These hints of an increasing number of cases come as the country grapples with an already large wave of infections that started in the Upper Midwest and has spread to all corners of the map as the summer was looking to fall and the weather was getting colder.
The United States has recorded an average of nearly 200,000 new confirmed cases per day over the past week, according to The Covid monitoring project, led by a group of independent researchers. More than 2,200 people per day died on average during this period. The number of patients treated in hospitals increased by 102,000, the highest levels of the pandemic.
The country still lacks a national screening strategy which public health experts say is critical to bringing the pandemic under control. President TrumpDonald John Trump Trump personally asked the Speaker of the House of Representatives of the Pa. GOP to help him change election results: Warren report signals concerns about bipartisan coronavirus framework Pompeo spent on K in public funds for State Department dinners PLUSRemarks by the virus about the virus have become scarce, even as it continues to host in-person events where attendees are mostly maskless. The White House hosted a vaccine summit on Tuesday, although representatives from the two companies that produced the first vaccines were not in attendance.
There are encouraging signs that the third wave is on the decline in parts of the Midwest. The number of new confirmed cases has declined for two straight weeks in 10 states, including hard-hit Wisconsin, Iowa, Michigan and New Mexico.
But new data shows other states are seeing substantial increases. In Alabama, where authorities reported about 14,000 new cases per week in mid-November and late November, the number of cases rose to more than 22,000 in the first week of December. The number of cases in Georgia rose in early December by about 50% from its November figures. Cases in Florida climbed to 65,000 last week, a substantial increase from its averages last month.
“At this point, we might just pick up the start of the Thanksgiving wave, but we’ll definitely see it the following week,” said Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Prevention at the University. of Minnesota. “We are launching this wave of cases over the holiday season in a way that is really dangerous.”
Cases have increased over the past week in 38 states and the District of Columbia. In the summer wave, the virus spread fastest in Arizona, where, at its peak, 380 out of 100,000 people were infected each week; now, 35 states have higher per capita infection rates than that.
Several states have already opened field hospitals to deal with the new surge. In California, Los Angeles County and the Bay Area are reimposing tough lockdowns in an attempt to contain the spread. In Wyoming, Governor Mark Gordon (right) issued his first statewide mask term.
Another worrying sign, the percentage of patients diagnosed with COVID-19 who are admitted to hospitals is declining. This suggests that some medical facilities, concerned about space and manpower, are sending home people who could have been admitted earlier in the year, compromising their ability to watch a very ill person and intervene immediately if necessary.
It is hoped that the highly effective vaccines created by Pfizer and German pharmaceutical company BioNTech and Moderna will gain approval from federal regulators in the days to come, but distribution issues mean it will still be months before the majority of Americans have access to it.
Until then, epidemiologists and public health experts say they still fear the number of cases will continue to rise, especially if Americans treat the winter holiday season as casually as they do. made for Thanksgiving, when millions of people got on planes or drove to be with friends and family. outside of their immediate home.
“The United States is kind of going to get confused until there’s a vaccine,” said Amesh Adalja, senior researcher at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. “It’s increasingly unlikely that we will take control of it until we have a vaccine.”
In this dangerous interregnum between vaccine approval and widespread deployment, millions of Americans are at risk of infection and thousands will die from it. Projections According to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington School of Medicine, an additional 265,000 people will die in the United States by April 1.
“The massive scale-up of immunization in 2021 means that we have the path to return to normal life, but there are still a few difficult months ahead,” Christopher Murray, director of IHME, said in a statement.
And these estimates only cover deaths from COVID-19. Health experts are equally concerned about deaths indirectly linked to the pandemic. If hospitals are overrun with patients with coronavirus, those who need immediate care for other health attacks – heart attacks, strokes or injuries – may find that care is not as available as it could be. be under normal circumstances.
“We are now concerned about the capacity of the hospital in December,” said Adalja. “It’s not just direct deaths.”
There is already evidence that the number of drug overdoses has increased during the pandemic. The number of cancer screenings has dropped dramatically, raising fears that early-stage cancers will be detected until they become much more deadly.
The pandemic fatigue that has gripped a nation exhausted by months of lockdowns, social distancing and economic suffering is a thorny issue for public health officials who need Americans to hang on now as an end is in sight. Some say the messages politicians and public health officials send must be harsher than they have been.
“I wish everyone could spend 30 minutes in the corner of an intensive care unit. They would have a very different meaning from reality, ”Osterholm said. “When people start dying in emergency rooms because they can’t have beds, maybe that’s when Americans will have a different sense of reality.