Cases of COVID-19 in the US have now surpassed 2 million, according to multiple tracking efforts. The number of deaths from the new coronavirus pandemic stands at 112,000 nationwide.
Both figures are expected to be underestimates, given the difficulties and inconsistencies in identifying and recording all infections and deaths. Yet, with official figures, the US now claims more than 25 percent of all COVID-19 cases worldwide, despite having less than 5 percent of the world’s population.
Some states are seeing a continued decline in new cases, but others are seeing a rise, leading to a high plateau for the US in general. “We identify between 20,000 and 25,000 new cases a day, and about 800 to 1,000 people a day die from this virus,” Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, told NPR.
While increases in testing may explain some of the increases, experts say there are real increases in transmission in many places.
States now seeing significant increases include Florida, Texas, North and South Carolina, California, Oregon, and Kentucky. Utah, New Mexico and Arizona are seeing some of the highest increases.
“If you look at the data and look at the number of tests and the percentage of positive tests, it’s very clear that it’s a real increase in the spread of the community,” Will Humble, executive director of the Arizona Public Health Association, said. to KJZZ in Phoenix. “It’s not an artifact of additional testing.”
While all states have begun easing public health restrictions to some degree, some states are seeing continued declines in cases, including many places in the Northeast and Midwest. Experts speaking to The New York Times attributed the improvements to people enjoying summer outdoor activities — where transmission risk is lower — and continued efforts to maintain social distancing — staying six feet apart, wearing masks, practicing improved hygiene, etc. – even in the absence of state guidance.
Still, experts say the situation will continue to evolve. “I think over the summer the states will change, which states are hot, which states are cool, but my concern is that we don’t really get below a very persistent and quite high infection level.” across the country,” Scott Gottlieb, former FDA commissioner, told CNBC Monday.
And many fear a dreaded “second wave” of infection, where cases and deaths could begin to rise from the elevated levels that now persist. The concern is heightened by a feeling that Americans in general are “giving up” on trying to contain the pandemic, according to a piece in The Atlantic.
Experts from the World Health Organization, meanwhile, are urging everyone to keep fighting. “Looking at the numbers from recent weeks, this pandemic is still evolving. It is still growing in many parts of the world.” Mike Ryan, the executive director of the WHO, said on Wednesday. “This is by no means over.”