The news of President Donald Trump’s positive coronavirus test, and his subsequent hospitalisation, has reminded the country that no-one is protected from this virus.
So where is the US right now in dealing with the pandemic?
What’s the overall picture?
With about 7.5 million coronavirus cases, the US has the highest number of confirmed infections in the world – about one fifth of the global total despite having only 4% of the population.
After the initial spike in late March, social distancing restrictions across the country gradually brought infections to heel. By May, case numbers had stabilised. But as states peeled back lockdown measures, cases began to rise, reaching a countrywide high in July.
But as summer hotspots – like Arizona, Florida and California – brought their outbreaks under control, surges have developed elsewhere, with quick-moving outbreaks in North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin.
In recent weeks, the country has experienced yet another rise in infections, with national cases rising for three weeks in a row. Though numbers have so far not reached the record-breaking levels of July and August, the country is reporting more than 40,000 new cases each day.
Hospitalisations, too, are on the rise. According to data compiled by the Covid Tracking Project, the average number of people hospitalised for coronavirus in a week rose recently for the first time since July.
Why are cases rising?
It’s difficult to explain precisely why.
One contributing factor has been the return to school for US students.
A recent study from the US Centers for Disease Control on the almost 100,000 coronavirus cases reported between 2 August and 5 September – around when college students began their return to school – found that weekly cases among those aged 18-22 increased by 55% nationally.
The greatest increases came from the Northeast (which includes New York, Connecticut and New Jersey) and the Midwest, which is a region located west of the Northeast, including Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Wisconsin.
There have now been more than 130,000 cases identified at more than 1,300 American colleges, according to reporting from the New York Times.