Following the onset of COVID-19 in March, the United States went into lockdown.
As cities and states began reopening in June, an uptick in the number of positive cases began to increase around the country.
Now as we head into the cooler fall and winter months, new data appears to suggest America is on the precipice of a third wave of the novel virus, reported Time.
According to the outlet, since September 9th the number of positive cases in the U.S. has risen by 32%, from 34,300 cases a day to 45,300 cases a day. These alarming figures appear to show the country is headed in the wrong direction as we move into flu season.
“The latest information is that 90% of the country has not yet been exposed to the virus,” said Dr. Tom Inglesby, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security at the Bloomberg School of Public Health. “The virus hasn’t changed and has the capacity to spread rapidly if given a chance.”
Other factors such as face mask policies varying from place to place and conflicting messages from the White House, the CDC and state and local officials, could be exacerbating the virus’ spread.
“A single and coordinated strategy might have brought us to a different place,” said Dr. Jon Samet, dean of the Colorado School of Public Health. “There is wide variation in the credence given to misinformation, some sourced from the Administration and even the President.”
And while the initial wave hit the Northeast hardest, this summer’s second wave took its toll on the south and west. The third wave now appears centered in the Midwest, as spikes are being seen in states like Wisconsin, Minnesota, Idaho, North Dakota and Wyoming.
“Given that these are rural areas, behaviors of individuals are likely to be a dominant driver: not adhering to distancing and not wearing masks,” added Samet. “Checking across mask orders in these states, there is a wide range. I suspect adherence to use of masks is lower in these rural counties than in urban areas.”
The colder weather will also cause many people to move their gatherings indoors, which could pose a problem with social distancing as being outside is generally considered safer. The holidays pose another issue with more people traveling and families getting together more often.
“We are concerned that there could be a holiday spike with severity depending on where the epidemic curve is positioned before the start of the season in later November,” said Samet.
The United States, which has marked the highest death toll in the world due to the novel virus, surpassed 200,000 COVID-19 deaths on September 22, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.