Eighteen days from the presidential election, the U.S. has more confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths than any other country, and cases are growing at a speed not seen since the summer peak.
At the current rate of growth, the nation could set a weekly case count record within the first few days of November, according to a USA TODAY analysis of data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. But if the spread of cases picks up momentum – as was seen in late June and July – the U.S. could set a weekly case record in little more than a week.
“I don’t think it’s out of the question. Yesterday, we had about 50,000 new cases,” Caitlin Rivers, an epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins, said Thursday. “It’s not crazy to think that we would get there sooner than we would all like.”
The U.S. added more than 373,000 cases in the past week – a number nearly 46,000 higher than the tally the previous week, which is a speed of growth not seen since July.
“We’re going to have a huge increase as we head into the colder months, and this could be potentially the worst part of the epidemic in the U.S., both in terms of new cases and even deaths,” said Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at the Baylor College of Medicine in Texas. “Our lives will get better as we get vaccines early next year, but we’re going to go through a very troubled time.”