Cases of COVID-19 and hospitalisations linked to the novel coronavirus are climbing across the United States, as a third surge of the pandemic grips the worst-affected country in the world.
Nearly 79,000 new infections were reported on Thursday, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University, pushing the nationwide total to more than 8.86 million cases.
More than 500,000 new COVID-19 cases have been recorded in the past week, with 26 states reporting near-record numbers.
Tom Barrett, the mayor of Milwaukee, the largest city in the US state of Wisconsin, told CNN on Thursday the situation there was the “worst that it’s ever been”.
Earlier this week, Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers also urged residents to stay home and follow public health guidelines to prevent the virus from spreading further.
We’ve heard story after story of folks who wish they would’ve taken this seriously and taken precautions sooner—they didn’t think it would happen to them, and then it did. So, please, don’t risk it. Stay home, Wisconsin.
— Governor Tony Evers (@GovEvers) October 27, 2020
“We’ve heard story after story of folks who wish they would’ve taken this seriously and taken precautions sooner – they didn’t think it would happen to them, and then it did. So, please, don’t risk it,” Evers tweeted on Tuesday.
The coronavirus has killed at least 227,000 people in the US so far and left millions of people jobless.
Meanwhile, hospitalisations – a metric not affected by the number of tests conducted – are soaring, reaching 45,045 on Wednesday, the highest since August 14, the COVID Tracking Project reported.
The number of people in hospital has jumped at least 30 percent over the past month.
Thirteen states, mainly in western and Midwestern US states, reported a record number of COVID-19 hospitalisations on Wednesday, according to an analysis by the Reuters news agency.
Our daily update is published. States reported 1 million tests, 79k cases, 45k currently hospitalized. The COVID-19 death toll was 1,025 today. pic.twitter.com/uhQYQrcWH7
— The COVID Tracking Project (@COVID19Tracking) October 28, 2020
With five days to go until the US presidential elections, the pandemic – and the Trump administration’s handling of the virus – has dominated the campaign trail.
President Donald Trump has repeatedly dismissed the threat of the pandemic and downplayed the virus, claiming the country is “rounding the turn” despite a steady increase in cases.
This week, Trump said his opponents and media outlets would stop paying attention to the virus after the vote on November 3, even as the country’s top public health experts predicted a grim winter in the US.
Democratic candidate Joe Biden has taken aim at Trump’s handling of the pandemic, saying in their last debate that “anyone who is responsible for that many deaths should not remain” president.
‘Whole lot of pain’
Still, Trump has defended his decision to reopen the US economy, sometimes against the advice of his own government health experts, while many of his supporters in Michigan and elsewhere protested lockdown and mitigation efforts.
The University of Washington’s health institute last month forecast that the COVID-19 death toll in the US might be more than 400,000 by the end of this year.
The White House coronavirus task force this week warned of a persistent and broad spread of COVID-19 in the western half of the US, urging aggressive mitigation measures to curb infections.
“We are on a very difficult trajectory. We’re going in the wrong direction,” said Dr Anthony Fauci, task force member and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Fauci noted on Wednesday that COVID-19 cases are rising in 47 states and patients are overwhelming hospitals across the country.
“If things do not change, if they continue on the course we’re on, there’s gonna be a whole lot of pain in this country with regard to additional cases and hospitalisations and deaths,” Fauci said in an interview with CNBC on Wednesday night.