The total COVID-19 cases in the US has reached 9,199,523, including 230,934 deaths, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University as of 8:24 pm EST on Monday. October was a month of grim records in the COVID-19 pandemic in the US, of the country's seven highest daily tallies of new cases, six were in October. The highest -- 99,321 recorded on October 30 -- was the most recorded in one day for any one nation so far.
As November begins, experts say the US hasn't seen the worst of it. Over the past week, there has been an average of 80,755 cases per day, an increase of 43 percent from the average two weeks earlier. Weekly infection reports reached record levels in more than half the country during October, and there were few hopeful signs in the data. As the New York Times database indicates, new cases are higher and staying high in almost every US states, except Louisiana and Hawaii.
As the coronavirus soars across the country, tracing the path of the pandemic in the US is no longer simply challenging. It has become nearly impossible. Now, there are so many cases, in so many places, that many people are coming to a frightening conclusion: They have no idea where the virus is spreading.
“It’s just kind of everywhere,” said Crystal Watson, a senior scholar at the Center for Health Security at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, who estimated that tracing coronavirus cases becomes difficult once the virus spreads to more than 10 cases per 100,000 people.
The number of US COVID-19 patients in hospitals is also rising. On Saturday, there were 47,374 -- 65.6 percent higher than it was on September 20, when it was at a low following the summer surge. Hospitals could become overwhelmed as the number of coronavirus cases continues to climb, Dr. Christopher Murray, the director of the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, said on Friday.
Dr. Jonathan Reiner, professor of medicine at George Washington University, said there is no sign that the number of daily cases will drop soon. "We won't peak until we change our behaviors. And our behaviors that principally need to change are our lack of masking all over the country," he said. "It's the way we protect our neighbors and our communities. And we need to avoid crowds. We have to socially distance. You can't go to a mass gathering now. We need to lower our viral footprint."
Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration, told CBS' "Face the Nation" on Sunday that several states are at "the beginning of what looks like exponential growth" and that the US is in a "very worrisome" position heading into winter. "I think Thanksgiving is really going to be an inflection point. I think December is probably going to be our toughest month," he said.
Dr. Leana Wen, a former Baltimore health commissioner, echoed those thoughts, saying the US has a narrow window of time before more drastic measures like mandatory lockdowns will have to be considered. "We are seeing COVID-19 hotspots raging all over the country, and right now we have an opportunity to implement targeted measures like universal mask wearing, like making sure that high-risk businesses like bars in certain areas are shut down, like instructing the public that we should be avoiding social gatherings of extended family and friends," she said.