The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Tuesday reported 12,333,452 cases of the new coronavirus, an increase of 157,531 from its previous count, and said the number of deaths had risen by 1,058 to 257,016.
The CDC reported its tally of cases of the respiratory illness known as COVID-19, caused by a new coronavirus, as of 4 pm ET on Nov. 23 versus its previous report a day earlier.
The CDC figures do not necessarily reflect cases reported by individual states.
Officials pleaded with Americans to stay at home and redouble efforts to curtail the coronavirus pandemic on Tuesday, defending unpopular public health measures as record hospitalizations pushed medical professionals to the brink.
“We are on fire with COVID,” Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear said on CNN, speaking in support of restrictions imposed last week that included new constraints on retail activity and school closures. “We’re just trying to do the right thing.”
The number of patients being treated for coronavirus infections in US hospitals surpassed 86,000 on Tuesday, an all-time high, while 30 of the 50 states reported a record number of COVID-19-related hospitalizations this month.
The soaring caseload has taxed already exhausted healthcare providers and further strained medical resources as 171,000 Americans test positive and another 1,500 or more perish from COVID-19 every day, on average.
US Surgeon General Jerome Adams urged the public to grasp “the severity of the moment” and remain diligent in wearing face coverings, avoiding crowds and practicing good hand hygiene until newly developed therapeutic treatments and vaccines can be made widely available in the months ahead.
“We just need you, the American people, to hold on a little bit longer,” Adams, a White House coronavirus task force member, told Fox News in an interview.
Adams joined a chorus of health authorities calling for people to reconsider any plans to travel or to congregate in large groups beyond their immediate households over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend starting Thursday.
HOW TO JUST SAY ‘NO’
California’s top health official, Dr. Mark Ghaly, went so far in his weekly public COVID briefing on Tuesday to offer up “COVID chat” talking points for politely but firmly declining invitations to family gatherings that might be unsafe.
“Saying ‘no’ to people you love is never easy ... but knowing how and when to say ‘no’ is the first step to protecting your health and the health of the people you care about,” Ghaly wrote.
Government data and projections from the American Automobile Association show such pleas are being widely disregarded.
Although fewer in number than is typical, millions of Americans have flocked to airports and highways in recent days, leading to the busiest US travel period since the early days of the pandemic in March.
One travel complication may soon be relaxed, as the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers shortening its recommended 14-day quarantine after potential exposure to the virus for individuals who test negative during their isolation.
Health authorities also said this week they expect the first vaccines to win US regulatory approval for distribution next month and begin to be administered to front-line healthcare workers and other high-priority individuals by mid-December. But the shots are unlikely to become widely available to the general public on demand before April or May, experts have said.