US COVID cases surge to nearly 60K as pandemic wave builds

New cases rose in at least 35 states over the past week

(CNN) – Johns Hopkins University reported more than 59,000 new coronavirus cases and 985 new COVID-19 deaths across the United States on Wednesday.

That has health experts worried about what will happen as the holidays approach and the country faces another surge in the pandemic.

New cases rose in at least 35 states over the past week, while the nation averaged more than 50,000 new cases a day.

“For the short term, we have to hunker down," said CNN medical analyst, Dr. Jonathan Reiner. “We have to get through this season.”

All of this comes with end-of-the-year holidays on the horizon.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, thinks Americans should reconsider travel plans.

"That is a risk,' Fauci said. “You may have to bite the bullet and sacrifice that social gathering unless you’re pretty certain that the people that you’re dealing with are not infected.”

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As Iowa reached a COVID positivity rate over 18% this week, President Donald Trump held an event in Des Moines. There were few masks in the crowd and little to no social distancing.

The president is also scheduled to hold an event in Wisconsin Saturday as the state experiences a coronavirus surge. There were over 3,100 new infections Wednesday.

A circuit court judge has temporarily blocked Gov. Tony Evers' efforts to restrict public gatherings.

“Just because some folks out there want to see full bars and full hospitals doesn’t mean we have to listen,” Evers said. “The longer it takes for folks to take this virus seriously the longer it will take to take to get our economy and communities back.”

Fauci warns that large gatherings are dangerous.

“When people are close to each other and you don’t have virtually everyone wearing a mask, that is a risky situation that could very well lead to the kind of spreader events that we have seen in similar settings,” he said.

In college sports, the virus has sidelined the University of Florida football program after at least 21 players tested positive for COVID.

And Alabama football coach Nick Saban is self-isolating at home after he also tested positive.

“This was routine testing every day. We test our players every day. I get tested every day. I feel fine. I felt fine. I was very surprised by this,” he said.

Looking ahead, Fauci said he expects a safe and effective coronavirus vaccine may be widely available by April 2021, a year after the start of the pandemic.

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