October was a month of grim records in the Covid-19 pandemic, and as November begins, experts say the US hasn’t seen the worst of it yet.
From Alaska to Maine, at least 31 states across the US reported at least one record-high day of new coronavirus cases in the past month, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. And 15 reported their highest one-day tallies of Covid-19 deaths.
The country’s seven-day average of new daily cases was 78,380 Saturday — a number that has risen 128.2% since a post-summer-surge low on September 12. With any potential vaccine still a ways off from possible distribution, and the colder months threatening to increase spread, experts emphasize more people need to regularly take precautions to stem the rise anytime soon.
“It’s the way we protect our neighbors and our communities. And we need to avoid crowds. We have to socially distance. You can’t go to a mass gathering now. We need to lower our viral footprint,” Dr. Jonathan Reiner, professor of medicine at George Washington University, told CNN on Saturday.
October was unprecedented for several recorded metrics associated with the pandemic.
Of the country’s seven highest daily tallies of new cases, six were in October. The highest — 99,321 recorded on Friday — was the most recorded in one day for any one nation so far.
The number of US Covid-19 patients in hospitals on Saturday, October’s last day, was 47,374 — 65.6% higher than it was on September 20, when it was at a low following the summer surge.
And Reiner said there is no sign that the number of daily cases will drop soon.
“We won’t peak until we change our behaviors. And our behaviors that principally need to change are our lack of masking all over the country,” he said.
The country has recorded more than 9.1 million infections and 230,548 deaths during the pandemic, according to JHU.
A spike in deaths could come, experts say
Hospitals could become overwhelmed as the number of coronavirus cases continues to climb, Dr. Christopher Murray, director of the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), told CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Friday.
In El Paso, Texas, where hospitals are struggling to keep up with the number of Covid-19 patients, officials are preparing to add a third mobile morgue unit in anticipation of a spike in deaths.
“If that doesn’t put our situation into perspective I don’t know what will,” County Judge Ricardo Samaniego wrote on Facebook.
The number of hospitalizations is the best measure of how the nation is faring in the coronavirus pandemic, Murray said.
“They are a leading indicator ahead of deaths,” he said.
Murray and his colleagues at IHME are