After a month of warning signs, this week’s data make it clear: The third surge of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States is underway. Outbreaks have been worsening in many states for more than a month, and new COVID-19 cases jumped 18 percent this week, bringing the seven-day average to more than 51,000 cases a day. Though testing rose by 8 percent nationally, that’s not enough of an increase to explain the steep rise in cases. Meanwhile, COVID-19 hospitalizations, which had previously been creeping upward slowly, jumped more than 14 percent from a week earlier.

Since last Wednesday, states reported 4,796 COVID-19 deaths, an increase of about 3 percent over the previous week. Since the start of the pandemic we have typically seen reported deaths lag behind reported cases by three to four weeks, although reporting delays seem to have worsened in some states, including Florida and Texas…

This week’s spike in new cases was spread across the country, rather than being concentrated in a few states, as we saw in the Northeast in the spring, in the Sun Belt in early June, and in the Midwest over the past few weeks. Seventeen states posted peak new-case days in the past week, including nine of 12 states in the Midwest and six of 11 states in the West.