First, the good news: In 24 states, the number of new coronavirus cases decreased this past week compared to the previous week.
Now, the bad news: In many of those states, testing has also decreased. And the overall number of daily new cases is still way too high as the US faces a trio of major challenges this fall.
“The fall is really not going to look very good,” epidemiologist Dr. Celine Gounder said.
On Sunday, 34,450 new cases were reported nationwide, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. That’s better than the summer peak in late July, when the US had more than 60,000 new cases a day.
But nationwide, testing is down 10% this past week compared to the previous week, according to data from the Covid Tracking Project.
And of the confirmed cases we do know about, 34,450 is still an enormous number, health experts said Monday.
“We never really got the cases down. Remember, we’re talking about 35,000 cases a day. Today, we’re likely to hit over 40,000 cases a day,” said Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota.
“Back in April … we had 22,000 cases a day and thought, ‘My God, it can’t get any worse.’ And what’s happening here is we’re going to see this kind of up-and-down, up-and-down. But each time it goes up, it goes a little higher. Each time it comes down, it doesn’t come down as far.”
By Monday evening, more than 6.5 million people have been infected with coronavirus in the US, and more than 194,000 have died, according to Johns Hopkins data.
Nearly 550,000 children in the US have been diagnosed with Covid-19 since the pandemic began, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association.
The groups found that children represent nearly 10% of all reported cases in the US.
3 big challenges this fall
Epidemiologists say the US must get the virus under control because the US will soon face several challenges simultaneously:
The upcoming flu season: The imminent flu season colliding with the coronavirus pandemic could strain or max out hospital capacity, as hundreds of thousands of Americans get hospitalized with the flu every year.
And having one of the two viruses can make you more vulnerable to getting infected with the other.
“You’re going to have all these patients coming into hospitals and doctors office with symptoms that could be coronavirus, that could be the flu,” Gounder said.
“And we’re going to have to treat all of them like they have coronavirus. So that’s a very dangerous and scary situation to be in.”
Colder weather: If more people gather indoors, the risk of viral spread is higher than with outdoor gatherings, doctors say.