The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States topped three million on Wednesday (July 8). The grim milestone comes one day after the country set a new daily record with 60,021 cases. Over 131,000 people have died from the virus.
When the virus first came to the U.S. in January, it took 99 days for the number of cases to reach one million. Forty-three days later, the number of cases topped two million. In just 28 days, the number of cases climbed above three million.
The latest surge has been led by Arizona, California, Florida, and Texas, which have accounted for nearly half of all new cases in the U.S. in the past few days. They aren't the only states seeing cases rise though, CNBC reports that 37 states have been seeing an average increase of 5% over the past seven days.
With so many Americans sick, health officials are urging people to continue to follow social distancing guidelines and to wear a mask when going out in public. Currently, 35 states and Washington D.C. have mandated people wear masks in public.
"When you look at what we can do that we know works, it's the use of masks, physical distance, and avoiding crowds," Dr. Anthony Fauci said. "So, if you're saying it doesn't matter whether you put it on or take it off, you're giving a wrong, mixed-signal. The signal should be: Wear a mask. Period."
If Americans embrace wearing masks, it could prevent at least 45,000 deaths from COVID-19. A new model from the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation projects there will be 208,000 coronavirus deaths by November 1. If a majority of Americans start wearing masks, that number drops to 163,000.
"It's an incredibly simple strategy and intervention," Dr. Chris Murray said, according to CNN. "It's one that will save lives, but it will also help the economy enormously because it will avoid shutdowns which will inevitably come when things get quickly out of control in some states."
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