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More than 100,000 coronavirus infections have been reported for 20 consecutive days in the US, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
Confirmed cases have reached more than 12 million since the onset of the pandemic, with more than 3 million of those infections were reported within the first few weeks of November alone.
The most recent 1 million cases were reported within less than a week.
It took a little more than two weeks for case numbers to rise from 8 to 9 million at the end of October, and only 10 days to reach 10 million cases.
On Sunday, more than 101,000 new cases were reported, along with 672 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins. More than 256,000 Americans have died from coronavirus-related illness in 2020.
Hospital admissions also are rising, with more than 83,000 people hospitalised on 21 November, according to the Covid Tracking Project. Within the last week, hospitalisations averaged roughly 74,000 within a seven-day period, up more than 19 per cent from the previous week.
Last week also saw the deaths of 8,400 Americans from coronavirus, the highest weekly death toll since May.
“This wave of cases arrives in a moment when many hospital systems across the country are already inundated with Covid-19 patients and are warning of staff shortages,” the group warned in its weekly progress report.
The group has repeatedly pointed to correlations in rising infection rates and subsequent hospitalisation spikes within 12 days later, followed by “more reported deaths within a few weeks.”
“In human terms, some of the people being diagnosed now will end up sick enough to be admitted to a hospital,” according to the Covid Tracking Project.
The latest stark figures arrive as millions of Americans are expected to travel during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, despite the urgent warnings from health officials amid fears that the virus will continue to surge, with potentially thousands more deaths before the end of the year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has advised Americans to avoid air travel during the holiday period.
“Right now, especially as we are seeing exponential growth in cases and the opportunity to translocate disease or infection from one part of the country to another … our recommendation [is] to avoid travel at this time,” Dr Henry Walke told reporters last week.
Despite warnings, Friday and Saturday were two of the busiest days at US airports since the onset of the pandemic that effectively stopped most air travel in March.
The Transportation Security Administration screened more than 2 million people at US airports on Friday and Saturday, the agency reported, marking the second- and third- busiest days for US airport travel since the spring.
Dr Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CBS on Sunday that “seemingly innocent” holiday gatherings indoors “are the kinds of situtations that are leading to outbreaks.”
“When you get on a crowded plane, you're in a crowded airport, you're lining up, not everybody's wearing masks – that puts yourself at risk,” he added.
He warned that a spike in cases following Thanksgiving weekend won’t appear until infections set and transmission spreads.
“You're not going to see an increase until weeks later – things lag,” he said. “What you don't want to see is another spike in cases as we get colder and colder into December and then you start dealing with the Christmas holiday. We can really be in a very difficult situation.”
Moncef Slaoui, who is leading the federal vaccine response, told CNN on Sunday that the first round of vaccines to Americans could be available as early as mid-December, pending an emergency use authorisation for a likely vaccine candidate that could be ordered on 10 December.
“Our plan is to be able to ship vaccines to the immunisation sites within 24 hours from the approval,” he said.