The number of Americans in hospital with Covid-19 reached record levels on Tuesday, as more than a million new cases were confirmed in November.
There are over 10 million confirmed US cases and 239,732 deaths so far – and the death toll is rising to an average of over 900 a day amid the new spikes.
As of Tuesday, 61,964 people are receiving hospital care for the virus, the Covid Tracking Project reports.
Experts warn hospitals across the country could soon be overwhelmed.
The US has been seeing more than 100,000 new cases per day over the last 10 days in what experts say may be a worse outbreak than those seen in the spring and summer.
States across the US have broken new case records this week. On 10 November, Texas became the first state to hit one million total cases. That takes its case count above that of Italy – one of the worst-hit countries during the first wave in March and April.
The same day, Texas – America’s second most-populous state – saw over 10,800 new cases.
Other states, including Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, California and Florida, have also seen numbers rise. CBS News reports 15 states saw the numbers of patients in hospital due to the virus double in the last month.
Some hospitals, such as in Idaho and Missouri, have had to turn patients away because they ran out of room.
State leaders have been re-imposing pandemic restrictions as a result. Residents of Wisconsin and Nevada have been urged to stay at home for two weeks. In Minnesota, bars and restaurants must shut by 22:00.
On Tuesday, epidemiologist Michael Osterholm, who has been tapped to join President-elect Joe Biden’s virus advisory group, warned of a “perfect storm”.
Speaking to the CBS This Morning programme, Mr Osterholm said there was “no question that our hospitals are about to be overrun”. He noted “the darkest days of this pandemic between now and next spring”, before the vaccine arrives.
Mr Osterholm, who heads the infectious disease research centre at the University of Minnesota, said during the summer spike after the Labour Day national holiday, new cases rose to 32,000 a day.
“Now we’re running in the 120- to 130,000 cases a day,” he said. “Do not be at all surprised when we hit 200,000 cases a day.”
The same day, US infectious disease chief Dr Anthony Fauci offered some hopeful news. He said the new Covid vaccine by Pfizer was expected to go through an emergency authorisation process in the next week or so. Human trials suggest it is 90% effective.
Dr Fauci told MSNBC: “I’m going to look at the data, but I trust Pfizer, I trust the [Food and Drug Administration]. These are colleagues of mine for decades, the career scientists.”
Amid the ongoing outbreak, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has updated its research around masks, saying that wearing one not only protects others but also the person wearing the mask.
Previous guidance had rested on the idea that the main benefit of mask-wearing came from potentially stopping an infected person transmitting Covid to others.
The CDC referenced several studies, including one case where two Covid-positive hair stylists interacted with 139 clients – but of the 67 clients researchers tested, none developed an infection. The stylists and all clients had worn masks in the salon.
Another study looking into the outbreak aboard the UUS Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier found mask-wearing seemed to have reduced the risk of virus transmission by 70%, the CDC said.