US Covid-19 daily deaths top 2,100, deadliest since May, even as expert warns of explosion post Thanksgiving
It could potentially be the 'mother of all super-spreader events,' said Dr Jonathan Reiner, a former White House medical team adviser
As the pandemic rages across the US, 2,146 deaths from coronavirus were recorded on a single day on Tuesday, November 24, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally. This is the highest single-day death toll in the US since May. Hospitalizations also surpassed 88,000 on November 24, reaching an “all-time high” for the 15th consecutive day, suggests the Covid Tracking Project.
Despite the surge, millions of Americans are traveling for Thanksgiving to spend the holiday with family and friends ignoring warnings from scientists, and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). A day after the agency recommended against travel during Thanksgiving, 1,019,836 Americans flew by plane on November 20. The latest data from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) shows that since then, there have been 984,369 US passengers who boarded flights on November 21, 1,047,934 on November 22, 917,354 on November 23, and 912,090 on November 24.
Over 262,130 Americans have died in the pandemic, and more than 12,769,910 Covid-19 cases have been recorded in the US so far, shows the Johns Hopkins Covid-19 dashborad. Cautioning that the US could see an explosion of coronavirus cases in the weeks following Thanksgiving, Dr Jonathan Reiner, a former White House medical team adviser, told CNN that “it’s potentially the mother of all superspreader events”. “Many health officials believe the Midwest was seeded with Covid-19 last summer from just such an event, the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota. Now imagine that on a massive scale, people leaving from every airport in the US, and carrying (the) virus with them,” he emphasized.
The nation’s top infectious disease expert, Dr Anthony Fauci urged Americans to make a “sacrifice now to save lives and illness” by keeping indoor gatherings as small as possible and by not letting their guards down. “Keep indoor gatherings as small as you possibly can. We all know how difficult that is because this is such a beautiful, traditional holiday. But by making that sacrifice you are going to prevent people from getting infected,” Dr Fauci told ABC’s Good Morning America on Wednesday, November 25.
Dr Fauci, who is the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) director, said that asymptomatic people who have Covid-19 innocently and without malice may unwittingly infect people if they attend an indoor party or gathering, especially when they take their face mask off to eat or drink.
“Try to avoid that as much as possible. The sacrifice now could save lives and illness and make the future much brighter as we get through this, because we are going to get through this. Vaccines are right on the horizon. If we can just hang in there a bit longer and continue to do the simple mitigation things — masks, distancing, avoiding crowds, particularly indoor — if we do those things, we are going to get through it. That’s my final plea before the holiday. What we don’t want to see is yet another surge superposed upon the (current) surge, which we will realize three, three-and-a-half-weeks from now if we don’t do these public health things,” he said.
Michael Osterholm, the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, also warned that spike in cases during Thanksgiving could add to a Christmas surge.
“The challenges we have before us right now with the ever-increasing number of cases, rapidly increasing number of cases in many areas, that we are going to see our hospitals literally on the verge of collapse. That’s what we have to understand we’re where we’re at right now,” Osterholm, a member of President Elect Joe Biden’s coronavirus advisory council, told CNN. He added, “I worry that the Thanksgiving Day surge will then just add into what will become the Christmas surge, which will then make this one seem as if it wasn’t so bad. So, we have to understand we’re in a very dangerous place. People have to stop swapping air. It’s just that simple. And if we don’t, we're going to see many, many of our friends, colleagues and loved ones ending up in a hospital and, unfortunately, some of them not making it.”
20 million Americans could be infected by late January 2021
The number of confirmed Covid-19 cases is likely to increase to 20 million by the end of January 2021, predicts a Washington University in St Louis Covid-19 forecasting model. It was developed by Olin Business School’s Meng Liu, Raphael Thomadsen, and Song Yao. “Even small increases in social distancing can have a large effect on the number of cases we observe in the next two-and-a-half months. We could effectively squash out the coronavirus growth within a few weeks if we went back to the levels of social distancing we experienced in April,” explained Thomadsen, professor of marketing in the analysis published in Scientific Reports.
However, the researchers caution that this is likely a conservative estimate due to increased testing and the upcoming holidays. “In our model, we assume that only 10% of cases are ever diagnosed, meaning that we will start to hit saturation. However, more recently, testing has increased, and probably more like 25% of cases are diagnosed. In that case, total Covid-19 cases would increase beyond 20 million in the next few months unless we, as a society, engage in more social distancing,” stated Yao, associate professor of marketing and study co-author.”
According to Liu, assistant professor of marketing and study co-author, the upcoming holiday seasons will present a “great deal of uncertainty to the outlook of the pandemic” as people travel more at the end of the year. “This will likely make our forecast an optimistic one,” he added.