The Latest: Here comes the third surge

Alexandra Sifferlin
Medium Coronavirus Blog
3 min readOct 21, 2020


Dear Reader,

Cases of Covid-19 are accelerating at exactly the wrong moment in the United States, writes Robert Roy Britt. Daily new infections are on the rise, including in nursing homes, which could lead to yet another peak of disease given that many people are experiencing pandemic fatigue and are planning to travel for the coming holidays.

The silver lining, as Dr. Abraar Karan, an internal medicine doctor at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, shares on the Blog this week, is that the U.S. is better prepared now than before, “if for no reason other than our collective experiences with the virus.” Hopefully this time around hospitals and leaders will respond quickly to control spread and be better prepared for a possible surge. As usual, mask up! 😷

Here’s what’s new:

  • Case count: There are over 8.2 million confirmed cases in the U.S. and over 40 million confirmed cases worldwide. So far, over 221,000 Americans have died from Covid-19.
  • Human challenge trials to begin: In a study funded by the British government, scientists will launch the world’s first human challenge trials for Covid-19, in which healthy volunteers will be deliberately infected with SARS-CoV-2 in hopes to speed up a vaccine. Read more about challenge trials here.
  • New York City sees low cases of Covid-19 in schools: The city has reported that, so far, out of 10,676 tests taken during the first week, there were only 18 positives: 13 staff members and five students. Read more.

Follow our Medium Coronavirus Blog for regular updates, and read some of the essential stories we’ve curated below.

Be well,

Alexandra Sifferlin
Editor, Medium Coronavirus Blog

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A Quick Q&A

Where did Covid-19 come from?
This is one of the central mysteries of the pandemic, and one that many research teams around the world are trying to solve. Experts believe that the virus initially came from bats and that it somehow developed the ability to infect humans and rapidly spread. Finding the first person to get infected with Covid-19 may be an impossible task. “No matter how good we are as scientists, we may never find it,” says one researcher. But putting together the puzzle of the outbreak will help experts better understand the virus and prevent future pandemics. Read the full story here.

New on the blog:

Why Herd Immunity Is a Bad Public Health Policy

Increase in Death Rate Highest Among People Age 25 to 44

What We Can Learn from Past Covid-19 Outbreaks

Covid-19 Cases Rising Again in Nursing Homes Nationwide

Essential explainers:

10 Signs the Pandemic is About to Get Much Worse

How the Election Will Impact the Covid-19 Pandemic

Why Covid-19’s Origin Story Is Still a Mystery

Face Masks Are Alleviating Social Anxiety

A few more smart reads:

Why Time is Flying By (or Dragging On) During The Pandemic

Scientists 3D-Printed a Human Immune System to Battle Covid-19

How Covid-19 Turned College Campuses Into Surveillance Machines

Is Remdesivir Still Useful for Covid-19?



Alexandra Sifferlin
Medium Coronavirus Blog

Health and science journalist. Former editor of Medium’s Covid-19 Blog and deputy editor at Elemental. TIME Magazine writer before that