US COVID-19 hospital cases, deaths surge to new highs

Though the full impact of a predicted post-Thanksgiving surge hasn't hit yet, the number of Americans currently hospitalized for COVID-19 rose past 100,000 yesterday for the first time, as the daily number of deaths topped 3,100, the most yet in the pandemic.

Today, the nation's overall COVID-19 total topped 14 million cases.

Rapid rise foreshadows worst days ahead

The United States reported 200,070 new cases yesterday, only the second time the daily number has topped the 200,000 mark, according to the Johns Hopkins online dashboard. Also, 3,157 more people died from their infections, marking a single-day high.

There were 100,226 people in hospitals with COVID-19, up from 98,691 the day before, according to the COVID Tracking Project.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Robert Redfield, MD, warned the US Chamber of Commerce yesterday that the next few months will be "the most difficult in the public health history of this country," CNBC reported. He added that about 90% of US hospitals are in hot or red zones for COVID-19.

A steady surge in new illnesses and people being tested after potential exposure over Thanksgiving is putting enormous pressure on labs. Staff at the labs have been working nonstop since the pandemic began and are grappling with burnout and repetitive stress injuries, the New York Times reported.

Some experts have aired concerns that a shortage of lab workers could put America's diagnostic infrastructure at risk for collapse.

Fauci meets with transition team

Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the National Institutes for Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a key member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, was expected to meet today with President-Elect Joe Biden's transition team for the first time to discuss the nation's COVID-19 response, CBS News reported. He said the meeting on Zoom would cover substantive discussions on topics such as vaccines.

With the United States roughly a week away from the first vaccine doses being available for the initial priority group and facing the tall task of vaccinating the rest of the population in the months ahead, three former presidents said yesterday they are willing to go on camera to get vaccinated, CNN reported. Barack Obama, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton said they would take a public stance to promote confidence in the vaccine's safety.

In other vaccine developments, President Donald Trump and his aides have privately admonished the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for not moving faster to approve COVID-19 vaccines, Politico reports. However, FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn, MD, told governors this week that the agency wants to balance moving quickly with making sure that any vaccine meets the FDA's high safety and efficacy standards.

COVID relief talks progress

In new Congressional developments, Democratic leaders yesterday indicated that they were willing to reduce their demands for the next round of coronavirus relief, the Wall Street Journal reported. The group has pushed for a $2.4 trillion package but signaled yesterday that a $908 billion proposal from a bipartisan group of lawmakers should be a starting point for negotiations.

In other US headlines:

  • Regarding vaccines, IBM warned that hackers are targeting companies critical to the supply chain, Reuters reported, based on a company blog post. Also, Facebook announced today that over the coming weeks, it will start removing false claims about COVID-19 vaccines that have been debunked by public health experts on Facebook and Instagram.

  • The number of Americans filing for new unemployment claims fell to 712,000 last week, down from 787,000 the week before, the Associated Press reported today.

  • A new survey of American mayors found that 80% expect that pandemic effects will widen racial health disparities, 45% anticipate steep cuts in public school budgets, and nearly one in three expect cuts to transit, roads, and social services, The Hill reported.

  • The US COVID-19 total today rose to 14,012,378 cases, with 274,648 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins tracker.

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