Coronavirus cases climb over 100,000 many times this week in US, is this the ‘biggest wave’ experts warned of?
To combat the spike in Covid-19 cases, some places in the US have announced new measures such as curfews and limited size of social gatherings
Public health experts have repeatedly warned that the US could see a massive spike in Covid-19 cases in the fall and winter and the numbers show that they were right. Coronavirus cases surged by over 100,000 multiple times this week in the US. On Wednesday (November 3), a day after the presidential election, the country saw more than 107,000 cases. This was the first time the US surpassed 100,000 new cases in a single day since the Covid-19 pandemic started, moving past a grim threshold even as the wave of infections engulfing the country shows no sign of receding. On Thursday again, over 100,000 cases were reported.
According to an update posted by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), on November 6, 117,988 new cases of Covid-19 and 1,135 new deaths were reported to the agency. A report by CNN suggested that Friday saw the country surpassing 125,000 daily coronavirus infections.
This increase is not concentrated in a single region. Reports indicate that record increases were being witnessed in Illinois, Texas, Nebraska, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Ohio, and Wisconsin. Arkansas, Colorado, Maine, Kentucky, Oregon, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Utah, and West Virginia also saw rises in new infections.
Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) had recently cautioned that the US is in for “a whole lot of hurt.” He predicted that the number of cases daily would eventually reach 100,000 if the pandemic was not brought under control. “It’s not a good situation. All the stars are aligned in the wrong place as you go into the fall and winter season, with people congregating at home indoors. You could not possibly be positioned more poorly,” he explained.
Dr Scott Gottlieb, the former commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), had also said that Americans may see the “biggest wave” of coronavirus infections till a vaccine gets approved or authorized for emergency use. He had emphasized the need for “mitigation steps.”
Hospitals in some areas are feeling the strain of surging caseloads. More than 50,000 people are currently hospitalized with Covid-19 across the country, according to the Covid Tracking Project. “The number of new Covid-19 cases reported by US states and territories surpassed 100,000 Wednesday, an all-time high, and a testament to our nation’s persistent failure to get the virus under control. New cases rose by 20% across the country this week. Meanwhile, the number of people hospitalized with Covid-19 shot up 14%. More than 52,000 people in the US were hospitalized as of yesterday,” according to a November 5 blog.
To cope with the rising numbers of patients, Nebraska’s largest hospitals have started limiting elective surgeries and looked to bring in nurses from other states, suggested NBC News. Hospitals in Iowa and Missouri warned bed capacity may soon be overwhelmed if efforts were not taken to reduce Covid-19 transmission. “The state’s (Iowa’s) seven-day rolling average of positive cases reached 36.4% over the weekend, the third-highest in the nation behind South Dakota and Wyoming, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University,” it said.
What are states doing to reduce transmission?
Some places have announced new measures such as curfews or limited size of social gatherings to tackle the spike. Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo, for example, announced that a stay-at-home advisory would be in effect from 10 pm to 5 am on weekends and it will begin at 10.30 pm on Friday and Saturday.
All restaurants, bars, gyms, recreational facilities, and personal services will have to end by 10 pm on weeknights, and 10.30 pm on Friday and Saturday. The social limit gathering is now 10, while businesses have been instructed to cancel any non-essential work-related travel. The capacity limit for indoor venues such as movie theaters will be restricted to 50%, with a maximum of 125 people. The outdoor venue limit is 66%, with a maximum of 150 people. The measures will come into effect from November 8.
Today, we announced seven new measures as part of our Revised Phase 3. These measures will take effect on Sunday, November 8. pic.twitter.com/nd0N98jY9s— Gina Raimondo (@GovRaimondo) November 5, 2020
Denver Mayor Michael Hancock announced a “Home by 10” order for residents and nonexempt businesses, which takes effect on November 8 and will last 30 days. It restricts nighttime business hours, particularly for bars, clubs, and restaurants, and urges residents to be in their homes by 10 pm.
Oregon Governor Kate Brown also announced new measures pausing social activities to help stop the rapid spread of coronavirus in counties where community transmission is on the rise. These “pause measures” will be in effect for two weeks, from November 11 through November 25, for Malheur, Marion, Multnomah, Jackson, and Umatilla counties. “The pause is being instituted in counties with a case rate above 200 per 100,000 people over a two-week period, or more than 60 cases over a two-week period for counties with less than 30,000 people,” reads a statement.
The steps include urging all businesses to mandate work from home to the greatest extent possible, pausing long-term care facility visits that take place indoors to protect staff and residents, and reducing maximum restaurant capacity to 50 people (including customers and staff) for indoor dining, with a maximum party size of six. Reducing the maximum capacity of other indoor activities to 50 people in places such as gyms, fitness organizations/studios, bowling alleys, ice rinks, indoor sports, pools, and museums, was also part of the new announcements. The governor called for limiting social gatherings at households, or no more than six people if the gathering includes those from outside the household, reducing the frequency of those social gatherings significantly in a two-week period, and keeping the same six people in the social gathering circle.
Five additional counties –– Washington, Baker, Union, Clackamas, and Linn –– are close to the Covid-19 thresholds that may necessitate adding them to the two-week pause. The Oregon Health Authority will “examine their Covid-19 metrics” to determine if those counties qualify.
“It is alarming that recent high case rates are not linked to any specific outbreaks, but rather reflective of sporadic community spread. We are seeing in real-time how this virus can quickly snowball out of control. This pause is a series of measures and recommendations intended to curb human contact — both through reducing the number of people we interact with, and the frequency of those encounters. We must stop this virus from spreading. We must preserve our hospital capacity. And we must save lives,” said Brown.