The United States reported more than 195,000 new cases of Covid-19 on Tuesday, which brings the average daily new cases for 7 days to just over 215,000, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. This is only slightly changed from the number of newly infected people on December 10, when the 7-day average for daily new cases reached 212,000, indicating that new cases may be flat at a high daily average.
However, with hospitalizations and deaths from Covid-19 after a week or two of new cases, the number of Americans hospitalized and dying from the virus continued to increase.
On Tuesday, the United States reported 117,777 people entering hospitals with the Covid-19 virus, the largest number since the start of the pandemic, according to the Covid Tracking Project. In addition, 3,400 people were reported to have died from the virus on Tuesday, the second-highest number of Covid-19 deaths in a single day.
The national data somewhat conceal how different countries are dealing with the virus. States like California, Tennessee, Oklahoma and Rhode Island are seeing huge rises in new cases, while cases have declined in most parts of the Midwest since its last peak.
Whether the number of new daily cases begins to decline nationally from here depends, as always, on people’s behavior – and how American power systems influence that behavior. Public health officials, such as Dr. Anthony Fauci, have warned people against holding large, indoor, unconvincing gatherings on Christmas and New Year.
“I want people to be extra careful. I want them to travel as short as possible. And when you congregate, try to do it with a limited number of people,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN on Tuesday.
“If we can do it now and get past the season, enjoy it to the fullest extent possible, but that wouldn’t be the case in the regular Christmas season. And with time, the light at the end of the tunnel is the pollen.”
Worried about the UK variable
Scientists advising the UK government estimated that this variant could be up to 70% more effective at spread than the other variants.
Peter Horby, chair of the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threat Advisory Group (NERVTAG), said Monday that experts “now have great confidence that this variant has a transmission advantage” over the other variants.
The British variant does not appear to cause more serious disease, and it appears that the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines will still be effective.
Has this strain found its way to the United States yet? Researchers studying it believe it likely arrived in the US in mid-November, and that many people in the US may already have been infected.
“If I had to guess, I’d say it might be in hundreds of people now,” said Michael Warby, chair of the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Arizona. “It is very likely that he arrived several times in multiple places.”
Scientists have researched the genetic sequences of the Coronavirus in the United States to see if there is any match for the British variant. So far, they haven’t found anything, but they say this is likely because the US surveillance system isn’t catching them.
“It may be in the United States and we may not discover it yet,” Assistant Health Secretary Admiral Brett Gerwier said on Monday.
Dr Fauci says the Biden administration will be different
Dr Fauci predicted that the incoming Biden administration would not send “mixed signals” when it comes to communicating about the coronavirus pandemic.
“There is likely to be uniformity in the message rather than mixed signals,” Fauci told FiveThirtyEight podcast that aired on Tuesday. “I think there will be more central direction than leaving states entirely alone and letting them do things the way they want to do it.”
Fauci, the chief medical advisor to President-elect Biden, said he believed the biggest obstacle to Biden would be a “split” in American society.
“It is unfortunate that we traversed a historic pandemic, like anything we’ve seen in 102 years, and it happened in the context of a great deal of division in society,” Fauci said. “I don’t think that will necessarily change immediately with the change of administration.”
Fauci was asked, based on how President Donald Trump has dealt with the pandemic, how the president could have saved more lives.
“Obviously there were some bumps in the road,” Fauci said. “But, overall, especially when you look at the science and the success of a vaccine, that’s huge. I mean, this is something really unprecedented.”
He also said that when it comes to fighting the pandemic, the nation can always improve its response.
“Obviously, you can always look at your response in public health and say, ‘Could you have done a better job?’ And the answer: Of course. I think any country that looks at its response will say it could have done a better job.”
CNN’s Shelby Lyn Erdman and Elizabeth Cohen contributed to this report.