On Friday, more than 195,500 new infections were reported – a number that many weeks ago were considered unheard of. The highest number of single-day cases during the country’s summer rise was slightly more than 77,100 in July.
The spread is ‘faster’ and ‘wider’ than ever
Despite the alarming number, several experts predicted this week that things are likely to get worse before they get better.
“This is faster. It’s wider. And what worries me, it may be longer,” she said.
Louisiana’s health department announced that about 90% of the newly reported cases were spread in the community, while 10% of them were in ward environments. Colorado officials said a new model report estimates that one in every 49 residents in the state is infected with Covid-19 – by far the highest incidence since the virus arrived there. In Washington state, Prime Minister Jay Inslee said “the state is on fire,” with the virus “furious” across its community.
These announcements come before Thanksgiving week, when health officials fear that many Americans choose to visit family and friends and further promote the spread of the virus – many times without knowing it.
“The CDC and others estimate that more than 50% of all infections are transmitted from asymptomatic people,” the agency said on its website.
“This means that at least half of new infections come from people who are probably unaware that they are contagious to others.”
What it means for the country
The rising numbers have brought some hospital systems to their knees and encouraged state leaders to intervene to help slow the spread.
At least 24 hospital executives warned the American Hospital Association that they were experiencing staff shortages, said Nancy Foster, the association’s vice president of quality and patient safety policy. These concerns have been raised in states including Texas, Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota and North and South Dakota, all of which have recently seen infections climb, she added.
And those shortcomings are difficult to address when pulling from a workforce of health care professionals who “rightly experience a significant emotional and physical toll due to the impact of the pandemic,” Foster said in a statement to CNN.
And in rural areas, the land is often larger.
Of about 2,000 hospitals considered rural, about 1,700 have 50 beds or fewer, and about 1,300 of them have 25 beds or fewer, according to Tom Morris, associate administrator of rural health policy at the Federal Government Health Resources and Services Administration.
“We are not talking about large facilities. We are not talking about much ICU capacity,” Morris said during the National Institutes of Health’s rural health seminar. “At many of these hospitals, they are able to offer an ICU of one of two beds.”
In response to the crisis, several governors this week announced new measures to combat the growing infections and alleviate strained hospital systems.
There is also good news
These include wearing a mask, social distance, avoiding crowds and washing hands regularly. The University of Washington Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, expected this week, said about 65,000 lives could be saved by March 1 if 95% of Americans wore masks.
The CDC and the Kansas Department of Health and the Environment looked at trends in the case the month before the mandate and for the month after the mandate and found that in the 24 counties that required people to wear masks in public, there was a net drop of 6% in cases . Meanwhile, the disease in counties without a mandate continued to rise with a net increase in cases of approx. 100%.
And soon there could be more reinforcements in the fight against Covid-19.
While the application for EUA is “encouraging”, the Infectious Diseases Society of America stressed on Friday that a transparent review of Pfizer’s data is still needed.
And if the vaccine gets the green light, “clinical trials and data collection should continue,” said Dr. Barbara Alexander, President of IDSA, in the statement.
“Measures that include the use of masks, frequent hand washing, maintaining physical distance and limiting the size of gatherings will remain crucial,” the statement said. “Finally, new federal funding must be provided for widespread, equitable and equitable vaccine distribution in addition to campaigns to build vaccine trust.”
CNN’s Michael Nedelman, Andy Rose, Jen Christensen, Jacqueline Howard, Maggie Fox and Hollie Silverman contributed to this report.