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As virus rages, CDC urges Americans not to travel for holidays

The coronavirus pandemic is generating rising infections and rising fears across the United States. With the holidays approaching and surging numbers of cases, hospitalizations and deaths, public health experts are more worried than ever about the country’s ability to control the spread. And the worst harm continues to be suffered by people of color and older Americans. Amna Nawaz reports.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    Rising infections and rising fears that things will get far worse.

    The COVID-19 plague is generating both tonight. And the nation's most populous state, California, has now announced an overnight curfew for most of the state. That comes as the approaching holidays have public health experts more worried than ever.

    Amna Nawaz begins our coverage.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Thanksgiving is now a week away, and coronavirus infections are on the rise in every U.S. state but Hawaii. As the U.S. death toll crossed 250,000 this week, members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force held a public briefing for the first time in months.

    Vice President Pence projected optimism.

  • Vice President Mike Pence:

    I believe the day is coming soon when we will put this coronavirus in the past.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    While Dr. Deborah Birx warned Americans to remain vigilant.

  • Deborah Birx:

    In this moment of bringing people together, to really limit interactions indoors to immediate households when we see this level of community spread.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    The CDC is now urging Americans not to travel for the Thanksgiving holiday. It's now been 300 days since the very first recorded case of COVID-19 in the United States.

    After subsiding from the summer surge, the virus is now running rampant this fall. Two months ago, the U.S. reported more than 41,000 new daily infections, one month ago, more than 60,000, just yesterday, more than 172,000 new cases of COVID-19.

    Of the more than 11.5 million infections nationwide, more than one million occurred in just the last week, with hot spots now in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa.

    President-elect Joe Biden today said the lack of a national response strategy for the virus was driving the surge.

  • President-Elect Joseph Biden:

    Beating COVID-19 is going to require all of us working together as one country.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    And the disparities continue to fall starkly along racial lines. Hispanics or Latinos have been hospitalized at more than four times the rate of white Americans. The same is true of Native American and Alaskan Native people. African Americans have been hospitalized at nearly four times the rate of white Americans.

    Among the most vulnerable are seniors in long-term care facilities, where 90,000 residents have died of the virus. A new study by the Associated Press found the toll of the virus in those facilities to be even greater.

    Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, found that short-staffing, isolation and other pandemic-related issues at nursing homes have led to more than 40,000 additional deaths, something that one nursing home trade group has disputed.

  • H. Stephen Kaye:

    Nursing homes are staffed, in the best of circumstances, to provide routine services to the people who live there. And so, along comes a pandemic, and there's no reserve capacity.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Dawn Best says her mother, Carolyn, was healthy when she moved into a nursing facility on Long Island in New York.

  • Dawn Best:

    Within three weeks of the COVID patients being forced into her nursing home, she was dead.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    She blames her mother's death on lack of care. The AP said records showed Carolyn Best was dehydrated.

    Meanwhile, in the nation's capital, rising regional COVID cases led the Smithsonian Institution to once again close down its museums and the National Zoo. And climbing infection rates shuttered the nation's largest public school system, as New York City schools reverted entirely to online learning.

  • Mayor Bill de Blasio:

  • Mayor Bill de Blasio:

    Something is changing. It is changing rapidly in this city. We certainly see what's happening around the country. We have got to reset the equation.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Public schools in Denver, Colorado will also go to fully remote for all grades for the rest of the semester.

    For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Amna Nawaz.

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