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'Lives depend on us': New coronavirus cases are up by at least 50% in 5 states

More than half of U.S. states are seeing an increase in new COVID-19 cases, with five states -- Montana, New Mexico, North Carolina, Tennessee and Vermont -- reporting a jump of more than 50% in one week.

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More than half of U.S. states are seeing an increase in new COVID-19 cases, with five states -- Montana, New Mexico, North Carolina, Tennessee and Vermont -- reporting a jump of more than 50% in one week.

Health experts warned over the weekend that the U.S. could have a surge in coronavirus cases and deaths in the coming months, adding to the more than 7.7 million cases and 214,000 deaths on record.

Only Maine, Texas and Washington are reporting fewer new daily cases on average from last week. The number of new cases is holding steady in 16 states: Alabama, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, South Carolina and Wisconsin.

Everywhere else, 31 states in all, new cases have climbed compared with the week before.

Montana, one of the states reporting a steep uptick over the week, has reported 5,000 coronavirus cases in the last 11 days. That's a stark contract to the beginning of the pandemic when it took the state almost five months to chart its first 5,000 cases.

The state recorded its first coronavirus case on March 13 and on August 10 reported having 5,017 cases across the state. Then from Sept. 30 through Oct. 10, Montana reported 5,046 coronavirus cases, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Public health experts have warned that the fall and winter could bring an explosion of new COVID-19 cases as Americans exercise less caution and spend more time indoors, where there is a greater likelihood of transmission.

20,000 deaths 'inevitable' this month

An additional 20,000 COVID-19 deaths by the end of the month are "inevitable," according to a former director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The estimate is based on the number of infections "that have already occurred," Dr. Tom Frieden said Saturday, during CNN's "Coronavirus: Facts and Fears" town hall.

The United States reported 57,420 new coronavirus cases on Friday, the highest number of new daily cases since August. That number fell to 44,614 on Sunday.

"Anytime we ignore, minimize or underestimate this virus, we do so at our peril and the peril of people whose lives depend on us," Frieden said.

By February, the coronavirus death toll in the U.S. could double to about 400,000, a model from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington School of Medicine projected. Daily deaths will peak at about 2,300 in mid-January, the model predicted.

New COVID-19 cases continue to grow across the country. Florida health officials reported 5,570 new case on Sunday after there was no case or death update on Saturday, according to the Florida Department of Health.

There were also 178 Floridian deaths reported on Sunday, bringing that total to 15,364, according to the data.

Infections could be closer to 40 million in U.S.

Officials are tracking coronavirus infections and deaths, but Frieden said those numbers may be too small.

The true number of coronavirus deaths in the United States is well over a quarter million, Frieden said Saturday.

Part of the problem in determining the true impact is how deaths are listed on death certificates, especially for older patients who are more likely to have other health problems along with a coronavirus infection. Often the other health condition is listed as the cause of death, he said.

"If you die from cancer, and you also have diabetes, you still died from cancer," Frieden explained. "If you died from Covid, and you also had diabetes, you died from Covid."

The number of infections is likely closer to 40 million people, he said.

"You may not get sick at all from this, but you may spread it to someone who then dies, or spreads it to someone else who dies," he said. "That's why we all have to recognize that we're in this together. There's only one enemy, and that's the virus."