As the coronavirus pandemic’s winter surge rocks the Northern Hemisphere, the U.S. reported 3,054 deaths in a single day, while intensive care units are running out of beds in many parts of the country.
The United States logged one of its worst-ever daily COVID-19 death tolls in which over 3,000 people lost their lives to the virus that is putting a huge strain on the country’s health care system. The U.S. is the worst-hit nation in the world, with more than 15 million known infections and close to 290,000 deaths.
On Wednesday, 3,054 deaths were reported, the highest single-day total to date and nearly 300 more than the previous record set in May, according to data from the COVID Tracking Project, Deutsche Presse-Agentur (dpa) reported. The figure is higher than the nearly 3,000 people who were killed in the 9/11 terrorist attacks, including the 2,740 victims in New York and the others killed at the Pentagon and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The highest-ever number of people, 106,688, have been hospitalized with COVID-19, according to the organization, the latest in weeks of record-setting daily figures.
According to Johns Hopkins University data released Wednesday, the country logged a record 215,860 new infections a day earlier. New cases per day have rocketed to more than 200,000 on average. While vaccines are within sight, health experts expect the upcoming Christmas and New Year’s holidays to further fuel the widespread surge. The U.S. hopes to vaccinate 20 million people this month, with long-term care facility residents and health care workers at the front of the line. The goal is to reach 100 million by the end of February and the whole population by June. About 50% of Americans are willing to take the new COVID-19 vaccine, according to The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research survey. About 25% of U.S. adults are unsure whether they want to be vaccinated, adopting a wait-and-see approach.
Winter virus surge
Other Northern Hemisphere countries are also grappling with a winter virus surge. Germany has reported its highest one-day total of new COVID-19 cases, while the number of deaths linked to COVID-19 has climbed to more than 20,000. The national disease control center, the Robert Koch Institute, said Thursday that 23,679 new cases were confirmed over the previous 24 hours, as reported by The Associated Press (AP). The number is just above the previous record of 23,648 from Nov. 20. A partial shutdown that started on Nov. 2 has succeeded in keeping the surge from picking up speed, but the number of new daily cases has remained around the same high level in recent weeks rather than falling. The likelihood of stricter lockdowns over Christmas and New Year’s seems to be increasing, and some regions are already introducing new restrictions.
In Tokyo, the number of new daily COVID-19 infections topped 600 for the first time. Experts on Tokyo’s virus task force say the surge in infections has placed an added burden on hospitals, making it difficult for many of them to carry out treatment for ordinary patients. The Japanese capital city reported 602 new cases Thursday, while the daily tally for the entire nation was 2,810. Japan has reported 168,573 infections since the pandemic began, with 2,465 deaths.
The number of global infections raced towards 70 million with more than 1.5 million deaths since the virus emerged in China in December 2019. A study out of Italy provides added evidence that the COVID-19 virus could have already been spreading in the late fall of 2019, before an outbreak was first reported in Wuhan, China, as reported by AP.
Researchers identified the new COVID-19 infection in a specimen taken in early December from a 4-year-old boy who lived near Milan. The boy first developed a cough and other symptoms in November, months before COVID-19 cases were identified in Italy. In the study, the researchers went back and looked at back-of-the-throat swab specimens that had been collected from 39 patients between September and February. One from the boy tested positive for the virus. The researchers noted that the Italian child developed cold and flu-like symptoms in November and then a measles-like rash in early December. They don’t detail where the child had been or who he had been around.