A leading health expert says US Covid-19 cases will begin to rapidly accelerate in a week as the country topped 60,000 new infections Tuesday — triple what the daily average was back in June, when restrictions had begun to ease.
The prediction comes after several state leaders reimposed some measures to help curb the spread of the virus, fueled by small gatherings increasingly moving indoors with the colder weather, as well as other factors such as college and school reopenings. The national seven-day case average has increased at least 18% since the previous week and is now a staggering 61% higher than what it was five weeks ago. And as multiple experts have warned, things will likely get worse before they get better.
“It’s going to be a difficult fall and winter,” Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration, told CNBC Monday. “I think we’re about two or three weeks behind Europe — so we’re about a week away from starting to enter a period where we’re going to see a rapid acceleration in cases.”
The difference is many European countries were able to suppress their numbers of new cases over the summer, but the US entered the fall season with a relatively high baseline average of new infections — something experts warned wouldn’t help in containing another surge of cases. Dr. Anthony Fauci said earlier this week European Union countries were able to bring their baseline down because of strict and stringent lockdowns, adding the US did not “shut down nearly as much as our colleagues in Italy and Spain.”
Ahead of bleak outlooks of the coming weeks, hospitalizations in the US have also began to rise, with more than 39,000 Covid-19 patients nationwide, according to the COVID Tracking Project.
“We’re seeing hospitalizations go up in 42 states right now, cases are going up in 45 states, and there really is no backstop,” Gottlieb said. “This fall and winter season is when the coronavirus is going to want to spread.”
‘Get ready:’ 70,000 new infections daily
At least 26 US states are reporting more new Covid-19 cases than the previous week, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. And no states are trending in the right direction, according to the data.
By next week or the week after that, the US could be recording up to 70,000 new cases daily, Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, said Tuesday. And the numbers could keep rising after that, he said.
“Look out for your mental health, because the normal response to this is people are going to get sad and upset, and maybe even depressed, so have access to mental health counseling,” Hotez said. “In other words, put those belts and suspenders in and get ready.”
Video: Infectious diseases expert blasts