The University of Chicago doctor who captured the nation's attention with an impassioned, but rather blunt plea for social distancing is advising people to hunker down and limit social contacts as Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin all see record COVID-19 case numbers.
Illinois' daily case total topped 4,000 for the second straight day on Friday as the state reported its highest single-day testing total of the pandemic so far.
Illinois also broke its record for the most cases reported in the past seven days, with 22,656 new cases. A total of 221 deaths were reported over the same time frame, the highest one-week death toll since June 30.
"It looks a bit like we’re climbing a mountain," said Dr. Emily Landon, executive medical director of Infection Prevention and Control with the University of Chicago Medicine. "We went up in March and April then came down a bit, but not all the way to the bottom. Now we’re coming back up again."
Landon added that she's concerned the current peak will be higher than the one Illinois experienced in the summer.
As of Friday, Illinois had the third highest case count in the nation, behind Texas and California.
"Everyone is getting sick of COVID," Landon acknowledged. "I’m getting sick, you're sick of COVID, and the idea of continuing to make sacrifices as we head into the fall and to have another winter stuck at home is weighing heavily on peoples' minds."
Wisconsin is now reporting so many daily cases, that it ranks fourth in the country for its seven-day tally of new cases, behind Illinois, which has more than twice its population.
Similarly, Indiana reported its highest one-day case count ever for the second day in a row, with 2,328 new cases. The state also conducted its highest number of tests within a 24-hour period.
"This is not unexpected," Landon said. "Exactly what everyone predicted would happen as weather got cooler, air gets dryer, people come inside, and a lot of states have been trying to open up."
People can still have dinner with others and take part in activities, the infection specialist said, but wearing a mask is crucial.
"Those people who put themselves in a category of not wanting to wear a mask, thinking that they’re somehow unsafe, they are not," the doctor said. "These people are going to do a lot more damage in winter indoors than in the summer outdoors."
Landon said individuals need to limit their close contacts - whether they live alone or in a house with several other people.
"I don’t think there’s any part of this country escaping this pandemic without having a big surge at one point or another, and we’re seeing that in communities in the Midwest now," she said.