The United States has recorded more than 250,000 deaths from the coronavirus, reaching a devastating milestone on Wednesday, one day after reaching its highest daily death toll in more than six months.
According to data from Johns Hopkins University, at least 1,707 people died from the coronavirus on Tuesday, while the country has seen at least 250,548 deaths from the virus since February. In Texas, which has been particularly hard-hit by the virus, mobile refrigerator trucks have been deployed to handle the rise in deaths.
The U.S. also set a record for hospitalized COVID patients, at 76,830 on Tuesday, according to the COVID Tracking Project.
A number of states’ healthcare systems are being overwhelmed by the influx of cases as experts warn a long winter lies ahead. As colder temperatures drive Americans indoors, where the virus spreads more easily, experts have warned case numbers will continue to rise and have cautioned people against gathering for Thanksgiving next week.
Though Moderna and Pfizer released promising news about their respective vaccine candidates this week, it is likely most Americans will not be able to receive a vaccine until mid-2021.
According to Johns Hopkins, 47 states had at least ten percent more new daily cases than this time last week.
“Right now, we are in an absolutely dangerous situation that we have to take with the utmost seriousness,” Dr. Brett Giroir, the federal official overseeing coronavirus testing efforts, told MSNBC. “This is not crying wolf. This is the worst rate of rise in cases that we have seen in the pandemic in the United States. And, right now, there’s no sign of flattening.”
States and cities have imposed new coronavirus restrictions in an attempt to mitigate the spread, including a statewide curfew in Ohio and a stay-at-home advisory in Chicago.
New York, which saw months of low numbers of cases after being a hotspot in the spring, is seeing an uptick as well, leading New York City schools to close again on Thursday after the city’s test infection rate reached 3 percent. While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, World Health Organization, and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo have recommended a 5 percent infection rate as the threshold for school closures, Mayor Bill de Blasio set the city’s threshold to 3 percent after negotiation with teachers’ unions.
“The last thing we wanted to see is the schools close,” de Blasio said Wednesday. “But there’s been resolve about the fact that the game plan, so often, has worked of sticking to those tough standards.”
“And that’s why I’m resolved about the fact that to bring schools back, we can do it — we’ve done it before, we’ll do it again — but we have to come up with even tougher standards.”