U.S. surpasses 1 million virus cases in just
By Mike Stobbe
The Associated Press
NEW YORK (AP) — The U.S. has surpassed 1 million new
confirmed coronavirus cases in just the first 10 days of
November, with more than 100,000 infections each day becoming
the norm in a surge that shows no signs of slowing.
The 1 million milestone came as governors across the nation
are making increasingly desperate pleas with the public to take
the fight against the virus more seriously. The Wisconsin
governor planned to take the unusual step of delivering a live
address to the state on Tuesday, urging unity and cooperation to
Minnesota’s governor ordered bars and restaurants to close at
10:00pm, and Iowa’s governor said she will require masks at
indoor gatherings of 25 or more people, inching toward more
stringent measures after months of holding out.
The alarming wave of cases across the U.S. looks bigger and
is more widespread than the surges that happened in the spring,
mainly in the Northeast, and then in the summer, primarily in
the Sun Belt. But experts say there are also reasons to think
the nation is better able to deal with the virus this time
"We’re definitely in a better place" when it comes to
improved medical tools and knowledge, said William Hanage, a
Harvard University infectious-disease researcher.
Newly confirmed infections in the U.S. are running at
all-time highs of well over 100,000 per day, pushing the running
total to more than 10 million and eclipsing 1 million since
Several states posted records Tuesday, including more than
12,000 new cases in Illinois, 7,000 in Wisconsin, and 6,500 in
Deaths — a lagging indicator, since it takes time for people
to get sick and die — are climbing again, reaching an average of
more than 930 a day.
Hospitals are getting slammed. And unlike the earlier
outbreaks, this one is not confined to a region or two. Cases
are on the rise in 49 states.
"The virus is spreading in a largely uncontrolled fashion
across the vast majority of the country," said Dr. William
Schaffner, an infectious-disease expert at Vanderbilt
While deaths are still well below the U.S. peak of about
2,200 per day back in April, some researchers estimate the
nation’s overall toll will hit about 400,000 by February 1, up
from about 240,000 now.
But there is also some good news.
Doctors now better know how to treat severe cases, meaning
higher percentages of the COVID-19 patients who go into
intensive care units are coming out alive. Patients have the
benefit of new treatments, namely remdesivir, the steroid
dexamethasone, and an antibody drug that won emergency-use
approval from the Food and Drug Administration on Monday. Also,
testing is more widely available.
In addition, a vaccine appears to be on the horizon, perhaps
around the end of the year, with Pfizer this week reporting
early results showing that its experimental shots are a
surprising 90% effective at preventing the disease.
And there’s a change pending in the White House, with
President-elect Joe Biden vowing to rely on a highly respected
set of medical advisers and carry out a detailed coronavirus
plan that experts say includes the kind of measures that will be
necessary to bring the surge under control.
Biden pledged during the campaign to be guided by science,
make testing free and widely available, hire thousands of health
workers to undertake contact-tracing, and instruct the Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention to provide clear, expert
"We are already seeing encouraging signs from President-elect
Biden with regard to his handling of COVID-19," said Dr. Kelly
Henning, a veteran epidemiologist who heads the Bloomberg
Philanthropies’ public health programs.
"I am relieved to see he’s already put some of the smartest
scientific minds on his new coronavirus task force and that they
are acting urgently to try and get the pandemic under control as
quickly as possible."
While the first surge in the Northeast caught many Americans
unprepared and cut an especially deadly swath through nursing
homes, the second crest along the nation’s Southern and Western
rim was attributed mostly to heedless behavior, particularly
among young adults over Memorial Day and July Fourth, and hot
weather that sent people indoors, where the virus spreads more
The fall surge similarly has been blamed largely on cold
weather driving people inside and disdain for masks and social
distancing, stoked by President Donald Trump and other
Even in parts of the country that have been through
coronavirus surges before, "you see people breaking out of it"
and letting their guard down, Schaffner said.
"There really is COVID fatigue that is blending into COVID
annoyance," he said.
The short-term outlook is grim, with colder weather and
Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s ahead. Generations of
family members gathering indoors for meals for extended periods
"is not a recipe for anything good," Hanage said.
Other factors could contribute to the spread of the virus in
the coming weeks: Last weekend saw big street celebrations and
protests over the election. On Saturday night, an upset victory
by Notre Dame’s football team sent thousands of students
swarming onto the field, many without masks.
Meanwhile, the next two months will see a lame-duck congress
and a president who might be even less inclined than before to
enact disease-control measures. Those voted out of office or no
longer worried about reelection for at least two more years,
"are not going to be motivated to do a fantastic job," Hanage
Experts are increasingly alarmed about the virus’s resurgence
in places like Massachusetts, which has seen a dramatic rise in
cases since Labor Day, blamed largely on young people
Republican governor Charlie Baker is warning that the
healthcare system could become overwhelmed this winter, and he
recently ordered restaurants to stop table service, required
many businesses to close by 9:30pm, and instructed residents to
stay home between 10:00pm and 5:00am.
Brooke Nichols, a professor and infectious-disease
mathematical modeller at Boston University School of Public
Health, said the governor’s actions don’t go far enough.
"Right now because of the exponential growth, throw the
kitchen sink at this, and then you can do it for not as long,"
Meanwhile, political leaders in a number of newer coronavirus
hot spots are doing less. In hard-hit South Dakota, governor
Kristi Noem has made it clear she will not institute a mask
requirement and has voiced doubt in health experts who say face
coverings prevent infections from spreading.
Even higher case and death rates have been seen in North
Dakota, where many people have refused to wear masks. Governor
Doug Burgum has pleaded with people to do so, and praised local
towns and cities that have mandated masks. But he has avoided
requiring masks himself.
Both Noem and Burgum are Republicans and have taken positions
in line with those of the president.
"It would be simplistic to say it’s a Red-vs.-a-Blue
experience, but it does kind of go along party lines of whether
people took it seriously, tried to prevent it, and took painful
measures, versus those who said, ‘Let it rip,’" said Dr. Howard
Markel, a public health historian at the University of Michigan.
Associated Press writer Alanna Durkin Richer in Boston
contributed to this report.
The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives
support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of
Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.
A worker wearing gloves and other PPE holds a tablet computer
while waiting to check people at a King County coronavirus
testing site in Auburn, Washington, south of Seattle, in this
October 28, 2020 photo. The latest surge in U.S. coronavirus
cases appears to be larger and more widespread than the two
previous ones, and it is all but certain to get worse. But
experts say there are also reasons to think the nation is better
able to deal with the virus than before, with the availability
of better treatments, wider testing, and perhaps greater
political will. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)
Instructions to perform a COVID-19 virus self-test are
displayed for drivers at Dodger Stadium, with the capacity to
test 6,000 per day in Los Angeles, in this November 9, 2020
photo. The latest surge in U.S. coronavirus cases appears to be
larger and more widespread than the two previous ones, and it is
all but certain to get worse. But experts say there are also
reasons to think the nation is better able to deal with the
virus than before, with the availability of better treatments,
wider testing, and perhaps greater political will. (AP
Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)