November on track to be worst month of pandemic so far in US as cases surge

Wednesday marked new record for daily cases with 143,231 new infections and 2,005 deaths

Dr Anthony Fauci says US in 'very difficult situation' as Covid infections continue to grow – video

November is on track to be the worst month of the pandemic so far in the US as new cases and hospitalisations continue to surge to record highs.

There were 143,231 new cases and 2,005 deaths in the US on Wednesday, according to figures recorded by Johns Hopkins University. It marked the ninth consecutive day of cases topping 100,000 and a new record for daily cases.

It comes after the country recorded more than a million cases in the first 10 days of November.

Total cases in the US have now reached over 10.3m and 241,910 people have died, the highest totals in the world.

Health experts have in part put the increase down to incoming cold weather driving people indoors and frustration with public health precautions such as masks.

Dr Anthony Fauci, America’s top infectious disease expert, said America can slow the spread by “doubling down” on precautions such as mask-wearing, avoiding crowds, keeping activities outdoors and social distancing – and that if people do so a national lockdown could be avoided.

“We would like to stay away from that [a national lockdown] because there is no appetite for locking down in the American public. But I believe that we can do it without a lockdown, I really do,” he told ABC on Thursday morning.

He added: “The best opposite strategy to locking down is to intensify the public health measures short of locking down. So if you can do that well, you don’t have to take that step that people are trying to avoid which has so many implications, both psychologically and economically.”

He urged the American public to “hang in there”, saying a vaccine should be on its way to highest priority people in December and to everyone else within the second quarter of 2021.

“The cavalry is coming. Vaccines are going to have a major positive impact … So if we can just hang in there, do the public health measures that we’re talking about, we’re going to get this under control, I promise you,” he said.

Daily cases are on the rise in 49 states, and deaths per day are climbing in 39.

North and South Dakota and Wisconsin are among the worst affected states, while Texas this week became the first state to record a million cases.

California is also heading towards the 1m mark, recording a total of 995,575 cases, according to Johns Hopkins data. In Los Angeles, the Dodger stadium is being used as a testing centre.

A White House coronavirus taskforce report distributed to states on Tuesday evening reportedly said: “There is continued, accelerating community spread across the top half of the country, where temperatures have cooled and Americans have moved indoors.”

It also warned of continued deterioration in the so-called sun belt states across the south and “the most diffuse spread experienced to date”, reported CNN.

Hospitalisations in the US broke records for a second consecutive day. The Covid Tracking Project recorded 65,368 people hospitalised on Wednesday – up from 61,964 the previous day and double the figure for a month ago.

Amid healthcare staffing concerns in North Dakota, the governor, Doug Burgum, has said that asymptomatic healthcare workers with Covid-19 will be allowed to continue working in Covid-19 hospital units.

In New York, where infection rates are on the rise, the governor, Andrew Cuomo, announced on Wednesday that restaurants, bars and gyms would be required to close at 10pm, starting on Friday, and that gatherings at private homes would be limited to 10 people.

“If you look at where the cases are coming from, if you do the contact tracing, you’ll see they’re coming from three main areas: establishments where alcohol is served, gyms and indoor gatherings at private homes,” Cuomo said.

New York City was the world’s worst hotspot for the virus back in the early spring, then gradually got infections under control and is now urgently trying to ensure that the city and state do not experience a full-blown “second wave” of coronavirus.