Health officials across the country are warning Americans to refrain from celebrating Mother’s Day in large crowds this year, urging that continued social distancing is still key to preventing more coronavirus cases.
In Pasadena, California, officials put out a warning after tracing a cluster of cases back to a birthday party, and in Louisiana the department of health recommended celebration alternatives — like virtual brunch.
“Resist the temptation to hug your mom and maintain six feet of separation,” the Louisiana Department of Public Health said.
The reminders come as most states begin the first phase of reopening their economies despite a growing nationwide death toll.
At least 78,794 Americans have died and more than 1,309,500 have been infected.
And last week brought another piece of alarming news: New York state officials believe that an inflammatory illness observed in dozens of youth — killing two children and a teenager — may be linked to the virus.
But governors have begun relaxing measures across the US amid protests from residents and business owners who demanded an end to sweeping stay-at-home orders. And as states grapple with finding a path toward the new normal, more protests have taken shape across the country by residents who refused to put on face coverings.
Public health experts have cautioned the US is not ready to begin reopening — citing lack of sufficient testing and contact tracing efforts, among other reasons — and that premature lifting of measures could mean a death toll twice as high as previously predicted. But the effects of the loosening measures won’t become evident for a while.
“It will be at least two to three weeks before we see an increase in the number of infections because it takes time for individuals to infect others and for them to display symptoms,” data scientist Youyang Gu, whose coronavirus projection model is cited by the CDC, told CNN.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading public health expert, has said if measures are lifted too early, the country could see a rebound of the virus which could land the US “right back in the same boat that we were a few weeks ago.”
Top health officials exposed to virus
Fauci is one of a handful of top government and health officials who announced they came in contact with an infected person at the White House.
Fauci told CNN he will begin a “modified quarantine” after making a “low risk” contact with a White House staffer who tested positive for the virus. While Fauci was not in close proximity to the person, he said he will spend the next two weeks working from home and wearing a mask, adding he may go to his office, where he will be alone.
Dr. Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, will self-quarantine for two weeks after he was also exposed to a person at the White House who tested positive for the virus, a CDC spokesperson confirmed to CNN.
Dr. Stephen Hahn, the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, will also go into quarantine after coming into contact with an individual who tested positive for the virus, an FDA spokesman confirmed to CNN on Friday.
Officials didn’t identify the person to whom Hahn or Redfield were exposed. However, Katie Miller, the press secretary to Vice President Mike Pence, tested positive on Friday. She is known to often be in the White House coronavirus task force meetings.
An illness seen in children may be linked to virus
In New York, state officials have partnered with federal officials to provide other states with information following the deaths of three youth that could be linked to the virus.
A teenager and two children under eight years old died from an inflammatory illness observed in dozens of children in New York, state officials said Saturday.
That illness could be linked to the virus, they said.
“We were laboring under the impression young people were not affected by Covid-19,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. “We’re not so sure that that is the fact anymore.”
Researchers still don’t know whether coronavirus caused the syndrome. But this is under investigation, Cuomo said.
“We still have a lot to learn about this virus,” he said.
State officials had previously warned that dozens of children in the state had been hospitalized with a condition doctors described as “pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome,” and that it could be linked to coronavirus.
The children had fever and symptoms similar to toxic shock syndrome and Kawasaki disease, the state had said. Kawasaki disease causes inflammation in the walls of blood vessels, including those that supply blood to the heart, which in rare cases can lead to deadly limitations in blood flow.
Many of the children tested positive for the virus or had its antibodies, Cuomo said, but they didn’t necessarily present with typical symptoms for the coronavirus disease, such as respiratory distress.