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The country reported its most cases in a day since July. Deaths may begin climbing, too, a leading expert says

The US reported at least 69,000 new Covid-19 infections Friday — the most in a single day since July — amid an alarming nationwide rise in cases that experts say marks the start of a fall surge.



a person sitting at a table with a cake: Nursing assistant Monica Brodsky, left, and nurse Taylor Mathisen work at a drive-thru testing site for COVID-19 in the parking lot at UW Health Administrative Office Building in Middleton, Wis., Monday, Oct. 5, 2020. A surge of coronavirus cases in Wisconsin and the Dakotas is forcing a scramble for hospital beds and raising political tensions, as the Upper Midwest and Plains emerge as one of the nation's most troubling hotspots. (Amber Arnold/Wisconsin State Journal via AP)


© AMBER ARNOLD/AP
Nursing assistant Monica Brodsky, left, and nurse Taylor Mathisen work at a drive-thru testing site for COVID-19 in the parking lot at UW Health Administrative Office Building in Middleton, Wis., Monday, Oct. 5, 2020. A surge of coronavirus cases in Wisconsin and the Dakotas is forcing a scramble for hospital beds and raising political tensions, as the Upper Midwest and Plains emerge as one of the nation’s most troubling hotspots. (Amber Arnold/Wisconsin State Journal via AP)

On July 29, the US reported more than 71,300 infections, about two weeks after the country’s peak daily case count of more than 77,000. That summer surge eventually waned, and daily averages dipped to a little more than 34,300 by September 12.

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But now, the country is averaging more than 55,000 new cases daily over the past week — up more than 60% since mid-September’s dip. The case upticks have prompted state leaders to push new measures in hopes of curbing the spread of the virus.

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts announced changes to the state’s health measures, including requiring hospitals to reserve at least 10% of staffed general and ICU beds for Covid-19 patients. New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham this week ordered new mass gathering limitations and a 10 p.m. closing time for establishments serving alcohol. And in Kentucky, Gov. Andy Beshear said this month he instructed authorities to step up mask enforcement.

Hospitalizations are climbing nationwide. And they’ll likely be followed by a rise in daily Covid-19 deaths, says Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health.

“This is a good moment for people to stop and ask themselves, ‘What can I do to try to be sure that we limit the further infections that otherwise seem to be looming in front of us as cold weather is kicking in and people are indoors, and those curves are going upward, in the wrong direction?’ ” Collins said Friday.

Researchers from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation project more than 2,300 Americans could be dying daily by mid-January and a total of more than 389,000 people could die from the virus in the US by February 1.

The country’s daily tallies of Covid-19 deaths have been steady recently — averaging around 700 per day across a week. That’s below the peak of the summer, when the daily average hovered above 1,000 from late July into mid-August.

More than 218,000 people have died from Covid-19 nationwide since the start of the pandemic. Just over 8 million US cases have been reported.

Experts say Americans can help get the virus under control by heeding basic public health guidelines touted by officials for months: avoiding crowded settings, keeping a distance, keeping small gatherings outdoors and wearing a mask.