Health and Science

Daily coronavirus cases in the U.S. fall below 50,000 for seven straight days after summer surge

Key Points
  • New coronavirus cases in the U.S. grew by nearly 48,700 on Friday, marking seven consecutive days the daily count fell below 50,000, according to Johns Hopkins University data. 
  • The coronavirus has infected more than 5.6 million people in the U.S. as of Saturday, making up roughly a quarter of the globe's reported cases. 
  • The decline comes as universities and schools across the country grapple with returning students to the classroom safely. 
Shannon Axelsson takes a break from sitting on the beach to be tested for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Revere, Massachusetts, August 11, 2020.
Brian Snyder | Reuters

New coronavirus cases in the U.S. grew by nearly 48,700 on Friday, marking seven consecutive days the daily count fell below 50,000 as the nation gradually descends from a summer of outbreaks. 

The coronavirus has infected more than 5.6 million people in the U.S. as of Saturday, roughly a quarter of the globe's reported cases, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The U.S. recorded at least 1,100 deaths Friday, bringing its death toll above 175,000. 

"I think we're seeing progress over the last four weeks, I hope that progress will continue, but I think none of us should turn away from the recognition that it's key each of us recognize we want to make sure Covid stops with us," Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield told reporters on a conference call Friday.

There are more than 10 states reporting growing cases, based on a seven-day moving average to smooth out daily reporting, according to a CNBC analysis of data collected by Johns Hopkins. Many of the states are in the Midwest, including Iowa, Kansas, Illinois, North Dakota and South Dakota. 

While new U.S. cases have fallen by nearly 17% compared with a week ago, based on a seven-day average, public health experts have recently questioned the accuracy of some declines due to reduced testing. Coronavirus testing in the U.S. has also been hampered by severe delays. 

"I really have come to believe we have entered a real, new, emerging crisis with testing and it is making it hard to know where the pandemic is slowing down and where it's not," Dr. Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, said in an interview with CNBC earlier this month. 

The decline comes as universities and schools across the country grapple with returning students to the classroom safely. Some universities, such as the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of Notre Dame, have struggled to contain coronavirus outbreaks since reopening their campuses.  

"The virus is a formidable foe," Notre Dame President Rev. John Jenkins said Tuesday. "For the past week it has been winning." The university announced on Tuesday that it will pause in-person undergraduate classes for at least two weeks, following a steep rise in cases that officials linked to off-campus parties just one week into the fall semester. 

President Donald Trump, however, urged universities to continue with their reopening plans during a White House press briefing Wednesday, saying "there's nothing like being with a teacher as opposed to being on a computer board."

"The iPads are wonderful but you're not going to learn the same way as being there," Trump told reporters. 

Trump reiterated that younger people are less susceptible to severe disease from Covid-19 as older adults, though public health officials have warned there could be long-term lingering effects from infection and not all young adults are immune to serious outcomes. 

Roughly 80% of fatalities in the U.S. from Feb.12 to May 18 were 65 years or older, according to a July report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The agency also said in June that the hospitalization rate for people who test positive for the coronavirus in their 20s is under 4%. 

— CNBC's Will Feuer and Christina Farr contributed to this report.