The U.S. is averaging more daily coronavirus cases than at any previous point in the pandemic.
Data from Johns Hopkins University shows the nation’s seven-day average for infections is near 69,000 daily cases. The former highest peak came in July at an average of over 67,000 cases per day.
The development comes as the U.S. has entered the third peak of its outbreak. The weekend saw massive numbers of new cases, with more than 83,000 infections added on both Friday and Saturday.
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The U.S. reports the most infections and fatalities out of any country, with more than 8.6 million infections and over 225,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University’s tracker. Every region is seeing an increase in cases, with the South and the Midwest reporting the majority of new infections, according to data from The COVID Tracking Project.
Experts are concerned that as the country heads deeper into fall and winter, cold weather will push more people indoors, possibly increasing the spread of the virus. The challenge could also be compounded by the flu season.
“We are likely to see a very dense epidemic,” former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb told CNBC on Monday. “I think we are right now at the cusp of what is going to be exponential spread in parts of the country.”
Gottlieb said the U.S. is at a “tipping point” but added that “if we took some aggressive, targeted steps right now we could potentially forestall the worst of it.”
But the Trump administration has a very different message as to the state of the country’s outbreak, with President Donald Trump repeatedly claiming that it is “rounding the corner.”
White House chief of staff Mark Meadows on Sunday said the federal government would focus on developing vaccines and therapeutics rather than controlling the outbreak.
“We are not going to control the pandemic. We are going to control the fact that we get vaccines, therapeutics and other mitigation areas,” Meadows told CNN.
Meanwhile, the virus has infiltrated Vice President Mike Pence’s inner circle, infecting his chief of staff and other top aides, but Pence has decided not to quarantine and is instead continuing on his regular scheduling with Election Day nearing.