“We easily will hit six-figure numbers in terms of the number of cases,” Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, told CNN Friday night. “And the deaths are going to go up precipitously in the next three to four weeks, following usually new cases by about two to three weeks.”
Social gatherings and family events moving indoors to avoid the colder weather is largely to blame for the high rates of spread, officials said over the weekend.
35 states report rise in cases
At least 35 states reported more new Covid-19 cases in the last week than the week prior, according to Johns Hopkins data.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy on Saturday reported an additional 1,994 coronavirus cases — the highest single-day total since May.
“We’re still in the midst of a pandemic and need everyone to take this seriously. Wear a mask. Social distance,” Murphy tweeted.
New Jersey had eight new virus-related deaths, bringing the state’s total fatality toll to 14,492.
“This virus has not gone away simply because we are tired of it,” Murphy said.
Pennsylvania reported 2,043 new cases Saturday.
“Daily increases are now comparable with what we saw in April 2020,” the state health department said in a statement. An additional 29 virus-related deaths were reported Saturday.
Michigan, with 3,338 new cases Saturday, marked its highest single-day total during the pandemic, according to state Department of Health and Human Services spokeswoman Lynn Sutfin. The state also reported 35 new deaths.
Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, Michigan’s Chief Medical Executive and Chief Deputy for Health, said the data showed “alarming increases” in new infections.
“If rates continue like this, we risk overwhelming our hospitals and having many more Michiganders die,” Khaldun said in a statement.
The Texas Division of Emergency Management is establishing an alternate care site in El Paso to expand hospital capacity, according to Gov. Greg Abbott’s office. The facility will open Monday and provide additional beds, equipment and personnel.
Abbott said extra medical staff will be able to help with surge capacity to “reduce the strain on hospitals.”
Expert: Vaccine may not come this year
Dr. Anthony Fauci said Sunday that experts will know by early December whether a potential coronavirus vaccine is safe and effective, but widespread vaccination will probably not be possible until later next year.
“We will know whether a vaccine is safe and effective by the end of November, beginning of December,” the director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said. “The amount of doses that will be available in December will not certainly be enough to vaccinate everybody — you’ll have to wait several months into 2021.”
National Institutes of Health Director Dr. Francis Collins said Friday that while he’s “cautiously optimistic” about the US having a vaccine authorized by the end of the year, he said it “might not happen and it might take longer.”
And when a vaccine does get approved, experts have said it’s crucial that enough Americans get it. If only half of the country is willing to get vaccinated, Collins warned, Covid-19 could stick around for years.
CNN’s Artemis Moshtaghian, Jay Croft, Alta Spells, Alec Snyder, Ganesh Setty and Jacqueline Howard contributed to this report.