Story at a glance
- The U.S. saw it’s second-highest increase in new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday.
- Hospitalizations associated with infections are also rising.
As Americans went to the polls on Election Day, the U.S. simultaneously reported 91,530 new COVID-19 infections on Tuesday, posting the second-highest daily total as winter approaches.
CNBC reports that data from Johns Hopkins University notes that the seven-day average of daily new cases hit record highs in 21 states, bringing the total infection count in the country to 9,405,705.
Almost 234,000 people infected with the coronavirus have died.
A New York Times aggregation of state data paints the same picture, showing a third peak that is quickly outpacing the two COVID-19 outbreaks that occurred in the spring and summer months. The 14-day average for new cases is now increasing by 46 percent, with fatalities also rising by 14 percent nationwide.
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States in the Midwest and West — many key battleground states for the ongoing presidential election — are leading the country in new cases, namely Wisconsin, North and South Dakota, Iowa, Michigan, Illinois and Minnesota.
Overall, roughly 40 states are showcasing new record increases.
Public health experts have long been warning of a dangerous winter, with cases rising as colder temperatures force people indoors in closed spaces with circulated air, an optimal setting for virus spread.
“We’re probably going to see significant spread across the entire United States in a confluent epidemic that we’re much better prepared to deal with, so I don’t think that we’re going to see the excess death that we saw with the first wave of this pandemic when it struck New York,” former director of the Food and Drug Administration Scott Gottlieb told reporters.
Severe illnesses are increasing as well, with hospitalization for COVID-19 infections rising in many states seeing surges in new infections, including Iowa, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Mexico, Ohio, South Dakota, Utah, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
While multiple vaccine candidates are well into advanced stages of clinical testing, officials state that a widely available vaccine won’t be available until closer to mid-2021.
Until then, preventative measures like face masks and social distancing are the best solution.
“If most Americans pulled together to do the right thing and wore a mask in public, this simple, selfless act would save more than 130,000 lives in the next few months alone,” Francis Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health, wrote in a blog post.
Collins referenced a study conducted by researchers at the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluations, University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle that simulated the effects of 95 percent of people in the U.S. wearing face coverings in public.
Currently, the projected death toll is about 510,000 by March. Consistently wearing masks can reduce that number to about 380,000, but not all states require residents to wear face coverings in public.
“The widespread use of face coverings has the potential to protect lives while also minimizing further damage to the economy and American livelihoods,” Collins concludes.
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