In the deadliest month of the year, more than 119,000 Americans were hospitalised for the coronavirus before Christmas Eve, and 3,379 people died from Covid-19-related illness, the sixth time in which the deaths of more than 3,000 people in the US were reported within one day.
Wednesday’s numbers from the COVID Tracking Project mark the second consecutive day in which a record-breaking number of people are currently in hospital for Covid-19, setting a seven-day average of a record-high 115,000 people hospitalised.
As of Wednesday night, 119,463 people were in hospital for Covid-19.
The report arrives 10 months from the onset of the public health crisis that has killed more than 325,000 people in the US. December has so far been the deadliest month on record, with several days remaining on 2020’s calendar.
Health officials project to see more than 3.2 million deaths from all causes in 2020, more than 400,000 more than recorded in 2019.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention predicts 378,000 to 419,000 coronavirus-related deaths by 16 January, based on current hospitalisation and infection trends.
More than 1 million Americans have received the first doses of a vaccine against the disease, according to the CDC, but the promise of an effective drug to inoculate the public will arrive too late for thousands of people who are currently hospitalised.
In a statement on Wednesday, CDC director Robert Redfield said: “While we celebrate this historic milestone, we also acknowledge the challenging path ahead. There is currently a limited supply of Covid-19 vaccine in the US, but supply will increase in the weeks and months to come. The goal is for everyone to be able to easily get vaccinated against Covid-19 as soon as large enough quantities are available.”
Despite warnings from officials and overwhelmed health systems, Christmas-related air travel has surpassed roughly 1 million daily passengers for three consecutive days, between Friday and Sunday before Christmas, according to the Transportation Security Administration.
That scale of commercial air travel has easily surpassed travel numbers from Thanksgiving that broke travel records during the pandemic. More than 6 million passengers have been screened into airports in the week before Christmas, as of 23 December.
CDC guidance has urged Americans to postpone travel and stay home during the holiday, “as this is the best way to protect yourself and others this year.”