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article imageU.S. coronavirus cases close in on 6 million and 184,000 deaths

By Karen Graham     Aug 30, 2020 in Health
Even as the number of coronavirus cases globally tops 25 million, in the United States, cases are approaching 6 million on Sunday as many Midwest states are reporting increasing infections, while 36 states have yet to reach their peaks for active cases.
Nationally, the metrics on new coronavirus cases, deaths, hospitalizations and the positivity rates of tests are all declining, according to a Reuters tally, but there are emerging "hotspots" in Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota. At the same time, Montana and Idaho are seeing record numbers of hospitalized patients.
Many of the new cases we are seeing in the Midwest and other areas of the country are tied to the reopening of colleges and universities. This has forced some schools to switch from in-person classes to online learning.
And large gatherings are also garnering their fair share of the rising number of new virus cases. The annual motorcycle rally in Sturgis, South Dakota drew more than 365,000 people from across the country from Aug. 7 to 16. To date, 88 new cases of the coronavirus have been traced to the rally.
The world has been fighting the COVID-19 pandemic for over eight months, and the United States is still struggling to control the pandemic within its borders. Testing for the virus and follow-up contact tracing leaves much to be desired at this time as the numbers of people being tested has fallen in recent weeks.
Federal guidelines advise that states wait until they experience a downward trajectory of documented cases within a 14-day period before beginning a phased opening, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Research Center. And lifting social distancing guidelines too soon has only allowed the number of new cases to rise.
Health workers check on a COVID-19 patient at the Intensive Care Unit of the General Hospital  in Me...
Health workers check on a COVID-19 patient at the Intensive Care Unit of the General Hospital, in Medellin, Colombia
Daily reported cases in U.S.
The number of new cases of the novel coronavirus reported in the United States fell 17 percent last week. Nearly 1,000 people continue to die every day, a statistic that has not changed very much, although last week’s total of more than 6,700 deaths was down 9 percent from the previous seven days.
On average 675,000 people a day were tested for the coronavirus last week, down from a peak in late July of over 800,000 people a day. The positivity rate for the virus nationally is at 6.3 percent, down from 7.0 percent last week, according to data from The COVID Tracking Project, a volunteer-run effort to track the outbreak.
South Carolina had the highest positivity rate in the nation at 22 percent, followed by Texas, Nevada and Idaho at 16 percent. At least 29 states reported a positivity rate above 5 percent, the level the World Health Organization (WHO) considers concerning because it suggests there are more cases in the community that have not yet been uncovered.
What does this all mean? For one, according to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), the U.S. is estimated to see 310,000 COVID-19-related deaths by the end of 2020. The IHME took into account in posting its latest projections the upcoming school year and the increase in the number of Americans returning to work.
The data also suggests that mask-wearing and social distancing is not taken seriously by many people. “The public’s behavior had a direct correlation to the transmission of the virus and, in turn, the numbers of deaths,” said IHME Director Dr. Christopher Murray.
The best advice possible is this: Wear a mask whenever you are in public to help curb the spread of COVID-19, and encourage others to do the same. Widespread mask use may temper or even help prevent a second wave of the pandemic.
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