ACROSS AMERICA — Iris Meda, a 70-year-old former nurse from Texas, knew it was risky returning to work during a pandemic. It was her calling, though, and two months after her January retirement, Meda went back to the classroom to teach other nurses how to fight the coronavirus.
She did it until coronavirus killed her.
Before Meda died, she spent months teaching nursing basics to students in-person for Collin College in suburban Dallas.
“She felt like if she could gain momentum by teaching some of those basics, we could contain any virus,” her daughter, Selene Meda-Schlamel, told The Washington Post on Monday. “She wanted to do something that would make a difference.”
For months, Meda taught nursing basics to dozens of students in person at the college. In October, a student exposed her to the virus, the school said.
Meda later tested positive. She died Nov. 14.
“Iris was a positive, giving, upbeat person that lit up any room she was in,” said organizers of a GoFundMe page dedicated to helping pay for Meda’s funeral and medical expenses. “Her positivity helped her survive a lot of challenges in her life.”
Meda — who was not only a nurse and a mother but also a wife and a sister — is one of more than 264,000 people in the United States who have lost their lives to COVID-19. On Friday, total cases surpassed 13 million and more than 90,000 people remained hospitalized due to complications from the virus.
Despite months of planning, many U.S. hospital systems have no available beds, and nurses and doctors are in short supply. Meanwhile, coronavirus infection rates among nurses and other front-line workers have doubled the patient load on those left standing.
During a year that’s battered the U.S. economy and businesses, retailers across the country were hopeful the day after Thanksgiving would bring a boost in sales as many struggle to avoid bankruptcy.
While Black Friday typically is the biggest shopping day of the year, 2020 has not been a normal year. And despite the hope, many shoppers opted out of in-store madness this Black Friday.
Despite the lack of people in stores, retail experts are still optimistic. Shoppers are looking for reasons to celebrate this year, but many are turning online. In fact, a trade group expects sales for November and December to increase between 3.6 percent and 5.2 percent over 2019.
“After all they’ve been through, we think there’s going to be a psychological factor that they owe it to themselves and their families to have a better-than-normal holiday,” National Retail Federation Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz told AP. “There are risks to the economy if the virus continues to spread, but as long as consumers remain confident and upbeat, they will spend for the holiday season.”
The United States on Thursday reported more than 127,000 new cases of coronavirus. Over the past week, the country has averaged more than 167,000 new daily cases of the virus.
South Dakota on Friday became the latest state where more than 1 in every 1,000 residents have now died of coronavirus-related causes, according to data tracked by The Washington Post.
A new study by researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention paints an even grimmer picture. In the study, researchers assert that only 1 in 8 coronavirus infections have been reported in the United States.
The study looked at numbers through the end of September, when roughly 7.2 million infections had been reported. The CDC says that number was likely closer to 52.9 million.
Since the pandemic began, people living and working at nursing homes and other long-term care facilities account for more than 101,000 of total deaths, or about 40 percent, a New York Times analysis of federal, state and local data found.
As states continue to add new restrictions amid the surge in cases, the U.S. Supreme Court this week sided with churches and synagogues in New York, ruling 5-4 that the state could not enforce certain restrictions on houses of worship.
The decision contradicts the court’s previous rulings on similar cases that deferred to local officials on pandemic-related restrictions, according to the Post.
In its ruling, the court decided that limiting attendance at houses of worship in orange and red zones was too restrictive.
In sports, Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson on Thursday became the highest-profile player to test positive for the coronavirus. Jackson, the NFL’s reigning Most Valuable Player, is one of several players and staffers on the team to contract the virus this week.
At least 1,388 new coronavirus deaths and 127,563 new cases were reported in the United States on Thanksgiving, according to a Washington Post database. Over the past seven days, the United States has averaged more than 167,274 cases each day.
As of Friday, 45 states and Puerto Rico remained above the positive testing rate recommended by the World Health Organization to safely reopen. To safely reopen, the WHO recommends states remain at 5 percent or lower for at least 14 days.
More than 13 million people in the United States had tested positive for the coronavirus as of Friday afternoon, and more than 264,600 have died, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.
Stay up to date on the latest coronavirus news via The New York Times or Washington Post.
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