As the United States heads into the third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, planning trips for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays is going to be much trickier this year. The most influential public health experts, Covid-19 trackers and models are all predicting that this surge will be bigger, longer and deadlier than the first two.
While President Trump continues to say that the country is “rounding the turn,” all the key metrics are going hard in the wrong direction.
The number of new daily cases is climbing at a dangerous pace. Just nine days ago, when the U.S. was reporting roughly 40,000 new coronavirus cases a day, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, told MSNBC, “I would like to see that level, way, way down, well below 10,000.”
Yesterday, the United States recorded 63,610 new Covid-19 cases, according data from Johns Hopkins University. That number is on a similar level to what the country was seeing in mid-July as the country was climbing the second peak.
The U.S. recently surpassed 8 million Covid-19 cases and 218,000 deaths, but we’re nowhere near to being out of the woods. The death toll is projected to steadily rise throughout the fall and winter until it peaks in mid-January, according to the often-cited model from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington School of Medicine. The same model predicts the illness will claim 171,000 additional fatalities — a whopping 78% increase — between now and February 1, 2021.
For anyone planning a trip between now and early 2021, several Covid-19 tracking tools can help get a handle on how rampant the virus is in your destination.
If you’re traveling in the coming days, turn to the Covid-19 risk-assessment map run by Harvard Global Health Institute and Brown School of Public Health. The color-coded map provides an easy way to assess how quickly the disease is spreading in a state or county. Each community has a rating of green, yellow, orange or red, based upon the number of new daily cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 people over a seven-day rolling average. The number of high-risk states has skyrocketed from four to 17 in the past month.
If your trip is further out, there is a better metric to look at. According to Dr. Fauci, the best predictor of the next hot spot is a rising positivity rate. You can consult Johns Hopkins University’s Covid-19 percent positive map to find out which states are most likely to turn into hot spots. Alarmingly, 29 states — more than half the country — have reported rising positivity rates for two consecutive weeks.