Any incremental improvements in the Midwest have been more than offset by growing outbreaks elsewhere in the country. In Los Angeles County, Calif., where cases have soared past the levels seen this summer, to an average of more than 4,000 a day, restaurants can no longer offer indoor or outdoor dining starting Wednesday evening. Around Miami, reports of new cases have more than quadrupled since the start of October, though they remain below the peak levels seen in July.
“We fully anticipate it’s going to increase, but we just want to do whatever we can to not get into the same position we were over the summer,” said Dr. Peter Paige, who was recently appointed the chief medical officer of Miami-Dade County. “It’s a real threat.”
Epidemiologists and public health officials around the country said the reason for resurging outbreaks could be explained by a simple variable: what people choose to do.
Dr. Debra Bogen, the health director in Pittsburgh’s Allegheny County, told reporters last week that the fast-paced increase in local cases was fueled by people letting down their guard.
“The virus itself hasn’t changed — what has is our behavior,” Dr. Bogen said, recounting the story of an informal homecoming dance, organized by parents in a local school district, that turned out to be an event that led to multiple confirmed cases.
In Kansas, Anil Gharmalkar, 41, who owns a trucking company and lives in the town of Oswego, believed that the virus was a “big city problem,” unlikely to affect him.
Then he got infected.
“Covid didn’t care what I believed,” Mr. Gharmalkar said in a video posted by the University of Kansas Health System, where he has been treated and received a breathing device that has been implanted in his throat. “I gave lip service to being careful, and I could have been more careful, and I wish I would have been.”