EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ - After a steady decline from the second COVID-19 wave in July, COVID-19 cases in the USA have begun to increase once again. On October 23, the nation witnessed a new record of 83,757 new daily cases, a figure that, less than two weeks later on November 5, climbed to 132,797 cases.  According to The Washington Post, the first wave peaked in April with about 34,000 new cases per day. The second? July at roughly 76,500 new cases per day.  November 14 alone saw more than 167,000 new cases.    

     Public officials have considered this the start of the third wave of the pandemic and are concerned for this upcoming winter, with worries that indoor gatherings during Thanksgiving and other holidays will drastically increase the rate of infection. UW-Madison Population and Health Sciences Professor Ajay Sethi told ABC that a pre-Thanksgiving quarantine would have had to begin on November 13 to create a safe bubble. 

     Hospitalization numbers have also risen sharply. Currently, more than 59,000 people are battling the virus in hospital care. As of November 9, 45 states had a higher average number of COVID-19 inpatients than a week ago. And as the U.S. enters flu season, experts believe cases of both viruses could overwhelm hospitals even more. 

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     As a result, public health officials are urging the public to adhere to social distancing protocols and to get a flu shot, a vaccination that is 40-60% effective at preventing influenza strains each year. 

      Sophomore Kaylin Chung agreed, saying, “Everyone can help in some way.” This year, CVS stated they have already administered more flu shots across the nation than over the entirety of last year’s flu season.

     However, a potential vaccine for the virus was announced on November 9 by Pfizer, a biopharmaceutical company, showing significant promise in early-stage clinical trials. According to Pfiizer, their vaccine was 90 percent effective. Further trials and data need to be analyzed before the vaccine is made available to the public, but Pfizer estimated it will be able to produce 50 million doses this year.

      Meanwhile, experts advise people to heed public health advice. That means staying socially distanced, hand washing, and wearing a mask, suggestions that EB sophomore and Science Olympiad member Megan Tseng said are “essential if we want to return to normal.”