States, U.S. Set New Records for COVID Cases

Ralph Ellis and Carolyn Crist

October 26, 2020

Editor's note: Find the latest COVID-19 news and guidance in Medscape's Coronavirus Resource Center.

The coronavirus pandemic continues to pound the United States as record number of cases are reported from around the country.

The 7-day average of new cases in the U.S. topped 68,000 on Sunday. That's more than 1,000 cases higher than the previous record reported July 22.

Friday and Saturday set records for single-day cases with more than 83,000 reported over the 48-hour period, according to the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center.

Finally, six states ― Alaska, Colorado, Illinois, New Mexico, Ohio and Oklahoma ― announced their highest numbers on Saturday, both in major cities and rural areas. The counties that include Anchorage, Chicago, El Paso, Minneapolis and Oklahoma City set records Saturday as well.

One epidemiologist predicts case counts will keep going up.

"We easily will hit six-figure numbers in terms of the number of cases," Michael Osterholm, PhD, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, told CNN. "And the deaths are going to go up precipitously in the next 3 to 4 weeks, following usually new cases by about 2 to 3 weeks."

Since the pandemic began, almost 8.63 million coronavirus cases have been reported in the United States, with nearly 225,000 coronavirus-related deaths, Johns Hopkins says.

"This is exploding all over the country," Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear told The New York Times. The state is among 17 that reported record numbers of cases during the past week.

Chicago placed new restrictions on bars and non-essential businesses on Friday, enforcing a 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew. New Mexico also started new restrictions on Friday, including "hotspot" businesses such as bars and restaurants. Retail shops, grocery stores and locations that serve alcohol are required to close by 10 p.m.

"Over the next week, two weeks, three weeks, please be extremely conservative in deciding how much time to spend outside of the home," New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said in a statement about the new restrictions.

"The visit to friends can wait — it's not worth your life, or theirs," she said. "The visit to family can wait — it's not worth your life, or theirs."

The rising numbers are not statistical blips.

The daily average for new coronavirus cases measured across 7 days has been rising since mid-September. It's now 63,268.

While expanded testing could explain some of the increase, the testing positivity rate is also going up. Johns Hopkins says the 7-day average for positive tests is 5.8% ― up from 4.5% at the first of the month.

Daily deaths dropped earlier this year – but are now picking up.

The highest number of daily deaths was 2,752 in May, according to the COVID Tracking Project.

The death count was 916 on Friday.

But the 7-day average for daily deaths has been trending upward the last few weeks and is now 794, the COVID Tracking Project says.

Health experts have predicted a surge would occur as fall and winter hit the United States and more people stay inside. Students returning to campus and states lifting restrictions are also thought to have fueled the increases in cases.

The United States has the most cases and deaths in the world but is hardly alone is grappling with the pandemic.

Across the globe, more than 42.2 million cases have been reported, and more than 1.14 million people have died. Many European nations are experiencing second surges and putting restrictions on crowds and businesses back in place.

"We are at a critical juncture in this pandemic, particularly in the northern hemisphere," World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a news conference Friday, according to The Wall Street Journal. "The next few months are going to be very tough and some countries are on a dangerous track."

Sources

CNN.com: "US hits highest 7-day average of coronavirus cases since the pandemic began," "Daily Covid-19 cases will hit six digits soon, expert warns, as US reports a one-day high of more than 83,000 infections."

The Wall Street Journal: "New U.S. Covid-19 Cases Top 80,000 to Reach a Single-Day Record."

The COVID Tracking Project: "US All Key Metrics."

John Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center: "Cumulative Cases By Days Since 50th Confirmed Case."

The New York Times: "4 Pence Aides Test Positive for the Coronavirus."

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