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US just recorded a world-record 100,000 coronavirus cases in one day

Published Oct 31st, 2020 11:22AM EDT
Coronavirus Stats USA
Image: Adobe

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  • The US broke the global daily record for new coronavirus cases in a single day, registering more than 100,000 new cases on Friday.
  • The previous record belonged to India and it dated back to mid-September.
  • The daily COVID-19 death toll surpassed 1,000 as well on Friday, with experts warning that things are only going to get worse.

It was only a matter of time before the novel coronavirus soared to new records, given the virus’s current trajectory in the northern hemisphere. COVID-19 is raging in the US and most European regions, and hundreds of thousands of people have been testing positive each day for the past few weeks. Now, more than 100,000 Americans tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday, a horrific milestone that had never been reached in the pandemic by a single country. This is the third peak of America’s COVID-19 epidemic so far, although calling it a peak isn’t exactly accurate because the number of daily cases is expected to reach new records in the coming days and weeks.

Since March, the US has been experiencing a continued coronavirus wave, hitting a new record number of cases in mid-July. The number of cases dropped by early September, reaching a plateau of around 25,000 cases, well above Dr. Fauci’s target of 10,000 cases a day ahead of the fall. Comparatively, most European markets flattened the curve in early June and started battling the second wave of the pandemic just recently. The US is dealing with the third wave, according to some, while others still call it the first wave since case numbers never really dropped to respectable numbers. And the worst news is that experts warn that things are only going to get worse.

Statistics from Johns Hopkins say the US had 99,321 cases on Friday, a figure that CNN cites. But the Coronavirus App’s figure is slightly higher at 108,321 cases. Reuters’ estimate puts the daily total for Friday at 100,233 cases. Some 1,031 Americans died of COVID-19 as well on Friday, according to both Johns Hopkins and the Coronavirus App.

Regardless of which statistic engine you favor, Friday’s figures give America another new worldwide COVID-19 record. It’s the highest single-day number of cases recorded by any country, topping India’s previous record from September 17th — 97,894 cases.

536,687 people tested positive worldwide on Friday, per Johns Hopkins’ tracker. That’s also a new record. The Coronavirus App tracker has the figure slightly higher at 655,604, and the difference is either an error or can be explained by the way the data is collected. These trackers record daily COVID-19 cases worldwide, so timezones and reporting times can influence the figures. The app does have an unusual spike of over 1.2 million cases on October 17th, which isn’t matched over at Johns Hopkins.

Coronavirus Stats USA
Johns Hopkins tracker: Daily number of coronavirus cases in the US from the start of the pandemic until October 30th. Image source: Center for Systems Science and Engineering

CNN also says that 46,699 COVID-19 patients were hospitalized on Friday, according to the COVID Tracking Project, an increase of 63.2% from the three-month low of 28,608 registered on September 20th. Friday’s hospitalization figures represent a new record since August 13th.

Experts warn that the situation will worsen in the coming days and weeks, with new records expected to be recorded. “In a day or two, we’ll top six digits for cases in one day. We will see over 100,000 cases in one day. Now, that by itself sounds bad, but two weeks after that, you know, we’ll start seeing 2,000 people a day dying in this country,” Dr. Jonathan Reiner told CNN. The George Washington University professor added that in the worst-case scenario, 2,000 to 2,500 people will die every day, but he also said that Americans have the power to contain the virus. “We need to mask up, and in some places, we need to think about smart closures,” he noted.

Baltimore Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen said that “we now have one person being diagnosed (with the) coronavirus every second,” adding that an American is dying of COVID-19 every two minutes, “and that number is increasing.”

“That means that we’re not doing nearly enough testing and that every person who tests positive is a canary in a coal mine,” she said. “There are almost certainly to be many more, dozens of other cases, that we’re not detecting, and that escalation is going to increase in the weeks to come.”

Dr. Christopher Murray warned that hospitals could become overwhelmed if the number of cases continues to climb. Murray is the director of the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), which created a coronavirus model that’s used around the world to predict coronavirus pandemic trends. It’s the IHME tool that projected nearly 400,000 deaths in the US by February 1st.

Murray said that the number of hospitalizations is the best measure of how the nation is faring. “They are a leading indicator ahead of deaths,” he said, explaining that this week’s numbers predict that ICUs in 18 states might be overwhelmed in December and January. “The fall/winter surge should lead to a daily death toll that is approximately three times higher than now by mid-January,” the IHME’s forecast says.

Coronavirus Deaths USA
Johns Hopkins tracker: Daily number of coronavirus deaths in the US from the start of the pandemic until October 30th. Image source: Center for Systems Science and Engineering

If there’s one bit of good news in all of the statistics so far, it’s that doctors are able to save more lives now than in the early months of the pandemic. The US averaged between 2,000 and 2,500 deaths per day in April, while the late July and early August figures reached 1,500 daily deaths. Still, the death toll will continue to be significant in any country that has to deal with a high number of coronavirus cases.

Countries in Europe are experiencing their own record numbers as well. France imposed another quarantine and Germany announced restrictions of its own, though they aren’t quite as severe. The UK is already considering a national lockdown. Studies from the country showed that some 100,000 people might be getting infected each day, four times the number of confirmed cases. Researchers said the number is doubling every nine days, and as many as one million people could get the illness by the end of November. In every country, the number of daily coronavirus infections far exceeds the number of confirmed cases. It’s the undiagnosed community transmission that’s largely fueling the new record numbers.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.