In early September, the U.S. reported its lowest numbers at around 30,000-35,000 new cases per day. Now the numbers are back up around 45,000-50,000 new daily cases.
That increase will likely continue, Pater Hotez, MD, dean of the Baylor College of Medicine’s National School of Tropical Medicine, told CNN.
“This is the fall/winter surge that everyone was worried about. And now it’s happening,” he said. “And it’s happening especially in the northern Midwest, and the Northern states are getting hit very hard — Wisconsin, Montana, the Dakotas. But it’s going to be nationally soon enough.”
During the past week, 33 states reported more coronavirus cases than the previous week, and 10 states have reported record-high hospitalizations since Friday, the news outlet reported. In Denver, the latest case counts are as high as they were back in May. In Wisconsin, public health officials reported a record-high of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths last week.
“This winter — this November, December, January, February — could be the worst time in our epidemic,” Hotez said. “Get ready to hunker down.”
More children are being diagnosed with COVID-19 as well. Between Sept. 24 to Oct. 8, 77,000 new cases were reported in children, marking a 13% increase during the two-week period, according to a new report released Monday from the American Academy of Pediatrics.
If cases continue to increase, the U.S. faces “a whole lot of trouble,” Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNBC on Monday.
“That’s a bad place to be when you’re going into the cooler weather of the fall and the colder weather of the winter,” he said. “We’re in a bad place now. We’ve got to turn this around.”
The positivity rate — or the percentage of COVID-19 tests that return positive results — is increasing in the Midwest and Northwest, Fauci added, which is an early indicator of growing outbreaks. The Dakotas, Montana and Wisconsin are reporting the highest number of new cases per capita in the U.S. right now, CNBC reported.
Fauci encouraged ongoing health measures to “turn around” the spike in cases: wearing face masks, avoiding crowds, following social distancing guidelines, washing hands often and doing activities outdoors.
“I have a great deal of faith in the American people and their ability to realize what we’re facing is a significant problem,” Fauci said. “We’re talking about using public health measures as a vehicle or a gateway to keeping the country open, to keeping the economy going. It is not an obstacle.”