The United States has hit a pandemic record of more than 3,900 deaths and 125,000 hospitalizations in a single day as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warned that there could be 82,000 more fatalities in the next 24 days.
For the ninth day this month, deaths have exceeded 3,000. On Wednesday, the US reported 3,903 new deaths, bringing the country’s total to 341,505, according to The COVID Tracking Project.
Hospitalizations increased again on Wednesday to 125,220. The US has recorded hospitalizations over 100,000 for the 29th consecutive day. New daily recorded infections hit 225,671.
According to the CDC, the national ensemble forecast predicts that 12,400 to 24,300 new deaths will likely be reported in the week ending January 23, 2021.
The national ensemble predicts that a total of 383,000 to 424,000 COVID-19 deaths will be reported by this date. On the high end of the model, that could mean that more than 82,000 people could die within the next month.
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The United States has recorded more than 3,000 deaths and 125,000 hospitalizations (pictured in Houston on Tuesday) in a single day
For the ninth day this month, deaths have exceeded 3,000. The body of a COVID victim is seen being transported to a morgue in Maryland
On Wednesday, the US reported 3,903 new deaths, bringing the country’s total to 341,505
The U.S. reported 225,671 new COVID-19 cases on December 30
As cases continue to spike across the US, California has reported some record numbers. Los Angeles County alone surpassed 10,000 deaths from the coronavirus Wednesday as California also hit a record high number of fatalities.
Gov Gavin Newsom also announced the first detected case of the new and apparently more contagious variant of the coronavirus in a San Diego man.
LA County Health Director Dr Barbara Ferrer called the 10,056 deaths there a ‘terrible milestone’.
She noted that more than 7,400 people remain hospitalized with coronavirus in the county, with 20 per cent of them in intensive care units.
‘Most heartbreaking is that if we had done a better job of reducing transmission of the virus, many of these deaths would not have happened,’ Ferrer said.
Newsom announced an ‘unprecedented’ high of 432 reported deaths, a figure that was likely elevated due to a lag in reporting over the holidays.
He said during a briefing with Dr Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, that he had just learned that the new strain of the virus had been detected, the second reported case in the nation.
‘I don’t think Californians should think that this is odd; it’s to be expected,’ Fauci said of the virus variant.
Fauci also said that if the US is able to ‘diligently vaccinate’ people in 2021, the nation could return to normal life by early fall.
He predicts that herd immunity against the virus could likely be achieved if about 70 to 85 per cent of the population gets vaccinated.
There have been more than 19.6 million confirmed cases in the US and at least 341,505 deaths
‘By the time we get to the early fall, we will have enough good herd immunity to be able to really get back to some strong semblance of normality – schools, theaters, sports events, restaurants,’ he said.
‘I believe if we do it correctly, we will be there by the early fall,’ Fauci said, before urging people to get vaccinated.
San Diego County officials said the infected man is a 30-year-old with no history of travel.
‘The patient became symptomatic on the 27th. He was tested yesterday and the new strain was detected early (Wednesday),’ said Eric McDonald, the county’s medical director for epidemiology. Another person in the man’s household was being tested, he said.
A variant of the coronavirus was found in Colorado on Tuesday. The Colorado and California cases have triggered a host of questions about how the variant circulating in England arrived in the US and whether it is too late to stop it now, with top experts saying it is probably already spreading elsewhere in the US.
One San Diego supervisor said the detection means it is already circulating there.
Hours after the new variant was detected, San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria signed an executive order directing stricter enforcement of state and local public health rules.
He said he’s asked police and the city attorney to pursue fines ‘and potentially other enforcement actions’ against those who are ‘blatantly and egregiously’ defying health orders.
Dr Anthony Fauci (right) told Gov Gavin Newsom on Wednesday that if the US is able to ‘diligently vaccinate’ people in 2021, the nation could return to normal life by early fall
Gloria praised residents who follow the rules, stay home as much as possible and wear masks when outside.
‘Many have sacrificed their social lives for the greater good. Others have treated this with a sickening level of apathy as their neighbors died,’ he said.
Hospitals are increasingly stretched by soaring infections that are expected to grow in the coming weeks.
Southern California and the agricultural San Joaquin Valley have what is considered no intensive care capacity to treat patients suffering from the coronavirus. And state health officials remain worried about gatherings tied to New Year’s Eve.
In New York, officials reported a record number of new daily coronavirus cases in the state on the same day Gov Andrew Cuomo announced he will roll back gathering restrictions to allow the Buffalo Bills to host thousands of fans at a home playoff game in January.
New York has been struggling to contain a recent surge in coronavirus cases, with 13,422 new infections reported in a single day Wednesday – its highest daily increase since the start of the pandemic.
Hospitalizations in the state are also now at their highest level since early May after surpassing 7,800.
During a COVID-19 press briefing on Wednesday, Cuomo warned those numbers are likely to jump further following the holiday period.
Bracing for the worst, the governor announced the state was preparing to turn the Jacob Javits Center back into a field hospital amid fears the healthcare system could once again collapse.
The large convention center had been used to house patients back in April when New York City was the epicenter of the virus, but had only taken in 1,000 people then.
But there is hope on the horizon as vaccines roll out. Operation Warp Speed chief, Dr Moncef Slaoui, said Wednesday that a one-shot vaccine could be in use by February if Johnson & Johnson’s jab is approved.
Slaoui said the Janssen could prove to be a ‘game-changer’ for the US. According to Slaoui, Phase 3 trial recruitment for the vaccine has been completed and Johnson & Johnson is currently working with the Operation Warp Speed team to accelerate the availability of the vaccine doses.
‘I think it can be quite a game-changer,’ Slaoui told reporters. ‘We’re hopeful that this vaccine, which is a one-shot vaccine will have equivalent efficacy to those of Moderna and Pfizer.’
Single-dose shots would mean faster rollout, and that people would likely be protected from coronavirus in a matter of weeks after the injection – rather than the about one-month period it takes for Moderna or Pfizer’s shots to reach their protective peak.
But there is hope on the horizon as vaccines roll out. Operation Warp Speed chief, Dr Moncef Slaoui (pictured), said Wednesday that a one-shot vaccine could be in use by February if Johnson & Johnson’s jab is approved
Slaoui said the Janssen vaccine could prove to be a ‘game-changer’ for the US. Johnson & Johnson is currently working with the Operation Warp Speed team to accelerate the availability of the vaccine doses. A man receives a Pfizer vaccine on Wednesday
‘I think it can be quite a game-changer,’ Slaoui said. ‘We’re hopeful that this vaccine, which is a one-shot vaccine will have equivalent efficacy to those of Moderna and Pfizer.’
Both Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech’s vaccines require two doses and have more than 94% efficacy.
Slaoui also announced that the US is expected to approve the low-cost AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine in April.
The Operation Warp Speed chief advisor, told reporters that US trials and assessments would be complete for approval ‘sometime in early April’.
Meanwhile, the US has only vaccinated a total of 2.6 million people, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed had goals to vaccinate 20 million people by the end of 2020.
More than 12 million doses have been shipped to the US, but the distribution of the vaccines are moving slowly.
‘We agreed that the number is lower than what we hoped for,’ Slaoui said during a Wednesday briefing.
‘We know that it should be better and we are working hard to make it better,’ he added, of the distribution process.
The vaccine rollout in the US lags behind other wealthy nations. In the 16 days since the US began vaccinating people, 2,589,125 Americans have gotten their first dose.
That means an average of about 40 out of every 100,000 people in the US are getting vaccinated a day, compared to 60 per capita in the UK, which approved the Oxford University-developed vaccine made by AstraZeneca on Wednesday.
President-elect Joe Biden criticized the Trump administration Tuesday for the pace of distributing COVID-19 vaccines and predicted that ‘things will get worse before they get better’ when it comes to the pandemic.
‘We need to be honest – the next few weeks and months are going to be very tough, very tough for our nation. Maybe the toughest during this entire pandemic,’ Biden said during remarks in Wilmington, Delaware on Tuesday.
Biden also went after the Trump administration over its vaccination efforts, warning that the project, dubbed Operation Warp Speed, is moving at a slower pace than needed.