Over 1 million people are known to have died from the novel coronavirus worldwide, with 20% of those fatalities -- over 200,000 -- occurring in the US, which has over 7 million of the world's more than 34 million active cases. With the US president hospitalized with COVID complications, many wonder how a developed nation with vastly more resources than the world's poorest countries could end up among the hardest hit.
There are other pressing questions besides, like when a coronavirus vaccine will be ready and how the start of flu season in the northern hemisphere could accelerate and complicate the COVID-19's spread. Read on for everything we know now. This story updates often and is intended to provide background information only, not medical advice.
McConnell will seek to delay the return of the full Senate until Oct. 19, prompting Minority Leader Chuck Schumer to remark, "If it's too dangerous to have the Senate in session, it is also too dangerous for [Judiciary] committee hearings to continue."
Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican, has been admitted to the hospital for COVID-19 "as a precautionary measure," in part due to his asthma.
The future of a second coronavirus stimulus package is still up in the air, as it remains unclear what, if any, effect the recent outbreak of COVID-19 among top Washington lawmakers will have on negotiations.
What is a superspreader event and why is it concerning?
Social distancing is another key factor, but Americans are still socializing about 80% as much as before the pandemic, according to mobile phone location data. Factor in the research suggesting as few as 10% of infected people account for up to 80% of COVID-19 cases (aka superspreaders) and you've got a recipe for disaster.
Much of the attention aimed at fall has now shifted to concern over the possibility of two potentially lethal viruses circulating at the same time -- COVID-19 and the seasonal flu, the latter of which kills around 40,000 people in the US per year. Because of certain overlapping symptoms such as fever and a cough, it may be harder for doctors to immediately determine which infection you have.
"The real risk is that we're going to have two circulating respiratory pathogens at the same time," Redfield warned when he spoke to Time Magazine regarding the upcoming flu season. Also, if severe COVID-19 infections continue to push hospitals to the brink of their capacity and capabilities, it may also be harder to care for potentially virulent flu patients.
Why do coronavirus case numbers go up and down so much?
"This is like a forest fire, full steam ahead," said renowned epidemiologist Michael Osterholm, who directs the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. "And wherever there's human wood to burn, it'll do it. What we see, though, are these spikes in cases where [lockdowns] ended, or they're not adhering to them."
At one point, about 90% of everyone in the US was under some sort of lockdown order and the curve was starting to flatten. But that all began to change in the second half of April, when a few states started loosening lockdown restrictions. By June, most of the country had almost fully reopened. Not long after, new cases began to surge once again.
Vanderbilt epidemiologist Loren Lipworth told The Washington Post back in July, "As we ease up on restrictions, there is always going to be a resurgence in cases." It's a prediction that is still bearing out.