Coronavirus: Is the pandemic getting worse in the US?

Graphic depicting an American woman wearing a face mask
News in the United States has been dominated by protests against racism in recent weeks, but the coronavirus is now back in the headlines.
Several states have had a record number of cases in the past few days, leading to fears that the country will experience a second wave of infections.
But Vice President Mike Pence said these fears were "exaggerated" and accused the media of using "bleak predictions" to scare the American people.
So what's going on in the US?
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The number of infections is increasing
With more than two million cases of coronavirus, the United States has the highest number of confirmed infections worldwide - about a quarter of the total worldwide.
The situation became very bad in late March, but by May the number of cases had declined and most states had started to loosen the restrictions in place to stop the virus from spreading.
However, the number of new cases rarely dropped below 20,000, as some states brought their outbreaks under control and others were just beginning to see relapses.
Graph of the number of daily cases in the United States
For this reason, leading US infectious disease official Anthony Fauci sees the current situation as a continuation of the first outbreaks.
"People always talk about a second wave," he told a reporter last week. "We are still in a first wave."
Peaks in cases in these new hotspots mean that the country's seven days average has risen several days in a row for the first time since the peak of the cases in early April.
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There are big regional differences
The northeast was by far the most affected region. About a quarter of all US cases and more than a third of all US deaths occurred in the states of New York and New Jersey. But in the past few weeks, the region has brought its outbreaks under control.
In the south and west of the country, however, the number of infections has increased significantly, according to the COVID Tracking Project.
Graph showing regional differences in the number of daily cases
There is no debate about whether cases will reappear, but there is why.
President Donald Trump blames increased testing and tells the Wall Street Journal that "tests are overrated" because "we look bad in many ways."
The US has done more tests than any other country - about 25 million so far - which in some way explains why there are most cases worldwide, although international comparisons are difficult for a number of reasons.
However, there are numerous indications that the recent increase in infections is due to more than just a higher number of people tested.
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The increase in cases is not only due to further tests
Twice in the past week, there have been more new cases in Arizona than in the entire region with nine states in the northeast, and this is not only due to increased testing.
This becomes clear when you look at the rate of coronavirus tests that are positive.
If many tests were done and the spread of the virus was reduced, the positive fall rate would also decrease. If the virus is still widespread, it will increase.
The positive fall rate at the national level is currently just under 5%. This is the level that the World Health Organization recommends countries to be 14 days or less before they relax the restrictions on movement.
But about a third of the states are above that level, as the chart below shows, and all have reopened to some extent in the past month.
Graph with the positive fall rate for states with more than 5%
The number of people hospitalized has also risen in some of these states, including Texas, where some reopened bars and restaurants are now closing, the Texas Tribune reports fears of a new flood of cases.
With the number of cases increasing and an economy in dire need of restoration, many officials are looking for face masks to slow the spread of the virus. California, North Carolina and several US cities have required or required their use last week.
But masks have become increasingly politicized in the past few weeks, and President Trump said some people wear them mainly to show resistance to him.
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The deaths are trending down - for now
Amidst all concerns about new hotspots, the most positive news in the US right now is that daily deaths continue to decrease.
They peaked in May when the eruptions in the northeast were most intense. In the state of New York alone, around 1,000 were registered every day. This week it's around 40 a day.
However, deaths are a measure of lag behind cases and hospitalizations because it can take several weeks for the worst affected to die from the disease. This means that in some cases the consequences of the current peaks are not visible for at least a few weeks.
Graph showing the number of daily deaths in the United States
If we see the death toll rising, there will likely be some pressure on governors to reinstate restrictions, but Dr. Fauci doesn't think this will happen.
"I don't think we'll talk about locking again," he said last week. "I think we'll talk about better controlling areas of the country where there seems to be a flood of cases."
Researchers are running to make a vaccine, but it's clear that the Americans and the rest of the world won't be living with the virus until next year at the earliest.
To date, the United States has recorded approximately 120,000 coronavirus deaths - the highest death toll in the world.
However, a forecasting model from University of Washington experts cited by the White House in the past predicts that by October - a month before the election - the number will have exceeded 200,000.
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