As colder weather sets in, experts are warning that the next coronavirus surge has arrived. On Friday, the United States recorded 69,000 new infections—the highest daily total since July 30. This latest peak is concentrated in rural communities in the upper Midwest and follows a spring surge in the Northeast and a summer surge in the South. Experts are now worried about a rising number of cases coinciding with flu season as families gather indoors during the holiday season and winter months.
“There’s a growing sense of coronavirus fatigue out there,” Dr. William Schaffner, an epidemiologist at Vanderbilt University, told CNBC. “People really want to get back to the old normal.” But ignoring public health guidelines could have dire consequences; some states are already feeling the impacts of the latest surge in cases.
In Wisconsin, Democratic Gov. Tony Evers opened up a field hospital for coronavirus patients with more moderate symptoms to ease the crowding in intensive care units in the state’s hospitals. North Dakota’s case load has reached record highs and state officials are beginning to worry about hospital capacity. In Minnesota, where 18 cases were associated with a Donald Trump campaign event, coronavirus infections have also reached new highs.
The latest surge comes just weeks before the election. The Trump administration remains wholly uncommitted to responding to the coronavirus, even as the president’s poll numbers sink, in part, due to his handling of the pandemic. Even as deaths top 217,000 and the third wave threatens to be worse than the first two, Trump continues to downplay the severity of the virus. “The light at the end of the tunnel is near,” he told a crowd of supporters in Florida on Friday. “We are rounding the turn.”