The United States reported a record 88,521 new coronavirus cases on Thursday as the pandemic sweeps across the country and scientists warn of exponential growth ahead of the holidays.
“We are slowly up a steep slope on the epidemic curve. I think cases will accelerate,” said Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former head of the Food and Drug Administration, told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” “on Friday. The rate of positivity, or the percentage of all positive tests, is greater than 10% in about 15 states, a sign that” there are more infections that we don’t turn around, “he said.
Gottlieb predicted the US could reach 100,000 new cases on Friday or Saturday.
The U.S. continues its ascent at what is currently the third peak of the pandemic, according to a CNBC analysis of the data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Cases rose 5% or more in 45 states as of Thursday.
For the past week, the US reported an average of around 76,590 new cases per day. This is the highest 7-day average recorded to date and is up more than 25% from a week ago, according to Johns Hopkins data.
The surge in the US follows a wave of new Covid-19 cases in countries across Europe, which has resulted in new, strict lockdown measures for their businesses. Germany announced on Wednesday a “light lock” with bars, restaurants, gyms, cinemas and theaters to close. France said it would introduce a second nationwide lockdown starting Friday, ordering people to leave their homes only for essential purposes.
“If we reach the level of some European countries like France and Italy, Spain and the UK, it will really put a strain on our health systems across the country,” said Gottlieb. “But right now I think the cases are starting to accelerate.”
According to the Covid Tracking Project, the US is conducting record amounts of tests. However, more testing can’t explain the surge in cases, health officials say because the The percentage of positive tests has increased also.
“Like the nation after Memorial Day, we are at another critical point in the pandemic response,” said Adm. Brett Giroir, assistant health secretary who leads the government’s testing efforts, on NBC’s “TODAY” on Wednesday.
Hospital admissions for Covid-19 are also increasing – a sign that the pandemic has worsened in some parts of the country, particularly the Midwest. As of Thursday, 17 states had record hospital stays averaging seven days, according to the Covid Tracking Project, including Iowa, Indiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin.
“We cannot afford to overwhelm our hospitals, especially in rural areas that lack the infrastructure and medical staff needed to run the intensive care unit,” said Ali Mokdad, professor of health metrics at the Institute of Health Metrics and assessment at the University of Washington said during a conference call for the Infectious Diseases Society of America Thursday.
“Unfortunately, we are currently climaxing rapidly in many states and heading towards this exponential growth … and we are monitoring hospitalizations and we must be very careful not to do so.” overwhelm our hospitals, “said Mokdad.
White House Coronavirus Advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci warned the US might outperform 100,000 daily cases in late June as outbreaks swelled in states across the American sun belt. However, the country was able to keep the outbreak below 70,000 cases a day through October 22.
“If things don’t change … if they continue the course we’re on, there will be a lot of pain in this country in terms of additional cases, hospitalizations and deaths,” Fauci told CNBC.The news with Shepard Smith“On Wednesday.” We are on a very difficult path. We’re going in the wrong direction. “
Gottlieb said CNBC “We should try to stay vigilant and be careful for the last two or three months as we get through the toughest season.”
Disclosure: Scott Gottlieb is a CNBC employee and a member of the boards of directors of Pfizer, the genetic testing startup Tempus, and the biotech company Illumina. Pfizer has a manufacturing contract with Gilead for remdesivir. Gottlieb is also co-chair of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings‘ and royal caribbean“Healthy sailing panel”.