U.S. Coronavirus Cases Surpass 12 Million, FDA Grants Emergency Use of Antibody Cocktail

The United States surpassed more than 12 million cases of the novel coronavirus this weekend as the nation grapples with its third wave of the spread going into Thanksgiving week.

As of Sunday morning, more than 12.1 million people have contracted the virus and at least 255,753 people have died, according to data from The New York Times.

More than 2.8 million cases — nearly a quarter of all COVID-19 cases reported to date — were recorded in the month of November alone, Johns Hopkins University reported.

So far this month, there have been at least 24,291 deaths, which accounts for 9.5 percent of all deaths during the pandemic.

As the country continues to see a spike in cases, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an emergency use authorization on Saturday for Regeneron's antibody cocktail for the treatment of mild to moderate COVID-19 in high-risk patients.

The therapy, called REGEN-COV2, was given to President Donald Trump when he was hospitalized for COVID-19 in early October.

The treatment uses lab-engineered antibodies to target COVID-19 and to hopefully stop the virus from spreading in the body.

According to the FDA, the therapy has been shown to "reduce COVID-19-related hospitalization or emergency room visits in patients at high risk for disease progression within 28 days after treatment when compared to placebo."

"When used to treat COVID-19 for the authorized population, the known and potential benefits of these antibodies outweigh the known and potential risks," the agency said in a statement.

With such an uptick in cases, the Centers for Disease Control is urging Americans to stay home this Thanksgiving and not to let up on safety precautions over the holidays.

In their first press briefing in several months on Thursday, the CDC recommended against traveling for the holiday and advised Americans to keep their holiday celebrations to just the members of their household — those who have lived with them for at least 14 days prior to the holiday — in order to avoid further spread of the virus.

“The tragedy that could happen is one of your family members, from coming together in a family gathering, could wind up hospitalized and severely ill and could die. We don’t want to see that happen,” said Dr. Henry Walke, a COVID-19 incident manager at the CDC. “This year we’re asking people to be as safe as possible.”

Officials said that they are making this recommendation a week before Thanksgiving because they are “alarmed” about the staggering rise in new infections.

The CDC added new guidelines specifically for Thanksgiving on their website, with warnings about travel and advice on how to safely spend the holiday.

“As cases continue to increase rapidly across the United States, the safest way to celebrate Thanksgiving is to celebrate at home with the people you live with,” reads the new guidance. “Gatherings with family and friends who do not live with you can increase the chances of getting or spreading COVID-19 or the flu.”

If people are set on gathering for Thanksgiving, the CDC advises wearing a secure mask, staying six feet away from other people, holding the meal outdoors and having each household bring their own utensils, and even their own foods and drinks.

They also suggest alternatives to the traditional gatherings — holding the meal virtually, dropping off foods at households and shopping online instead of heading out for crowded Black Friday sales.

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