- The current coronavirus surge in the U.S. is unlike anything we’ve seen to date.
- As opposed to a handful of epicenters, coronavirus outbreaks are currently happening in more than 40 states across the country.
- Dr. Fauci believes that the abundance of hotspots will inevitably lead to a spike in coronavirus-related hospitalizations and deaths.
The grim reality is that the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S. is getting worse with each passing week. As it stands now, the number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. has increased by 44% over the past two weeks while the number of coronavirus-related deaths has increased by 13%.
Compounding matters is that coronavirus outbreaks aren’t isolated to specific parts of the country as was the case back in July. On the contrary, 44 states are currently experiencing a surge in new cases. And while some have argued that the increase in new cases is a function of increased testing, the reality is that the increase in infections is being accompanied by a corresponding increase in hospitalizations and deaths. Take Wisconsin, for example. Over the last two weeks, the state has seen a 46% increase in new COVID-19 cases, a 39% increase in hospitalizations, and a distressing 115% increase in deaths.
Unfortunately, the situation is poised to get worse before it gets better, according to recent remarks from Dr. Anthony Fauci.
“We’re seeing hotspots literally throughout the entire country,” Fauci said over the weekend. “We’re now averaging on a weekly basis, about 70,000 cases a day, where more than 40 States are up-ticking with increases in cases, which will ultimately lead to increases in hospitalizations, and then ultimately with increases in deaths”
In fact, the 7-day average for daily new coronavirus cases now stands at 85,000. What’s more, the U.S. yesterday reported 93,500 new infections, a figure which was close to breaking the previous record of 99,000 new infections that was set on October 30.
Fauci also made a point of noting, during a recent radio interview, that the U.S. never even managed to get out of the first coronavirus wave.
“When I hear people talk about second and third waves, it really is the original wave that just resurges up, comes down a little, and resurges up again,” Fauci explained. “We never got out of the real wave. We kind of went up and down within a wave.”
This, of course, doesn’t bode well for the next few weeks given that colder weather is setting in across most parts of the country. The change in weather will naturally lead more people indoors where the coronavirus tends to spread easily. What’s more, the coronavirus spreads more easily in colder and drier air environments than it does in warmer weather.
Studies show significantly more infections happen and spread when the relative humidity falls from between 40% and 60% — a range typical in warmer weather — to 20%. That research draws from past outbreaks of flu and MERS, which is caused by another coronavirus. More recent case reports from the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic’s early days in China and Seattle conclude the same thing: The virus stays stable longer and finds purchase on receptors in our airways better when the relative humidity sits at a wintry 20%. That’s one reason why we catch more colds and flu in cold weather.
To this point, colder weather is one of the few reasons why Dr. Fauci is concerned about the coronavirus spreading even further over the next few weeks.
“As we enter into the cooler months,” Fauci said, “much of what is going to be done is going to be done indoors. So I’m concerned that unless we do something to turn this around, we’re going to have a very difficult winter.”
And recall, a top infectious disease expert a few weeks ago said that the next 2-3 months “are going to be the darkest of the entire pandemic.”
With respect to a coronavirus vaccine, Fauci said we’ll have a better idea about potential vaccine candidates by the end of the month or early December.
“If we’re successful,” Fauci articulated, “we will be able to start administering vaccine doses by the end of this calendar year or, more likely, at the beginning of 2021. So that hopefully by the time we get to the third quarter of 2021, we will have vaccinated the vast majority of people who want to get vaccinated.”