The U.S. marked a grim milestone on Wednesday, hitting the highest number of deaths from the coronavirus in a single day since the pandemic began.
Just over 2,800 people died of COVID-19 on Wednesday, according to Johns Hopkins University data, higher than the previous record of about 2,600 people dying one day in mid-April.
The coronavirus pandemic is surging in the U.S., with more than 13.9 million confirmed cases and more than 273,000 dead so far.
More than 100,000 Americans are currently hospitalized with COVID-19. Hospital occupancy peaked on April 15 at 59,924. That record held until Nov. 10, when the U.S. saw 62,059 hospitalized. The number has crept steadily higher every day since.
Dr. Robert Redfield, the head of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Wednesday that 180,000 more people in the U.S. could die of the virus before February.
“The reality is December and January and February are going to be rough times. I actually believe they’re going to be the most difficult time in the public health history of this nation,” the CDC director said in a Q&A with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation.
Redfield urged Americans to help change the course of the pandemic and reduce the rapid spread of the coronavirus by following measures that public health experts have recommended for months: social distancing, wearing masks, staying at home and gathering only in small groups outdoors rather than indoors.
The White House, meanwhile, plans to hold multiple holiday parties, even though outgoing President Donald Trump and dozens of people surrounding him, including his family members, tested positive after crowded White House events earlier this fall.
Hayley Miller contributed reporting.
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