Nov. 19, 2020 -- The U.S. passed the quarter-million milestone for coronavirus deaths on Wednesday, according to NBC News, as public health officials warned that the death toll will continue to rise in coming weeks.
During the last 4 weeks, the number of deaths has jumped by 42%, according to an NBC News analysis. In early October, the weekly average was about 821 deaths per day, which increased to 1,167 deaths per day last week. The U.S. continues to lead the world with more coronavirus-related deaths than any other country.
The U.S. also leads the world with 11.5 million COVID-19 cases, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
“Right now, we are in an absolutely dangerous situation that we have to take with the utmost seriousness,” Adm. Brett Giroir, MD, the nation’s testing coordinator and a member of the White House coronavirus task force, told MSNBC.
“This is not crying wolf,” he added. “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.”
All 50 states, as well as Washington, DC, the Virgin Islands, and Guam, reported increases in COVID-19 cases during the past 2 weeks, NBC News reported. Doctors and nurses at hospitals across the country have called on Americans to follow precautions and help them avoid a “breaking point.”
“We’re approaching, I think, desperation,” Julie Watson, MD, chief medical officer at Integris Health in Oklahoma, told MSNBC. “I think we have to have our citizens helping us by wearing a mask and keeping their distance.”
According to the latest weekly report by the White House Coronavirus Task Force, there is “now aggressive, unrelenting, expanding broad community spread across the country, reaching most counties, without evidence of improvement but rather, further deterioration.”
NBC News obtained a copy of the internal memo, which warned that the current efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus are “inadequate.” Next week’s Thanksgiving holiday, the task force team members wrote, has the potential to “amplify transmission considerably.”
The U.S. reported more than 1,700 COVID-19 deaths on Tuesday, according to Johns Hopkins University data, marking the highest day in the past 6 months. That’s the equivalent of 1 American dying per minute, according to CBS News.
On April 15, the top day for deaths so far in 2020, more than 2,600 people died from the coronavirus. On Tuesday, White House Coronavirus Task Force members told Vice President Mike Pence that the numbers could climb above 2,000 deaths per day again by the end of the year, CBS News reported.
“There are dark days ahead,” Neeta Ogden, MD, an immunologist and internal medicine specialist in New Jersey, told CBSN.
“There is a long road ahead before that vaccine arrives at most of our doorsteps,” she said. “Until we actually have that kind of immunity -- that has 70% to 80% of people vaccinated or immune -- it’s not really going to make a dent in how we are going to be able to emerge from this pandemic.”