Superspreaders Spur Record New U.S. COVID Cases

Ralph Ellis

October 30, 2020

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

The big coronavirus numbers keep piling up ― and so do the superspreader events.

The Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center reported that 88,521 new coronavirus cases were recorded Thursday in the United States ― the most in a single day since the start of the pandemic. Less than a week ago, a daily record was set with 83,000 new cases.

Meanwhile, the United States approaches the 9 million mark in total cases and the 229,000 mark in total deaths, the most in the world.

These grim numbers hit as more superspreader events are reported, driven by political rallies and social occasions like weddings.

CNN tracked the coronavirus rates in 17 counties where President Donald Trump held rallies between Aug. 17 and Sept. 26, and it found 14 counties had increased infection rates a month after the rallies.

CNN said it evaluated the rate of new daily cases per 100,000 residents 4 weeks before the rally, on the rally date, and 4 weeks after the rally. Of the 14 counties, eight had decreasing rates a month before the rally and six had increasing rates.

For example, Trump held a rally Sept. 12 in Minden, NV. CNN said case counts were falling before the rally. Four weeks after the rally, the rate of new cases had risen 225%, CNN said.

Photos and videos at the president's rallies often show crowds of supporters largely without masks, a trend that runs contrary to national attitudes, a recent survey found. The CDC said this week that 89% of U.S. adults in June said they were dutifully wearing masks, compared to 78% in April. Young adults were least likely to regularly wear masks.

The survey also found that, like some of those at the rallies, many still refuse to avoid public places and crowds, two key ways the virus has spread.

"These findings underscore the need to prioritize clear, targeted messaging and behavior modification interventions, especially for younger adults, to encourage uptake and support maintenance of recommended mitigation behaviors proven to slow the spread of COVID-19," CDC researchers wrote.

This has been the problem in Long Island, NY, where the issue is social events, such as an Oct. 17 wedding at a country club. Thirty people tested positive for the coronavirus and 159 people have been told to quarantine, Suffolk County Executive Steven Bellone said, according to CBS News.

"This type of blatant disregard for the well-being of others is not only extremely disappointing, it will not be tolerated," he said during a news conference.

Bellone said 90 people attended the wedding, violating the state rule limiting social events to 50 people. He said he was recommending a $17,000 fine.

A birthday party in nearby Bellport resulted in 26 people testing positive and 132 people being told to quarantine, Bellone said. About 50 people attended the party, so the state rule on crowd size was not broken.

A Sweet 16 party held Sept. 25 on Long Island resulted in 37 people testing positive and 270 people being told to quarantine, CBS News reported. About 80 people attended, and the county government fined the venue $10,000 for breaking state coronavirus regulations.

"For Suffolk County, this was a superspreader event. This is the first time that the health department has taken enforcement action against a business," Bellone said.

The health department learned about the party after more coronavirus cases appeared in the school district, CBS News said.

Sources

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

https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/data/cumulative-cases

CNN.com: "Many counties that hosted Trump rallies had a significant increase in Covid-19 cases."

CBS News: "At least 56 people test positive for COVID-19 after 'superspreader' wedding and birthday party in New York,” "Dozens test positive for COVID-19 after 'superspreader' Sweet 16 party in New York.”

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/covid-19-superspreader-event-long-island-ny-sweet-16-party/

CDC.gov: "COVID-19 Mitigation Behaviors by Age Group ― United States, April-June 2020.”

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