Some Americans face 5-day wait for test results; death toll passes 250K — 5 COVID-19 updates

The U.S. surpassed 250,000 COVID-19 deaths Nov. 18, according to Baltimore-based John Hopkins University's COVID-19 Dashboard.

The nation also shattered the COVID-19 hospitalization record reported one day prior, with 79,000 known virus hospitalizations Nov. 18, according to The COVID-19 Tracking Project. 

Four more updates:

1. New COVID-19 cases are rising in 46 states, holding steady in three and decreasing in only Hawaii, according to The COVID-19 Tracking Project data cited by Axios. 

2. Americans face longer wait times, delayed COVID-19 test results ahead of Thanksgiving, reports The Washington Post. Testing sites nationwide are reporting three- to four-hour wait times, with results taking as long as five days. Quest Diagnostics reported Nov. 17 a 50 percent demand increase for COVID-19 molecular tests since the last week of September. Consequently, the company's average turnaround time has increased slightly to more than two days for all patients and up to two days for priority patients, compared to two days for all patients and one to two days for priority patients before this week.

3. HHS launched a pilot program with five states to adopt the same rapid COVID-19 tests used by the NBA. Alaska, Florida, Louisiana, New Jersey and Texas will receive shipments of Cue Health's portable, cartridge-based molecular tests, which produce results in about 20 minutes. The pilot program will assess how these rapid tests can be used alongside disease surveillance and infection control practices in facilities like nursing homes. 

4. New York City will reclose its public schools, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Nov. 18. The decision stems from the city's test positivity rate hitting 3 percent on a seven-day rolling average as of Nov. 18. The public school system, which includes 1.1 million students, had been open for in-person learning for less than two months, reports The New York Times.

Snapshot of COVID-19 in the U.S.

Cases: 11,531,743
Deaths: 250,579
Recovered: 4,350,789 

Counts reflect data available as of 8:25 a.m. CST Nov. 19.

More articles on public health:
Number of COVID-19 hospitalizations, state by state: Nov. 19
US healthcare workers may get first COVID-19 vaccine doses in a month, Fauci says
22 states where COVID-19 is spreading fastest, slowest: Nov. 19


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