KEY POINTS

  • California Gov. Newsom imposed curfew between 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. from Saturday
  • Alabama officials warned the state's coronavirus situation is "out of control"
  • Illinois' hospital occupancy by COVID-19 patients could jump 5 times the spring numbers: Gov. J.B. Pritzker
  • Pfizer to file for emergency authorization of its coronavirus vaccine Friday

The novel coronavirus continues to accelerate and spread across the United States, with new reported cases topping 170,000 Wednesday, for the second time since the pandemic began March. 

Forty-seven states had at least 10% more new daily cases as of Wednesday compared to the previous week, CNN reported citing Johns Hopkins data. Only Hawaii saw new cases fall by about 10%.

The rising death toll, which has crossed 250,000, since the first recorded U.S. death on Feb. 29, has spurred a new round of COVID-19 restrictions across statees including school closures, suspended business operations and stay-at-home orders. More than 12 million people have been infected by the coronavirus so far in the country. 

The U.S. is ahead of only India, the world's second most populous nation, in the grim statistics: The Asian country has recorded nearly 9 million cases and 131,578 deaths so far, shows Johns Hopkins data.

In California, Gov. Gavin Newsom imposed a curfew for all counties in the purple tier. The curfew, which is called a “limited Stay At Home Order,” will affect 41 of the state’s 58 counties. 

The new curfew will be in effect starting Saturday 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. until Dec. 21. Between those hours, residents are required to stop all non-essential work, movement and gatherings in counties under the purple tier of reopening.

Activities that are permitted during the curfew hours are late-night grocery runs or pick-up takeouts from restaurants. Physical activities would also be allowed, ABC7 reported.

“We're asking that as part of this targeted limited stay at home order that people are home by 10 and stay home until 5 a.m.. Gathering shouldn't occur between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.” the state's Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said. 

“We know that's hard to imagine how to enforce. Some of you may say, 'Well, how am I ever going to be known if I'm doing that at home?' We've depended on a partnership with all of you and this is about coming together,” he added. 

. Global coronavirus infections have surged past 54 million Global coronavirus infections have surged past 54 million Photo: AFP / YAMIL LAGE

In Alabama, health officials have sounded the alarm, saying COVID-19 infections in the state is “out of control.” Since March, the state has reported a total of 225,910 coronavirus cases, with the daily rolling average rising to 684 in the past two weeks. 

Dr. Don Williamson, president and top doctor of the Alabama Hospital Association, said the state “has lost the ability to contain the virus,” citing a lack of mask-wearing and large gatherings as the source of the outbreak, Fox News reported. 

“We have everything necessary to have a disaster between now and the end of December,” Williamson said. 

Many hospitals have begun hiring traveling workers from out of state to help with the influx of coronavirus patients. Medical facilities are also preparing to treat more patients amid the possibility that the new coronavirus outbreak may be worse than the previous waves. 

“When you talk to the hospitals they’ll tell you their greatest concerns are not beds. Their greatest concerns are nurses and other healthcare providers,” Dr. Williamson said. He expalined that fewer COVID-19 patients in the state now require ICU space because of improvements in treatments.

But not every state is that lucky. In Illinois, Gov. J.B. Pritzker warned that ICU and non-ICU hospital occupancy by COVID-19 patients could reach as much as five times the state's previous records from the spring.

Orders imposing restrictions of varying degree are already in place in states like Ohio and Maryland, and a stay-at-home advisory started this week in Chicago even as a torrent of alarming news continued to stream in.

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson made the dire forecast that at the current rate, "1,000 Arkansans could die of COVID-19 between now and Christmas." Texas deployed two mobile refrigerator trucks to Amarillo as fatalities continued to rise.

Meanwhile, Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech will file with the FDA for emergency authorization of their coronavirus vaccine Friday. The authorization is temporary or conditional and is granted in response to an emergency situation. "Pfizer's partner BioNTech has announced that tomorrow they intend to file for emergency use authorization at the FDA," health secretary Alex Azar told a press conference Thursday.