Doctors are warning that the US will see the ‘darkest days in modern medical history’ in the weeks after Thanksgiving as the daily COVID-19 death toll hits the highest since May and hospitalizations continue to surge to record highs.
Millions of Americans took to the skies and the highways in the days leading up to Thanksgiving despite the risk of pouring gasoline on the coronavirus fire as they disregarded increasingly dire warnings to avoid travel and events.
With cases, hospitalizations and deaths already skyrocketing across the US, health officials are warning the worst is yet to come given the true impact of Thanksgiving travel and gatherings won’t be seen for a few weeks.
The daily death toll across the country spiked to 2,297 yesterday, which is the highest number of deaths per day since May and the second day in a row where fatalities have surpassed 2,000.
Today, on Thanksgiving Day, the Covid Tracking Project recorded just 1,319 deaths – but noted that because of the public holiday they had received no information from 20 states or territories, and only partial reports from ten more, meaning the real numbers will be much higher.
The project tweeted: ‘The following jurisdictions did not report today: AS, CT, FL, KS, KY, LA, MA, MI, MN, MP, NC, NH, OH, RI, SC, SD, UT, VI, VT, WY. 10 more reported partial data. Some will report two days of data tomorrow.’
Analysts say official statistics could be disrupted over the holiday weekend.
But health officials have been warning for weeks that deaths, which are a lagging indicator, will increase after the number of cases and hospitalizations started surging in late September.
There were 181,490 new cases recorded yesterday alone and the number of infections has consistently been well above 100,000 every day for the last three weeks.
Hospitalizations have been surging to record highs over the past month with nearly 90,000 patients being treated as of yesterday.
While the Midwest continues to be the hardest hit, California saw a 17 percent spike in cases in 24 hours and New York recorded it deadliest day since May with 67 fatalities.
The daily death toll across the country spiked to 2,297 yesterday, which is the highest number of deaths per day since May and the second day in a row where fatalities have surpassed 2,000
There were 181,490 new cases recorded yesterday alone and the number of infections has consistently been well above 100,000 every day for the last three weeks
Doctors in parts of the country have warned that hospitals are already overwhelmed and are nearing capacity in some states.
Dr Joseph Varon, chief of staff at United Memorial Medical Center in Houston, Texas said his hospital is already full and he expects cases and hospitalizations to surge even higher after Thanksgiving.
‘My concerns for the next six to 12 weeks is that if we don’t do things right, America is going to see the darkest days in modern American medical history,’ Varon told CNN.
‘My hospital is full. I just opened two new wings so that I can accommodate for the next few days, because I know that a lot of people are going to get sick after Thanksgiving,’ he said.
The CDC and state and local authorities spent the past week begging people not to travel and urging them to keep their Thanksgiving celebrations small.
Yet millions defied the official warnings with nearly six million traveling by plane in the last six days. Over 1 million passed through US airport checkpoints yesterday alone, which is the largest crowd since the COVID-19 crisis took hold in March.
AAA, which forecasts Thanksgiving travel every year, says 48 million Americans will travel by car and 350,000 by train between today and Sunday – just a 10 percent overall decline from last year.
Traffic was bumper to bumper on highways in California’s San Fernando Valley last night. More drivers are expected to take to the roads today.
It comes as 95 percent of counties across the country are now seeing an uncontrollable spread of COVID-19 infections, a data map compiled by spatial analytics company Esri shows.
The map shows that of the 3,141 counties in the US, 3005 are currently experiencing an epidemic, or uncontrollable spread, of the virus.
The CDC and state and local authorities spent the past week begging people not to travel and urging them to keep their Thanksgiving celebrations small. Yet millions defied the official warnings with nearly six million traveling by plane in the last six days
Ninety five percent of counties across the country are now seeing an uncontrollable spread of COVID-19 infections, this data map compiled by spatial analytics company Esri shows
With cases, hospitalizations and deaths already skyrocketing across the US, health officials are warning the worst is yet to come given the true impact of Thanksgiving travel and gatherings won’t be seen for a few weeks like with other holidays
THANKSGIVING TRAVEL IN NUMBERS:
Six million people flew in the six days before Thanksgiving, according to TSA figures.
48 million Americans will travel by car between Wednesday and Sunday, AAA says.
350,000 will travel by train between today and Sunday, according to AAA forecasts.
While COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are spiking nationally, the Midwest – encompassing a dozen states between Ohio and the Dakotas – has been especially brutalized.
Midwest states continue to be among the hardest hit in the country based on cases and deaths per 100,000 people.
North Dakota is still the worst affected with 158 cases per 100,000 people in the last week. Wyoming follows with 154 cases, New Mexico with 127 cases, South Dakota with 122 and Minnesota with 115 cases per capita.
The worst affected states for deaths per capita are South Dakota with 2.8 deaths per 100,000 residents in the last seven days. North Dakota follows with 2.1 deaths and Wyoming with 1.4 fatalities.
Cases are also rising in every other state with California seeing its number of cases jump 17 percent in 24 hours.
Dr Anthony Fauci has warned that the US is already in the middle of a spike and that the true impact of Thanksgiving travel and gatherings won’t be seen for another three weeks when infections and hospitalizations could surge even higher.
‘The final message is to do what we’ve been saying for some time… keep the indoor gatherings as small as you possibly can,’ he told ABC’s Good Morning America. ‘By making that sacrifice you’re going to prevent people from getting infected.
‘The sacrifice now could save lives and illness and make the future much brighter as we get through this…we’re 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 – masks, distancing, avoiding crowds. That’s my final plea before the holiday.’
With caseloads soaring, more than half the nation’s governors imposed or reimposed statewide measures this month. But despite more stringent face-mask requirements, curfews and limits on bars and restaurants, the metrics of the virus have only worsened.
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA: Traffic was bumper to bumper on highways in California’s San Fernando Valley last night. More drivers are expected to take to the roads today
FORT LAUDERDALE, FLORIDA: Airline passengers are seen at Fort Lauderdale Hollywood International Airport on the eve of Thanksgiving
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA: Passengers arrive at a United gate at San Francisco International Airport yesterday
SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH: Passengers line up to go through a security checkpoint at Salt Lake City International Airport yesterday
ATLANTA, GEORGIA: Millions of Americans have continued to ignore CDC guidance and dire warnings from public health officials to avoid Thanksgiving travel. Pictured above is the crowd waiting to check in for flights at Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport yesterday morning
In Missouri the state’s two largest metropolitan areas are cracking down on restaurants that violate rules designed to stem the spread of the coronavirus.
Kansas City´s authorities found two dozen bars and restaurants in violation of the city´s new pandemic restrictions after a weekend sweep of 185 establishments. Previously, the city relied primarily on complaints to enforce the rules. The new rules limit bars and restaurants to 50 percent capacity and require closing by 10 p.m..
Meanwhile, officials in St. Louis County have sent certified letters to three dozen bars and businesses ordering them to cease indoor service or face lawsuits or criminal charges.
Officials in Anchorage, Alaska, are imposing new pandemic restrictions for December that will prohibit bars and restaurants from offering indoor service, require employers to allow people to work from home if possible and limit many businesses to 25 per cent capacity.
Acting Mayor Austin Quinn-Davidson said Wednesday that the rules are needed to deal with increasing coronavirus infections in Anchorage, which is Alaska´s biggest city. The rules take effect Tuesday and run through Jan. 1.
As of Wednesday, the city has recorded 15,100 coronavirus cases. Of those, 2,115 were reported in the last week. The city has had 66 deaths from COVID.19.
And in Oregon its governor says bars and restaurants can reopen for limited outdoor service next week but many restrictions will remain in place until a vaccine against the coronavirus is widely available.
In making the announcement Wednesday, Gov. Kate Brown urged Oregonians to stay safe during the Thanksgiving holiday and protect others by not ignoring safety protocols, like wearing masks and limiting personal contacts.
The revamped pandemic restrictions take effect when the current two-week ‘freeze’ expires December 3. Currently, only take-out restaurant service is allowed. The restaurant industry pushed hard against the restrictions as several eateries closed for good and others were at risk of doing so.
In Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon revealed he has tested positive for the coronavirus, but has only minor symptoms. Gordon said Wednesday that he plans to continue working remotely.
The Oklahoma State Department of Health announced Wednesday that public schools will be allowed to offer in-school quarantines for students exposed to the virus. Schools in Mustang became the first in the state to adopt the policy, the department said.
Officials in Santa Clara County, California, said they will ramp up enforcement of state health orders during the holiday weekend to make sure businesses follow the permitted capacity, employees and customers wear masks at all times and social distance guidelines are being followed.
Los Angeles has begun to require travelers arriving to by airplane or train to sign a form acknowledging California’s recommended two-week self-quarantine in response to surging coronavirus cases.
In Utah an increased number of hospitalizations across the state has prompted doctors and public health officials to advise against attending Thanksgiving gatherings with people outside their immediate households.
And in New Jersey´s largest city, officials are urging residents to shelter in place for the next 10 days to quell a resurgence of the new coronavirus.
CASES PER CAPITA: States in the Midwest continue to be among the hardest hit in the country based on cases and deaths per 100,000 people. North Dakota is still the worst affected with 158 cases per 100,000 people in the last week. Wyoming follows with 154 cases, New Mexico with 127 cases, South Dakota with 122 and Minnesota with 115 cases per capita
How U.S. states and cities are cracking down on Thanksgiving travel
New York City
In New York City, checkpoints at bridges, tunnels and other keys crossings will have cops out ‘in force’ to inform travelers of the state’s quarantine requirements.
Travelers into New York are required to have a negative test before arriving and then again four days into their trip; if that’s negative, they can stop quarantining.
The rules don’t apply to neighboring states and New Yorkers who are out-of-state for less than 24 hours only need to take a coronavirus test within four days of returning to the state.
Test and trace tests will also be out in the city to help travelers with the rules, authorities said.
Those who violate the rules face a fine of $2,000, Mayor Bill de Blasio added.
Los Angeles introduced an online form that asks air travelers to acknowledge that there is a recommendation to quarantine for 14 days.
The quarantine is not a requirement in the state, however, and the CDC has already suggested that it may shorten the quarantine time from the two weeks currently recommended to between eight and ten days.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot introduced a nonbinding 30-day stay-at-home advisory as she advised residents to cancel Thanksgiving plans and stay at home unless they need to go to work or school or to tend to essential needs.
Mayor Ras Baraka has issued a stay at home order for ten days starting from Wednesday to slow the spread of the coronavirus in the state’s largest city.
Governor Phil Scott remained worried about Thanksgiving travel in Vermont Tuesday as he called for students to be interrogated about their Thanksgiving plans before being allowed back to in-person teaching.
He directed schools to as students if they had been a part of a multi-family Thanksgiving gathering, requiring those who have done so to transition to online learning for 14 days.
In Pennsylvania, Gov. Tom Wolf announced that law enforcement would be stepping up efforts to enforce the state’s safety plan, which requires people entering from a different state – whether Pennsylvania residents or not – to test negative for the virus within 72 hours before they arrive in the commonwealth.
As well as imploring residents to forgo large gatherings, Gov. Wolf has introduced a one-night shutdown of alcohol sales for in-person consumption at places like bars and restaurants. The shutoff will begin at 5pm on Wednesday.
Gov. Larry Hogan has introduced ‘High Visibility Compliance Units’ which will send out state troopers to patrol near bars, restaurants and event venues to crack down on any public gatherings.
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced in a Twitter post that the state will ‘hit reset’ and a statewide stay-at-home order began on November 16 to discourage travel.
New Mexicans were instructed to shelter in place and stay at home apart from essential trips. All non-essential and non-profit business were forced to close their in-person activities.
Gov. Tim Walz announced a blanket ban on social gatherings
‘Except as specifically permitted in this Executive Order, social gatherings are prohibited,’ the Walz executive order says.
Governor Kate Boren has also announced a ‘two-week’ freeze on most activities and nonessential businesses across the state.
Gov. Jay Inslee ordered a one-month ban on indoor services at restaurants and gyms and reduced in-store retail capacity to 25 percent.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued a ban on in-person high school and college classes, as well as indoor dining service for three weeks, as she hoped to keep people at home over Thanksgiving.
Gov. Gina Raimondo called for a ‘two-week pause’ with businesses closures and reduced restaurant capacity. The pause will be reviewed on December 13 when the state may go into a further lockdown.