NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM/CNN) – Only Texas and 2 other states in the U.S. are reporting a decline in new coronavirus cases compared to last week, as the country hit its highest daily rate of new cases in nearly 60 days.

As of Saturday night, new cases were down in Texas, Missouri and South Carolina, while 21 states reported a rise in cases and a little more than half held steady compared with the week before.

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Friday, there were 54,506 new reported cases, according to Johns Hopkins University, the highest single day case number since 64,601 cases were reported on August 14.

From September 29 to October 3, there were an average of 46,500 cases per day — the most cases in a five-day period since August 14-18, JHU data showed.

The climbing coronavirus count comes as the President joined the more than 7.3 million people who have tested positive for COVID-19 in the U.S., a sobering reminder of the virus’ reach as health experts urge continued vigilance during the fall and winter months.

The 21 states reporting a rise in new cases are Alaska, Connecticut, Delaware, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

Wisconsin reported a record number of 2,892 new daily cases on Saturday, according to data from the state’s department of health services. The previous record was set earlier in the week. The state’s governor urged residents to “get back to the basics” of fighting the virus.

“The surges we’re seeing across our state are not an indication that masks don’t work. This underscores what we’ve said all along which is that masks only work if everyone wears them,” Gov. Tony Evers said.

Several Wisconsin health departments, including Brown County health department in the Green Bay area, issued “a Public Health Emergency COVID-19 Alert due to the very high levels of COVID-19 cases resulting in increased COVID-19 related hospitalizations and deaths,” the agencies announced Saturday.

A surge in recent COVID-19 cases is straining resources and impacting the ability to contact trace new cases, the alert warned.

To get on top of the numbers, the U.S. needs a more “comprehensive approach,” Dr. Tom Frieden, the former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Friday.

Experts Advise Who Should Get Vaccines First

Several companies are conducting COVID-19 vaccine Phase 3 trials in the U.S., but when a safe and effective vaccine will be available to the population remains uncertain.

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Experts advising the federal government say frontline health care workers and those who provide health care facility services should be the first to get vaccinated, followed by people at high risk of severe illness due to underlying health conditions.

Next should come older adults living in congregate settings, like nursing homes, a National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine committee said in a final report.

But local leaders should also give priority to vulnerable communities, the committee said. That addition comes after criticism over the group’s draft report that was issued last month, which did not mention minority communities that have been hit hardest by the pandemic.

The committee recommends that within each phase of vaccinations, authorities prioritize people in high vulnerability areas, identified by a tool like the CDC’s Social Vulnerability Index. The index uses US Census variables to identify communities in particular need of disaster support which the committee says considers the factors that place racial minorities at higher risk of COVID-19.

The third phase proposes vaccination for young adults, children and those in industries where people may receive some protection but are still at risk of exposure, such as banks and universities.

A vaccination for children, the committee said, will depend on whether a vaccine has been tested in that population. Pediatric specialists recently called for COVID-19 vaccine trials to begin for children saying that population has been “stuck in neutral.”

The final phase covers anyone who has yet to receive vaccination.

Hospitalizations Rise For The First Time Since July

According to the COVID Tracking Project, the average number of people hospitalized for coronavirus in a week rose recently for the first time since July.

This past week saw an average of about 30,000 hospitalized — a rise of 2.4% from the previous week, and the first jump after eight weeks of decline, CTP reported.

While daily deaths in the US are still dropping, “the decline appears to have slowed,” CTP said in a Thursday blog post.

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