Cases of corona virus have skyrocketed in more than 40 states as the US experiences its third nationwide increase within days of the election.
So far, 44 states have seen a 10 percent increase in new coronavirus cases in the past week compared to the previous week. This is equivalent to nearly 90,000 new coronavirus cases reported across the country in the night from Thursday to Thursday, according to COVID-19 data from Johns Hopkins University.
Thursday’s total number represents a grim new record for the U.S., with the most reported new coronavirus cases since the pandemic began. The previous record was broken last week with over 83,000 new cases. The total number of infections in the USA has now reached more than 9 million.
Rural cities and small subway areas have seen the largest increase in cases in recent weeks, with massive peaks in the Midwest and the West, which have reported the highest rates of new infections. Earlier this month, Wisconsin – eight of the 15 counties with the highest rates of recent cases in the country – opened a field hospital to address the sharp rise in new infections.
Meanwhile, North Dakota hospitals have been turning people away for lack of space. The overwhelming number of cases in North Dakota last week also prompted the state to discontinue its contact tracing program, with the state’s Department of Health calling on residents to conduct their own tracing.
Record numbers of new cases were reported in more than 20 states, including Tennessee, New Mexico, Illinois, Nebraska and Utah. Last week, South Dakota – a state with a relatively low case count since the pandemic began – saw a 53 percent increase in coronavirus cases over the average for the past two weeks, according to the New York Times.
Coronavirus cases have also increased in highly competitive states where early voting continues to set records for voter turnout. These swing states include Wisconsin, which has seen one of the largest increases in cases in the country and a 47 percent rise in deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Michigan and North Carolina, also prominent swing states, have seen an upsurge in disease outbreaks in the past month.
The pandemic is one of the key issues surrounding the upcoming elections. President Donald Trump, who tested positive for the virus earlier this month, has consistently downplayed the virus and attributed the increase in cases to an increase in testing. While the number of cases continues to rise, the president has held numerous rallies that have gathered thousands of people.
According to FiveThirtyEight, American approval of Trump’s handling of the coronavirus has varied widely from party to party. On Friday, nearly 83 percent of Republicans agreed with the president’s handling of the pandemic, compared with only 6 percent of Democrats.
By Wednesday, more than a third of registered voters – more than 75 million Americans – had already voted, according to the US election project.
On Thursday night, Donald Trump Jr., the president’s eldest son, told Fox News anchor Laura Ingraham that coronavirus deaths had dropped to “almost nothing” as the U.S. reported over 1,000 new coronavirus-related deaths that day.
“I went through the CDC data because I kept hearing about new infections, but I wondered, ‘Why aren’t they talking about deaths?” Trump Jr. said, “Oh, because the number is almost nothing. Because we’ve gained control of this thing, we understand how it works. They have the therapeutics to deal with it.”
Also in the U.S., the number of hospitalizations due to the virus is alarmingly high. The number of hospitalizations is estimated to have increased by 46 percent compared to a month ago, raising concerns about the capacity of hospitals and health care facilities, given the overwhelming number of new patients arriving.
Frontline staff in states such as Idaho, Missouri, New Mexico and Utah are feeling the impact of the increase in hospital admissions. This week, Idaho Governor Brad Little explained the new restrictions on meetings and businesses that have accompanied the increase in hospitalizations and moved the state back to Phase 3 of its Idaho Rebounds Plan.
“Hospitals across the state are quickly filling up with COVID-19 patients and other patients or are already full, and far too many healthcare workers are sick with COVID-19,” Little said in a press release on Monday.
In Montana, where residents are resisting a nationwide masking mandate, hospital admissions increased by nearly 100 percent between October 3 and 28, according to the COVID Tracking Project.