Oct. 28 (UPI) — The United States’ top infectious diseases expert says the COVID-19 pandemic isn’t even close to being finished, as another 73,000 cases were added nationwide — bringing the tally for the past week well over a half-million.
There were about 73,200 new cases on Tuesday, according to updated data from Johns Hopkins University. Over the past seven days, there have been about 503,000 new cases.
There were nearly 1,000 coronavirus deaths Tuesday, the most in a week, the data showed.
“Unfortunately, we’re right now in the middle of what’s going to be referred to … as the mother of all outbreaks over the last hundred years,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the longtime director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said during a discussion at the Yale Institute for Global Health.
“And we’re not even close to being finished with it yet.”
For weeks, Fauci and other top health experts have warned of rising cases in the coming months as the pandemic enters a period of colder weather, when more people gather indoors, and flu season.
Fauci said he’d hoped the United States would use the summer to get a better grip on the health crisis before the winter months, but said “we are not well positioned” to handle the outbreak over the next few months.
“We need to continue with masks, safe distancing, and the other public health measures that we are adhering to now for at least a year,” he added.
Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 8.78 million infections and about 226,800 deaths in the United States, according to Johns Hopkins. Worldwide, there have been 44 million cases and almost 1.2 million deaths.
Tuesday, President Donald Trump listed “ending the pandemic” as one of the accomplishments of his first term.
“From the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the administration has taken decisive actions to engage scientists and health professionals in academia, industry, and government to understand, treat, and defeat the disease,” the White House said in a statement.
Trump has repeatedly clashed with scientists, including Fauci, and dismissed their proposals and advice for controlling the crisis. Trump has also consistently ignored safety guidelines like distancing and wearing masks at a number of gatherings at the White House and on the campaign trail.
Fauci has previously said mixed messages coming from the Trump administration about the pandemic has been a major obstacle in defeating the coronavirus.
“I am very disturbed by the intensity of divisiveness we are seeing,” Fauci told the Yale Institute for Global Health. “I have received serious threats to my life, there are federal agents guarding my office.”
In Wisconsin, health officials reported a record Tuesday for deaths in a single day. The state’s positivity rate has risen to about 26%. They also say hospitals are becoming overwhelmed and facing staff shortages.
“There is no way to sugarcoat it, we are facing an urgent crisis and there is an imminent risk to you and your family members, your friends, your neighbors, and the people you care about,” Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers tweeted Tuesday, urging residents to stay home unless absolutely necessary.
In Tennessee, officials warned that healthcare services in the eastern part of the state could be rationed after the number of COVID-19 patients more than doubled over the past month.
The availability of elective surgeries in the Knoxville area may also be affected by the surge, they said.