This is not a regional crisis, but instead a crisis that is intensifying almost everywhere in the country. Forty-four states and the District of Columbia have more cases than in mid-September. The virus is spreading to rural communities in the heart, far from the coastal cities killed at the start of the pandemic.
Wisconsin set a record on Thursday when it surpassed 4,000 newly reported cases. Illinois also reported more than 4,000 cases, breaking records set during the state’s first wave in April and May. Ohio set a new peak, as did Indiana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Montana and Colorado. In El Paso, officials ordered new restrictions and blockades amid a frightening surge of coronavirus.
“We know this will get worse before it improves,”
Some hospitals in the Upper Midwest and the Great Plains are overwhelmed with patients and are running out of intensive care beds. On Wednesday, Wisconsin opened a field hospital at the Wisconsin State Fair near Milwaukee and will eventually be able to treat more than 500 patients.
Montana reported a record 301 hospitalized covid-19 patients on Thursday, with 98 percent of hospital beds occupied the previous day in Yellowstone County, home of Billings City and the most densely populated county in the state.
Last week, at least 20 states set record seven-day averages for infections, and a dozen achieved record levels of hospitalizations, according to data from the health department, analyzed by The Washington Post.
After a year-on-year jump in the solar belt, the country saw a drop in cases in August that hit Labor weekend over the weekend – but at a level that experts say is still dangerously high, at around 40,000 new cases a day. The reopening of many schools and colleges did not immediately lead to a big jump in cases, as some experts feared, but the numbers kept slipping up.
The increase in cases and hospitalizations since the end of August has been followed by a more modest increase in covid-19 deaths. This may reflect in part an improvement in patient care by battle-tested healthcare professionals. The widespread use of powerful steroids and other treatments has reduced mortality among seriously ill people.
But epidemiologists have repeatedly warned that most people remain susceptible to the coronavirus and transmission is likely to be facilitated by colder weather. Not only do people spend more time indoors, but the dry indoor environment is also suitable for the spread of respiratory viruses.
On October 3, the national number exceeded 50,000 for the first time since the summer. As more data arrived from health departments on Thursday, it became clear that the 60,000 stages would be reached for the first time since August 7, when infections were widespread in the solar belt. As of late Thursday, the daily total of more than 63,500 cases is the largest since 31 July.
The total number of cases in the United States since the start of the pandemic is likely to exceed 8 million on Friday, according to an analysis by The Post. The official death toll was a staggering 217,000 late Thursday.
“We are inevitably entering a phase where there will have to be restrictions again,” said David Rubin, director of PolicyLab at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
Whether this is a second wave or even, given the summer leap of the solar belt, a third, is a matter of semantics. The message of infectious disease experts is clear and unequivocal: The virus does not magically disappear and everyone must prepare for a challenging winter.
This week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its advice on how people should cope with the upcoming holidays, saying that people at increased risk for severe covid-19 disease – the elderly and those with chronic diseases – “should not to attend festive celebrations in person. “
This unfortunate message reflects the concern among epidemiologists about transmission from households and the tendency for people to drop their caution towards people they know best. CDC Director Robert Redfield said during a conference call with governors this week that Thanksgiving celebrations could trigger high levels of viral transmission, according to a recording obtained by CNN. “What we see as a growing threat right now is actually acquiring an infection through small household gatherings,” Redfield said.
Among the careful approaches will be Anthony S. Fauci, the 79-year-old director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. In an interview with CBS News this week, he said his three children would not fly to Washington on this Thanksgiving for family reunion because his advanced age put him at higher risk. He urged people to consider changing their plans.
“It’s unfortunate because it’s such a sacred part of the American tradition, the family that gathers around Thanksgiving,” Fauzi said. “You may have to bite the bullet and sacrifice this social gathering.”
There is no evidence that the coronavirus becomes less lethal due to mutations. Colder weather, which drives people indoors, can have the opposite effect, Rubin warned: People can be exposed to larger amounts of the virus inside.
Experts will closely monitor the number of deaths to see if the growing number of infections leads, as in the past, to a jump in deaths many weeks later. However, the nation has a rich medical system in which some people and places have much greater access to the best medical care.
Much of the new transmission takes place in rural communities in the heart of a nation with limited hospital capacity. They also tend to have older populations more vulnerable to severe covid-19 scores.
The effects of the coronavirus have been staggering in recent weeks in Republican-leaning counties, according to a new analysis of health data from Harvard University researchers comparing the latest deaths and deaths with district-level voting patterns in the last presidential election.
The survey, which has not been reviewed, shows that the “red” districts with the most propensity for Republicans have had the largest increase in cases in recent times, while the “blue” districts, which are prone to the Democratic Party, have recently are equal.
“The redder it is, the more it rises. The bluer it is, the more it stays flat, ”said Nancy Krieger, an epidemiologist at TH Chan’s Harvard School of Public Health and lead author of the article.
Harvard professors suspect that Republican communities are less likely to follow public health guidelines, including recommendations for wearing masks and social distancing. The clash of the pandemic with politics during the election years had ripple effects that undermined the collective response to this health crisis.
“Transmission suppression is stronger in the blue states than in the red states, and the virus occurs naturally,” said Harvard epidemiologist William Hanaj.
Many of the country’s leading medical experts, including top federal government doctors, have called for adherence to public health guidelines, but the competition competes with statements by President Trump and his closest political allies that have reduced the threat of the coronavirus.
The bright conflict in these reports was heightened this week when a senior administration official said the White House’s strategy to fight the pandemic was backed by the Barrington Grand Declaration, a document published online by three “dissenting scientists” claiming the virus should be allowed to spread at a natural rate among younger, healthier people, while older people and others who are vulnerable are kept isolated.
Geography, demography, and chance could play a role in the recent jump in highly sloping Republican counties. They are often rural and far from the big, pro-democracy cities first affected by the virus. In some of these places, the virus may have originated only recently, carried by travelers from areas with higher transmission.
Ali Moqdad, an epidemiologist at the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, reviewed the report from Harvard and said it was broadly in line with what the institute saw in its pandemic modeling. Moqdad offered a simple explanation for why rural areas could see so much transmission so late in the pandemic.
“When covid-19 came to the United States, it did not immediately appear in rural communities,” he said. “And then the people in those communities felt, ‘It’s not us, it’s the big cities.’ They misled their guards. ”
He added, “It will eventually spread everywhere in the United States … This virus is opportunistic. We are wrong, the virus will win. ”
Rubin, director of PolicyLab, predicts that some major cities, including Chicago and Denver, are also poised to see a jump in cases in the coming weeks. And he warned against linking viral transmission to partisanship.
“There may be some differences between these counties, but let’s not exaggerate them. This is not a binary issue of less security in republican and democratically oriented districts. The truth is that pandemic fatigue and constant vigilance are more universal than this. [Harvard] offers an article, “Rubin said in an email.