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July 29, 2020

America's coronavirus resurgence may be plateauing—at nearly 66,000 new cases per day

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    Trump administration officials recently said data indicates that America's resurgence in new coronavirus cases is leveling out—but public health experts warn there could be more spikes ahead.

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    US new coronavirus cases near 4.4M, deaths top 149K

    As of Wednesday morning, U.S. officials had reported  4,366,900 total cases of the new coronavirus since the country's epidemic first began—up from 4,303,800 cases reported as of Tuesday morning.

    Data from the New York Times shows that Puerto Rico; Washington, D.C.; and 27 states saw their average daily numbers of newly reported coronavirus cases rise over the past 14 days: Alaska, Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia, and Wyoming.

    On Tuesday, New Jersey reported its highest daily increase in new coronavirus cases since June, with the state officials logging more than 565 new cases of virus in a single day. New Jersey had been an early epicenter of America's coronavirus epidemic when it first emerged this spring, but the state then saw several weeks of declines in new cases after closing nonessential businesses and implementing a stay-at-home order and other measures to curb the virus' spread. And while New Jersey experienced several weeks of relatively stable rates of new cases once it began to slowly lift those measures, the number of new cases began to increase as the state moved forward with its reopening plan.

    New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) said the state's latest spike means it's not yet "out of the woods" in terms of coronavirus transmission. According to Politico, new outbreaks of the virus in New Jersey have been linked to large gatherings at bars, beaches, people's homes, and restaurants. Murphy said he would reimpose some aspects of the state's previous stay-at-home order if needed.

    Meanwhile, the Times' data shows that the average daily numbers of newly reported coronavirus cases over the past two weeks remained mostly stable in Guam and 18 states: Alabama, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Montana, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Texas, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

    The U.S. Virgin Islands and five states—Arizona, Iowa, South Carolina, Utah, and Vermont—saw their average daily numbers of newly confirmed cases decrease over the past 14 days, according to the Times' data.

    Data also shows that growth in America's national coronavirus-related death rate has been rising. U.S. officials on Tuesday reported an increase of more than 1,300 deaths tied to the new coronavirus, which was the country's highest daily increase in newly reported coronavirus-related deaths since late May, the Times reports.

    According to the Times' data, Puerto Rico and 23 states saw their average daily numbers of newly reported deaths linked to the coronavirus rise over the past 14 days: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

    On Tuesday, six states—Arkansas, California, Florida, Montana, Oregon, and Texas—each reported record-high single-day increases in their numbers of new deaths linked to the novel coronavirus. Throughout the country, officials as of Wednesday morning reported a total of 149,774 U.S. deaths linked to the new coronavirus—up from 148,450 deaths reported as of Tuesday morning.

    Analyses, Trump admin officials suggest coronavirus resurgence may be plateauing

    Overall, however, some data suggests that America's recent resurgence in new coronavirus cases may have plateaued.

    For example, CNBC on Monday published an analysis of data compiled by Johns Hopkins University that found that increases in new coronavirus cases in Arizona, Florida, and Texas—which emerged as coronavirus infection hot spots in recent weeks—appear to be leveling off. According to the analysis, the seven-day averages of the states' daily numbers of newly reported coronavirus cases were down 19% in Texas, 13% in Arizona, and 8% in Florida as of Sunday when compared with the previous week.

    In addition, the analysis found that average daily growth in newly reported coronavirus cases as a whole in the United States was down on Sunday when compared with the previous week. According to the analysis, America's average daily number of newly reported cases in the week ending July 26 was 65,809, down by 1.6% from the previous week and marking the first time since June 12 that the country's daily growth in new coronavirus cases had fallen.

    Further, CNBC reports that data compiled by The Atlantic's Covid Tracking Project showed hospitalizations for Covid-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, decreased by nearly 14% during the week ending on July 26 when compared with the previous week's seven-day average.

    Some observers said the data suggest the United States may have reached a plateau in its growth of new coronavirus cases. For instance, HHS Secretary Alex Azar on Monday said some hot spots of coronavirus transmission are beginning to see their daily numbers of new cases level off because people are "stepping up to the plate" to curb the virus' spread. "It's due to the fact that people are actually wearing masks. … They're social distancing. They're engaging in good personal hygiene," Azar said during an appearance on Fox News' "Fox and Friends."

    Similarly, HHS Assistant Secretary for Health Brett Giroir, who currently is serving as the Trump administration's coronavirus testing czar, last week said, "We are now seeing the seven-day rolling averages of infections starting to go down." He continued, "When that happens, we would predict that hospitalizations will begin going down in the next week or so. And then mortality going down in the next two to three weeks."

    However, Gioir added, "That does not mean I'm predicting we're over. Nobody's letting up their foot from the gas."

    Meanwhile, President Trump during a White House briefing on Tuesday said "large portions of [the] country" are "[coronavirus]-free."

    Some experts push back

    But some public health experts have pushed back, saying recent data also indicates that America could see new spikes and hot spots emerge.

    For example, Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, during an interview on Tuesday on ABC's "Good Morning America" said although infection rates in Arizona, California, Florida, and Texas appear to be leveling off or declining, he's concerned about Midwestern states seeing spikes in new coronavirus cases similar to those seen in Southern and Western states if they don't take proper precautions to mitigate the virus' spread.

    "What I'm concerned about is ... that some of the other states, the Ohios, the Indianas, the Tennessees, the Kentuckys that are starting to have that very early indication that the percent of cases regarding the number of tests that you have, that the percent is starting to go up," he said. "That's a surefire sign you've got to really be careful and ... if you are trying to open up, please do it in a way that's in accordance with [federal] guidelines."

    And experts argue that, even if America's daily number of newly reported cases stabilizes, at its current rate, the country still would be in the midst of a peak in its coronavirus epidemic, Politico reports. The United States now frequently reports more than 60,000 new coronavirus infections each day, which is about twice as much as the country was reporting during its previous peak in the epidemic in the spring.

    In addition, a federal report obtained by the Times that's dated July 26 lists 21 states as currently in the "red zone" for experiencing severe coronavirus outbreaks, with each of those states reporting more than 100 new coronavirus cases per 100,000 people in the previous week.

    "This is the picture of states that are not doing well at all," said Marta Wosińska, a deputy director for the Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy (Sutton, Politico, 7/28; Leonhardt, New York Times, 7/29; Bernstein/Shumaker, Reuters, 7/28; Rattner, CNBC, 7/27; Guzman, "Changing America," The Hill, 7/28; Doherty, Politico, 7/23; New York Times, 7/29 [1]; New York Times, 7/29 [2]).

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