MIAMI (CBSMiami) – After nearly 8 months into the pandemic, COVID-19 has claimed over 1.1 million lives worldwide. More than 223,000 of them in the U.S.

“We are at a critical juncture in this pandemic, particularly in the Northern hemisphere,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, World Health Organization Director-General.

Thursday, more than 71,000 new infections were reported and it was the fourth-highest total since the pandemic began.

It has even been spreading in areas with existing rules for wearing masks and social-distancing.

Some experts say a crucial part of the puzzle is missing.

“Testing for COVID-19 is an absolutely essential component of getting through this pandemic, understanding where the virus is, and taking action to suppress the virus,” said Heather Pierce, a part of the Association of American Medical Colleges.

And amid the virus surging yet again in this country.

This week, the Florida Health Department of Orange County said social gatherings- like children’s birthday parties should be limited.

“I want to discourage parents from throwing birthday parties for kids,” said Dr. Raul Pino, health director of the Florida Health Department.

This announcement coming after 30 attendees who went to a recent Sweet 16 party in an Orlando area came down with the virus.

Last month, Olympia High School in Orange County closed for two weeks after children had contracted the virus at a birthday party.

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So, is it safe to send your child to a birthday party?

Dr. Sarah Legorburu, a pediatrician in Coral Gables believes otherwise.

“Obviously no because we all know it is not safe to gather in large groups. Usually, children and adolescents when they are in large groups take their mask off, and therefore it is not a good idea.”

Dr. Legorburu says she has seen plenty of children with the virus throughout the pandemic.

“We have had cases of 10 months old- 18 months old and they do well with the virus. They do not have usually the complications adults have.”

She says while the symptoms are less severe, they still can be life-threatening.

And that a child exposed could transmit the virus to others attending the party.

“We all know that COVID is more transmitted in large groups of people where they are more in close contact with each other, therefore there is no need to go to large gatherings.”

Meantime, the federal government appears to be focusing its efforts on developing COVID vaccines and treatments.

On Thursday, the FDA for the first time officially approved a COVID-19 drug.

The anti-viral remedy was among the medications administered to President Donald Trump when he fell ill earlier this month.

And AstraZeneca will resume working on an experimental COVID-19 vaccine.

The drugmaker had paused back in September after a volunteer had developed a serious health condition.

But the company now got the green light to restarting working on a possible vaccine after U.S. Food and Drug Administration reviewed their safety precautions.

Jessica Vallejo

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