Contagion operates on a simple rule: The more infections there are in an open population, the more opportunities it has to spread until enough people are protected either by immunity or a vaccine.

So elected officials and public health experts worry that active coronavirus infections in the United States during the Labor Day weekend are roughly twice what they were at Memorial Day. Roughly a month after holiday gatherings at the end of May, the country’s seven-day average of new daily cases had shot up to the highest level so far, more than 60,000.

The country is now registering roughly 40,000 new cases a day, compared to roughly 22,000 a day at Memorial Day weekend, according to a New York Times database. Outbreaks at colleges and in college towns have proliferated as dorms fill and classes resume. “Many of the metro areas with the most cases per capita in recent days — including Auburn, Ala.; Ames, Iowa; and Statesboro, Ga. — have hundreds of cases at universities,” write The Times’s data analysts.

In a thread on Twitter, Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, reviewed the troubling trends, calling the current level of infections “a bit of a disaster” given that a fall surge is to be expected just when the flu season sets in.

NYTIMES

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