The U.S. reported a record number of new COVID-19 cases and current hospitalizations on Friday — but startling new daily records have fast become ordinary as the unrelenting third wave of the pandemic continues to surge across the country. According to both the COVID Tracking Project and the John Hopkins University’s coronavirus dashboard, at least 170,000 new U.S. COVID-19 cases were reported on Friday, nearly 20,000 more cases than the JHU tracker recorded Thursday.
In addition, more than 68,500 people were currently hospitalized for the coronavirus as of Friday, according to the COVID Tracking Project, well over twice the number of hospitalizations five weeks ago. Both Friday’s newly reported cases and number of current hospitalizations set national records for the fourth consecutive day.
Friday was the 11th day in a row in which more than 100,000 new cases of COVID-19 were reported nationally, with the total since Monday now at well over 700,000 and counting. At least one out of every 378 Americans tested positive for the coronavirus this week, the COVID Tracking Project calculated. At this pace, the U.S. will record its world-leading 11th million case by early next week, and may soon report more than 200,000 new cases per day.
New restrictions on public gatherings and some new lockdowns have been ordered in multiple states, with more measures looming. As the Times pointed out on Friday, this latest ongoing surge is spread out across most of the country but is now hitting the Upper Midwest the hardest:
Unlike the first surge last spring, when the New York metropolitan area was ravaged but much of the country was almost untouched, this wave is washing over every part of the United States. Case numbers are trending upward in 46 states, and no states are seeing declines. More than 30 states, from Alaska to New Hampshire, have set new records in recent days. California recorded its 1 millionth case, a milestone previously reached only by Texas.
But the outlook is especially dire in the Great Lakes region. Pennsylvania, Indiana and Minnesota all exceeded their previous single-day records on Thursday by more than 1,000 cases. Gov. Mike DeWine of Ohio warned that hospitalizations had soared to record levels. Wisconsin surpassed 300,000 known cases this week, an increase of more than 130,000 in just a month.
As seen during the previous waves, a huge strain on hospitals and a lack of ICU beds are accompanying the spike in hospitalizations, the Washington Post reported on Wednesday:
Doctors and health-care providers across the Upper Midwest grappling with rising caseloads and staff shortages continue to urge leaders in their states to do more to stem the tide of the virus, as many in these hardy, wind-swept states where independence is prized still refuse to wear masks …
Andrew T. Pavia, chief of pediatric infectious diseases at the University of Utah School of Medicine, said on a press call organized by the Infectious Diseases Society of America on Wednesday that the “enormous surge” in the Upper Midwest and mountain states is concerning because health-care access in some rural areas is already limited and staff and facilities taxed …
Doctors at one of the region’s largest health-care systems, Avera Health in Sioux Falls, S.D., with facilities in South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska and North Dakota, said that its modeling showed the virus surge was only going to get worse in the coming weeks. Already, some of its facilities are nearing capacity and between 200 and 400 of its staffers are either out sick or in quarantine, officials said.
ICU-bed shortages are being reported in numerous states across the country, including (but not limited to) South Dakota, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, and parts of Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Tennessee.
This post has been updated to include Friday’s data.