Why the next few days could decide the fate of the coronavirus crisis in the US: Startling data shows cases, hospitalisations and deaths are RISING again after fading in June — as scientists warn America is ‘losing the battle’

  • Cases have started surging again in the US and yesterday hit a one-day record of more than 52,000
  • Hospitalisations are also rising, with around 35,000 currently sick up from a low of 27,000 in mid-June
  • It takes two to four weeks for a fatal Covid-19 patient to die, on average, meaning deaths could spike soon 

The US could be heading for a surge in coronavirus deaths as startling data shows the number of confirmed daily cases and Americans being hospitalised by the infection is continuing to rise. 

More than 2.6million people in the US have already been struck down with the disease — a quarter of the world’s total. And at least 128,000 citizens have died since the crisis spiralled out of control.  

Soaring numbers of people started testing positive for the coronavirus in June after the outbreak appeared to be shrinking. Yesterday a record-high of 52,000 new cases were confirmed across the country, a figure described as ‘disturbing’ by the White House’s top virus adviser Dr Anthony Fauci.

And the average numbers of people being diagnosed rose consistently throughout June — from 151,143 in the first seven days of the month to 288,258 last week, driven by soaring outbreaks in many Republican-voting states.

While rising cases is partly a result of more testing being carried out — President Donald Trump admitted he told officials to ‘slow the testing down’ when the numbers got too high, which health chiefs later claimed was a joke — more people are also ending up in hospital.

The number of hospitalisations is one that can’t be spun to look better and data shows it is on the rise after falling for two months between April and mid-June, bolstering claims from leading scientists that coronavirus lockdowns designed to suffocate the virus were lifted too soon.

A decline in the number of people dying also appears to have levelled off, prompting one expert to say America is ‘losing the battle’ against Covid-19. The US on June 27 recorded 2,516 more deaths, according to the World Health Organization — up from 733 the Monday before. 

This trend is likely to start rising again within the next two weeks — or fade out within days because it the figures are a blip — as some of the increasing numbers of people infected in mid-June start to die in the nation’s hospitals. It takes two to four weeks for a Covid-19 patient to die, on average.

Data in the US has shown a shift in the areas that are being worst affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, with Trump-voting states now accounting for a majority of new confirmed cases each day — 73 per cent of all new daily cases diagnosed on June 28.

Nine out of the 10 states with the biggest increases in daily positive tests since May have been those which voted for Donald Trump in the 2016 election, with Arizona, Idaho, Florida and South Carolina seeing case counts surge.

The number of people in hospital with Covid-19 has risen to more than 35,000 in recent weeks after hitting its lowest point since April in mid-June. As hospitalisations rise, deaths are expected to increase proportionately (Data from The Covid Tracing Project)

The number of people dying of the coronavirus had been falling in May and June but appears to have levelled off and started to increase again in recent weeks, with spikes in late June and more than 2,500 deaths on 27 June 

The number of people dying of Covid-19 in the US has remained relatively stable in June – there were a total 6,398 in the first week of the month, according to the WHO, and 6,178 in the past seven days.

But the number of people in hospital is on the rise and will inevitably lead to more deaths. Data for July 1 showed there were 35,937 people in hospitals across the country. 

The number had hit its lowest point since April in the middle of June, when there were 27,115 patients accounted for on June 15, a significant drop from a peak of 59,260 on April 15, according to data from the Covid Tracking Project. There were more than 50,000 people in hospital at any given time between April 10 and May 6. 

As the number of people in hospital gets higher the number of deaths would be expected to rise proportionally with it. 

Experts fear that as the number of cases rising and the emergence of new hotspots – Delaware, Ohio and Colorado are projected to be on track for new outbreaks – means the virus is now totally out of control.

Dr David Rubin, a professor of Pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania, said yesterday: ‘We need to admit that we are losing the battle nationally to contain this dangerous virus as it engulfs more communities across the country, including those in the Northeast and Midwest that worked so hard to reduce cases and get back to a relatively normal way of life.’

Many areas face second lockdowns after attempting to get back to normal, as the virus has rebounded in locations where rules were relaxed. 

Arizona, Texas, California, Florida and Delaware have rolled back plans to lift lockdown rules amid surging cases, and eight states – Alaska, Arizona, California, Georgia, Idaho, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas – hit one-day record numbers of cases yesterday when the national total was 52,898 in 24 hours. 

In comparison, the most cases recorded in a single day in Britain was 6,201 on May 1. In Brazil the most cases recorded in a day has been 54,771.

As the numbers of people being diagnosed with the virus increases, so too will the number of people being admitted to hospital with severe Covid-19 – assuming the cases are spread throughout all age groups.

It can take up to a week, on average, for someone’s condition to deteriorate to the point they need hospital care after they have developed Covid-19 symptoms.

The number of people being diagnosed with Covid-19 in the US has surged in June to its highest ever level yesterday, with 52,000 new cases. This is in part due to improved testing provision but experts say infections genuinely appear to be rising, too

A greater proportion of new coronavirus cases are being diagnosed in states that voted for Donald Trump in the 2016 election. Those states tend to be more rural and have lower incomes (Data by the Associated Press)

ARE THE US’S SECOND LOCKDOWNS AN OVER-REACTION? 

Various states and cities in the US are rolling back plans to reopen after lockdown or even bringing in new measures amid rising numbers of Covid-19 cases.

In California, Arizona and parts of Delaware, bars have been asked to close once again to try and stop the spread of disease. 

But the people catching the coronavirus now are younger than they were in the earlier days of the pandemic, data shows, suggesting that the risk of death is lower and strict lockdowns may not be as necessary.

In Florida, the median age of people testing positive is now in the mid-30s, down from higher than 65 in March, New York Magazine reports.

‘If you look at that 25-to-34 age group, that is now by far the leading age group for positive tests,’ said Governor Ron DeSantis.

In Arizona, cases have soared among the under-19s in an eight-fold rise, while they rose six times for people between 20 and 44, and just two times for over-65s. The average age fell from 49 to 35.

In Oklahoma around half of new cases are among under-35s, NY Mag reported, and cases have been attributed to younger people at bars and beaches in Michigan and Delaware.

Younger people are known to be significantly less likely to die if they catch Covid-19, and scientists in the UK say the risk of death from any cause has not been increased for people under the age of 45 because of the pandemic.

So locking down entire cities or states because of rising cases among the young could be a step too far, some argue.

British columnist Gerard Baker, writing in The Times newspaper today, said they were a ‘gross overreaction’.

He said: ‘We’ll need more evidence before we can say for sure how serious the new surge is but the overall picture continues to suggest that the threat from the virus has been consistently overstated…

‘The new data we are seeing in the US suggest that, far from justifying the most extreme lockdown measures, with all the damage to the economy they do, the spread of the virus is much less of a threat to health and life than was widely argued.

‘With proper, targeted protection of the most vulnerable it would probably not have been necessary to shut down entire economies.’    

Most people sent into hospital then recover but, for those who don’t, it can take weeks longer for them to be moved to intensive care or to become so ill that they die.

Throughout the pandemic, scientists have suggested there is a lag of between two and four weeks, on average, between somebody becoming ill with Covid-19 and dying of it. 

Surging numbers of cases in June, therefore, could lead to rises in the daily death tolls within the next week or two. 

Speaking in mid-June, when the numbers of cases started to rise again, Dr Ali Mokdad, a global health expert at the University of Washington, told the Associated Press: ‘We’re going to see a rise in deaths in many places in the United States.’  

Recent startling spikes in cases have forced states such as Texas, California and Florida to buckle down and halt their reopenings after businesses hoped to emerge from statewide lockdowns.

On Wednesday, California Governor Gavin Newsom ordered all bars, indoor restaurants and cinemas to shut down immediately in most parts of the state, nearly three weeks after they opened for the first time following a three-month lockdown.

Since then, the number of Covid-19 cases began to rise again, increasing nearly 50 per cent over the last two weeks, with a 43 per cent spike in hospitalizations.

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey issued an executive order for bars, gyms and movie theaters to shut down immediately on Monday.

Tuesday, Delaware ordered some of its beach towns shut down their bars after a recent spike in cases.

Top US infectious disease specialist Dr Anthony Fauci warned during a Tuesday Senate hearing that daily infections could soar to 100,000 ‘if this does not turn around’ and, while he declined to predict a specific number of fatalities, he worries the death toll in the US could reach ‘disturbing’ heights.

President Trump has attributed the surging daily case numbers to a ‘great’ expansion of coronavirus testing in the US. The number of test run Tuesday, June 30, was nearly double the number of tests run on May 30, according to data from the Covid Tracking Project.

But the number of daily cases has now far surpassed what was thought to be the pandemic’s peak, in April.

Public health experts warn that, although the number of people dying each day is down significantly, these increases typically lag behind case increases, with one recent study estimating a 17-day delay. 

But there are concerns that locking down cities and states again could be an over-reaction because the elderly – who are far more likely to die if they catch the coronavirus – are not catching it as often as they were. 

In Florida, the median age of people testing positive is now in the mid-30s, down from higher than 65 in March, New York Magazine reports.

‘If you look at that 25-to-34 age group, that is now by far the leading age group for positive tests,’ said Governor Ron DeSantis.

In Arizona, cases have soared among the under-19s in an eight-fold rise, while they rose six times for people between 20 and 44, and just two times for over-65s. The average age fell from 49 to 35.

In Oklahoma around half of new cases are among under-35s, NY Mag reported, and cases have been attributed to younger people at bars and beaches in Michigan and Delaware.

Younger people are known to be significantly less likely to die if they catch Covid-19, and scientists in the UK say the risk of death from any cause has not been increased for people under the age of 45 because of the pandemic.

Nine out of the 10 states with the biggest increases in daily positive tests since May have been those which voted for Donald Trump in the 2016 election, with Arizona, Idaho, Florida and South Carolina seeing case counts surge 

So locking down entire cities or states because of rising cases among the young could be a step too far, some argue.

NEW DAILY CASES IN US TOPS 52,000 FOR THE FIRST TIME

The US has seen a record 52,000 new COVID-19 cases within 24 hours on Wednesday July 1, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

The surge marked a new one-day record of infections as states across the country reopen.

According to the tracker, there were 52,898 new cases over the 24 hours to Wednesday evening. The total number of COVID-19 cases in the US was 2,686,249 early Thursday morning and the number of deaths stood at 128,062.

The daily coronavirus case numbers have remained around the 40,000 mark in recent days. The news comes as more than 44,000 new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in the US on Tuesday.

Adding to the rise in cases, hospitalizations for COVID-19, the contagious respiratory disease that first emerged in China, are also increasing in Houston, Texas and Phoenix, Arizona.

On Wednesday alone Texas broke its daily record and recorded 8,076 new cases, which is nearly 1,000 more than the day prior.

The startling spikes in cases have forced states such as Texas, California and Florida to buckle down and halt their reopenings.

On Wednesday California Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered all bars, indoor restaurant operations and movie theaters to shut down immediately in most parts of the states, nearly three weeks after the state’s bars, stores, restaurants, and salons opened for the first time following a three-month lockdown. 

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey issued an executive order for bars, gyms and movie theaters to shut down immediately on Monday.

And on Tuesday, Delaware ordered some of its beach towns shut down their bars after a recent spike in cases. 

British columnist Gerard Baker, writing in The Times newspaper today, said they were a ‘gross overreaction’.

He said: ‘We’ll need more evidence before we can say for sure how serious the new surge is but the overall picture continues to suggest that the threat from the virus has been consistently overstated…

‘The new data we are seeing in the US suggest that, far from justifying the most extreme lockdown measures, with all the damage to the economy they do, the spread of the virus is much less of a threat to health and life than was widely argued.

‘With proper, targeted protection of the most vulnerable it would probably not have been necessary to shut down entire economies.’  

State-by-state data shows there has been a shift in the locations where people are spreading the virus most, too.

While the early days of the US’s epidemic was concentrated in wealthy urban cities – New York remains one of the worst affected cities in the world – analysis by the Associated Press shows the spread of the virus has shifted from Democratic-voting states to Republican ones.

On June 28, states that voted for Trump in the 2016 presidential election accounted for an overwhelming 73 per cent of all new cases diagnosed, with the remaining 27 per cent in states that voted for Hillary Clinton.

This was a total reversal of the situation in March when, for the first week of the month, 91 per cent of cases were diagnosed in Democratic states.

Data shows that nine out of the 10 areas which have seen the biggest surges in cases between May and July were Trump-voting areas. In particular, Arizona, Idaho, Florida and South Carolina saw big surges.

Alaska, Alabama, Texas, Arkansas, Utah, Oklahoma are all also seeing rises in infections, while a larger proportion of states where outbreaks are shrinking were ones that voted for Hillary in 2016.

In the east, New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Illinois and New Hampshire are all seeing marked declines in their case counts.

Trump supporters have been less likely to take the threat of the virus seriously, according to AP, and Republican governors have been more likely to put off enacting lockdowns on their citizens, potentially contributing to the spread.

They have been more likely to take the lead of the president, who has been criticised for not taking Covid-19 seriously enough.

Contrary to data showing the outbreak is still very real crisis for the US, President Donald Trump insisted the virus will simply disappear during an interview with Fox on Wednesday.

‘I think we’re going to have a vaccine very soon,’ he said. ‘We’re headed back in a very strong fashion … And I think we’re going to be very good with the coronavirus. I think that at some point that’s going to sort of just disappear. I hope.’ 

New York’s governor, Andrew Cuomo – a Democrat – hit out at the president last week on CNN, and said: ‘You played politics with this virus, and you lost… You told the people of this state, you told the people of this country, the White House: “Don’t worry about it. Go about your business. This is all Democratic hyperbole.”

‘It was never politics,’ he added. ‘It was always science.’ 

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