Dec. 9 was another grim milestone day in the ongoing pandemic, as the U.S. reported more than 3,000 coronavirus deaths in a single day for the first time ever.
According to the Washington Post, the 3,053 deaths, coupled with the number of Americans hospitalized with COVID-19 rising above 106,000, illustrated the magnitude of the latest wave of the pandemic in the aftermath of Thanksgiving. The next day, Dec. 10, was even worse, as more than 3,300 people died.
Based on current projections and death totals, the U.S. could surpass the 300,000-death mark in the pandemic as soon as Dec. 13. As of Dec. 10, that number stood at more than 290,000, but if there are more days of 3,000 coronavirus deaths, it won’t take long to reach another harrowing milestone.
The rising hospitalization numbers continue to concern health officials who worry about the American healthcare network becoming overwhelmed in the coming weeks. The New York Times, citing Department of Health and Human Services numbers, noted that more than one-third of Americans are now living in areas where ICU beds are critically short. The article also noted a number of hospitals throughout the U.S. are operating near, at, or above capacity due to an influx of COVID-19 cases.
In the greater Sacramento region, ICU capacity has gone below the 15% threshold requiring a stay-at-home order, which will begin for the area’s approximately 3 million residents on Dec. 10. CNN quoted one public health official, Fresno County Interim Public Health Officer Dr. Rais Vohra, on the severity of the situation.
“I know that those who aren’t in the medical field may not understand or quite grasp just how dire the situation is, but all the things you’re hearing about—how impacted our hospitals are, about how dire the situation with our ICUs is—it’s absolutely true,” Vohra said. “And that really is the reason that we want everyone to stay home as much as possible.”
Cases are also on the rise as the total number of infected Americans has gone well past the 15 million mark. CNN noted that the U.S. has averaged 206,152 new cases a day over the past seven days for the period ending Dec. 9. That’s the highest seven-day average for the U.S. so far during the pandemic. On Dec. 9 alone, at least 216,155 cases were announced—”at least” being the key phrase, because researchers believe that infection numbers are actually higher than are being detected through testing.