While the president of the United States is hosting White House Christmas parties, the country he leads continues to smash coronavirus records. On Wednesday, the U.S. hit a pair of grim pandemic milestones, reaching new daily highs in hospitalizations and deaths. The country tallied nearly 200,000 new cases, while reporting more than 100,000 virus-related hospitalizations and reaching a new high of 2,760 deaths in a single day. The overall death toll since the pandemic started now stands at more than 273,000 and the pace of deaths in America due to the virus is only quickening.
The current situation in the United States is now far more severe than even the most dire moments early in the pandemic when it felt like the coronavirus was spiraling out of control. The number of new infections now tops one million a week and hospitalizations are currently double what they were during the pandemic’s initial peak this spring. “And as staggering as it is,” the New York Times points out, “the death toll reported Wednesday appears likely only to worsen, experts say, as the delayed effects of Thanksgiving travel are felt.”
The lone bright spot in the data is that the death rate for those Americans who do contract the virus has fallen significantly from the early days of the pandemic, indicating that as our understanding of the virus has grown, treatment has improved. According to the latest CDC data, the death rate dropped from 6.7 percent in April to 1.9 percent in September. With the number of new cases continuing to climb however, the overall death toll continues to soar. “The reality is that December, January and February are going to be the most difficult time in the public health history of this nation,” Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), warned on Wednesday.