The U.S. has set a grim record in the U.S., logging at least 2,760 COVID deaths in a single day on Wednesday. That breaks the April 15 high of 2,752, when the pandemic was at its previous spring peak. But as many experts warned, the winter looks to be a very dark one in the U.S., with COVID-19 showing no signs of slowing and hospitalizations setting new daily records.
There were a record 100,000 hospitalizations on Wednesday, according to the New York Times — twice as many as the beginning of November. Healthcare workers stretched well past their breaking point say this is likely to be the norm through the winter, unless more Americans start wearing masks and social distancing.
The current peak is likely the fallout from Thanksgiving travel, and will likely only climb in the coming weeks as the ripple effect spreads. Experts are dreading the potential impact of Christmas and New Year’s, when there could be even more travel across the country — particularly in the South and the Midwest, where the pandemic is hitting particularly hard right now.
“It’s terrible, because it was avoidable,” Dr. Leora Horwitz, an associate professor of population health and medicine at the N.Y.U. Grossman School of Medicine, told the Times. “We are a world outlier in this regard.”
There is some good news. For one thing, while far more people are infected with COVID-19 right now, fewer are dying as healthcare workers begin to better understand how to treat the virus. In April, the share of cases resulting in death was a little under seven percent. Today, it’s closer to two percent.
And of course, promising new vaccines are on the horizon. Hard hit healthcare workers and nursing home residents will be given top priority as the world prepares for a historic, global inoculation effort. However, such efforts are likely still months out for the general public. The winter is going to be very difficult for a lot of families.