There have been more than 6.7 million coronavirus cases and more than 198,000 deaths in the United States, according to the WorldoMeters database. Despite improvement in recent weeks, the rate of infections remains elevated heading into the fall.
The spread of the coronavirus continues at a national rate of 35,000 cases per day.
All of this has occurred in the eight months since the first case was reported in January, with 74% of all cases occurring since the Memorial Day weekend. Expectations are for a wave of new infections in the wake of Labor Day gatherings.
In the first figure below, we show that the spread of the coronavirus continues at a national rate of 35,000 cases per day. At the current declining rate of exponential spread, the second figure anticipates the cumulative number of cases to approach 6.9 million in the coming week. In the third figure, we show that deaths from COVID-19 infections are now occurring at a rate of 750 per day.
Those figures show that the rate of spread and number of daily deaths are significantly lower than their peaks at the start of August. We attribute the reduction in cases to the spread of the virus into less-populated states in the Midwest and upper Midwest and to recent actions of governors to minimize the spread in Sun Belt states.
Regarding the decline in deaths, physicians have pointed to the accumulated knowledge of caregivers since the onset of the virus and to the younger demographics of newly infected people.
Despite these encouraging trends, we need to keep in mind that the virus has not gone away. We all have developed COVID-fatigue, and in states where the peak of infection has passed, there is a natural tendency to lower your guard. It’s hard to pass up dinner with friends, particularly after months of isolation. And the crowds at the beach over the Labor Day weekend attest to a population hoping for a break from a dispiriting routine.
The summer of 2020 took a terrible toll on mid-American states. As the first figure below shows, the virus was spreading by 54,000 people per day across the South and Southwest at its July peak, before dropping to 27,000 per day after Labor Day. The second figure shows that COVID-19 deaths in the interior states peaked a few weeks later at 950 per day in early August before dropping below 600 per day after Labor Day.
California alone accounts for 47% of cases among the six states with major metropolitan centers — New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Illinois and California — that bore the brunt of infections from January through April. California also accounts for 10% of total U.S. cases.
Of those six major states, only California (with a 3.5% average weekly growth rate) is reporting increasing number of cases since Memorial Day. Cases in New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts are decreasing at weekly rates of 5% to 6% on average.
Nationally, 36 states are reporting increasing average weekly growth rates of infection since the Memorial Day weekend, as listed in the table below.
For more information on how the coronavirus is affecting midsize businesses, please visit the RSM Coronavirus Resource Center.