This Many Americans Could Die From Just One Day of Record-High Infections

The July 4th holiday will likely lead to thousands of coronavirus deaths.

In the past two weeks, the U.S. has—more than once—surged past its previous record-high day of new coronavirus cases. The previous peak was on April 24, when 36,738 new cases were reported. But at the end of June, daily new cases surpassed that number, then surpassed 40,000. On July 3, the country marked the record that still stands for now: 56,567 new cases of COVID-19. These mounting numbers have infectious disease experts and health officials more concerned than ever about the future, not only as it pertains to the U.S.'s ability to take control of the spread, but also to the mortality rate. Speaking to CNN, chief of infectious diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital, Rochelle Walensky, MD, MPH explained how many coronavirus deaths could occur after just one record-high day of infections.

"We know of the 50,000 cases this past day—a single day of this [holiday] weekend," she said. (The U.S. recorded 50,174 new cases on July 4.) "If they're young people, it could be 500 people who die from that. If they're older people, it could be 7,500 people who die from that—just from a single day of infection."

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Walensky noted that each infected individual has the potential to infect two to three others, even if they never experience symptoms or ever realize that they're positive. That's why holiday celebrations, bars reopening, and other relaxations of social distancing are so disturbing to experts: While COVID-19 poses less of a threat to young people without underlying conditions, who are less likely to have a serious case, they can and do spread the disease to more vulnerable people.

"You see the footage of what happened this past weekend," Walensky said, referring to July 4th parties and other social gatherings. "People are either naive to the influence of their actions, or they're simply resigned to ignore it."

On July 6, Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said that the average age of coronavirus patients has dropped 15 years in the past few months. He warned that while the mortality is lower for younger patients, COVID-19 can still be debilitating to people in their 20s, 30s, and 40s. He urged young people to stick to social distancing measures both to protect their own health and to look out for others.

"They could infect someone who infects someone, and then all of a sudden, someone's grandmother, grandfather, or aunt who's getting chemotherapy for breast cancer gets infected," Fauci said. "You're part of the propagation of the pandemic, so it's your responsibility to yourself as well as to society to avoid infection." And for more on the COVID mortality rate, Here's Why Coronavirus Deaths Are Going to Spike Again, Experts Say.

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