The government's top public health officials warned that the number of COVID-19 cases is rising across a majority of the country in a rare briefing Wednesday afternoon, NBC News reports.
Dr. Jay Butler, deputy director for infectious diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said the agency has noted a "distressing trend" in which coronavirus case numbers are "increasing in nearly 75 percent of the country."
"This past week, we've seen nearly 60,000 cases a day on average, as well as 700 deaths," he said.
Butler, a respected career scientist at the agency, spoke Wednesday at a rare on-camera media briefing at the CDC's headquarters in Atlanta, alongside Dr. Robert Redfield, the CDC's director, and Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar.
Much of the increase in cases is centered in the Midwest. States like Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska and Wisconsin have recorded rises in COVID-19 case numbers in the last two weeks. Public health officials attribute the spikes, in part, to cooler weather that is forcing people indoors.