Less than two weeks after a travel bump over Labor Day Weekend, the United States is seeing an uptick in Covid-19 cases this past week, according to the Covid-19 tracker from the Harvard Global Health Institute and Brown School of Public Health. After more than a month of decline, cases are again on the rise.
Coronavirus infections ticked upward in 17 states, thanks to scattered outbreaks in every region of the country.
Over the long holiday weekend, travel was up 10% compared to last year as Americans mainly drove to their destinations of choice and crowds flocked to beaches and bars across the country. Air travel was also up over Labor Day. On both September 4 and 7, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screened over 900,000 passengers, which were pandemic records.
Leading up to Labor Day weekend, health experts had expressed concern that a bump in travel would spur a spike in coronavirus cases, just as it had after Memorial Day and Independence Day weekend celebrations.
“I look upon the Labor Day weekend really as a critical point,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top infectious disease expert in the U.S., said earlier this month. “Are we going to go in the right direction and continue the momentum downward, or are we going to have to step back a bit as we start another surge?”
Fauci was specifically concerned about seven states. “There are several states that are at risk for surging, namely North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, Arkansas, Missouri, Indiana, Illinois,” Fauci told Bloomberg Newsat the time.
Now three of those states — North Dakota, South Dakota and Arkansas — along with Wisconsin, currently have over 25 new daily cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 people, based on a rolling weekly average. That puts them at a “tipping point” where stay-at-home orders are necessary, according to the Harvard/Brown tracker.
Across the country, state and local health officials are bracing for a seemingly inevitable rise in Covid-19 cases. Nevada’s Covid-19 response team is expecting an uptick in COVID-19 cases in the coming weeks, noting the crowds over Labor Day weekend and two campaign rallies held by President Donald Trump in defiance of state health and safety directives this weekend, according to the Nevada Independent. The local health director in Corpus Christi, Texas, expects a post-Labor Day weekend spike, according to the local ABC news affiliate. County health experts in southern Indiana have mused publicly of a likely uptick of cases of COVID-19 as a result of Labor Day weekend celebrations, per the Courier Journal. And in Charlotte, North Carolina, the local health director is also warning of an upcoming elevation in coronavirus cases, reports the Charlotte Observer.
President Trump said this week that the United States is “rounding the corner” of the pandemic, but on Tuesday the country suffered its highest one-day Covid-19 death toll since mid-August, when 1,293 lives were lost due to the disease, according to Johns Hopkins University. Yesterday, the U.S. reported 36,782 new positive cases and 977 deaths.
A well-regarded model by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington is currently projecting that the U.S. will hit 415,000 Covid-19 deaths by January 1, 2021. The model predicts that the death rate will rise throughout the fall until it peaks in early December at about 5,200 per day, up from about 1,065 a day now.