The latest numbers of newly reported coronavirus cases, deaths and hospitalizations have all shattered records in the United States, with health experts fearing the outbreak will only worsen further.
According to Johns Hopkins University data released on Friday, the country logged a record 217,664 new infections and 2,879 fatalities a day earlier.
The highest-ever number of people – 100,667 – are hospitalized with Covid-19, data from the Covid Tracking Project showed, the latest in a weeks-long streak of record-setting daily figures.
While vaccines are within sight, health experts expect gatherings at Thanksgiving – as well as during the upcoming Christmas holidays – to further fuel the widespread surge.
The staggering surge in cases is leading to fresh lockdown orders in California, where the governor said on Thursday that the state could run out of intensive care unit capacity within weeks.
On Friday, six jurisdictions Northern California jurisdictions – including the city of San Francisco – announced plans to impose stay-at-home orders on Sunday and Monday as they seek to stem a surge in coronavirus cases.
The orders comes a day after Governor Gavin Newsom said that the entire state is, with over 40 million people is on track for lockdown orders by mid-December. Los Angeles has also imposed some stay-at-home orders.
“The dark Covid winter we feared would come has arrived in the Bay Area,” said Chris Farnitano of the Contra Costa County health department, which is near San Francisco.
The orders will close outdoor and indoor dining and hair salons among other businesses. Retail and grocery stores will remain open at limited capacity.
Also on Friday Anthony Fauci, the top US infectious disease specialist, said the country had not yet seen the “post-Thanksgiving peak,” the full brunt of which he said could be expected in the next week or two.
“We’re in a very precarious situation right now,” Fauci told broadcaster NBC. “There certainly is light at the end of the tunnel with a vaccine, but we’re not there yet, so we really have to intensify our public health measures to try and blunt this trajectory.”
President-elect Joe Biden on Thursday said he plans to ask Americans wear a mask in public once he takes over from President Donald Trump on January 20.
The US, which has a population of around 330 million, has recorded 14.1 million infections and more than 276,000 deaths since the start of the pandemic – far more than any other nation.