Warnings of a COVID 'Canary in a Coal Mine'

Not enough testing spells trouble as US exceeds 9 million cases, sets daily high for new infections
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 31, 2020 6:30 AM CDT
'Every Second' in the US, a New COVID Diagnosis
Stock photo.   (Getty Images/eranicle)

"Grim milestone" is getting too much work in 2020, and it made yet another appearance on Friday, as the number of coronavirus cases in the US exceeded 9 million. CNN reports that the jump from 8 million to 9 million took just two weeks—the shortest amount of time 1 million cases have racked up in the United States since the pandemic started. ABC News notes that, according to multiple trackers, the country also set a single-day record for new cases for the second day in a row. Johns Hopkins University puts that number at 92,630 for the 24 hours between Thursday and Friday. Individual states are also continuing to smash their own daily case records: Per the university, nine states—Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Michigan, New Mexico, Ohio, North Carolina, and North Dakota—all reported their highest counts yet on Thursday.

"We now have one person being diagnosed [with] coronavirus every second," Dr. Leana Wen, the former health commissioner of Baltimore, tells CNN. "We have one American dying of coronavirus every two minutes, and that number is increasing." What's worrying Wen most is the test positivity rates she's seeing, with one out of every two people coming back positive in certain states. "That means that we're not doing nearly enough testing, and that every person who tests positive is a canary in a coal mine," she says, noting that suggests "dozens" of positive cases not being detected. What's driving the newest surge of COVID-19 cases, according to CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield: a "silent epidemic" of infections that show no symptoms and pass among 12- to 30-year-olds, before then being transmitted to older people. (More coronavirus stories.)

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