(CNN) — An average of more than 200,000 people have tested positive for coronavirus every day for two weeks in a row in the United States, a number that has led to a record number of people hospitalized and killed from the virus.
The United States reported 195,000 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, bringing the seven-day average of new cases a day to just over 215,000, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. That only changes slightly from the number of newly infected on December 10, when the seven-day average of new cases per day hit 212,000, suggesting that new cases may have stabilized at a high daily average.
However, because COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths typically occur a week or two after new cases, the number of Americans hospitalized and dying from the virus has continued to rise.
On Tuesday, the United States reported that 117,777 people were hospitalized with Covid-19, the most since the pandemic began, according to the Covid Tracking Project. Additionally, 3,400 people were reported to have died from the virus on Tuesday, the second highest number of COVID-19 deaths in a single day.
The nationwide data also masks a bit of how different states are dealing with the virus. States like California, Tennessee, Oklahoma and Rhode Island are seeing large increases in new cases, while cases in much of the Midwest have declined since their recent peaks.
Whether the number of new daily cases begins to decline nationally from here depends, as always, on people’s behavior and how the power systems of the United States influence that behavior. Public health officials like Dr. Anthony Fauci have warned people not to have large gatherings, indoors, and without a mask this Christmas and New Years.
I want people to be more careful. I want them to limit travel as much as possible. And when you do meet, try to do it with a limited number of people, ”Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN on Tuesday.
“If we can do that now and get through this season, enjoy it as much as possible. But it won’t be like a normal Christmas season is. As we get through it, the light at the end of the tunnel is the vaccine.
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Concern about the UK variant
A variant of the new coronavirus that has spread widely in the UK has sparked a new alarm, with several countries closing their borders to the UK in recent days.
Scientists advising the UK government have estimated that this variant could be up to 70% more effective at spreading than other strains.
Peter Horby, chairman of the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threat Advisory Group (NERVTAG), said Monday that experts “are now very confident that this variant has a transmission advantage” over other strains.
The UK variant does not appear to cause more serious disease and it appears that the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines will continue to be effective.
Scientist Neil Ferguson, a member of NERVTAG, said on Monday there is a “hint” that the coronavirus strain identified in the UK may have “a higher propensity to infect children” compared to previous strains. Severe illness due to covid-19 remains relatively rare in children.
Has this strain arrived in the US yet? Researchers studying it believe that it likely arrived in the US in mid-November and that many people in the US may already be infected.
LEE: Pfizer and Moderna are testing their vaccines against the UK variant of the coronavirus
“If I had to guess, I’d say probably hundreds of people now,” said Michael Worobey, head of the department of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Arizona. “It is very possible that he has come several times to various places.”
Scientists have tracked down the genetic sequences of the coronavirus in the US to see if any match the UK variant. So far they haven’t found any, but they say it’s probably because the US surveillance system isn’t detecting them.
“It could be in the United States, and we may not have detected it yet,” Assistant Secretary for Health Admiral Brett Giroir said Monday.
Dr. Fauci Says Biden’s Administration Will Be Different
Dr. Fauci predicted that the incoming Biden administration will not send “mixed signals” when it comes to communication about the coronavirus pandemic.
“There will probably be a uniformity of message rather than mixed signals,” Fauci told the FiveThirtyEight podcast, which aired Tuesday. “I think there will be a more central orientation instead of leaving states completely alone and letting them do things the way they want.”
Fauci, who will be President-elect Biden’s chief medical adviser, said he believes the biggest obstacle for Biden will be “division” in American society.
“It is unfortunate that we have been through a historic pandemic, like nothing we have seen in 102 years, and it has been done in the context of a great division in society,” Fauci said. “I don’t think that’s necessarily going to change immediately with the change of administration.”
Fauci was asked, based on how President Donald Trump has handled the pandemic, how the president could have saved more lives.
“Obviously, there have been some potholes in the road,” Fauci said. ‘But overall, particularly when you look at the science and the success of the vaccine, that’s huge. I mean, that’s something that’s really unprecedented. “
He also said that when it comes to fighting a pandemic, a nation can always improve its response.
“Obviously, you can always look back at your public health response and say, ‘Could I have done better?’ And the answer is: of course. I think any country that looks back on its response will say that it could have done better.
CNN’s Shelby Lin Erdman and Elizabeth Cohen contributed to this report.
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