The number of new cases of coronavirus in the United States is rising again after growth slowed in late summer. As the geography of the pandemic now shifts to the Midwest and more rural areas, cases are increasing in most countries, many of which are posting weekly records of new cases.
The charts and maps below offer a snapshot of two earlier peaks of the pandemic, as well as where the number of cases is today. The case curves show new cases reported every day across the country, and the maps show the number of new cases reported in each county in the previous two weeks.
Note: The cases shown on the cards for a given date are those reported in the previous two weeks.
Taken alone, the number of cases is an imperfect measure of the severity of the pandemic, and it is difficult to compare current figures with earlier points in the U.S. outbreak when tests were less common. But other critical measures are also showing a resurgence. And the continuing spread of cases in new areas of the country suggests that the outbreak is far from over.
The rise since mid-September is particularly deep in the Midwest and Mountain West, where hospitals are filling up and rural areas are witnessing shocking outbreaks. The regions are home to almost all metro areas with the worst outbreaks in the country at the moment.
“We start from a much higher plateau than before the summer wave,” said Dr. Rivers. “I’m worried we may see even more cases next peak than in the summer.”
New cases a day
The average number of new cases of coronavirus per day first peaked in mid-April, when New York and its environs were hit hard. New Orleans, southwestern Georgia, and some resort towns in the West have also seen some of the worst outbreaks of spring.
In the summer, the number of new cases per day increased after the April peak. The South and the West were particularly affected.
Cases remain high after the July tide and continue to rise in parts of the south, including Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee. In the northeast, the number of new cases remained extremely high during the summer. But numbers in New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts, though still low, have risen in recent weeks.
Note: The cases shown for a given date are those reported in the previous two weeks.
The current revival is also particularly rural compared to the earlier stages of the outbreak, which affected cities in the northeast and then the Sun Belt.
Of the 100 counties with the worst outbreaks per capita in the past seven days, more than half are home to less than 10,000 people. Almost all have a population of less than 50,000.
There are reasons for optimism, Dr. Rivers said, such as increased testing capacity and better knowledge of effective treatments and mitigation measures. But, she said, several factors keep her worried about current growth. Dr. Rivers pointed to the beginning of the flu season, the continuing politicization of control measures such as mandates and cold temperatures that would force people indoors, where the virus thrives.
“I think we’re in a dangerous place,” Dr. Rivers said.