November 6, 2020

'A runaway train': The coronavirus is surging in nearly every state

Daily Briefing

    The United States on Thursday reported a record number of new coronavirus cases for the second day in a row, at more than 121,000—and as cases rise in nearly every state, so too are the numbers of deaths and hospitalizations related to the virus.

    4 actions to take before the next Covid-19 surge (and resources to help)

    America's surging epidemic

    On Thursday, U.S. officials reported about 121,504 new cases of the novel coronavirus, according to data compiled by the New York Times, setting a global record for the highest number of coronavirus cases reported in a single day since the pandemic began. As of Friday morning, U.S. officials had reported a total of about 9,698,100 cases since America's coronavirus epidemic began, up from about 9,576,500 cases reported as of Thursday morning.

    According to the Times, the United States' average daily number of newly reported coronavirus cases over the past week was 96,275—which is up by 54% 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 Puerto Rico and 41 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, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, 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, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

    At least three states—Illinois, Iowa, and Oklahoma—reported record-high single-day increases in their numbers of coronavirus cases on Thursday, the Washington Post reports. According to a USA Today analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University, 27 states have reported more new coronavirus cases in the past week than they had during any other seven-day period since America's coronavirus epidemic began.

    Meanwhile, the Times' data shows that, as of Friday morning, the daily average of newly reported cases over the past seven days was "going down" in Guam, which had been seeing comparatively higher rates of coronavirus transmission.

    The U.S. Virgin Islands; Washington, D.C.; and seven states that have had comparatively low case rates were seeing those rates "going up" as of Friday morning, according to the Times. Those states are California, Maine, New Hampshire, New York, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington.

    In Hawaii and Louisiana, rates of newly reported coronavirus cases were "staying low" as of Friday morning, according to the Times' analysis.

    The United States on Thursday also reported about 1,108 new deaths tied to the coronavirus. As of Friday morning, U.S. officials had reported a total of about 235,331 U.S. deaths linked to the virus since the country's epidemic began, up from about 234,223 deaths reported as of Thursday morning.

    Hospitalizations for Covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, also are rising, Reuters reports. As of Thursday, the number of Americans hospitalized for Covid-19 had increased to more than 52,500—marking the eleventh day in a row that number increased and nearing the record number of Covid-19 hospitalizations that the United States set back in July.

    Why coronavirus cases, deaths, and hospitalizations are surging

    Public health experts and epidemiologists say several factors are driving the surge in new coronavirus cases and related deaths and hospitalizations in America, including people growing weary of measures intended to curb the virus's spread and an increase in Americans attending social gatherings.

    James Lawler, an infectious-diseases specialist at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, said, "In many areas of the country, this [epidemic] is a runaway train. We are doubling [Covid-19] hospitalizations every two to three weeks in many parts of the Midwest. Think about what that means in a month to six weeks. So, we better find the brakes soon."

    Many public health experts have said an aggressive national strategy is needed to help contain the coronavirus's spread, particularly as Americans become fatigued with using measures to combat the virus's spread.

    Tom Frieden, who served as CDC director under former President Barack Obama's administration, said, "If we look around the world, the places that have struggled most in controlling the virus are those with the least social cohesion. Fighting the virus requires the notion that we're all in this together."

    States and local officials implement new measures to contain the coronavirus

    Across the United States, some state and local officials are renewing their calls for residents to follow measures intended to curb the coronavirus's spread—and they're implementing new restrictions aimed at containing the virus.

    For instance, in Iowa—where the number of newly reported coronavirus cases has surged by 118% over the past two weeks—Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) on Thursday said the state has reached a critical juncture in its fight against the virus, and she asked state residents to take precautions to prevent the virus's spread.

    In Ohio, Gov. Mike DeWine (R) also called on state residents to follow mitigation measures, warning that the coronavirus is "coming after all of us."

    And in at least two states—Maine and Massachusetts—governors this week issued stricter mask mandates in response to reported surges in new coronavirus cases.

    On Thursday, Maine Gov. Janet Mills (D) issued an order that requires state residents to wear face masks in public places—including restaurants, grocery stores, houses of worship, playgrounds, sidewalks, and parking lots—regardless of whether they're able to stay at least six feet away from others in those places.

    Earlier in the week, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) issued a similar order that requires state residents to "wear face coverings in all public places, even where they are able to maintain six feet of distance from others," regardless of whether they are "indoors or outdoors."

    In addition, under the new order, Massachusetts on Friday will begin implementing curfews for some nonessential businesses and limiting indoor and outdoor gatherings. The order also discourages residents from gathering with "anybody outside of [their] household."

    Further, the order advises residents to stay at home between the hours of 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., and it notes that residents should "only leave home to go to work or school, or for essential needs" (Bosman et al., New York Times, 11/5; Bernstein et al., Washington Post, 11/5; Owens, "Vitals," Axios, 11/6; Hellmann, The Hill, 11/5; Shumaker/Maan, Reuters, 11/5; Flores/Miller, USA Today, 11/6; Maxouris, CNN, 11/6; New York Times, 11/6; Pietsch, New York Times, 11/2).

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