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Atlas has no background in infectious diseases, has spread misinformation about the virus and downplayed its seriousness. President Donald Trump invited him to join the task force in August after having seen him on Fox News.
Meanwhile, an analysis of 4.4 million student test scores suggested the pandemic has exacerbated long-standing educational disparities, possibly setting the most vulnerable children even further behind.
- Map of U.S. hot spots and worldwide Covid-19 cases.
- Tracking surges in states across the country this winter.
- Map of travel restrictions and which states have a mask mandate.
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Portland homeless shelter hit by Covid outbreak
In Mississippi, more counties see mask requirement, but no statewide mandate
JACKSON, MISSISSIPPI -- Gov. Tate Reeves instituted mask mandates in 13 more Mississippi counties Tuesday but chose not to implement the measure statewide, a week after several prominent health care leaders called on him to do so.
During a press briefing, the Republican governor said he believes issuing mask requirements in counties with the highest number of new cases will encourage people to take the regulations more seriously than a blanket approach would. A total of 54 out of the state’s 82 counties now have a mask mandate.
“I almost feel like there are those out there who really, truly believe if I were to write an executive order, a statewide prohibition against hurricanes in 2021, that we won’t have any hurricanes,” Reeves said. “It just doesn’t work that way.”
Reeves instituted a statewide mask mandate in early August, but revoked the measure at the end of September when new coronavirus cases were declining in Mississippi. As cases have risen again in recent weeks, he has begun implementing mask mandates in individual counties.
Four health care leaders have said it’s time for Reeves to go a step further. They wrote a letter to Reeves on Nov. 24 calling for another statewide mask mandate.
“The statewide mask mandate, which was highly effective, needs to be reinstituted,” said a letter signed by Dr. LouAnn Woodward of the University of Mississippi Medical Center; Dr. Anita Henderson, president-elect of the Mississippi Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics; Dr. Claude Brunson, executive director of the Mississippi State Medical Association; and Dr. James Griffin Jr., president of the Mississippi Academy of Family Physicians.
Reeves said Tuesday that he would not comment on the letter, but said he believes a county-by-county approach is best for Mississippi currently.
Maine governor in quarantine after possible exposure
How hospitals are preparing for mass vaccinations
Ambulance companies at 'a breaking point' after receiving little Covid aid
In a letter sent to the Department of Health and Human Services and exclusively obtained by NBC News, the American Ambulance Association said “the 911 emergency medical system throughout the United States is at a breaking point. Without additional relief, it seems likely to break, even as we enter the third surge of the virus in the Mid-West and the West.”
An HHS spokesperson said the agency has delivered nearly $107 billion to more than 550,000 providers across the country and opened a third round of funding of $20 billion last month, which they said is available to ambulance services.
That third phase of funding, however, comes with a limit. It’s available to every health care provider and supplier up to 2 percent of their 2019 revenue. EMS services said they’re thankful for the money, but it won’t keep them from potentially going under.
Tucson adopts nightly curfew for three weeks
TUCSON, Ariz. — At the urging of Mayor Regina Romero, the Tucson City Council voted Tuesday night to establish a mandatory nightly curfew for three weeks in an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19.
The 10 p.m.-to-5 a.m. curfew will take effect Friday and run through Dec. 23. Romero says she sought the curfew “for the safety and welfare and health of the citizens of Tucson.”
It prohibits residents from being on public streets or spaces unless traveling to work or other essential activities. Romero says Pima County reported had a record-high 944 new coronavirus cases Tuesday, and hospitals in southern Arizona are on the verge of a crisis.
Earlier Tuesday, state health officials reported 10,322 new known coronavirus cases and 48 additional deaths around Arizona.
Rhode Island opens second field hospital
CDC to issue new guidance on quarantine length
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expected to issue new guidance on quarantine protocols and procedures for people who may have been exposed to coronavirus, a senior administration official confirms to NBC News.
Instead of quarantining for 14 days after being determined a close contact of someone with the virus, the CDC will now recommend people only do so for seven-10 days. Individuals with a negative test can end their quarantine after seven days and 10 days without one, the new guidelines will say.
This information was presented at Tuesday’s White House coronavirus task force meeting, chaired by Vice President Mike Pence. The changes had been discussed for some time and were submitted for final approval this afternoon.
They are expected to be announced formally as soon as this evening or tomorrow morning, according to the official.
New York City blood supply 'down to just a few days,' mayor says
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is urging residents to donate blood as the city's supply reaches dangerously low levels amid a national increase in coronavirus hospitalizations.
The mayor said Tuesday that the goal is to get 25,000 New Yorkers to give blood in the month of December to replenish the blood bank. The current supply is down to "just a few days," de Blasio said.
"We have seen a marked decrease in the blood supply, because, of course, there haven’t been corporate blood drives and blood drives at colleges," de Blasio said. "Things that used to make such a difference. But we have to come up with another way now, and it’s going to come down to every one of you who can help, helping out."
Maryland mobilizing 'medical staffing surge' as cases climb
Maryland is launching a "medical staffing surge" to help deal with a growing number of cases and overworked hospital workers, the governor announced Tuesday.
The plan includes measures such as encouraging universities to give healthcare students in their final semester an "early exit" to enter the workforce and ordering hospitals to reduce some elective procedures.
The state will also try and recruit people with clinical backgrounds to work at state hospitals or nursing homes, and school districts and counties are being asked to send nurses or other staff to work at testing and vaccination sites, the governor's office said. Hospitals must also submit patient surge plans.
Maryland has more than 201,000 confirmed cases of Covid-19 — with more than 2,700 added in the past 24 hours — and more than 4,500 deaths, according to the state health department.