Public health officials reacted with dire warnings.
“More people on ventilators. Higher numbers of people dying. More survivors with long term consequences. Hospitals under pressure until they can’t provide care for everyone anymore.”
Good news was hard to find. The country’s seven-day new case average was more than 100,000 for the first time. In five of the past seven days, more than 1,000 deaths were recorded.
On Sunday, more than 107,000 cases were reported.
More than half of states reported a new high for their seven-day average of cases, including Maryland, for the first time since early May.
The virus has been spreading fastest in the Great Lakes and Mountain West states, with North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin leading the way. For nearly a month, Ohio has each day set a new high in its seven-day new case average.
The nation’s obsession with vote counting in the presidential election has obscured the rising cases. But President-elect Joe Biden is set to name his coronavirus task force Monday, and his running mate Kamala D. Harris posted an understated message Sunday on Twitter.
“COVID-19 is still here. Please continue to wear a mask and practice social distancing.”
U.S. Surgeon General Jerome M. Adams said half of the states are in the red or orange zones for new coronavirus outbreaks, but added that is not the whole story: “We could also hit historic highs in daily hospitalizations this week.”
Just a week ago, the United States had a daily average of a little more than 80,000 coronavirus cases, just under 45,000 hospitalizations on average and 823 deaths. Saturday’s totals were more than 135,000 new cases, about 55,000 people were hospitalized and 1,133 new deaths were reported.
Scott Gottlieb, former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, said there has to be a new focus at the national and state level.
“We’re past the election,” Gottlieb said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “And I think they need to focus on what we can be doing nationally. We’ve been sort of arguing politically over what I think is a false dichotomy, a straw man, that it’s really a choice between lockdowns and no lockdowns. And that’s not the case.”
The virus is going to spread, he said. “But it doesn’t need to spread at the levels and at the velocity that’s going to start to press the health care system, which is what we’re seeing.”
Inglesby also said politicians have to step up.
“Governors should start by speaking loudly, unequivocally about [the] dangers of COVID, how it’s getting worse, not better,” Inglesby wrote. “Too many have been led to believe there’s a hoax or that deaths are inflated. We need governors across [the] political spectrum to put an end to those falsehoods.”
The political differences over how to proceed were apparent Sunday in a contentious exchange between New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, the Democrat whose state was one of the first to be leveled by the virus, and South Dakota Gov. Kristi L. Noem, the Republican whose state is in the crosshairs now.
On ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos,” Cuomo said “we’re coming up to the worst two months, I think, that we may have seen vis-a-vis covid. You see the numbers going crazy all across this country, all across the globe. The scientists said this was going to happen.”
Cuomo said, “Republican governors who were cowered by Trump’s philosophy to deny covid” will need to acknowledge the risks. “It’s going to be the states that denied covid that are now going to be paying the highest price,” he said.
Noem said her state is part of a regional increase that reflects growing numbers because of additional testing.
“Frankly, George, I’m not going to take advice from Governor Cuomo,” Noem said to Stephanopoulos. “He has the second-worst death rate per 100,000 people in this nation. He’s at 173 deaths per 100,000 per capita. South Dakota is at 54.”
Noem said she “appreciated that President Trump gave us the flexibility to do the right thing in our state and will continue to do that. He let me do my job.”
Jacqueline Dupree contributed to this report.