A patient arrives outside Maimonides Medical Center, as the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, in Brooklyn, New York, United States, November 17, 2020.
Brendan McDermid | Reuters
The United States reported more than 195,500 new cases of the coronavirus on Friday, a record high less than a week before Thanksgiving, which public health officials say could make the outbreak even worse.
The jump of nearly 200,000 cases on Friday brings the seven-day average of new cases to more than 167,600, an increase of almost 20% from a week ago, according to a TBEN analysis of data compiled by the ‘Johns Hopkins University. The seven-day average of new cases is up at least 5% week over week in 43 states and the District of Columbia, according to data from Hopkins.
The increase in cases leads to an increase in hospitalizations and deaths. More than 82,100 people are currently hospitalized with Covid-19 across the country, more than at any time during the pandemic, according to data from the COVID Tracking Project, which is led by reporters from The Atlantic.
The Atlantic obtained data earlier this week from the Department of Health and Human Services which showed that about 20% of US hospitals were or are expected to face a staff shortage last week.
More than 1,800 people in the United States died from Covid-19 on Friday, according to data from Hopkins. The country has recorded more than 1,500 deaths a day since Tuesday, a death toll not seen since May. The United States recorded more than 2,000 deaths on Thursday.
Earlier this week, Dr Henry Walke, head of Covid-19 incidents at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said the agency was “alarmed” by “the exponential increase in cases, hospitalizations and deaths.” During the agency’s first official press briefing in months, he urged Americans not to travel for Thanksgiving gatherings.
Public health specialists and epidemiologists are sounding the alarm that Thanksgiving could worsen an already severe nationwide outbreak. Dr Tom Frieden, the former CDC director who was appointed by President Barack Obama, said on Friday Twitter that if “we’re not much more careful than we plan to be, this Thanksgiving will be the Super Bowl of mainstream events.”
Dr Bill Schaffner, an epidemiologist at Vanderbilt University, said he was “very concerned” about the holiday weekend. He said that even though people intend to practice social distancing during the Thanksgiving meal, these protocols “will become less complete at the end of the day, especially after a drink or three of eggnog.”
“We will give thanks, but we will also give the virus, I’m afraid,” he said in a telephone interview. “People will take them home. They will spread more within the family and among neighbors and friends.