Virus testing strained again heading into holidays; jobless claims increase as pandemic worsens

With coronavirus cases surging and families hoping to gather safely for Thanksgiving, long lines to get tested have reappeared across the U.S. — a reminder that the nation’s strained testing system remains unable to keep pace with the virus.

The delays are happening as the country braces for winter weather, flu season and holiday travel, all of which are expected to amplify a U.S. outbreak that has already swelled past 11.5 million cases and 250,000 deaths.

Laboratories warned that continuing shortages of key supplies are likely to create more bottlenecks and delays, especially as cases rise across the nation and people rush to get tested before reuniting with relatives.

Meanwhile, the number of Americans seeking unemployment aid rose last week to 742,000, the first increase in five weeks and a sign that the resurgent viral outbreak is likely slowing the economy and forcing more companies to cut jobs.

The Labor Department’s report Thursday showed that applications for benefits rose from 711,000 in the previous week. Claims had soared to 6.9 million in March when the pandemic first intensified. Before the pandemic, applications typically hovered about 225,000 a week.

The economy’s modest recovery is increasingly at risk, with newly confirmed daily infections in the United States having exploded 80% over the past two weeks to the highest levels on record. More states and cities are issuing mask mandates, limiting the size of gatherings, restricting restaurant dining, closing gyms or reducing the hours and capacity of bars, stores and other businesses. At least 15 states have tightened curbs on businesses to try to slow infections.

Here’s an update on all developments. Scroll or swipe further for in-depth coverage.

  • With coronavirus cases surging and families hoping to gather safely for Thanksgiving, long lines to get tested have reappeared across the U.S. — a reminder that the nation’s strained testing system remains unable to keep pace with the virus.
  • As more than 97,000 of the nation’s long-term care residents have died in the coronavirus pandemic, advocates for the elderly say a tandem wave of fatalities is quietly claiming tens of thousands more who are succumbing not to the virus but to neglect by overwhelmed staffs and slow declines from isolation.
  • A key researcher at the University of Oxford says scientists expect to report results from the late-stage trials of their COVID-19 vaccine by Christmas.
  • California officials are struggling over whether to emphasize enforcement or persuasion as coronavirus infection rates soar.
  • Japan has reported a record number of daily coronavirus infections, amid a worrying spike in a country that has been spared the worst of the pandemic and hopes to host the Olympics next year.
  • Africa has surpassed 2 million confirmed coronavirus cases as the continent’s top public health official warns that the continent is edging toward a second wave of infections.
  • The World Health Organization is also warning of a second wave in the Middle East as countries in the area are lowering their guard after tough lockdowns imposed earlier this year.

For more summaries and full reports, select from the articles below. Scroll further for the latest numbers.

Virus by the numbers