US coronavirus cases climb towards a third peak

US coronavirus cases climb towards a third peak

The number of new coronavirus cases in the United States is surging once again after growth slowed in late summer. While the geography of the pandemic is now shifting to the Midwest and to more rural areas, cases are trending upward in most states, many of which are setting weekly records for new cases.

Taken alone, case counts are an imperfect measure of the pandemic’s severity, and it is difficult to compare the current numbers with earlier points in the US outbreak when testing was less widespread. But other critical measures are showing a resurgence, too.

And the continuing spread of cases to new areas of the country suggests the outbreak is far from over.

“We are headed in the wrong direction, and that’s reflected not only in the number of new cases but also in test positivity and the number of hospitalisations,” said Caitlin Rivers, an epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins University.

“Together, I think these three indicators give a very clear picture that we are seeing increased transmission in communities across the country.”

The rise since mid-September has been especially profound in the Midwest and Mountain West, where hospitals are filling up and rural areas are seeing staggering outbreaks. The regions are home to almost all of the metro areas with the country’s worst outbreaks right now.