running backs Mark Ingram and J.K. Dobbins and defensive tackle Brandon Williams. The Ravens also have been doing team work virtually.

Defying Warnings, Millions in the US Travel for Thanksgiving

Millions of Americans took to the skies and the highways for Thanksgiving at the risk of pouring gasoline on the coronavirus fire, disregarding increasingly dire warnings that they stay home and limit their holiday gatherings to members of their own household.

Those who are flying witnessed a distinctly 2020 landscape at the nation’s airports during what is traditionally one of the busiest travel periods of the year: plexiglass barriers in front of the ID stations, rapid virus testing sites inside terminals, and paperwork asking them to quarantine on arrival at their destination.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state and local authorities have begged people not to travel and urged them to keep their Thanksgiving celebrations small.

About 1 million people per day passed through U.S. airport checkpoints from Friday through Tuesday, a drop-off of around 60% from the same time a year ago. Still, those have been the biggest crowds since the COVID-19 crisis took hold in the U.S. in March.

Trump Campaign Advisor Boris Epshteyn Tests Positive for COVID

A top advisor to President Donald Trump’s campaign said Wednesday that he has tested positive for the coronavirus, six days after attending a controversial press conference led by Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani.

Boris Epshteyn said in a tweet that he's experiencing "mild symptoms" and following "all appropriate protocols, including quarantining and contact tracing."

The disclosure of the COVID-19 diagnosis by Epshteyn came as Giuliani was expected to attend a hearing in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, by the Pennsylvania Senate Majority Policy Committee on the state’s election. It was not clear if the development would impact Giuliani's travel to Gettysburg.

Giuliani’s son Andrew, who also attended his father’s press conference Thursday at the Republican National Committee headquarters in Washington, revealed last Friday that he tested positive for the coronavirus. Andrew Giuliani is a White House special assistant to Trump.

COVID-19 Outbreaks in Nursing Homes Hit Record High

The latest surge of coronavirus cases is fueling a record number of nursing home outbreaks, as the virus is spreading quickly inside long-term care facilities in the Midwest and the Great Plains while also re-emerging in facilities swamped by the first wave of the virus, NBC News reports.

More than 1,300 nursing homes across the U.S. reported having three or more confirmed COVID-19 cases during the first week of November — the highest number ever reported in a single week, according to an NBC News analysis of federal data. The figure does not include outbreaks at assisted living facilities, which the federal government does not track.

Many of the new nursing home infections are emerging in the Midwestern states where the virus is besieging the broader community, including Illinois, Ohio, Missouri, Indiana, Wisconsin and Iowa, which reported some of the country's biggest weekly increases in suspected and confirmed cases among residents, the data showed. (Facilities report suspected cases when residents exhibit COVID-19 symptoms but have yet to receive positive test results.)

However, new outbreaks are also emerging in facilities that were pummeled by the first wave of the pandemic — which killed tens of thousands of residents in the Northeast and other early hot spots — only for the virus to return.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar gave an update on Operation Warp Speed on Tuesday and suggested that if vaccine data continues to be promising, vaccines could be deployed to the most vulnerable Americans before the end of the year.

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CDC to Shorten Length of Quarantine for Those Exposed to COVID-19

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is finalizing plans to shorten the recommended length of quarantine for those exposed to COVID-19, NBC News reports.

The CDC currently recommends that individuals quarantine for 14 days after being exposed to people with the coronavirus. The two weeks is based on how long scientists believe it can take the virus to incubate in the body.

What the eventual recommendation will be is unknown, but CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield said in an October briefing that the agency was considering shortening the length of quarantine by up to a week.

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