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December 4, 2020

US coronavirus cases rose by 216,584 in one day. See the cases, mapped.

Daily Briefing

    The United States on Thursday once again reported daily records for new coronavirus cases and Covid-19 hospitalizations, and data shows that coronavirus-related death rates are rising throughout the country.

    US sets another single-day record for new coronavirus cases

    According to data compiled by the New York Times, U.S. officials on Thursday reported about 216,548 new cases of the novel coronavirus.

    As of Friday morning, U.S. officials had reported a total of nearly 14.2 million cases of the virus since America's epidemic began—up from about 14 million cases reported as of Thursday morning.

    Over the past six days, the total number of coronavirus cases reported in the United States increased by one million, rising from about 13 million to more than 14 million, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. The Times reports that the United States' average daily number of newly reported coronavirus cases over the past week was 180,327—which is up 8% from two weeks ago. However, the latest average includes a lull in newly reported cases that occurred over the Thanksgiving holiday, which likely resulted from a dip in coronavirus testing over the holiday.

    As of Friday morning, data from the Times showed that the rates of newly reported coronavirus cases were "staying high" in Puerto Rico; Washington, D.C.; and 38 states that have had a daily average of at least 15 newly reported cases per 100,000 people over the past week. Those states are Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and West Virginia.

    The Times' data also showed that, as of Friday morning, the daily average of newly reported cases over the past seven days was "going down" in Guam and 10 states that had been seeing comparatively higher rates of coronavirus transmission. Those states are Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

    The U.S. Virgin Islands has had comparatively low case rates, but it was seeing those rates "going up" as of Friday morning, according to theTimes. In Hawaii and Maine, meanwhile, rates of newly reported coronavirus cases were "staying low" as of Friday morning, according to theTimes' analysis.

    Covid-19 hospitalizations reach new peak

    Hospitalizations for Covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, also surged to a new high on Thursday, marking the sixth consecutive day the country reported a record-high number of coronavirus-related hospitalizations. According to data from The Atlantic's COVID Tracking Project, 100,667 Americans with Covid-19 were hospitalized for treatment on Thursday, including 19,442 who were receiving care in an ICU and 6,867 who were on a ventilator.

    In recent weeks, every region of the United States has seen a rapid increase in their numbers of hospitalized Covid-19 patients, The Atlantic reports. For instance, Covid-19 hospitalizations in the West and Midwest have reached record highs, while hospitalizations in the South and Northeast are approaching record-high levels, according to The Atlantic.

    The current spike in Covid-19 hospitalizations also has led to new peaks in ICU occupancy throughout the United States, according to federal estimates, the Wall Street Journal reports. Because of the spikes in ICU occupancy, some hospitals have begun transferring patients they would have usually treated in their ICUs to other units in their hospitals or to rural hospitals—some of which do not have the skilled staff or technology typically available in an ICU, doctors told the Journal.

    For example, Gena Speer—the nursing chief for Goodall-Witcher Hospital in Clifton, Texas—told the Journal that some Texas hospitals on Tuesday did not have enough room for an elderly ED patient with septic shock, which occurs when a patient's blood pressure drops to dangerous levels. Speer said the patient was eventually admitted to Goodall-Witcher, which is small, 25-bed rural hospital without an ICU.

    According to Speer, such a patient would've "easily [been] considered an ICU-level patient" last year, but now, hospitals are "having to downgrade the level of care for" such patients because Covid-19 and other patients with severe illnesses are filling ICU beds.

    Matt Maslonka, an intensive care physician in Nebraska, similarly said hospitals now have a higher bar for which patients receive intensive care. Although hospitals generally have clear guidelines for who should receive intensive care, many hospitals are now having to wait to determine which patients are the sickest and in most urgent need for such care, he told the Journal. "We are waiting to the absolute last minute that we can," Maslonka said.

    The White House's coronavirus task force said the number of Americans hospitalized with Covid-19 likely will continue to surge, as many Americans traveled and gathered with others over the Thanksgiving holiday, which increased their risk of transmitting or contracting the novel coronavirus, The Atlantic reports. That means hospitals likely will be further strained and patient care could become more compromised, according to The Atlantic.

    The Journal reports that research has shown patients' medical care worsens when hospitals are overwhelmed. As such, experts say the increasing burden on hospitals may undermine the advancements made in treating Covid-19 patients, the Journal reports. Further, according to Axios' "Vitals," although there are some new, promising Covid-19 treatments available in the United States, the supply of those drugs isn't enough to keep up with demand.

    Jennifer Nuzzo, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, said it may be difficult for providers to offer Covid-19 patients the best care "when [they're] dealing with battlefield conditions, when [they] have so many patients that it's hard to keep track."

    US breaks single-day record for new coronavirus deaths

    Along with surging numbers of new coronavirus cases and Covid-19 hospitalizations, rates of new coronavirus deaths also are rising throughout the country, "Vitals" reports.

    On Thursday, U.S. officials reported about 2,857 new deaths tied to the novel coronavirus—the highest number of deaths tied to the virus that the country has ever reported in a single day. Thursday marked the second day in a row that U.S. officials reported a record-high number of new deaths tied to the coronavirus.

    As of Friday morning, U.S. officials had reported a total of about 276,375 U.S. deaths linked to the virus since the country's epidemic began—up from about 273,518 deaths reported as of Thursday morning.

    According to "Vitals," 12 states and Puerto Rico reported single-day records of new coronavirus deaths this week, and some states' death tolls are approaching the totals seen in states such as New York and New Jersey, which were hit by the first wave of America's coronavirus epidemic in the spring.

    For instance, "Vitals" reports that North Dakota and South Dakota, which saw surges in new coronavirus cases this fall, recorded 24.1 and 30.4 daily coronavirus deaths per one million people, respectively, in November. In comparison, New York in April reported 38.9 daily coronavirus deaths per one million people, while New Jersey in April reported 37.5 deaths per one million people daily and Connecticut reported 33.4 deaths per one million people daily.

    And with the accelerating pace of new coronavirus cases, paired with increasing strains on hospital capacity and Covid-19 treatments, the rate of coronavirus-related deaths in the United States could continue to climb, "Vitals" reports (Castronuovo, The Hill, 12/3; Bernstein/Caspani, Reuters, 12/3; The Covid Tracking Project, The Atlantic, 12/3; Evans, Wall Street Journal, 12/3; New York Times, 12/4; "The COVID Tracking Project," The Atlantic, accessed 12/3; Owen, "Vitals," Axios, 12/4).

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