CNN’s Betsy Klein, Lauren Mascarenhas and Mirna Alsharif contributed to this report.This article first appeared on CNN.Com.
The US has set a record for the second consecutive day for the number of people in hospital with Covid-19. The country has surpassed 10 million cases and 240,000 deaths, with several states breaking daily case records. The Covid-19 crisis in America is so dire now, international aid workers have arrived to help.
“This is a humanitarian disaster — probably one of the worst stories I’ve covered in my career here at CNN,” the network’s Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta said Thursday.
Workers from Doctors Without Borders are trying to help the US get a grip on the pandemic, he said. More than 241,000 people have died from coronavirus nationwide — a number that is rapidly growing every day.
The numbers are simply staggering. On Wednesday, the US recorded 1,893 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. The tally would reflect a new high, though it may be skewed by an outsized number from Georgia that could include backlogged deaths. More than 110,000 additional people in the US are projected to die from Covid-19 in just the next two months, according to the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. The US has also topped 100,000 daily infections at least nine days in a row. Wednesday was the second consecutive day of record numbers of Covid-19 hospitalizations. And new reports show the pandemic is only ramping up as the country approaches a critical holiday season.
The White House coronavirus task force warned of “accelerating community spread across the top half of the country,” in reports distributed to states this week. The task force, which last week warned of “significant deterioration in the Sunbelt,” said that has led to the “most diffuse spread experienced to date.”
A separate forecast from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Policy Lab projects conditions will worsen in the West Coast, the Northeast and the mid-Atlantic states over the next several weeks.Hospitalizations, ICU admissions and ventilator usage are rising in every single state, the lab said.“In every Midwestern state, COVID-19 patients are occupying more than 25% of ICU beds,” it reported.That’s as the US reported the highest number of hospitalizations ever on Wednesday — with more than 65,000 Covid-19 patients nationwide, according to the COVID Tracking Project.“The nearly universal rise in statewide hospitalization rates, particularly in our colder regions, is a pattern that will grow as we move into the holiday season,” the policy lab said.The findings echo warnings by multiple leading health officials who have urged Americans to lean into safety measures like face masks and social distancing to help curb the spread of the virus and avoid a devastating winter season.
Experts worry their warnings may fall on deaf ears as some Americans prepare for the Thanksgiving holiday — where large family and friends’ gatherings could help drive infection numbers even higher.“On a personal level, the most prudent thing that families can do this holiday season is choose not to gather in person with their older higher-risk relatives. However, this pandemic has taken such an emotional toll, on children and seniors alike, that we suspect many families will likely take the risk of gathering,” the policy lab noted.
Even with good news about Covid-19 vaccines, a top world health official said Wednesday it’s important to keep expectations realistic. For example, preventive measures — like masks and social distancing — need to be kept up for a long time.“While we hope we’ll get more good news about vaccines, it’s going to take time to scale up production to get them out to all the countries and then get enough people vaccinated so life goes back to pre-Covid days,” World Health Organization Chief Scientist Dr. Soumya Swaminathan said during a social media live Q&A.
And even when a vaccine arrives, people may need booster shots in the future, Dr. Anthony Fauci said Wednesday.“I don’t think it’s going to be one and done, as they say,” Fauci told Financial Times correspondent Hannah Kuchler.But a vaccine will likely suppress the spread of the virus below pandemic and epidemic levels.“Then you’ve got to be careful because as new vulnerable people enter the cohort, globally, they’re going to be susceptible,” Fauci said. “And as people who were immune lose their immunity, they may become re- susceptible.”Although the efficacy of Covid-19 vaccines being developed is promising, it’s too soon to tell how long immunity against the virus will last.“Traditionally, if you look back at common cold coronaviruses and the experience we have, it is not the kind of virus that usually gives lifelong immunity,” Fauci added.