By Ciara Linnane, MarketWatch
An earlier version of this report had incorrect numbers of new cases for the Dakotas. It has been corrected.
The U.S. case tally for the coronavirus illness COVID-19 climbed above 8.7 million on Tuesday, with more than 20 states counting record numbers of new infections, as more business curfews were announced to combat the spread.
The U.S. has counted an average of at least 71,000 new cases of the coronavirus illness COVID-19 in the last seven days, according to the New York Times, the highest seven-day number since the start of the outbreak. On Monday, new cases totaled at least 74,300.
The Midwest and Mountain West are the current hot spots, led by the Dakotas. Those states were hit hard after the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in August drew about 500,000 bikers to the small town, most of whom were filmed gathering closely in bars and restaurants without wearing face masks.
North Dakota counted 659 new cases on Monday, according to the New York Time’s tracker, while South Dakota added 538, the highest numbers in the nation measured per 100,000 people.
Dr. Deborah Birx, coordinator of the White House Task Force created to manage the pandemic, visited North Dakota on Monday and warned that she was seeing the lowest use of face masks that she has seen while traveling around the country.
“Over the last 24 hours as we were here and we were in your grocery stores and in your restaurants and frankly even in your hotels, this is the least use of masks that we have we seen in retail establishments of any place we have been,” Dr. Deborah Birx told reporters after the meeting, according to the Bismarck Tribune. “And we find that deeply unfortunate because you don’t know who’s infected and you don’t know if you’re infected yourself.”
There are currently 42,917 Americans hospitalized with COVID-19, according to the COVID Tracking Project, the highest number since Aug. 19. There are 8,842 patients in intensive care units. Hospitals in many parts of the country are seeing record numbers of COVID-19 patients and resources are rapidly becoming stretched. Utah has warned that it may have to start rationing care of the most ill people in ICUs, the Washington Post reported.
Newark is the latest city and first area in New Jersey to introduce a business curfew, starting Tuesday. Businesses will be required to close at 8 p.m. New Jersey, an early hot spot in the pandemic, has lost 16,292 lives to the virus, according to data aggregated by Johns Hopkins University.
A USA Today analysis of President Donald Trump’s election rallies found that he left a trail of coronavirus outbreaks in his wake. Since mid-August, Trump has staged nearly three dozen rallies, mostly inside airport hangars, defying federal health guidelines and some state orders.
Supporters were filmed gathering closely, many without face masks. USA Today found that cases grew at a faster rate than before after at least five of those rallies in the counties of Blue Earth, Minnesota; Lackawanna, Pennsylvania; Marathon, Wisconsin; Dauphin, Pennsylvania; and Beltrami, Minnesota.
There were 1,500 more new cases in the two weeks after Trump rallies than the two weeks before for a total of 9,647, up from 8,069, according to USA Today.
A new study has found that a national face mask mandate could significantly reduce COVID-19 deaths in the next few months, as flu season arrives and people are expected to gather more indoors. Researchers at the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation estimate that a mask mandate could save nearly 130,000 lives by February of 2021, MarketWatch’s Elisabeth Buchwald reported. The study was published in Nature Medicine, a peer-reviewed medical journal.
In 39 U.S. states, it’s a requirement that people wear masks and in some places, failure to wear a facial covering can result in a fine. But in 11 states where masks are recommended, but not mandated, people in some areas can shop in supermarkets, ride public transportation and even go to school without a mask.
In the absence of a universal mask mandate, the researchers forecast that approximately 511,000 people total will die from COVID-19 in the U.S. by February 2021. That’s also based on the assumption that businesses and schools will close if the daily death rate is at least 8 deaths per million population. It also takes into account survey evidence compiled from sources including Facebook and YouGov that tracks people’s mask wearing behavior.
If 95% of the population in the U.S. wore masks, the researchers projected about 381,000 cumulative deaths in the U.S. by Feb. 2021.
“Under all scenarios evaluated here, the United States is likely to face a continued public health challenge from the COVID-19 pandemic through 28 February 2021 and beyond, with populous states in particular potentially facing high levels of illness, deaths and ICU demands as a result of the disease,” the study states.
In other news:
• With the Dow Jones Industrial Average /zigman2/quotes/210598065/realtime DJIA +1.60% suffering on Monday its biggest single-day drop since early September and the coronavirus pandemic picking up steam, Washington threw in the towel on efforts to help the economy, MarketWatch’s Jonathan Nicholson reported. The Senate, after confirming Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination for the U.S. Supreme Court, closed up shop until after the election, allowing its members to depart the capital and join their House counterparts on the campaign trail, where the representatives have been since early October. The Senate action, which had been expected, marks the final shoe to drop on three months of negotiations involving the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Senate Republicans to get a deal done in time to take credit at the polls. The news will disappoint the millions of Americans who are out of work and have almost exhausted their savings.
• Germany is close to reaching 20,000 new coronavirus infections a day, economy minister Peter Altmaier told a German-French economic conference in Berlin, Reuters reported. His warning comes a day after Chancellor Angela Merkel said the country, which was widely admired for its initial efforts to contain the spread, was close to losing control of the pandemic. “We are dealing with exponential growth,” Altmaier said. “In Germany the number of new infections is rising by 70-75% compared to the week before.” Merkel is expected to move forward talks planned for Wednesday with the leaders of Germany’s 16 states on the next steps.
• Russia has reinstated a nationwide face mask mandate, after a record 320 people died in a 24-hour period, The Moscow Times reported. Bars and clubs in Moscow will stay open past 11 p.m. and continue to use the QR code check-in system. Russia has 1.5 million confirmed COVID-19 cases, the Johns Hopkins data shows, or fourth highest in the world, and at least 26,409 Russians have died.
• China counted 26 new coronavirus cases in the prefecture of Kashgar between Sunday and Monday, according to broadcaster CGTN. Officials have tested all 4.7 million residents of Kashgar, after finding a cluster of asymptomatic cases that are understood to have come from a textile factory.
Wuhan, Former Pandemic Center, Emerges as Tourist Hot Spot
Wuhan, the city at the center of the coronavirus pandemic, had the most tourists of any Chinese city during a public holiday in October. Wuhan is overcoming its pandemic past and benefiting from its hero-city status to become a top travel destination. Photo: Getty Images
The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 world-wide now stands at 43.6 million, Johns Hopkins data shows, and the death toll is 1.16 million. At least 29 million people have recovered from COVID-19.
The U.S. has the highest case tally at 8.7 million and the highest death toll at 225,765, or about a fifth of the global total.
Brazil has the second highest death toll at 157,397 and is third by cases at 5.4 million. India is second in cases with 7.9 million, and third in deaths at 119,502.
Mexico has the fourth highest death toll at 89,171 and 10th highest case tally at 895,326.