CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield said get-togethers, even small ones, are an “increasing threat”

By Julie Mazziotta
October 14, 2020 01:26 PM
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Small, indoor group gatherings are driving the current spike in new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in the U.S., said Centers for Disease Control Director Dr. Robert Redfield.

As the weather cools down in most of the country, people are holding “small household gatherings” that are leading to an increase spread of COVID-19, Redfield said during a call with U.S. governors on Tuesday, CNN reported.

Though “we’re seeing a higher degree of vigilance and mitigation steps in many jurisdictions,” he said, cases are going up.

"What we're seeing as the increasing threat right now is actually acquisition of infection through small household gatherings," Redfield said.

He urged governors to express the need for caution as the holiday season nears.

"Particularly with Thanksgiving coming up, we think it's really important to stress the vigilance of these continued mitigation steps in the household setting," Redfield said.

Public health experts are recommending that families avoid gathering for the holidays this year, or keep them outdoors and distanced if possible.

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After a dip in September, new COVID-19 cases in the U.S. are once again soaring upwards. There were 54,512 new infections on Oct. 13, The New York Times reported, marking one of the highest daily case totals since August.

More than half of the country is seeing rising rates of infection, with 27 states trending upwards. And 20 states — Alaska, Colorado, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming, Utah and Virginia — all recorded their highest number of new daily cases in the last week.

Midwestern states like North and South Dakota and Wisconsin are seeing the steepest rises. And with hospitalizations spiking, North Dakota is running out of hospital capacity.

“Right now, the hospitals have less than 20 beds available across the state,” Renae Moch, director of Bismarck-Burleigh Public Health, told CNN on Monday.

On Tuesday, Wisconsin broke their previous record for new infections with 3,482 in one day.

“We’re in a crisis right now and need to immediately change our behavior to save lives,” Gov. Tony Evers said while announcing new restrictions on public gatherings this week, according to WDIO.

"This virus can affect anyone, whether you're President of the United States, a worker, a student, a service industry worker, a small business owner, retiree, or an elected official," Evers added. "We need everyone together to take precautions to keep our neighbors and community safe."

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from the WHO and local public health departmentsPEOPLE has partnered with GoFundMe to raise money for the COVID-19 Relief Fund, a GoFundMe.org fundraiser to support everything from frontline responders to families in need, as well as organizations helping communities. For more information or to donate, click here.