With more than newly discovered 60,000 cases of the novel coronavirus in under 24 hours, the United States set a record for most new positives in a single day on Tuesday, raising fresh concerns that the COVID-19 pandemic may go on for much longer than previously anticipated.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and prominent member of the president’s coronavirus task force, noted earlier this week that the U.S. is not experiencing a second wave of the virus, but rather, in many cases, a peak of the first wave, particularly in states where the “curve” was flat or low when places like New York were experiencing major outbreaks.
“We are still knee-deep in the first wave of this. And I would say, this would not be considered a wave. It was a surge or a resurgence of infections superimposed upon a baseline,” Fauci said on a Facebook Live Monday, according to USA Today.
New cases of the virus had been holding steady at around 50,000 per day as the U.S. entered the pandemic’s fourth month — July — with around 3 million Americans affected by the coronavirus. Johns Hopkins, USA Today notes, says just under 130,000 people have died from COVID-19.
Tuesday’s uptick seems to be driven by states like California, Florida, and Texas that had previously experienced only a limited spread of the virus. CNBC reports that those states, including Arizona, and several others across the southwest, account for around half of all new cases.
Experts are, though, still trying to figure out whether the “record” day is, in fact, a mistake, brought on by a lag in reporting time. Last week’s July Fourth holiday had offices empty on Friday and, in some cases, also on Monday.
“The record spike comes after daily new cases fell below 50,000 over the past few days, though some public health officials warned there could be a backlog of reporting due to the July Fourth holiday weekend,” CNBC reported Wednesday. “The U.S. has reported about 51,383 new cases on average over the past seven days, a record high seven-day average, up nearly 24.5% compared with a week ago, according to a CNBC analysis of data collected by Johns Hopkins.”
The uptick can also be attributed, at least in part, to an increase in testing.
“Nationally, the U.S. has ramped up testing from an average of just over 174,000 diagnostic tests per day through April to an average of more than 650,000 tests per day so far in July, CNBC noted. “However, the percent of tests coming back positive has also risen, which epidemiologists say is a sign of a virus that is spreading more rapidly.”
Regardless, it appears the United States is on an upswing. Hospitalizations, though, are up by only 5% across the board, likely because the average age of new coronavirus patients is much lower than it has been. In some states, like Indiana, the average age of COVID-19 patients is hovering around 23, not the mid-50s and 60s as it was in March, April, and May.
Cases in young people do seem to be less severe and require fewer ICU beds.
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