The White House's coronavirus task force this week warned that most states in America are facing an "unrelenting" surge in new coronavirus cases, as the country on Thursday reported a single-day record of more than 90,000 new cases and the total number of reported cases surged past nine million.
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US new coronavirus cases top 9M
U.S. officials on Thursday reported about 90,446 new cases of the novel coronavirus, breaking the country's previous single-day record of more than 85,000 new cases, which U.S. officials reported on Oct. 23. As of Friday morning, U.S. officials reported a total number of 9,023,800 coronavirus cases since the epidemic began—up from about 8,932,900 cases reported as of Thursday morning.
Larry Chang, an infectious-disease expert at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said he's astonished by how rapidly the country reached more than nine million coronavirus cases.
"I think it's surprising how quickly it happened. I thought we would do a better job as a country getting organized and coming up with evidence-based national plans for mitigating this epidemic. So, while I'm not surprised we reached this number, it happened a lot faster than I thought it would," he said.
According to the New York Times, the United States' average daily number of newly reported coronavirus cases over the past week was 77,825—which is up by 42% when compared with the average from two weeks ago.
As of Friday morning, data from the Times showed that the rates of newly reported coronavirus cases were "staying high" in Guam, Puerto Rico, and 38 states that have had a daily average of at least 15 newly reported cases per 100,000 people over the past week. Those states are Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
According to the Times, 21 states reported more new coronavirus cases in the seven-day period ending on Wednesday than at any other point during the coronavirus epidemic so far. At least 12 states reported record-high daily increases in Covid-19 cases on Thursday: Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, and Oregon, according to Reuters.
Amanda Simanek, an epidemiologist at the Joseph J. Zilber School of Public Health at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, said, "This surge is larger than any other wave or surges that we've seen yet." Simanek said, "This … pattern … may continue to happen if we don't suppress the infection down to levels that are manageable." She added that she's particularly concerned to see coronavirus cases surge as colder temperatures drive more people indoors, where the virus is transmitted more easily.
Meanwhile, Washington, D.C. and nine states that have had comparatively lower case rates were seeing those rates "going up" as of Friday morning, according to the Times. Those states are Arizona, California, Maine, Maryland, New Hampshire, New York, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington.
In the four remaining U.S. states and territories, rates of newly reported coronavirus cases were "staying low" as of Friday morning, according to the Times' analysis.
US coronavirus-related deaths, hospitalizations rise
U.S. officials on Thursday also reported about 1,004 new deaths linked to the novel coronavirus, bringing the total number of reported U.S. deaths linked to the virus since the country's epidemic began to 228,701 as of Friday morning—up from about 227,697 deaths reported as of Thursday morning.
According to USA Today, the number of Covid-19 patients hospitalized has been increasing steadily for more than a month, rising from 28,608 on Sept. 20 to more than 44,000 as of Tuesday. In several states, hospitals have reported that they've reached capacity or they're nearing capacity.
The recent spike in Covid-19 hospitalizations is sparking concerns about hospitals experiencing staffing and other shortages in the coming weeks.
Dani Beebe, an ICU nurse at Intermountain Medical Center in Murray, Utah, said, "My biggest concern is not having the staff for the beds we're opening up. We're already looking at a future reality where every physician we have is caring for Covid patients regardless of their specialty."
White House task force warns of 'unrelenting' spread of coronavirus in parts of US
As the numbers of coronavirus cases, related deaths, and hospitalizations rise, the White House's coronavirus task force is warning that states in the middle and western parts of the country are seeing widespread transmission of the new coronavirus—and they will need to implement aggressive measures to curb the pathogen's spread, according to the task force's weekly state reports viewed by CNN.
"We continue to see unrelenting, broad community spread in the Midwest, Upper Midwest and West. This will require aggressive mitigation to control both the silent, asymptomatic spread and symptomatic spread," the task force wrote in a weekly report.
During an interview with CNBC on Wednesday night, Anthony Fauci, one of the task force's prominent members and the director of the National Institute for Allergies and Infectious Diseases, said, "We are on a very difficult trajectory. We're going in the wrong direction. If things do not change, if they continue on the course we're on, there's gonna be a whole lot of pain in this country with regard to additional cases and hospitalizations, and deaths."
Some states have started to implement new restrictions to help slow the spread of the coronavirus.
For instance, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine (R) announced the launch of "COVID Defense Teams" of community leaders who will focus on measures to curb the virus' spread. "The virus is raging throughout the state, and there is no place to hide," DeWine said during news conference as he urged Ohio residents to wear masks, practice social distancing, and wash their hands.
However, other experts say the federal government should issue a national mask wearing mandate to help stem the spread.
Robert Glatter, an emergency physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, said, "A national mandate from the federal government for universal masking is more likely to achieve the greatest impact to reduce deaths in the next several months" (Smith, New York Times, 10/29; New York Times , 10/30; Farzan/Noack, Washington Post, 10/30; Kelley, "Changing America," The Hill, 10/29; Bacon, USA Today, 10/29; Chiacu/Michalska, Reuters, 10/29; New York Times , 10/30).