The number of reported Covid-19 cases around the world has exceeded 25 million, with the US, Brazil and India leading the grim number, according to Johns Hopkins University.
The coronavirus has killed more than 843,000 people worldwide since it emerged from Wuhan, China, late last year. America reports the majority of the deaths. The US, Mexico, and Brazil account for more than 40% of the world's death toll, according to Johns Hopkins.
The reported Covid-19 cases topped 10 million for the first time at the end of June and, according to Johns Hopkins, hit 20 million on August 10 a little more than six weeks later.
"This virus will be with us for a while. Without a vaccine, it will be with us for years," said Carissa Etienne, director of the Pan American Health Organization and regional director of the World Health Organization for America, during a news conference Tuesday. "Reopening doesn't mean the fight is over."
Some European countries have recently started to report a resurgence in cases. France's Prime Minister Jean Castex said the virus had spread rapidly among young people, forcing the government to intervene. Castex said France "must do everything possible to avoid a new restriction," the Associated Press reported Thursday.
Hopkins said infections in Spain, which has the highest case count among European countries, have risen to almost 440,000 since the country lifted its lockdown in late June.
The US continues to grapple with the world's worst outbreak and largest reported number of cases, although growth in new cases seems to have slowed after a summer of strong outbreaks.
The US reported an average of 42,000 new infections per day last week, a decrease of more than 3.0% from the previous week. This is evident from a CNBC analysis of Hopkins' data. New cases in the U.S. peaked at 67,317 daily cases on July 22, based on an average of seven days after coronavirus cases recurred in the Sun Belt states in June and July.
"The current plan – wear a mask, observe the distance, wash your hands, complemented by smart testing as per government plans, surge tests and extreme technical assistance from CDC and our craft teams – continues to produce results," Assistant Health Secretary Brett Giroir said Reporters on a conference call last week.
However, health officials are concerned that the coronavirus could spread to the American heartland. According to a CNBC analysis of Hopkins' data, cases in Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota grew 19% or more on Sunday.
Robert Redfield, director of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, recently told Dr. Howard Bauchner of the Journal of the American Medical Association said there are worrying signs in the middle of the country where cases appear to be plateauing but not falling. Redfield said the area is "getting stuck," which is a problem as seasonal influenza threatens to overwhelm hospitals and cause preventable deaths.
"We don't need a third wave in the heartland now," he said. "We have to prevent that especially when we come in autumn."
The US is preparing to distribute a vaccine expected early next year as part of the Trump administration's Operation Warp Speed. Health officials have said there is no return to "normal" until a vaccine is distributed.
On Wednesday, the CDC proposed guidelines on who should receive their first doses once a vaccine candidate is approved, giving priority to healthcare workers, essential staff, and vulnerable Americans such as the elderly and those with underlying health conditions.
White House coronavirus advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said the initial supply of vaccine doses is expected to be limited and at least 800 million doses will not be widely available to Americans for "several months" into 2021 once vaccinations are completed later this year or early next year.
Russia registered a vaccine called "Sputnik V" on Aug. 11, despite scientists warning that its candidate has only gone through phase one and two clinical trials, rather than large human trials, to prove the vaccine's effectiveness. Russia said it would start phase three trials in August.
– CNBC's Will Feuer, Berkeley Lovelace Jr., and Holly Ellyatt contributed to this report.