COVID19 🦠 Newsbites
Over 130 Secret Service officers have contracted COVID-19 or are in quarantine, new report finds
  • More than 130 Secret Service officers have recently tested positive for COVID-19 or are quarantining due to possible virus exposure, according to report by the Washington Post on Friday.
  • The Post reported that the outbreak may be connected to President Donald Trump's campaign travels prior to Election Day.
  • The number makes up an estimated 10% of the 1,300 Secret Service officers who provide security during presidential trips and official events, The Post reported.
  • The news comes as a cluster of confirmed cases have been reported out of Trump's circle over the past week.
"Being down more than 100 officers is very problematic," a former senior Secret Service supervisor told the newspaper. "That does not bode well for White House security."

... The president and his allies have often downplayed the severity of the virus and ignored health protocols since the start of the pandemic. Last month, the White House faced a similar eruption of positive diagnoses, including Trump himself.

Trump has posed health risks to his travel-security unit beyond the campaign trail as well. Medical professionals and former Secret Service officers were stunned when the president, while he was still infected with COVID-19 in October, staged a drive-by outside Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where he was being hospitalized. In the car, two Secret Service officers in personal protective gear accompanied Trump, who wore a mask.

"It's hard to believe that someone who's that contagious would get into a vehicle with nothing more than a fabric mask. His hands weren't even covered," a Secret Service veteran told Business Insider's Sonam Sheth at the time. "As hard as you try to like the president and you want to believe in his policies, his judgment is just so flawed and so selfish."

Chicago issues stay at home advisory as cases rise in the city
According to a release announcing the advisory, residents are encouraged to stay at home, only leaving for school or work and for essential needs. That includes seeking medical care, grocery shopping, going to the pharmacy, and picking up food.

The advisory goes into effect on Monday, November 16 and will remain in place for 30 days.

Residents are also "strongly advised" to not have guests in their homes outside of essential workers like home healthcare providers or childcare workers, cancel traditional Thanksgiving celebrations and to avoid travel.

Chicago has 122,712 total cases since the start of the pandemic, according to the dashboard. The most recent 7-day positivity rate is now at 14.1%, up from 10.9% the previous week.

Several states add restrictions across the country, including lockdowns in New Mexico and Oregon.
New Mexico and Oregon issued the strictest U.S. measures of the fall to combat a surge in coronavirus cases.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham of New Mexico issued a two-week “stay at home” order that begins Monday. She said nonessential businesses and nonprofits must cease in-person activities.

Gov. Kate Brown of Oregon placed the state in a partial lockdown for two weeks starting Wednesday, ordering gyms to close, restaurants to serve only takeout and social gatherings to be limited to six people. Oregon also joined its neighbors California and Washington to require that travelers arriving in their states quarantine for 14 days.

The U.S. reported over 160,000 new coronavirus cases Thursday, just over a week after the country’s first 100,000-case day.

Trump, without acknowledging the rapid surge, projects rosy view on vaccines.
In his first public address since losing re-election, President Trump made no acknowledgment of the surge of coronavirus cases gripping the nation.

Instead Mr. Trump praised his administration’s response to the virus and Operation Warp Speed, the government’s vaccine effort. He also took credit for a promising Pfizer vaccine.

The optimistic view of the vaccine development was at odds with a near-complete ignoring of how rapidly the virus is surging. Only Vice President Mike Pence mentioned that cases are increasing. More than 163,000 new cases were announced nationwide on Thursday, yet another record, with more than 30 states reporting seven-day case records. Deaths, too, have been rising, with more than 1,000 a day on average over the last week.

Mr. Trump, by contrast, repeated a falsehood he’s uttered several times, that the reason the case numbers are so much higher in the U.S. than elsewhere is because the nation conducts more tests — a statement that ignores the rise in hospitalizations and deaths.

Officials said that two vaccine candidates are under review for emergency use authorizations, from Pfizer and from Moderna, and that 20 million people could be vaccinated in December.

Russian and North Korean operatives are trying to hack coronavirus research firms, Microsoft said.
Microsoft said Friday that it had found more evidence that hacking groups backed by Russia and some now by North Korea were continuing their attempts to steal information from pharmaceutical companies and researchers involved in developing treatments and vaccines for Covid-19.

The names of the targeted firms, including some that have contracts with the United States government, were not announced; Microsoft said it could only reveal that information with the permission of the firms. But it said seven companies were on the receiving end of the hacking activity, most of which was unsuccessful.

But officials made clear they believe some of the hacks worked — though they do not know whether proprietary research was stolen.

The seven firms were in the United States, Canada, South Korea, France and India.

Ever since the coronavirus crisis began, Chinese and Russian groups have been hacking into research centers and hospitals. Microsoft identified the Russian hacking group as Strontium, also known as Fancy Bear, which is known for the hacking operations into the Democratic National Committee and other American targets in the 2016 presidential election.

The North Korean hackers are best known as the Lazarus Group, which was involved in the 2014 hack of Sony Pictures Entertainment and the WannaCry attack ransomware that crippled the British health care system.

Microsoft identified another North Korean group that it called Cerium.

On top of the threat of being hacked, hospitals all over the country have been targeted in a scourge of ransomware attacks in recent months. In September, an attack on Universal Health Services, which runs more than 400 hospitals throughout the country, became the largest medical cyberattack in history.

The US has been breaking new COVID-19 case records on a daily basis while Trump shares unsubstantiated voter fraud claims on Twitter
  • The US reported 170,333 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, breaking the single-day count for the fourth day in a row, according to The COVID Tracking Project.
  • On Friday, shortly after the record number of new cases was reported, Trump tweeted an unsubstantiated claim about the election, saying, "we win the State of Pennsylvania!"
  • Insider and other major outlets have projected President-elect Joe Biden as the winner of Pennsylvania.
  • In addition to the new cases, The Covid Tracking Project reported 1,301 new deaths and 68,516 current hospitalizations, which also broke the previous current hospitalizations record that was set the day before.