CDC warns U.S. COVID-19 death toll could hit 321,000 by mid-December

Adriana Diaz

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is predicting the U.S. death toll from the coronavirus could hit 321,000 by mid-December. By then, hospitals could be overflowing with patients in many parts of the country — and some are already preparing.

A COVID-19 triage area has been set up in the lobby of Chicago's Rush University Medical Center to make room for an expected post-Thanksgiving surge. After Halloween, the hospital saw an uptick in cases.

Dr. Meeta Shah works in the emergency room. "There is a kind of overwhelming sense of apprehension as to what's going to come in the next 10 days," she said. 

In California, health officials expect shortages in nurse-staffed intensive care unit beds in the next two weeks. The state has hit a record for daily coronavirus cases: More than 18,000 COVID-19 infections were reported Wednesday.

Overnight, the U.S. Supreme Court – now with Justice Amy Coney Barrett – blocked New York's strict congregation restrictions on houses of worship, which the court said were being treated more harshly than stores and gyms.

The Spano-Castiglia family from Connecticut has already paid the ultimate price. CBS News first spoke to them in April after they lost their son and brother, Daniel, to the virus.

"We couldn't do anything for him. We couldn't, you know, go and comfort him," said Melissa Castiglia, Daniel's sister.

Now she and Daniel's mother, Mary Ann Spano, are trying to grapple with a Thanksgiving without him.

"I'm not doing good at all, to be perfectly honest," said Spano. "I get by through the day, and there's times that I just burst down and cry. He loved Thanksgiving, and it was always at my house, and he always sat next to me, and I just can't do it. I'm just not able to do it."

The family won't celebrate in the dining room where Daniel always sat next to his mother. Instead, they'll eat in the kitchen, and Spano will have to leave food outside her husband's door because he has COVID-19 as well and is quarantining.

When asked what she wants people to know this Thanksgiving given what her family has been through, Castiglia replied, "Enjoy your family, take lots of pictures because you never know when this could be your last time together."

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