The United States has broken its record for the highest number of new Covid-19 infections in a single day yet again, with more than 121,000 new cases recorded on Thursday.
As the country’s attention has been trained on the presidential election, the US has continued to break daily records for new Covid-19 cases. On Wednesday, the day after the election, the country saw more than 107,000 cases, the first time the US surpassed 100,000 new cases in a single day. Before that, the record was set on 30 October with just over 99,000 new cases.
Along with new cases rising, hospitalizations and deaths have slowly begun to increase. About 53,000 people were hospitalized with Covid-19 on Thursday. The number of Covid fatalities across the country was over 1,000 for the third day in a row, with 1,210 deaths on Thursday.
Altogether, the US has had more than 9.6m cases of Covid-19 and 234,000 deaths since the start of the pandemic – the most of any country.
Unlike previous surges of the virus in the US, this increase is not concentrated in a single region. Initial increases were seen in the American heartland, particularly in the Dakotas and Wisconsin. In recent weeks, there have been surges in Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado and Minnesota. Increases have also been seen on the east coast, in Maine, Connecticut and Rhode Island. Only two states – Tennessee and Alabama – have had drops in cases, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Public health experts have sounded the alarm for weeks over a potential surge in cases as the weather starts to cool in many parts of the country. Now, it is clear that their warnings were prescient.
While Donald Trump was saying that the country is “absolutely rounding the corner” with the virus, the White House’s coronavirus taskforce was striking a completely different note in its reports. “There is a continued increase in cases, hospitalizations and fatalities nationally, spreading southward from the coldest climates as the population moves indoors and cases increase exponentially,” according to a report dated 1 November and obtained by CNN.
In the reports, the taskforce emphasized that people need to “act now” and encouraged public health measures such as wearing masks and limiting gatherings with people outside one’s household.
In an interview with the Washington Post on 30 October, Dr Anthony Fauci, the country’s top infectious disease expert, said that the recent increases were only the start of a winter surge.
“We’re in for a whole lot of hurt. It’s not a good situation,” he said. “All the stars are aligned in the wrong place as you go into fall and winter season, with people congregating at home indoors. You could not possibly be positioned more poorly.”
Fauci emphasized that there would need to be “abrupt changes” in order to curb the spread. But as countries in Europe begin their weeks-long shutdowns, state and local officials in the United States have been reluctant to enact restrictions even amid surges in cases.
North Dakota and South Dakota are the only states that do not have full or partial mask mandates. Tony Evers, Wisconsin’s governor, has made pleas to the state’s residents to stay at home and limit interactions, but has not implemented a mandatory stay-at-home order.
Recent polls have shown the effects of pandemic fatigue – people getting tired of following strict Covid-19 guidelines – even though the virus’s spread is worsening. A Gallup poll from October showed that fewer Americans are avoiding contact with people outside their households and more are no longer working from home.