Daily coronavirus cases across the United States have spiked to a two-month high with total infections now nearing the eight million mark – as cases and hospitalizations continue to surge mostly in the Midwest.
The number of cases across the country spiked to more than 63,000 on Thursday, which is a toll not seen since mid-August.
Twenty five states have so far set records for increases in new cases this month alone.
The majority of cases are currently coming from Midwestern states where Covid-19 hospitalizations are also spiking.
Deaths, however, continue to trend downward nationally with an average of more than 700 Americans dying per day. There were 820 deaths reported on Thursday.
Fatalities are a lagging indicator and can potentially rise several weeks after cases increase.
More than 217,000 Americans have now died from Covid-19 and there have been almost 8 million confirmed cases.
Infections in the US have now increased by more than one million in a month as another surge in cases hits the nation at the onset of cooler weather.
The number of new infections in states like Wisconsin and South Dakota have doubled in the last four weeks compared to the previous four weeks.
Ten states on Thursday reported single day highs in new cases, including Wisconsin with more than 4,000 new cases.
Wisconsin has emerged as a national hotspot in the past few weeks.
‘Our numbers are high and they’re growing rapidly,’ Wisconsin Health Secretary-Designee Andrea Palm said on Thursday.
Hospitalizations are also surging in Wisconsin with 90 percent of intensive care unit beds currently occupied in some regions.
‘We have now surpassed 1,000 Covid-19 patients who are in the hospital. In some regions of our state, our ICU beds are 90 percent or more full. Over the course of the past six weeks, our average daily deaths have more than tripled.
‘We know that this is going to get worse before it gets better.’
The state has opened a field hospital outside of Milwaukee to handle Covid-19 patients.
North Dakota and South Dakota are reporting three times as many new cases per capita this month than the United Kingdom, Spain or France where infections were also on the rise.
In Iowa, cases on Wednesday increased to levels not recorded since late August. Hospitalizations from Covid-19 hit a record high across the state.
Hospitals in several other states are also straining to handle an influx of coronavirus patients.
The positive test rate is currently topping 30 percent in South Dakota and 20 percent in Wisconsin.
Meanwhile, New York, which was once the epicenter of the US outbreak, is now dealing with infection spikes in several ‘clusters’.
The positive test rate in New York, however, remains low at about one percent.
With both cases and positive test rates rising in recent weeks, New York City has closed businesses and schools in neighborhood hot spots despite protests from a contingent of Orthodox Jews.
Governor Andrew Cuomo said this week that he expected the flare-ups to continue for at least a year, saying: ‘The way of the world going forward is going to be that the virus will constantly flare up in certain locations.’
A new forecast from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation is predicting there will be nearly 80 percent more deaths by February 1.
The death toll is forecast to rise to 389,00, according to the model.
Forecasters predict that if Americans increase their wearing of masks, the February death toll would drop to 314,000.
Currently, there is no federal mandate to wear a mask, and 17 states do not require them.