US medical leaders urge Trump to share Covid-19 data with Biden as states tighten limits

Filed on November 18, 2020

The Biden team has been trying to devise a coordinated national coronavirus strategy

The US medical establishment weighed in on the White House post-election transition fray on Tuesday, urging President Donald Trump to share critical Covid-19 data with President-elect Joe Biden’s team or risk needless, deadly lags in tackling the pandemic.

The Biden team has been trying to devise a coordinated national coronavirus strategy, and the open letter from three leading healthcare organisations came as more state and local governments scrambled separately to tamp down a Covid-19 surge threatening to overwhelm hospitals nationwide.

“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 leaders of the American Medical Association, the American Nurses Association and the American Hospitals Association.

The letter was published a day after Biden, the Democrat who won the tumultuous Nov. 3 election that Trump has refused to concede, warned that “more people may die” if the Republican incumbent keeps blocking a smooth succession to the next administration in January.

Health officials have warned that greater social mixing and indoor gatherings during the holiday travel season, combined with the onset of colder weather, will accelerate the COVID-19 surge that has sent infections and hospitalisations to record levels in recent weeks.

The soaring rate of new cases this fall has stricken even rural areas that had dodged the worst of the pandemic over the summer. Government officials in at least 17 states representing both ends of America’s political divide have issued sweeping new public health mandates this month. These range from stricter limits on social gatherings and non-essential businesses to new requirements for wearing masks in public places.

Forty-one U.S. states have reported daily record increases in COVID-19 cases in November, 20 have registered new all-time highs in coronavirus-related deaths from day to day, and 26 have reported new peaks in hospitalisations, according to a Reuters tally of public health data.

Twenty-five states reported 10% of Covid-19 diagnostic tests coming back positive for the week ending on Sunday, Nov. 15. The World Health Organization considers a positivity rate above 5% to be concerning.

Illustrating the risks of large social gatherings, health officials this week linked a Nov. 7 wedding that drew some 300 guests to a private location near the town of Ritzville in eastern Washington state to at least 17 Covid-19 infections and two subsequent outbreaks.

The Republican governors of Ohio and Maryland on Tuesday became the latest to place curfews on bars and restaurants to reduce the virus’ spread this winter, while the prospect of a widely available vaccine is still months away.

“We’re not shutting down, we’re slowing down,” Mike DeWine of Ohio said in unveiling the 10 p.m.-to-5 a.m. curfew in his state. “We have to flatten this curve again and get this under control.”

A similar curfew ordered by Maryland Governor Larry Hogan was accompanied by new restrictions limiting indoor capacity of businesses and organisations to 50% of normal.

“We are in a war right now and the virus is winning,” Hogan told reporters.

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