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Assault on US Capitol Possible COVID-19 Superspreader Event, Experts Say


Trump supporters storm the US Capitol to contest the certification of the 2020 US presidential election results by the US Congress in Washington, Jan. 6, 2021.
Trump supporters storm the US Capitol to contest the certification of the 2020 US presidential election results by the US Congress in Washington, Jan. 6, 2021.

Health professionals and other scientists are concerned that the assault on the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday may also have been a COVID-19 superspreader event.

The shouting mob that invaded the building was largely unmasked and not observing social distancing as they went through the halls of Congress and entered some lawmakers’ offices.

Anne Rimoin, an epidemiologist at the University of California, Los Angeles, told The New York Times that, “People yelling and screaming, chanting, exerting themselves — all of those things provide opportunity for the virus to spread, and this virus takes those opportunities.”

John Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center said the virus killed a record 4,085 people in the U.S. on Thursday.

Infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci told National Public Radio in an interview Thursday that he believes “things will get worse as we get into January.” A result, he said, of “the holiday season travel and the congregate settings that usually take place socially during that period of time.”

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Fauci also said that he believed that tide could be turned “if we really accelerate our public health measures during that period of time, we'll be able to blunt that acceleration. But that's going to really require people concentrating very, very intensively on doing the kinds of public health measures that we talk about all the time,” such as wearing masks, social distancing and being inoculated with the coronavirus vaccine.

Fauci said he is hopeful that when President-elect Joe Biden is in office, the U.S. will be able to deliver to the U.S. public “1 million vaccinations per day, as the president-elect has mentioned.”

The U.S. has more COVID-19 cases than anyplace else in the world -- 21.5 million of the globe’s more than 88 million infections, roughly one-fourth of the world’s cases.

The figures come as nearly 6 million Americans have been vaccinated against the disease.

The U.S. has also suffered more COVID-19 deaths than any other country – more than 365,208 of the world’s nearly 2 million COVID-19 deaths.

Britain announced mandatory COVID-19 tests Thursday for all international arrivals to the country.

Brazil surpassed 200,000 deaths from COVID-19 on Thursday, making it the country with the second-highest death toll in the world.

The Australian city of Brisbane began a three-day lockdown Friday night after a member of a hotel’s quarantine cleaning staff was found to have the highly contagious British mutation of the coronavirus.

"Doing three days now could avoid doing 30 days in the future," Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said Friday morning when she announced the move.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports authorities are tracing the woman’s movements around the city. She is reported to be the first local person to have contracted the virus variant that has been reported in several people in hotel quarantine.

Johns Hopkins reports that Australia has more than 28,500 COVID cases.

Canada moved Thursday to keep elementary schools in the province of Ontario closed until at least Jan. 25. Ontario officials said that the positivity rate among children under 13 was as high as 20%.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has declared a state of emergency for Tokyo and three surrounding prefectures in response to a surge of new coronavirus cases in the capital city.

The decree lasts until Feb. 7. Residents in Tokyo, China, Kanagawa and Saitama prefectures are encouraged to stay home after 8 p.m., and restaurants and bars are also encouraged to close at the same time.

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