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Leaders in several states warn residents to be on guard as worrying Covid-19 trends emerge

Leaders in states across the country are sounding the alarm about rising Covid-19 cases that experts say could foreshadow a coming surge.



a person taking a selfie in a car: Medical technicians work at a drive-thru coronavirus disease (COVID-19) testing facility at the Regeneron Pharmaceuticals company's Westchester campus in Tarrytown, New York, U.S. September 17, 2020. Picture taken September 17, 2020. Brendan McDermid/Reuters


© Brendan McDermid/Reuters
Medical technicians work at a drive-thru coronavirus disease (COVID-19) testing facility at the Regeneron Pharmaceuticals company’s Westchester campus in Tarrytown, New York, U.S. September 17, 2020. Picture taken September 17, 2020. Brendan McDermid/Reuters

In New York, several Covid-19 clusters have created “hotspot” zip codes, the governor said, with a positivity rate about five times more than the statewide figure. The clusters are a “stark reminder” that New Yorkers need to stay vigilant, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.

“Wear a mask, socially distance, follow the public health guidance — because this thing is not over,” Cuomo said in a statement.

Leading health officials including Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, have also warned that the US could see an especially challenging fall and winter this year. They say cities and counties should prepare by keeping safety measures and guidelines in place.

“We are still knee-deep in the first wave of this,” Fauci said in a Facebook and Twitter livestream.

In Kentucky, Gov. Andy Beshear urged the state to stop a recent “escalation” of cases after reporting more than 1,000 new infections for the second day in a row.

“Today’s daily report is too high,” the governor said. “I need your help. It’s up to us and we’ve got to get this done.”

Wisconsin reported its highest number of Covid-19 hospitalizations on record, with hospitalized patients nearly doubling in the state since September 18, according to hospital officials. And in Illinois, the governor is tightening restrictions in one part of the state after an increase in positivity rates.

At least 27 states have reported more new cases since the previous week and only nine are reporting a decline, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Nationwide, more than 7.2 million people have been infected and more than 206,000 Americans have died.

When a vaccine could be available to US population

On Wednesday, Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel said if its Covid-19 vaccine is proven safe and effective, it could be available to the general population by late March or early April.

Moderna began its Phase 3 clinical trial for a Covid-19 vaccine in the US in July. It’s one of four companies that have begun Phase 3 Covid-19 vaccine trials in the US — the others are Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer/BioNTech and AstraZeneca. The AstraZeneca trial was paused after an unexplained illness in a volunteer, and US health authorities are still considering crucial questions that remain around the injections of the experimental vaccine.

“I think a late Q1, early Q2 approval is a reasonable timeline, based on what we know from our vaccine,” Bancel said at a conference hosted by the Financial Times.

But there are several steps that will have to come before that.

If the safety and efficacy data checks out, Bancel says he expects Moderna will be