Dec. 3 (UPI) — Coronavirus cases, deaths and hospitalizations all have reached historic levels in the United States, according to updated data Thursday.
There were about 200,000 new cases nationwide on Wednesday, the data from researchers at Johns Hopkins University shows — along with close to 3,200 coronavirus-related deaths, the most ever recorded for a single day.
Wednesday was just the second day to see more than 200,000 new cases and the first with more than 3,000 deaths. The previous record toll for one day, 2,600, came in April.
In another grim milestone, the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients has surpassed 100,000 for the first time, according to the COVID Tracking Project. About a fifth of those patients are in intensive care.
Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 13.93 million coronavirus cases and 273,900 deaths in the United States, according to Johns Hopkins.
Health providers are concerned about strains on the system that are emerging now, and will continue to arise over the winter.
“The reality is December and January and February are going to be rough times,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield said Wednesday at an event hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Noting that about 90% of hospitals are in “hot zones” and “red zones,” Redfield said the next few months will be “the most difficult time in the public health history of this nation, largely because of the stress that’s going to be put on our healthcare system.”
Redfield warned that the national death toll could be close to 450,000 by the end of January.
In California, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has said the city is projected to run out of hospital bed space by Christmas.
Imposing new restrictions in response to the surge in cases, Garcetti strongly urged residents to prepare for a “long, hard winter.”
“My message couldn’t be simpler,” he said. “It’s time to hunker down. It’s time to cancel everything. And if it isn’t essential, don’t do it.”
Los Angeles County saw thousands of new cases on Wednesday following a record-high on Tuesday.
In Missouri and Illinois, hospitals in metro St. Louis say hospital beds are in short supply.
Dr. Christopher Farrar, medical director at Anderson Hospital in Maryville, Ill., said the spread puts all patients at risk.
“This recent spike in cases has put a strain on the number of available hospital beds, in particular ICU beds, which could impact the care of patients including those who have non-COVID illnesses,” Farrar told WLS-TV.