EpidemicU.S. COVID-19 Crisis Deepens as Deaths Top 250,000

As COVID-19 deaths topped 250,000 yesterday, the White House coronavirus task force signaled that the nation’s pandemic situation is worsening, with more overrun hospitals and deaths potentially approaching 2,000 a day in the lead-up to Christmas—unless strong mitigation measures are taken.

Meanwhile, the global COVID-19 total topped 56 million yesterday, as Europe’s cases slowed but its deaths rose.

Stark Predictions Ahead of Holidays
Administration officials told CBS News that task force doctors informed Vice President Mike Pence that the United States might average 1,500 deaths a day by next week and as many as 2,000 a day by Christmas, unless more steps are taken.

Concerned about surges in community spread that are already filling hospitals and intensive care units (ICUs), the doctors recommended temporarily closing bars and stopping indoor dining at restaurants and urged Pence or President Donald Trump to address the public on steps they can take.

Meanwhile, the latest coronavirus task force memo—shared with governors and obtained by the Center for Public Integrity—said 47 states are now in the “red zone,” meaning that their new cases are more than 100 per 100,000 residents per week. The only states not on the red zone list are Hawaii, Maine, and Vermont. The memo said current measures aren’t enough to flatten the curve and pushed for more antigen testing and for states to strengthen their warning to the public before Thanksgiving gatherings, which will likely amplify the spread of the virus.

Yesterday, the United States reported 161,934 new cases and 1,707 more deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins online dashboard. There are 76,823 Americans currently hospitalized for COVID-19, up from 73,014 the day before, the COVID Tracking Project said.

Surges in multiple states are straining the nation’s testing system, leading to long lines and longer turnaround times for results, NPR reported. So far this month, the daily average of tests conducted each day is more than 1.4 million.

And although promising news about vaccine efficacy, such as yesterday’s developments with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, and the possibility that two vaccines may be cleared for emergency use in the weeks ahead, state and local public health experts told Politico that they’re worried states might not be ready to start distributing them by December. Some of the hurdles include logistical challenges, critical funding shortages, and scant federal guidance on who should be prioritized to receive the first doses.