(Updates with the latest data)
By Maria Caspani and Kate Kelland
NEW YORK, Oct. 23 (Reuters) – The U.S. death toll from COVID-19 could exceed $ 500,000 in February unless nearly all Americans wear face masks, researchers said Friday as 14 states set new records for a one-day rise in infections.
The latest estimate from the widely cited University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation reflects fears that cold winter weather will drive Americans indoors, where the virus is more likely to spread.
Nationwide, 76,195 new cases were reported Thursday, according to a Reuters analysis, fearing only the record high of one day of 77,299 reported on July 1
“We are heading into a very strong fall / winter wave,” said IHME Director Chris Murray, who co-led the research.
The number of possible deaths could drop by 130,000 if 95% of Americans would cover their faces, the IHME said, reiterating a recommendation from Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
U.S. Health Secretary Alex Azar attributed the increase in cases to the behavior of nationwide individuals, saying household collections have become an “important vector for the spread of disease.”
Asked about a claim by President Donald Trump during Thursday night’s presidential debate that the United States is “rounding off” the pandemic, Azar told CNN that Trump was trying to give hope to Americans waiting for a vaccine.
Pennsylvania, a swing state that is expected to play a crucial role in the November 3 presidential election, reported its largest single-day rise in cases since the pandemic began. “Daily increases are now comparable to what we saw in April 2020,” the Pennsylvania Department of Health said in a statement issued Friday.
Also reports of record rises in one day were the states of Alaska, Arkansas, Illinois, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
On Thursday, there were 916 reported deaths in the United States, a day after the country registered over 1,200 new deaths for the first time since August.
Also on Thursday, the number of COVID-19 patients in U.S. hospitals rose to a two-month high. There are now more than 41,000 hospitalized coronavirus patients across the country, a 34% increase from October 1, according to a Reuters analysis.
North Dakota, with 887 new cases both Thursday and Friday, remains the hardest hit state, based on new cases per capita. Per capita, followed by South Dakota, Montana and Wisconsin, according to a Reuters report.
Eight states reported a record number of COVID-19 patients at the hospital Friday: Alaska, Kentucky, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, West Virginia and Wyoming.
In Tennessee, hospitals in Nashville said they have seen a 40% increase in coronavirus patients admitted.
Dr. Jeff Pothof, an emergency physician at the University of Wisconsin Health in Madison, expressed concern about non-compliance with state health measures in the state, with some groups challenging Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ COVID-19 restrictions in court.
“If we do not get it and we have such a huge prevalence of COVID-19 in our community, I can see no good way out of this,” Pothof said. “The picture is not rosy.”
Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot announced a curfew for non-essential businesses beginning at 6 p.m. 22 Friday. She warned residents to avoid social gatherings with more than six people and end all gatherings at. 22.00
Nearly 2,500 people were hospitalized in Illinois, the state’s top public health official, Dr. Ngozi Ezike, at a press conference.
The Northeast remains one region of the county without a significant increase in cases, but infections are trending higher. Boston public schools switched to online-only learning this week.
(Reporting by Maria Caspani and Caroline Humer in New York, Kate Kelland in London, Lisa Shumaker in Chicago, by Anurag Maan in Bengaluru, Doina Chiacu in Washington. DC and Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles Editing by Daniel Wallis, Bill Tarrant and Sonya Hepinstall )
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