December 10, 2020 -- State COVID-19 databases are beginning to show an uptick in coronavirus cases related to Thanksgiving travel and gatherings.
Piling on top of an existing COVID-19 surge in many places, the latest cases could lead to the deadliest month of the pandemic so far.
“We’re slingshotting this surge of cases into the holiday season in a way that is truly dangerous,” Michael Osterholm, MD, director of the University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Disease Research and Prevention, told The Hill
The U.S. has averaged more than 200,000 new COVID-19 cases per day during the last week, according to The COVID Tracking Project. Hospitalizations climbed to 104,600 on Tuesday, marking the highest point in the pandemic. More than 2,200 people died per day during the past week, sometimes reaching higher than 3,000 deaths in one day.
At the state level, previous surges in several Midwest states have fallen, but case counts are climbing in the South again, The Hill reported. In mid-November, Alabama reported about 14,000 new cases per week, which is now up to 22,000. Florida’s cases spiked to 65,000 during the past week from about 50,000 in late November, and Georgia’s cases rose 50% in early December, hitting nearly 30,000 cases during the past week.
“At this point, we could be just picking up the beginning of the Thanksgiving surge, but surely in the following week we’re going to see it,” Osterholm said.
In anticipation, several states have opened up field hospitals to care for new patients. California Gov. Gavin Newsom has issued strict lockdown measures again, and Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon issued his first statewide mask mandate, the news outlet reported.
The first COVID-19 vaccines could receive FDA approval as soon as this week, but until enough Americans receive immunizations, public health officials are urging people to wear masks, avoid gatherings and follow social distancing guidelines.
“The United States is going to kind of muddle through this until there’s a vaccine,” Amesh Adalja, MD, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, told The Hill.
“It’s becoming increasingly unlikely that we will gain control of this until we have a vaccine,” he said.