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US States Tighten Coronavirus Restrictions Amid Surge in Cases

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A health care worker gives a test at a COVID-19 testing site during the coronavirus outbreak in San Francisco, California, Nov. 16, 2020.

The governors of several U.S. states are instituting new restrictions to try to slow the spread of the coronavirus as the national case count of infections topped 11 million.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced a ban on indoor dining, in-person classes for high school and college students and public events at casinos and movie theaters. At-home gatherings are limited to 10 people.

"We are in the worst moment of this pandemic to date," Whitmer told reporters late Sunday. "The situation has never been more dire. We are at the precipice, and we need to take some action."

In this photo provided by the Michigan Office of the Governor, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer addresses the state in Lansing, Nov. 15, 2020.
In this photo provided by the Michigan Office of the Governor, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer addresses the state in Lansing, Nov. 15, 2020.

The Democratic governor’s decree drew immediate protests from some Michigan Republican state lawmakers who said they had not been consulted. White House coronavirus adviser Scott Atlas called for state residents to reject the health guidelines.

“The only way this stops is if people rise up,” Atlas tweeted.

On Monday, Whitmer, who has been the target of an alleged right-wing terrorist plot to kidnap her because of her previous coronavirus restrictions, called Atlas’ comments “just incredibly reckless.” Atlas said he “never was talking at all about violence,” but rather about peaceful protest.

In the northwestern state of Washington, Gov. Jay Inslee also banned indoor dining and ordered retail stores to limit the number of customers allowed to 25% capacity. Outdoor gatherings are limited to five people, while indoor gatherings not involving people from the same household are prohibited.

Elsewhere, New Mexico has imposed a two-week lockdown, while North Dakota is implementing a new face mask mandate. New Jersey is imposing new limits on gatherings, effective Tuesday.

The large eastern city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is ending indoor dining for six weeks, closing gyms and museums, and restricting indoor gatherings inside homes starting Friday.

Some retailers have also reintroduced safety precautions on lines for customers to get into stores and set purchase limits on such items as hand sanitizer, toilet paper and disinfecting wipes to prevent hoarding.

Other commercial establishments, however, are seeking to increase business. Movie theaters in New York City are seeking permission to reopen, while restaurateurs in Massachusetts are trying to serve more customers at night.

People stand in line to be tested for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at a test center at the Staten Island Ferry Terminal in Staten Island, New York, Nov. 12, 2020.
People stand in line to be tested for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at a test center at the Staten Island Ferry Terminal in Staten Island, New York, Nov. 12, 2020.

During the past week, the United States has recorded an average of nearly 150,000 new cases per day, according to Johns Hopkins University, with surging counts in numerous states across the country. More than 246,000 have died from COVID-19 in the United States, a figure that, like the total number of cases, is the most in the world.

Infectious disease health experts said Sunday that President Donald Trump’s refusal to concede his reelection loss to Democrat Joe Biden has kept them from handing off key information to incoming Biden officials to help curb the pandemic.

One of Biden’s COVID-19 advisers, Dr. Atul Gawande, told ABC’s “This Week,” "It is in the nation's interest that the transition team get the threat assessments ... understand the vaccine distribution plans. You need to know where the stockpiles are, what the status is of masks and gloves."

He added, "There's a lot of information that needs to be transmitted. It can't wait to the last minute."

Trump has refused to concede his defeat while he pursues long-shot legal claims that the November 3 vote was rigged against him. He has blocked administration officials from cooperating with Biden’s transition team throughout government agencies.

The country’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, a fixture on Trump’s coronavirus task force, told CNN, "Of course it would be better if we could start working with them.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, listens during a Senate hearing, Sept. 23, 2020, in Washington.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, listens during a Senate hearing, Sept. 23, 2020, in Washington.

Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said he has been through political transitions involving six presidencies.

“It’s very clear that the transition process that we go through ... is really important in a smooth handing over of the information,” he said.

Trump’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak in the United States was one of the key issues in the election. National polls showed that voters trusted Biden more than Trump to deal with the pandemic.

Fauci and another coronavirus official, Admiral Brett Giroir of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, both said it has been "several months" since Trump met with the White House Coronavirus Task Force, which is headed by Vice President Mike Pence.

Fauci said with the expected approval of a coronavirus vaccine in the coming weeks, he thinks the United States could start getting back to "relative normal" by April or July next year.

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