- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 3, 2020

U.S. hospitalizations for COVID-19 reached 100,000 for the first time and the nation hit an all-time high for deaths in a single day, according to new figures that show the country is paying the price for widespread transmission.

Pandemic-trackers on Thursday said 2,885 people died of COVID-19 in the U.S. on Wednesday, topping the previous daily mark of 2,752 on April 15.

The previous record was set during the springtime crush in New York and other Northeast states. Now, the disease is spreading far and wide across the nation, making it difficult for over-taxed hospitals to borrow staff from elsewhere.

Hospitalizations for COVID-19 stand at 100,226, according to the COVID Tracking Project.

The good news is that a lower share of people who test positive for the disease are dying from it. The case-fatality rate in the U.S. is at 2%, down from over 6% at the start of the pandemic, and a pair of promising vaccines are set for approval later this month.

However, the sheer breadth of transmission means more families will be scheduling funerals while the immunization campaign plays out over several months.

The nation is averaging over 164,000 newly reported cases per day, and elevated transmission typically presages an uptick in hospitalizations, which in turn signals an upturn in deaths a couple of weeks later. That trend is playing out as people gather for holidays or huddle from the cold indoors, adding to the world-leading U.S. death toll of nearly 274,000.

Dr. Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said the coming months will present the biggest public health challenge the nation has ever faced. He said Americans control their own fate, however.

He implored everyone to wear masks and observe basic mitigation measures like physical distancing and hand-washing.

“We’re not defenseless. The truth is that mitigation works,” Dr. Redfield told the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation. “But it’s not going to work if half of us do what we need to do — probably not even if three-quarters do.”

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