U.S. COVID deaths mount with dangerous season ahead

U.S. deaths from the coronavirus reached their second-highest level ever on Wednesday with 2,811 lives lost, according to a Reuters tally of official data, one short of the record from April 15.

That marks two days in a row that the death toll has passed 2000.

A record number of people were hospitalized on Wednesday – nearly 100,000 – and there were nearly 200,000 new cases reported.

The sobering data came on the heels of a warning from Robert Redfield, the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, that the worst is yet to come.

“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.”

Underscoring the crisis, the CDC on Thursday reported that up to 19,500 deaths could occur during Christmas week alone.

Besides the monumental loss of life, Redfield said the country faces the prospect of a healthcare system strained to the point of collapse.

The contagion has now reached every corner of the country - with 90% of all U.S. hospitals in areas designated as coronavirus “hot zones”.

And with the virus spreading on a much steeper trajectory than any previous wave of the pandemic.

President-elect Joe Biden on Wednesday amplified the bleak forecast during a roundtable with workers and small business owners hit hard by the devastating economic fallout.

“We're likely to lose another 250,000 people. Dead. Between now and January. You hear me? Because people aren't paying attention.”

Redfield projected the total number of deaths could be close 450,000 before February, adding that the U.S. could start losing around 3,000 people a day - roughly the same number that died in the September 11th attacks -- and that that rate could continue over the next two months.

Video Transcript

- US deaths from the coronavirus reached their second-highest level ever on Wednesday with 2,811 lives lost, according to a Reuters tally of official data, one short of the record from April 15. That marks two days in a row that the death toll has passed 2,000.

A record number of people were hospitalized on Wednesday, nearly 100,000, and there were nearly 200,000 new cases reported. The sobering data came on the heels of a warning from Robert Redfield, the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, that the worst is yet to come.

ROBERT REDFIELD: December and 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.

- Underscoring the crisis, the CDC on Thursday reported that up to 19,500 deaths could occur during the Christmas week alone. Besides the monumental loss of life, Redfield said the country faces the prospect of a health care system strained to the point of collapse. The contagion has now reached every corner of the country, with 90% of all US hospitals in areas designated as coronavirus hot zones and with the virus spreading on a much steeper trajectory than any previous wave of the pandemic. President-elect Joe Biden on Wednesday amplified the bleak forecast during a roundtable with workers and small business owners hit hard by the devastating economic fallout.

JOE BIDEN: We're likely to lose another 250,000 people dead between now and January. You hear me? Because people aren't paying attention.

- Redfield projected the total number of deaths could be close to 450,000 before February, adding that the US could start losing around 3,000 people a day, roughly the same number that died in the September 11 attacks, and that that rate could continue over the next two months.