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CDC Warns of 'Distressing' COVID Surge

Small gatherings are partly driving the surge.

Coronavirus rates are rising in more than 75 percent of the U.S., prompting a stark assessment from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

"Unfortunately, we're seeing a distressing trend here in the United States," said Jay Butler, the CDC's deputy director for infectious diseases, at a media briefing Wednesday. He said the surge is likely due to the arrival of cooler weather, but small gatherings are also responsible. "Smaller, more intimate gatherings of family, friends and neighbors may be driving transmission as well, especially as they move indoors." Read on to see how you can stay safe, and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus.

Fighting COVID—and COVID fatigue

The U.S. is now reporting about 60,000 new COVID-19 cases daily. That's nearly a 17% increase from last week. As of Tuesday, only Hawaii and Virginia reported a decline in cases of more than 5%. Health officials continue to urge that Americans follow public health recommendations to slow the spread of the virus, even if "COVID fatigue" has set in.  

"I recognize that we are all getting tired of the impact that COVID-19 has had on our lives. We get tired of wearing masks, but it continues to be as important as it's ever been, and I would say it's more important than ever as we move into the fall season," said Butler.

Officials have also encouraged Americans to rethink their Thanksgiving plans to protect vulnerable relatives.

RELATED: 11 Symptoms of COVID You Never Want to Get

How to stay healthy

"Simple things that we all could be doing: Wear your mask, keep that six-foot distance, and don't congregate indoors, whatever you do, and wash your hands," advised Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, said on NPR's Morning Edition Tuesday. 

"People are tired of it, and yet the virus is not tired of us," he added.

More than 220,000 Americans have died as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 7.8 million cases have been recorded, although the number is likely higher.

Butler said a safe and effective coronavirus vaccine will be available "very soon" and that he's "cautiously optimistic" some people will be able to receive it by the end of the year.

One model by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation estimates that the U.S. could see more than 394,000 deaths by Feb. 1—but if mask wearing becomes universal, 79,000 lives could be saved.

As for yourself, do everything you can to prevent getting—and spreading—COVID-19 in the first place: Wear your face mask, get tested if you think you have coronavirus, avoid crowds (and bars, and house parties), practice social distancing, only run essential errands, wash your hands regularly, disinfect frequently touched surfaces, and to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Michael Martin
Michael Martin is a New York City-based writer and editor whose health and lifestyle content has also been published on Beachbody and Openfit. A contributing writer for Eat This, Not That!, he has also been published in New York, Architectural Digest, Interview, and many others. Read more about Michael
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