COVID-19 cases spike to highest levels since July

As COVID-19 cases increase, concern grows about what the upcoming winter season might bring

The numbers on the coronavirus pandemic are trending in the wrong direction on the eve of flu season, health experts say. According to USA Today, COVID-19 infections are at their highest rate since July.

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In the spring, new cases were surging at a rate of almost 32,000 cases in a seven-day period, says the outlet. Then in July, they reached an apex of 67,000, declining to 34,000 in September. Now, the cases are ticking up again with more than 373,000 reported just last week, an increase of 46,000 over the previous week.

As reported by theGrio, now that Americans are trying to return to a semblance of normal life, sports leagues and colleges have contended with significant outbreaks, and some regions of the country are also experiencing major spikes. According to USA Today, 14 states set records in new cases in one week and two states set records for their rate of coronavirus deaths.

Dr. Anthony Fauci Testifies Before Senate On Federal Response To Pandemic
WASHINGTON, DC – SEPTEMBER 23: Anthony Fauci, director of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at NIH, testifies at a Senate Health, Education, and Labor and Pensions Committee on Capitol Hill, on September 23, 2020 in Washington, DC. Dr. Fauci addressed the testing of vaccines and if they will be ready by the end of the year or early 2021. (Photo by Graeme Jennings- Pool/Getty Images)

“It will just keep burning human wood out there wherever it can find it. If you don’t put it out, those embers lie there, and if you remove your suppression activities, it comes right back,” Dr. Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota told USA Today, likening the pandemic to a wildfire.

Osterholm was among many leading epidemiologists who anticipated the current pandemic, including in a prescient Oprah Show appearance in 2006. “That’s what Europe is seeing right now,” he said. “If we let our foot off the brake completely, you’re going to see widespread transmission everywhere.”

If numbers continue to increase, health expert models say that cases will peak in December with deaths hitting their peak in January. According to the World Health Organization, the United States, followed by India, continues to lead the world in coronavirus cases. By comparison, the US, at 400 million, is just 4% of the global population while India represents 17% of the world’s population and is the second-most populous country in the world with 1.3 billion-plus people.

More than 8 million people have contracted the virus and 218,000 have died. According to the New York Times coronavirus tracker, the Midwest and the rural West that escaped the early ‘wave’ of the coronavirus are now being hard-hit with increasing numbers of cases.

The Times says that their data has shown that the outbreaks have spread most rapidly in places where people spend a lot of time together in close quarters including schools, churches, meat processing plants, and nursing homes. The upcoming flu season may make the impact of the coronavirus even worse as more people head inside if they don’t adhere to COVID-19 mitigation guidelines.

Protest Held In Brooklyn Against Newly Issued Lockdowns
A COVID-19 testing site stands in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Borough Park on October 07, 2020 in New York City. Borough Park is one of numerous Brooklyn neighborhoods that are witnessing a rising number of COVID-19 cases as New York City continues to trend down to around a one percent overall infection rate. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has announced plans to close nonessential businesses and schools in nine neighborhoods where positive COVID-19 rates have been higher than 3 percent. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Those protocols include social distancing, limiting gatherings, hand-washing, and mask-wearing, and limiting personal ‘quarantine pods to a few selected people.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the White House advisor on infectious disease for six presidents and an expert in infectious disease for 50 years, says that despite the spikes, things would have to be very dire before he would advocate another lockdown.

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“They’d have to get really, really bad,” Fauci said in an upcoming 60 Minutes interview, according to CBS News. “First of all, the country is fatigued with restrictions. So we want to use public health measures, not to get in the way of opening the economy, but to being a safe gateway to opening the economy. So instead of having an opposition: open up the economy [to] get jobs back, or shut down. No. Put ‘shut down,’ away and say, ‘We’re going to use public health measures to help us safely get to where we want to go.” 

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