There were more than 2,670 deaths from Covid-19 recorded across the US on Wednesday, according to a tracking project hosted by Johns Hopkins University, and there are currently at least 100,200 people hospitalised in the US because of coronavirus. Both of these figures are the highest they have ever been.
Hospitals across the US are reaching capacity and are transforming waiting rooms and cafeterias into treatment areas to meet demand, according to Sky News.
One county official in Wisconsin told CNN: “Our hospital ICUs and emergency rooms remain stretched beyond any reasonable limit and our healthcare workers as well as our patients need our help.”
The number of daily coronavirus cases has also risen dramatically over the last month, and the US averaged around 160,000 positive Covid-19 tests every day over the past week.
That figure is more than double the daily case figures that were reported during the initial peak of the pandemic in July.
Health experts have also warned that the number of cases and hospitalisations will increase over the next few weeks, as infections from Thanksgiving gatherings become apparent, according to CNN.
At least 6.6 million people flew across the US in the seven-day period before Thanksgiving, which was the highest weekly figure since the week of 14-20 March. Millions more travelled to see family by car.
Coronavirus cases and deaths are spiking in states across the US, but most significantly in Oregon, Kentucky, Mississippi, California and Texas.
Oregon recorded its highest number of daily coronavirus deaths on Wednesday, while Texas saw the most cases in a day since the start of the pandemic, and California’s Los Angeles County had its worst day for hospitalisations and cases.
Mississippi has more people hospitalised from the virus than ever before, while Kentucky governor Andy Beshear said that Tuesday was the “worst day ever” in the state for Covid-19 by “virtually every measure”.
On Wednesday, Dr Robert Redfield, the director of the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), warned that the next few months will be the most challenging for US residents.
Dr Redfield urged Americans to continue practicing coronavirus measures, and said that “the reality is that December, January and February are going to be rough times.
“I actually believe they're going to be the most difficult time in the public health history of this nation, largely because of the stress that's going to be put on our healthcare system.”
He said that the most recent spike in cases has been worse than the initial outbreak of the virus in the US, and projected Wednesday’s record-breaking figures to be beaten over the next few months.
Dr Redfield added: “We're potentially looking at another 150,000 to 200,000 people [dead] before we get into February.”
Although coronavirus vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna are expected to start being rolled out for healthcare workers in December, a majority of US residents are not expected to receive them until the first few months of 2021.
However, Moncef Slaoui, chief adviser to Operation Warp Speed, said on Wednesday that 100 million US residents could be vaccinated against Covid-19 by February.
According to Johns Hopkins University, there are now more than 13.9 million people who have tested positive for the coronavirus in the US. The death toll has reached 273,836.