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Assume you caught coronavirus over Thanksgiving, White House task force says

Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House's coronavirus response coordinator, speaks during a briefing with the coronavirus task force at the White House in Washington, Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020.
Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House's coronavirus response coordinator, speaks during a briefing with the coronavirus task force at the White House in Washington, Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020. (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – The latest White House coronavirus task force report advises states to urge residents to assume they became infected if they attended a Thanksgiving gathering outside their home.

The weekly report, obtained by ABC News, also singles out Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties for representing 39.2% of new cases in Florida over the past three weeks.

“The COVID risk to all Americans is at a historic high,” the report says. “We are in a very dangerous place due to the current, extremely high COVID baseline and limited hospital capacity; a further post-Thanksgiving surge will compromise COVID patient care, as well as medical care.”

The task force goes on to compel all states to send a dire message to their residents:

“If state and local policies do not reflect the seriousness of the current situation, all public health officials must alert the state population directly. It must be made clear that if you are over 65 or have significant health conditions, you should not enter any indoor public spaces where anyone is unmasked due to the immediate risk to your health; you should have groceries and medications delivered,” the report says.

“If you are under 40, you need to assume you became infected during the Thanksgiving period if you gathered beyond your immediate household. Most likely, you will not have symptoms; however, you are dangerous to others and you must isolate away from anyone at increased risk for severe disease and get tested immediately.

“If you are over 65 or have significant medical conditions and you gathered outside of your immediate household, you are at a significant risk for serious COVID infection; if you develop any symptoms, you must be tested immediately as the majority of therapeutics work best early in infection.”

In the portion of the report directed to Florida, the task force points out that the state is in the red zone for cases, with 259 cases per 100,000 population, which is the 36th highest rate in the country.

It adds that from Nov. 16-22, 18% of nursing homes had at least one new resident COVID-19 case, and 37% had at least one new staff infection. Two percent of those facilities had at least one new resident death attributed to COVID-19.

Florida on Tuesday passed 1 million total confirmed cases of COVID-19. States are in the process of finalizing their plans for how to distribute coronavirus vaccines when the shots receive federal approval.


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