The nation is nearing a grisly file.
July 16 was arguably the worst pandemic in the United States to date, setting records across the country. By the end of that 24-hour period, an astonishing 75,687 new cases had been reported across the country, the highest number in a single day in the past seven months.
Now the nation is getting closer to that record again. Thursday ended with 75,064 new cases, the second highest number of cases in a single day, and cases continued to pick up on Friday, nearing the record amid a new wave of outbreaks as cold weather set in.
The geography of the coronavirus has changed steadily since the first cases in the United States last winter. It hit the northeast in the spring, the sun belt in the summer, and now the Midwestern and Western states that hold the country’s 10 counties with the most recent cases per capita.
Back in July, Raymond Embry’s small medical clinic in Arizona had about five coronavirus tests a day. That grew to dozens a day, and then it went up: 4,192 people stood in line for tests to find out if they had the coronavirus in a single day.
On July 16, when the nation hit its worst day, Arizona led the nation in recent deaths per capita.
“It was just overwhelming to try to find gloves and masks when people were saying PPE was widespread back then, and that’s just a lie,” Embry said, citing the lack of personal protective equipment that health workers are sure to need Testing.
But in some other parts of the country, the virus felt far away on July 16. The cities of North Dakota held their annual summer festivals. People cheered the rodeos and danced maskless in the streets.
Erin Ourada, the administrator of Custer Health, a health department west of Bismarck, watched it all with foreboding.
“I don’t think the reality has hit the majority of North Dakota,” said Ms. Ourada. It was hard to think back to that summer period, she said this week, when “everyone was still living their life, so to speak, preparing for the next street dance they would meet”.