The US just marked a harrowing milestone: It recorded its highest one-day number of Covid-19 infections Friday at more than 83,000 -- more than 6,000 higher than the country's previous record set in July.
And as the fall surge continues, the daily numbers will get worse, experts warn.
"We easily will hit six-figure numbers in terms of the number of cases," Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, told CNN Friday night. "And the deaths are going to go up precipitously in the next three to four weeks, following usually new cases by about two to three weeks."
In Mississippi, more White people now have gotten Covid-19 than African Americans. Attitudes about masks might help explain why, official says.This comes as the country's seven-day average of new daily cases surpassed 63,000 Friday -- an 84% increase since the average started ticking back up in mid-September, according to Johns Hopkins University data.
Health officials say the steep inclines follow the reopening of schools and colleges across the US and have been largely driven by small gatherings -- often family events -- that are increasingly moving indoors, where the virus is likely to spread.
In Maryland, the governor said this week family gatherings were the No. 1 source of transmission in the state, followed by house parties. In North Carolina, health officials reported its highest daily case count Friday and said they continue to see clusters "from social and religious gatherings."
Unlike many European countries that are also experiencing spikes, the US never lowered its daily case baseline very far, meaning the compounding of cases could be worse, experts say.
And that's ahead of several popular holidays, when health officials worry more Americans could let their guard down and opt to visit family and friends and further drive surges.In North Dakota, with the highest per capita new case rate in the country, Gov. Doug Burgum called for a "Thanksgiving challenge," urging residents to follow mitigation guidance like masks and social distancing to bring numbers down by the holiday.
"It would be really great to be sharing with all of you at Thanksgiving that our numbers are going down as we head into the holiday period," he said Friday. "That we've got increasing amounts of hospital capacity. That our schools have remained open, that our businesses are open during that holiday season."
34 states report rise in cases
The President has said in recent days the country is rounding the corner when it comes to the pandemic. But alarming patterns across the country tell a different story.At least 34 states reported more new Covid-19 cases in the last week than the week prior, according to Johns Hopkins data. In Georgia, health officials reported their highest one-day case count Friday since early September. Ohio health officials reported a record-high of daily new cases for the third day in a row, and in Oklahoma, officials reported more than 1,000 new infections for the fourth consecutive day.And more than 41,000 Covid-19 patients were in US hospitals Friday, according to the Covid Tracking Project. In Illinois, the number of hospitalized Covid-19 patients increased by at least 17% over the last week, the governor said Friday.
In Tennessee, hospital officials said new cases in metro Nashville have increased 50% in the last two weeks, and hospitals in the area saw a 40% increase in patients over the same time period.
And Colorado officials issued a new order limiting gatherings to 10 people from no more than two households in response to climbing infections and hospitalizations.
"We need to keep gatherings smaller and with people from fewer households — we are asking everyone to 'shrink their bubble' to reduce the spread," Colorado Department of Health and Environment Executive Director Jill Hunsaker Ryan said in a Friday news release.