The U.S. coronavirus case count surpassed 6 million on Monday, less than eight months after the first American case of the virus was recorded, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
The milestone comes a little over three weeks after the country topped 5 million cases on August 9.
While infections are falling in nearly every state and the death count appears to have plateaued, states in the Midwest and reopening colleges have become spots of concern.
Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota all reported record one-day increases in the number of new COVID-19 cases last week.
“August should have been a slow month,” said Dr. Scott Gottlieb, a former Food and Drug Administration commissioner on CBS’ Face the Nation on Sunday. “We should have seen infection levels come down in July and August. They didn’t. We saw an epidemic cross over the Sun Belt, and we saw infections actually increase.”
Still, the progress made by other states has been encouraging.
“As a nation, we are clearly doing better now on the last day of August than we were on the first day of August,” Dr. Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, told CNN.
“(Daily) cases have come down. Deaths are starting to decline. Hospitalizations are down. This is good news, and it’s largely because of smart policies in Texas and Arizona and Florida around masking and closing bars,” Jha said.
The U.S. is averaging just over 42,000 daily new cases, down from roughly 65,000 during the height of this summer’s outbreak of the virus that has killed over 183,000 Americans.
Experts caution that the number of confirmed cases in the U.S., which is the highest in the world, is likely an undercount, with tens of millions more cases that have likely gone unrecorded.
Robert Redfield, the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated in June that for every case reported, there were 10 other infections.