Spotlight: Experts warn U.S. already in fall, winter surge as COVID-19 cases surpass 8 mln


WASHINGTON, Oct. 16 (Xinhua) -- Leading experts warned that a new COVID-19 surge has already hit the United States as the country's case count topped 8 million on Friday.

"We went down to the lowest point lately in early September, around 30,000-35,000 new cases a day. Now we're back up to about 50,000 new cases a day. And it's going to continue to rise," said Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine.

"This is the fall/winter surge that everyone was worried about. And now it's happening," Hotez said, adding the surge is happening especially in the northern Midwest, and is going to be nationally soon enough.

Much of the United States continues to report an upward trend in COVID-19 cases, with 63,486 new confirmed cases and 892 new deaths reported nationwide on Thursday alone, according to data updated Friday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The new daily case count has set a new record high since July 31.

Daily confirmed cases have been surpassing 45,000 since Oct. 7, CDC data showed, with cases over 50,000 five times since last week.

Thirty-five states are showing increases in new COVID-19 cases greater than 10 percent over the last week compared to the week prior, according to a CNN report.

Since Sunday, 21 states have hit their peak seven-day average of new cases since the pandemic began, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said the share of positive coronavirus tests is increasing in the Northwest, Midwest and other northern states.

Calling the rates highly predictive of a "resurgence" of cases, Fauci said a rise in the share of positive cases may lead to an increase in hospitalizations, and then ultimately an increase in deaths.

A new forecast from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington said the COVID-19 death toll in the United States is expected to near 400,000 by Feb. 1.

Small gatherings are increasingly becoming a source of COVID-19 infection around the country, CDC Director Robert Redfield said earlier this week.

"What we're seeing as the increasing threat right now is actually acquisition of infection through small household gatherings," Redfield said.

With Thanksgiving coming up, it is really important to stress the vigilance of continued mitigation steps in the household setting, he noted.

Health experts are concerned that coming cooler months would drive people indoors and help the virus spread.

Zhang Zuofeng, a professor of epidemiology and associate dean for research with the school of public health at University of California, Los Angeles, told Xinhua the country may face increasing risks as the coronavirus overlaps with the flu season.

The two respiratory diseases, which some have referred to as "twindemic," share similar symptoms, which will bring increasing challenges to health care facilities, Zhang said.

He urged the public, especially elderly people, to get flu vaccines to protect themselves from the flu amid the pandemic.

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