“We’ve rolled back essentially two months’ worth of progress with what we’re seeing in number of cases … in the United States,” Dr. Ali Khan, dean of the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s College of Public Health, told CNN on Thursday.
The reported count is picking up speed: The national seven-day average of new daily cases was 67,429 on Wednesday, a record.
It took the country nearly 100 days to count its first 1 million cases, from January 21 to April 28. It took only 15 days to rise from 3 million on July 8 to 3.99 million, according to JHU figures.
But physicians are sounding alarms about rising hospitalizations nationwide, and especially in the nation’s hot spots like parts of Florida.
More than 50 hospitals there have reached capacity in their intensive care units, and only 15% of the state’s ICU beds are available, the Agency for Health Care Administration said.
“Any spike in cases or increase in hospitalizations is going to put our ER system and hospital systems in peril,” Dr. Damian Caraballo, an emergency room physician in Tampa, told CNN.
What comes next is unclear: With now at least 41 states requiring face coverings, some have said strict measures like limiting gatherings and enforcing social distancing and masks can be as impactful as another lockdown. But others aren’t as hopeful.
“Masks will help, but I think we need a lot more than masks to contain this epidemic that’s running through our country like a freight train,” William Haseltine, the chair and president of global health think tank ACCESS Health International, said.
“Until we see major changes of behavior and until we see the public health services here stepping forward with many more resources, we aren’t sure of containing this.”
Birx warns of concerning increases in 12 cities
“There are cities that are lagging behind, and we have new increases in Miami, New Orleans, Las Vegas, San Jose, St. Louis, Indianapolis, Minneapolis, Cleveland, Nashville, Pittsburgh, Columbus and Baltimore, so we’re tracking this very closely,” she said Wednesday, according to audio obtained by journalism nonprofit Center for Public Integrity.
“We’re working with the state officials to make sure we’re responding together, but when you first see that increased test positivity, that is when to start the mitigation efforts,” she said in the call.