As the virus spreads relentlessly across American societies, experts warn that the coming weeks are likely to be severe and that the number of deaths due to the pandemic will continue to rise.
By December 18, more than 2,300 Americans could lose their lives every day, according to the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME).
“We expect daily deaths to peak at more than 2,500 a day in mid-January,” the IHME modeling team wrote Thursday.
The group has also raised its forecast for Covid-19 deaths significantly, and now expects a total of 471,000 US deaths by March 1 – more than 30,000 since their last forecast about a week ago.
On the same day, another record was set: more than 187,800 new cases were reported across the country, the largest number ever, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
On Friday morning, only one state, Hawaii, was showing a decrease in new cases of more than 10% compared to the previous week, according to CNN’s analysis of Johns Hopkins data. Five states – North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, Wisconsin and Illinois – were steady, while 44 other states showed increases in new cases of more than 10%.
The average number of new cases in the country is currently at 165,029 – the highest since the start of the epidemic. Compared to last week, new cases increased by 25%.
“Sometimes it’s so frustrating because we know what works,” Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNN reporter Chris Cuomo Thursday night. “If everyone’s banding together as a country, doing the basic things that we talked about, wearing a mask, keeping distance, avoiding gatherings and crowds, doing outdoor things … these aren’t big things. It’s easy to do.”
These simple actions can be life-saving. According to the IHME team, 65,000 lives could be saved by March 1 if 95% of Americans wore masks.
Fauci: “Double up” the masks, and social distancing until the pollen
“We actually need to double the public health measures because we are waiting for that help to arrive, which will be soon,” Fauci said. “If we do that, we will be able to delay things until the vaccine comes.”
The EUA is not a complete endorsement, but it does allow the use of products under certain circumstances before all evidence is available for approval.
“The registration in the United States represents a milestone in our journey to introduce the COVID-19 vaccine to the world and we now have a more complete picture of both the efficacy and safety of the vaccine, which gives us confidence in its potential,” CEO Albert Burla said in a statement.
Doctors, nurses, and hospitals ask the public to celebrate responsibly
“The massive increase in the records underway is leading to an uncontrolled spread in society and an infection that has already burdened health systems in some areas and will ultimately consume the capacity of our healthcare system and may reduce the availability of care in many places in our country,” he said.
“What is at stake is an increased chance of your loved one getting sick and then taking him to the hospital and dying during the holidays,” Dr. Henry Walk, director of the Covid-19 accident for the CDC, told reporters on a conference call.
And with the CDC previously estimating that at least 40% of infections are asymptomatic, officials are concerned that people may bring the infection with them to holiday gatherings without even knowing it and could put other, more vulnerable family members at risk.
“I haven’t seen my parents since January,” Walkie said. “I will stay home. I have two older parents who would like to see me and would like to see my children.”
In the past week, similar messages have echoed from top health experts and country leaders.
Louisiana State John Bill Edwards warned that if residents were planning a Thanksgiving feast similar to previous ones, “you are making a mistake.” In Utah, where hospitals are overwhelmed and about 45 ICU beds are still vacant, the governor advised that only people from the same home meet for the vacation.
More curfews and measures to limit the spread of the disease
The governor said that unnecessary work and gatherings should stop between ten in the evening and five in the morning, adding that the order will remain in effect for one month.
A statewide curfew also now applies in Ohio, where Gov. Mike DeWine explained that the police would not pull people back if they saw them driving at night.
The governor said: “We must assume that they have a legitimate reason to leave.” “But on the other hand, if there are a number of people gathering somewhere, and the police see it … they will definitely stop and say, ‘Hey, it’s over ten o’clock, you guys need to go home.'”
In Arkansas, the governor announced a close of 11 p.m. to all businesses licensed to sell and to allow alcohol consumption in buildings.
CNN’s Jimmy Gombrecht, Maggie Fox, Jamel Lynch, and Rebecca Rees contributed to this report.