The U.S. recorded more than 60,000 new cases of COVID-19 Thursday, marking the first time in more than two months the daily count has passed that number. The nation is expected to reach 8 million total confirmed cases Friday as a new surge has become more apparent in recent weeks.
A Johns Hopkins University tracker reported approximately 63,600 cases Thursday. The last time it crossed 60,000 in one day was Aug. 14 when it reached 64,601.
New cases per day are on the rise in 44 states, with many of the biggest surges in the Midwest and Great Plains, where resistance to masks and other precautions has been running high and the virus has often been seen as just a big-city problem.
Missouri and Iowa recorded single-day records for most people hospitalized for the coronavirus Thursday, according to the Associated Press. Wisconsin, North Carolina and South Dakota hit a new daily high for cases.
For most of mid-August through September, the U.S. daily total stayed under 50,000 per day and often below 40,000, according to Johns Hopkins. But it ramped up this month with at least 50,000 cases in nine of the first 16 days of October.
So far in the new surges, deaths have not increased at the same pace as infections.
For one thing, it can take time for people to get sick and die of the virus. Also, many of the new cases involve young people, who are less likely than older ones to get seriously ill. Patients are benefiting from new drugs and other improvements in treating COVID-19. And nursing homes, which were ravaged by the virus last spring, have gotten better at controlling infections.
But experts fear it is only a matter of time before deaths start rising in step with infections.
“All of this does not bode well,” said Josh Michaud, associate director of global health policy with the Kaiser Family Foundation in Washington. “Rapid increases in cases like we’re seeing now are always followed by increases in hospitalizations and deaths, which is what is likely to occur across much of Europe and the U.S. in the coming weeks and months.”
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the U.S. government’s top infectious-disease expert, said Americans should think hard about whether to hold Thanksgiving gatherings.
“Everyone has this traditional, emotional, warm feeling about the holidays and bringing a group of people, friends and family, together in the house indoors,” he said on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “We really have to be careful this time that each individual family evaluates the risk-benefit of doing that.”