The US Sets an Unprecedented Daily Infections Rate: The United States is experiencing the fastest spread of coronavirus yet. Experts predict that the next few weeks could become brutal, and the pandemic’s death toll will keep climbing.
Data recorded by the Johns Hopkins University show that the number of deaths on Thursday, November 19, 2020, was over 2,000 people, the highest number so far since early May. Over 252,000 people have succumbed to Covid-19, and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s ensemble forecast now projects the country’s coronavirus death toll could reach between 276,000 and 298,000 by December 12. Dr. Leana Wen, an emergency physician, and the former Baltimore health commissioner has urged Americans to have a safe Thanksgiving holiday…or plan to have one in July. She said:
“The number of deaths that we’re going to see in three weeks’ time or four weeks’ time reflects the actions that we all take right now […] I understand that people are worried, they’re stressed, they haven’t seen their loved ones, they want to see their loved ones now more than ever. But we really cannot do that in person, indoors, safely this Thanksgiving.”
Sharper and Steeper
Dr. Deborah Birx, once a senior member of the task force, said she’s been traveling the country trying to encourage governors and other state and local leaders to enact measures that will stop the spread of the virus. She’s had mixed results at best. Birx showed a series of graphs showing the current increase in cases is sharper and steeper than at any other time during the pandemic. She added:
“This is more cases, more rapidly, than what we had seen before […] you can see the increase in test positivity to around 10% […] that’s the number of people tested who get a positive diagnosis.”
Health officials have predicted a rise in deaths would follow the surge of new infections and hospitalizations much of the country is now experiencing. On Thursday, the US reported a new high of more than 80,600 hospitalized patients nationwide, according to the COVID Tracking Project. On the same day, another record: more than 187,800 new cases reported across the country, the most ever. Dr. Anthony Fauci says:
“It’s sometimes very frustrating because we know what works. If we had everybody pulling together as a country, doing the fundamental things that we’ve been speaking out, the mask-wearing, the keeping the distance, the avoiding congregate settings and crowds, doing things outdoors […] that’s not big stuff. It’s easy to do. Those simple measures could be lifesaving. 65,000 lives could be saved by March 1 if 95% of Americans wore masks.”
Thanksgiving Travel Guidelines
The American Medical Association, the American Hospital Association, and the American Nurses Association wrote an open letter last Thursday asking the public to scale back on traditional gatherings to help curb the virus’s spread. The exploding number of cases also prompted the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to update their Thanksgiving travel guidelines, recommending that Americans not travel for a holiday. Those who travel should wear masks, keep their distance from others, and wash their hands regularly. The letter said in part:
“The record-shattering surge underway is resulting in uncontrolled community spread and infection that has already overburdened health systems in some areas and will ultimately consume the capacity of our health care system and may reduce the availability of care in many places in our country.”
95% Effective in Preventing Infections
Two drug manufacturers have announced the news about their successful vaccine programs, heralding the pandemic’s end soon. Nonetheless, Adm. Brett Giroir, assistant secretary for health at the Department of Health and Human Services, says things will get worse before they can improve. Pfizer is seeking a US Food and Drug Administration emergency use authorization “within days.” Their Phase 3 trial of Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine shows it was 95% effective in preventing infections, even in older adults, and caused no serious safety concern. Moderna released early data showing its vaccine was about 95% effective. Giroir said:
“The potential for two apparently effective vaccines could be “our end game […] that being said; this will get worse.”
According to Johns Hopkins University, more than 250,000 people have died from Covid-19 in the United States. More than 11.5 million people have been diagnosed with the virus, and the United States has set several new daily records for hospitalizations.