The United States surpassed 4 million confirmed COVID-19 cases on Thursday, a mere two weeks after hitting the 3 million mark, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.
The surge in confirmed coronavirus cases cannot be explained by increases in testing alone. As testing has expanded in the U.S., the rate of people testing positive should have fallen. Instead, that rate has nearly doubled in recent weeks. While the average number of tests conducted each day has grown by 80% since early June (to 780,000 per day), The New York Times reported Wednesday, daily case counts have grown by 215% in the same period.
Four months into the pandemic, the rate of positive tests is falling in only 14 states. The U.S. outbreak has had an outsize effect on Black, Latinx and Indigenous people, who are four to five times more likely than white people to be infected, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
With around 380,000 confirmed cases among its 22 million people, including more than 77,000 in the last seven days, Florida is home to the country’s most severe outbreak. Despite those numbers, Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) continues to push a hasty reopening schedule and refuses to issue a mask requirement, which health experts say is key to slowing the spread of the disease.
President Donald Trump also continues to downplay the severity of the outbreak in the U.S.
“The virus will disappear. It will disappear,” he said during a White House briefing on the pandemic on Tuesday.
But amid the worsening outbreak, even Trump has been forced to change his tune slightly. At that same briefing, he acknowledged for the first time that “it will get worse before it gets better” and firmly endorsed wearing masks.