Coronavirus in the U.S. is spreading like ‘wildfire,’ epidemiologist says

Coronavirus cases are climbing at an alarming rate in the U.S., raising fears that parts of the country are in a third wave of Covid-19.

Nationwide, cases Friday were 79,303, the second day in a row of record-setting confirmed new cases of the coronavirus. Over the weekend, the U.S. added 79,059 cases on Saturday and 64,603 cases on Sunday according to an NBC News tally. According to the COVID Tracking Project, the 7-day average for new cases of the coronavirus is 69,692, the highest number to date. There are also nearly 43,000 Americans hospitalized with Covid-19, the highest number since August 19th.

Fewer than 10 states in the country are not experiencing increases of infection.

During an outbreak, a “wave” comes from the curve used to visualize the number of people infected. If more people get sick every day, the curve goes up. If fewer people get sick every day, the curve goes down. Even during the summer, experts say cases in the U.S. never got to a low-enough level of new cases to make it out of the first wave from the spring when cases rose astronomically.

“I look at it more as an elongated exacerbation of the original first wave,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Monday at an annual event for Yahoo Finance. “It’s kind of semantics. You want to call it the third wave or an extended first wave, no matter how you look at it, it’s not good news.”

Fauci and other experts are particularly concerned that the recent surge in cases is starting from a higher baseline of roughly 40,000 cases per day, compared with 20,000 cases per day during the summer surge.

“Each wave we start from a higher baseline and we start climbing,” Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health said, noting that during the summer, infections were rising most in the South and Southwest. “This time, it’s all around the country and we’re heading into winter, where the virus becomes more efficient in spreading.”

Still, Jha said the terminology isn’t as important as Americans understanding that the growth of new cases can quickly become exponential.

“The metaphor of a wildfire is probably better,” said William Hanage, an associate professor of epidemiology at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. “It’s indisputable that the U.S. is now seeing a pretty widespread transmission across the board.”

Unlike a wave, which comes and passes through, wildfires can be patchy and more intense in areas, similar to the situation in the U.S., Hanage said. Community mitigation efforts such as masking and social distancing can stamp out the spread, but then infections tend to pop up in other areas with more relaxed measures.

Tara Smith, an infectious diseases epidemiologist at Kent State University in Ohio, is not a fan of the wave terminology. “That implies there’s a trough, and our cases have never really declined that significantly,” she said.

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Purdue nutrition epidemiologist elected to National Academy of Medicine

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Regan Bailey’s career as a nutritional epidemiologist has always been about exploring choices people and families make regarding nutrition quality and quantity.

Recently Bailey was honored for her work on measuring nutritional status to optimize health by being elected as one of 100 new members of the National Academy of Medicine.

Bailey, a professor of nutrition science in Purdue’s Department of Nutrition Science, which is housed in the College of Health and Human Sciences, was selected to the academy for her continued work on improving the methods to measure nutritional status for optimal health outcomes including better understanding intake exposures and the use of dietary supplements. Her research has highlighted the pervasive use of dietary supplements and how these products contribute to dietary disparities by race, sex, age and poverty, and how they relate to health. She also directs the Indiana Clinical and Translational Science Institute, Purdue Diet Assessment Center.

The dietary issues facing Americans are something Bailey reviews on a daily basis, especially as she just completed an appointment to the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee.

“Our nation is plagued with obesity and other chronic health conditions, many of which are directly related to low diet quality,” Bailey says. “Nutrition scientists are being valued as part of interdisciplinary groups of scientists and medical professionals with different perspectives and expertise to address critical issues relevant to human health, especially as the field is moving closer to an era of personalized nutrition.”

Purdue President Mitch Daniels said, “Dr. Bailey’s continued research on nutrition and human health is life-changing, persistently pursuing new discoveries. Her nomination and membership into the National Academy of Medicine is a testament to her dedication and expertise to Purdue, the nation and world.”

Bailey has been at Purdue since 2013, starting as an adjunct faculty member before joining full time in 2015. Before Purdue, Bailey was a nutritional epidemiologist and director of career development and outreach at the National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. She is a registered dietitian who completed a dietetic internship and Master of Science in food and nutrition from the Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Bailey received her doctorate in nutrition science from The Pennsylvania State University. She completed a master of public health from the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University.

Established as the Institute of Medicine in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Medicine addresses critical issues in health, science, medicine, and related policy and inspires positive actions across sectors. NAM works alongside the National Academy of Sciences and National Academy of Engineering to provide independent, objective analysis and advice to the nation and conduct other activities to solve complex problems and inform public policy decisions. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine also encourage education and research, recognize outstanding contributions to knowledge, and increase public understanding of STEMM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine). With their election, NAM members make a commitment to volunteer their service in

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