(NEXSTAR) – There were 98,691 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in the United States as of Tuesday evening, yet another grim daily record, according to The COVID Tracking Project.
That number was up from Monday’s record high of 93,238 patients.
Nearly 37,000 Americans died of COVID-19 in November, a month that is living up to dark prognostications from doctors and public health experts. The recent explosion of new cases and deaths from COVID-19 arrives with scenes echoing the worst weeks in the beginning of the pandemic – mobile morgues, field hospitals and live streamed funerals.
The nation’s top infectious disease expert said Sunday that the U.S. may see “surge upon a surge” of the coronavirus in the weeks after Thanksgiving, and he does not expect current recommendations around social distancing to be relaxed before Christmas.
Meanwhile, in a major reversal, New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio said the nation’s largest school system will reopen to in-person learning and increase the number of days a week many children attend class. The announcement came just 11 days after the Democratic mayor said schools would shut down because of rising COVID-19 cases.
“We feel confident that we can keep schools safe,” he said.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told ABC’s “This Week” that the level of infection in the U.S. would not “all of a sudden turn around.”
“So clearly in the next few weeks, we’re going to have the same sort of thing. And perhaps even two or three weeks down the line … we may see a surge upon a surge,” he said.
Fauci addressed the school issue, saying that spread “among children and from children is not really very big at all, not like one would have suspected. So let’s try to get the kids back, but let’s try to mitigate the things that maintain and just push the kind of community spread that we’re trying to avoid,” he said.
Fauci also appeared on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” where he made similar remarks, adding that it’s “not too late” for people traveling home after Thanksgiving to help curb the virus by wearing masks, staying distant from others and avoiding large groups of people.
The number of new COVID-19 cases reported in the United States topped 200,000 for the first time Friday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Since January, when the first infections were reported in the U.S., the nation’s total number of cases has surpassed 13 million. More than 265,000 people have died.
Fauci said the arrival of vaccines offers a “light at the end of the tunnel.”
On Tuesday, an influential government advisory panel, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, voted 13-1 to offer the first vaccine doses to health care workers and nursing home patients.
The two groups encompass around 23 million Americans out of a U.S. population of about 330 million.
As the virtual meeting got underway, panel member Dr. Beth Bell of the University of Washington noted that on average, one person is dying of COVID-19 per minute in the U.S. right now, “so I guess we are acting none too soon.”
Later this month, the Food and Drug Administration will consider authorizing emergency use of two vaccines made by Pfizer and Moderna. Current estimates project that no more than 20 million doses of each vaccine will be available by the end of 2020. And each product requires two doses.
The U.S. has now recorded 261,789 deaths and 13,515,234 cases as of Tuesday, according to The COVID Tracking Project.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.