(Reuters) – The number of COVID-19 cases in the United States is on track to surpass 12 million on Saturday, just days leading up to the Thanksgiving holiday that health experts say could trigger an increase in the spread of the infection across the country.
The milestone marks the worsening of the COVID-19 epidemic in the country, which has claimed a quarter of a million lives in the United States, more than in any other country, and has prompted more than 20 countries to introduce sweeping new restrictions to try this month. to curb viruses.
Reuters data shows the rate of new infections in the United States is accelerating, with nearly a million-plus cases recorded in just the last 6 days since the country recorded 11 million. This compares to the 8 days it took to convert from 10 million cases to 11 million cases, and the 10 days it took to convert from 9 to 10 million.
Health officials have warned that a surge of infections could soon overwhelm the health care system if people don’t follow public health guidelines, especially around not traveling and mingling with other households for the traditional Thanksgiving celebrations on Thursday.
The US Centers for Disease Control issued a “strong recommendation” to Americans this week to refrain from traveling over Thanksgiving.
“We are concerned about the exponential increase in cases, hospitalizations and deaths,” CDC official Henry Walke told reporters.
Many Americans seemed to defy those guidelines in the days leading up to the holidays. On Friday, video footage on Twitter showed more than a hundred people, wearing masks, filling the boarding gates at Sky Harbor airport in Phoenix, Arizona.
The number of people in the United States traveling by air for Thanksgiving is expected to fall 47.5% from 2019, while the number traveling by car is only expected to fall by around 4%, according to a report released earlier this month by America. Automotive Association.
“For those considering traveling, the majority will leave by car, which gives flexibility to change holiday travel plans until the day of departure,” said AAA senior vice president Paula Twidale in a statement.
As the United States set a new record for COVID-19 cases on Friday – 196,815 infections in a day – Pfizer Inc said it would seek authorization for emergency use of its vaccine from US regulators, the first application. [L4N2I62KF]
At a press briefing on Friday, the country’s leading infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci likened the Pfizer vaccine and others like it to “cavalry” who have come to help the country, and he said in the meantime Americans should continue to follow measures such as social distancing and use of a face mask.
“If you are fighting and the cavalry is on its way, don’t stop firing. You keep going until the cavalry gets here,” Fauci said.
(Reporting by Gabriella Borter in Fairfield, Connecticut; Additional reporting by Anurag Maan in Bengaluru; Editing by Daniel Wallis)