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US Undersecretary of Defense Tests Positive for COVID-19 as Pandemic Continues to Surge

FILE - The Pentagon near Washington, D.C.
FILE - The Pentagon near Washington, D.C.

The Pentagon has confirmed that acting Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Anthony Tata has COVID-19.

Tata and several other people were exposed to the virus, the Pentagon said, after meeting with a Lithuanian delegation, including Defense Minister Raimundas Karoblis, who has tested positive for COVID.

"Mr. Tata was tested today and has tested positive for COVID-19 on two successive tests. He will isolate at home for the next 14 days in accordance with Center for Disease Control protocols," a Pentagon statement said.

Further contact tracing is being done of Defense Department officials who may have had contact with Tata and the Lithuanian delegation, the statement said.

FILE - Travelers wait in the boarding area for trains during the Thanksgiving holiday travel rush at Pennsylvania Station in New York, Nov. 27, 2019.
FILE - Travelers wait in the boarding area for trains during the Thanksgiving holiday travel rush at Pennsylvania Station in New York, Nov. 27, 2019.

CDC discourages Thanksgiving travel

Coronavirus infections is the United States are exploding toward the 12 million mark. At 11.7 million cases, the U.S. has more COVID-19 cases than anyplace else. The U.S. also has the world’s largest coronavirus death toll, with more than a quarter of a million fatalities.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and an alliance of three professional medical groups released separate statements Thursday urging Americans to stay home for next week’s Thanksgiving celebrations and to rethink their observations of the holiday.

They are afraid coronavirus cases and deaths could jump higher if Americans do not scale back their traditional Thanksgiving plans.

“Positive cases spiked after Memorial Day, after the Fourth of July, after Labor Day, and now – two weeks after Halloween,” the American Hospital Association, the American Medical Association, and the American Nurses Association said in a joint open letter.

“The record-shattering surge underway is resulting in uncontrolled community spread and infection that has already overburdened health systems in some areas and will ultimately consume capacity of our health care system and may reduce the availability of care in many places in our country.”

The statement from the CDC urged Americans not to travel to see their loved ones but instead “celebrate at home with the people you live with.”

The CDC statement came just a week before Thanksgiving and after many Americans had already made travel arrangements for the holiday.

“Postponing travel and staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others this year,” the CDC statement said.

New York school closures

The New York City public school system, the largest in the U.S. and the first big-city school system to reopen in the coronavirus pandemic, was shut down again Thursday because of a rising number of COVID-19 cases in the city.

“We got to fight back the second wave. Our schools have been safe, extraordinarily safe. We got to keep it that way. We can't just stand pat with a strategy that worked before when conditions are changing, we need to reset the equation,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said. “We need to come up with even more stringent rules to make schools work and testing is going to be absolutely crucial.”

De Blasio also said it is likely that within a couple of weeks indoor dining at restaurants in New York City will end, and gyms and other businesses will have to close.

New state curfews

The U.S. states of Ohio and California have imposed 10 p.m.-5 a.m. curfews in an effort to control coronavirus surges. Ohio began its curfew Thursday. It will be in effect for 21 days. California’s curfew begins Saturday night for 41 of the massive state’s 58 counties, ending December 21.

Pandemic causes drop in US greenhouse gases

A BloombergNEF study has revealed that greenhouse gases generated by the U.S. economy are set to drop 9.2% this year, bringing them to a level that would be their lowest in 30 years.

The new levels put the U.S. on track to meet its commitments to the Paris climate agreement that the U.S. made during the Obama administration. President Donald Trump, however, withdrew the U.S. from the agreement.