A Third Coronavirus Surge Has Taken Root in the U.S.

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key data of the day

Credit…Tim Gruber for The New York Times

In Ohio, more people are hospitalized with the coronavirus than at any other time during the pandemic. North Dakota, which is leading the nation in coronavirus cases per capita, reported more than 1,000 cases on Tuesday, the state’s worst daily total yet. And as of Monday, 16 states had added more cases in the prior week than in any other seven-day stretch.

After weeks of spread and warnings in certain areas, a third surge of coronavirus infections has now firmly taken hold across much of the United States.

The latest wave — which is raging most acutely in the Midwest and the West, but is also spreading in various areas around the country — threatens to be the worst of the pandemic yet.

Its arrival comes as cooler weather is forcing people indoors, setting up a grueling winter that will test the discipline of many Americans who have grown weary of wearing masks and turning down invitations to see family and friends. Over the last week, the country has averaged about 59,000 new cases a day, the most since the beginning of August. The daily total could soon surpass 75,687, a record previously set on July 16.

The high case count — which has so far not translated to soaring deaths — in part reflects increased testing. With about one million people tested on many days, the country is getting a far more accurate picture of how widely the virus has spread than it did in the spring.

But the latest developments also reflect a serious new level of the outbreak. Hospitalizations, the most accurate picture of how many people are seriously sick from the virus, are on the rise nationwide, worrying many public health officials. A rise in deaths tends to lag behind a spike in cases. And deaths are creeping up in places: Officials in Wisconsin reported 36 on Tuesday, a single-day record.

Deaths among hospitalized patients have also dropped, to 7.6 percent from 25.6 percent in the spring, according to one study. That may be because doctors have better treatments at hand, and the patients are younger and in better health on average than those in the first wave.

Still, Dr. Michael Osterholm, an infectious diseases expert at the University of Minnesota, recently offered an ominous warning: With infections rising and compliance eroding, he said, “the next six to 12 weeks are going to be the darkest of the entire pandemic.”

Credit…Tamir Kalifa for The New York Times

The pandemic has caused nearly 300,000 deaths in the United States through early October, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a report released Tuesday. The tally includes not only deaths directly caused by the coronavirus but also…

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