BALTIMORE – More than 12 million people in the U.S have contracted the coronavirus since the start of the pandemic.
The nation's confirmed cases reached 12.01 million Saturday, six days after the number had reached 11 million, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.
Daily numbers of new U.S. cases are approaching 200,000, less than three weeks after hitting 100,000 for the first time. The record of 195,542 new cases Friday was the latest of several recent daily highs.
Deaths rates are getting closer to the dire numbers seen in the spring. The U.S. daily death toll exceeded 2,000 on Thursday, the first time since early May. On Friday, 1,878 deaths were reported.
The U.S. leads the world with more than 255,000 dead.
Guard to assist Texas city morgues
The Texas National Guard has sent a 36-member team to El Paso to assist morgues in the border region with the number of dead as a result of COVID-19.
Statewide, the Texas health department Saturday reported a one-day high of 12,597 new virus cases, nearly 20,500 dead since the pandemic began and more than 8,200 virus hospitalizations.
“The Texas Military will provide us with the critical personnel to carry out our fatality management plan and we are very grateful to them for their ongoing support,” El Paso Mayor Dee Margo said late Friday.
The pandemic is blamed for 853 deaths in El Paso County, including more than 300 since October. Jail inmates are being paid to move bodies and county leaders are offering $27 an hour for morgue workers.
Missouri officials weighing options
Missouri officials, scrambling to prepare for an overwhelming surge of COVID-19 patients, are in talks to stem the tide, including options such as building a field hospital, canceling all but the most urgent medical procedures and deploying the Missouri National Guard to relieve health care staffing shortages.
Hospital leaders are even discussing how to choose which patients to serve first when resources are limited.
They hope it never reaches that point, the chief of the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force, Dr. Alex Garza, said Friday. But task force projections show the region's hospitals maxing out intensive care units in a matter of days.
The number of COVID-positive patients in hospitals here has doubled since the beginning of November, and more than tripled since the beginning of October.
Carson credits botanical treatment
Housing Secretary Ben Carson is crediting unapproved, experimental treatments with saving his life after he became “desperately ill” following his infection with the coronavirus.
A retired neurosurgeon, Carson said Friday that he believes he's now “out of the woods.” He disclosed that his wife, Candy, also had COVID-19, the disease the coronavirus causes. Carson tested positive this month.
Most people recover from the disease, which has killed more than 250,000 Americans and sickened more than 12 million, including President Donald Trump and members of his family.
In a statement posted on Facebook, Carson said he was “extremely sick” but saw “dramatic improvement” after taking a botanical treatment derived from the oleander plant. Carson said he has underlying conditions, which he did not specify, “and after a brief period when I only experienced minor discomfort, the symptoms accelerated and I became desperately ill.”