With infection numbers rising in more than 30 states, the US set a daily record for new coronavirus cases. And federal health officials warned that the number of people who’ve been infected is vastly undercounted.
At least 37,077 coronavirus cases were reported Thursday, surpassing a previous one-day high on April 24, according to Johns Hopkins University.
The sudden spike in confirmed cases in recent days comes as no surprise, a health expert said.
“Every epidemiologist was telling, screaming as loud as we could that three weeks after Memorial Day, we’d have a peak in the cases and five weeks after Memorial Day we’d begin to see a peak in hospitalizations and deaths,” epidemiologist Larry Brilliant told CNN’s Don Lemon on Thursday night.
“If you let everybody out without face masks and without social distancing in the middle of a pandemic, this is what was predicted.”
Coronavirus has killed over 124,000 people in the United States, and confirmed cases are surging in a majority of the country.
So far, 32 states are reporting an increase in new coronavirus cases this week as compared to the prior week. Eleven of them are reporting a 50% increase or greater. They include Montana, Idaho, Vermont, Nevada, Arizona, Texas, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Missouri and Mississippi.
“It’s growing, and it’s growing fast across all age groups and demographics,” Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey said at a news conference Thursday. “Anyone can get this virus, and anyone can spread this virus.”
Arizona health officials reported new cases topping 3,000 as of last week, a pace that could soon overwhelm hospital intensive care facilities, the governor said. “We expect that our numbers will be worse next week and the week following,” Ducey said.
In Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott paused any further phases to reopen as the state recorded nearly 6,000 Covid-19 cases Thursday. “It’s pretty dire,” said Dr. Peter Hotez of Baylor College of Medicine.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis also indicated his state would not be moving to relax present restrictions. So did Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham of New Mexico, who said the state is putting further economic reopening plans on hold.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a budget emergency to free up $16 billion to fight the pandemic. The state’s hospitals have seen a 32% increase in patients with coronavirus over the past two weeks, he said.
At the beginning of the pandemic, health experts didn’t focus on younger people because the priority was the older population and those with underlying health conditions.
With the rising numbers, some states are warning that the virus is affecting a wider range of people. More younger people testing positive is a “smoldering fire” that will hit vulnerable populations, said Erin Bromage, a CNN medical analyst and a biology professor at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.
Meanwhile, federal health officials updated the list of who’s most at risk of severe complications from Covid-19.
The CDC added mild obesity to a list that includes the elderly, people with lung or kidney disease, and those with diabetes. People with moderate to severe asthma are also at higher risk along with pregnant women, the CDC said. Those with cardiovascular disease, chronic kidney disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease are also at higher risk, the CDC’s Dr. Jay Butler said.
So are those with conditions such as sickle cell disease, poorly controlled HIV infection, bone marrow transplants or an organ transplant.
The CDC also removed the specific age threshold, saying it’s not just those over age 65 who are at increased risk for severe illness.