Emergency medical technicians (EMTs) unload a patient into an ambulance outside of the Hammonton Center for Rehabilitation and Healthcare one of numerous nursing homes to have staffing shortages during the national outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Hammonton, New Jersey, U.S., May 19, 2020.
Lucas Jackson | Reuters
The United States reported more than 60,000 new Covid-19 cases on Tuesday, setting a fresh record for new cases reported in a single day, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
The country reported 60,021 newly confirmed cases over the previous 24 hours as outbreaks continue to expand across a number of states, mostly across the American South and West. Arizona, California, Florida and Texas have accounted for nearly half of all new cases in the U.S. in recent days.
The record spike comes after daily new cases fell below 50,000 over the past few days, though some public health officials warned there could be a backlog of reporting due to the July Fourth holiday weekend. The U.S. has reported about 51,383 new cases on average over the past seven days, a record high seven-day average, up nearly 24.5% compared with a week ago, according to a CNBC analysis of data collected by Hopkins.
Top health officials, including White house health advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci have lamented in recent days that while many other countries succeeded in shutting down and reducing daily new cases to a manageable level, the U.S. has failed to do the same.
“The European Union as an entity, it went up and then came down to baseline,” Fauci said Monday during a Q&A discussion with Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health. “Now they’re having little blips, as you might expect, as they try to reopen. We went up, never came down to baseline, and now it’s surging back up. So it’s a serious situation that we have to address immediately.”
Fauci said last week that the U.S. is “not in total control” of the coronavirus pandemic and daily new cases could surpass 100,000 new infections per day if the outbreak continues at its current pace.
“I can’t make an accurate prediction but it’s going to be very disturbing,” Fauci told senators at a June 30 hearing held by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. “We are now having 40-plus-thousand new cases a day. I would not be surprised if we go up to 100,000 a day if this does not turn around, and so I am very concerned.”
But the U.S. probably isn’t diagnosing all infections in the country, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says, because some people remain asymptomatic and never get tested. Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the CDC, has said the U.S. is probably diagnosing 1 in 10 cases.
Former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb, however, said earlier this week the U.S. is probably catching an even smaller portion of all infections because some areas with major outbreaks don’t have enough resources to test everyone who wants to be tested.
“The CDC says we’re diagnosing 1 in 10 now,” he said Monday on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.” “We’re probably more like 1 in 12 because these states are getting pressed and we’re falling behind.”
Cases are growing, on average, by at least 5% in 37 states as of Tuesday, according to a CNBC analysis of data collected by Hopkins. CNBC uses a seven-day trailing average to smooth out spikes in data reporting to identify where cases are rising and falling.
Coronavirus-related hospitalizations are also up, on average, by at least 5% in 24 states, according to CNBC’s analysis of data from Hopkins.
Some of the increase in total cases is likely due to increased testing. Nationally, the U.S. has ramped up testing from an average of just over 174,000 diagnostic tests per day through April to an average of more than 650,000 tests per day so far in July, according to a CNBC analysis of data compiled by the Covid Tracking Project. However, the percent of tests coming back positive has also risen, which epidemiologists say is a sign of a virus that is spreading more rapidly.
While new coronavirus cases have continued to soar, deaths caused by Covid-19 have remained stable and comparatively low. Fauci and other health officials have attributed this both to better clinical care for Covid-19 patients thanks to new treatment strategies as well as to the comparatively low average age of people infected with the virus now.
On Monday, Fauci said the average age of people infected with the virus has dropped about 15 years compared with the average age of patients earlier in the outbreak. That’s significant because the older people appear more likely to develop a severe case, require medical attention and die from Covid-19, according to data from the CDC.
However, Fauci has warned that Covid-19 deaths lag a few weeks behind case diagnosis because of the time it takes for someone to develop symptoms, seek testing, get hospitalized and die. He has added that the more young people who get infected, the greater risk there is that young people will pass the virus on to more vulnerable people, which includes the elderly and anyone, regardless of age, with underlying conditions like diabetes.
“There are more cases. There are more hospitalizations in some of those places and soon you’ll be seeing more deaths,” Fauci said in an interview last month with CNBC’s Meg Tirrell that was aired by the Milken Institute. “Even though the deaths are coming down as a country, that doesn’t mean that you’re not going to start seeing them coming up now.”
Beyond the number of deaths, scientists are still researching the long-term health consequences of contracting the virus. Some research has indicated the potential to cause long-term respiratory harm and damage to other organs.
“It’s a false narrative to take comfort in a lower rate of death,” Fauci said Tuesday during a live-streamed event with Democratic Sen. Doug Jones of Alabama. “There’s so many other things that are very dangerous and bad about this virus. Don’t get yourself into false complacency.”
Disclosure: Scott Gottlieb is a CNBC contributor and is a member of the boards of Pfizer, genetic-testing start-up Tempus and biotech company Illumina.