The novel coronavirus is surging back into U.S. nursing homes, where it killed tens of thousands at the start of the pandemic and now once again threatens some of the people most vulnerable to covid-19, the disease caused by the virus.

Federal data cited by two long-term care associations this week show that the number of new cases in nursing homes bottomed out at 5,468 during the week of June 21 and has climbed steadily upward to 8,628 for the week of July 19, the last week available. That is a 58 percent increase that roughly parallels the rise in U.S. cases overall during that time.

Deaths in nursing homes from covid-19 dropped sharply to 1,324 for the week of June 28 before leveling off over the next three weeks, according to the American Health Care Association and the National Center for Assisted Living, which represent long-term care facilities. But a rise in deaths usually lags several weeks behind an increase in cases, and officials are watching for signs of increased fatalities.

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