August 6, 2020 at 9:51 PM EDT
Virus keeps spreading as schools open, frightening parents and alarming public health officials
COLUMBUS, Miss. — Even before President Trump admonished his top coronavirus adviser for saying the country was entering a "new phase" of widespread infection, patients at Mississippi's only Level 1 trauma hospital were already on a wait for ICU beds.
Mississippi, now experiencing the country’s highest rate of positive tests, is emblematic of the pandemic’s new reality. The virus is no longer principally an urban problem: It is present throughout every state, and those infected often don’t know it, leading to what top public health officials call “inherent community spread.”
“My fear is if we don’t see some decline in hospital caseloads, we’re going to be really, really challenged when we’re faced with increased caseloads due to schools reopening,” said Don Williamson, president of the Alabama Hospital Association. “I hope I’m wrong but I don’t know of any biological reason I’ll be wrong.”
By Sarah Fowler, Anne Gearan and Rachel Weiner