Meanwhile states continue to report soaring numbers of new cases, hospitalizations and deaths, and several governors already announced measures to try to gain control before winter.
Dr. James Phillips, chief of disaster medicine at George Washington University Hospital, told CNN’s Erica Hill that he is “terrified” about what’s going to happen this holiday season.
“We’re going to see an unprecedented surge of cases following Thanksgiving this year, and if people don’t learn from Thanksgiving, we’re going to see it after Christmas as well,” Phillips said.
At midday Saturday, Johns Hopkins University data showed the US has had at least 10,757,777 cases and at least 244,465 deaths.
Residents are instructed to stay home except for essential trips, including emergency medical care or getting food.
Phillips said Americans should prepare for restrictions similar to the stay-at-home orders seen in the spring. He cited restrictions that have recently been implemented in Chicago, Oregon and New Mexico as “the first dominoes to fall.”
States report soaring rates
Maryland has confirmed an additional 2,321 coronavirus cases across the state, “by far the largest daily increase we’ve ever seen,” Gov. Larry Hogan said in a tweet Saturday. Twenty deaths were also reported over the past 24 hours, he added.
Minnesota reported a record 8,703 new cases on Saturday, according to the state Department of Health. This marks the most cases ever reported by state officials in a single day.
Arizona had 3,476 new cases on Saturday, the third day with more than 3,000 this week alone, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS). This breaks the record set on July 31, when the state had 3,212.
The Pennsylvania Department of Health said it had 5,551 new cases Friday, the highest daily increase yet, bringing the statewide total to 259,938.
Wisconsin hit another record, recording 100,000 new Covid-19 cases in just 18 days, the Department of Health Services reported Friday. The state had 58 deaths and 7,777 new cases on Friday.
A ‘grim day’ for the US
“This is a grim day for the country, because we’re seeing cases skyrocketing, we’re seeing hospitals fill up and we’re also seeing the death toll march up,” Murthy, co-chair of President-elect Joe Biden’s Transition Covid-19 Advisory Board, said.
“We’re at a point now, even pre-Thanksgiving, where we are surging beyond any level that we have seen over the last eight months,” he added.
As the holiday season starts, it’s important to wear masks, keep a safe distance, and wash hands regularly, Murthy said.
“If you’re thinking about going home for Thanksgiving, ask yourself if you can observe these kinds of precautionary practices, because if you can’t, then you may be putting yourself and others at risk,” he said.
Less than 9% of North Dakota staffed hospital beds are available
The rampant spread has put a massive strain on the country’s health care system that’s now hosting the highest number of Covid-19 patients ever.
Data from North Dakota’s health department shows only about 8.5% of staffed hospital beds remain available, with at least 421 people currently hospitalized who tested positive for the virus. About 50 patients are in the ICU.
In Oklahoma, health officials reported a 7% ICU bed capacity Friday, up from 5% a day earlier — with now 64 ICU beds available.
In Massachusetts, where reported infections have increased “by seven times” since Labor Day and hospitalizations have increased “by two times,” the governor announced a field hospital with 240 beds will be reestablished at the DCU Center — an indoor arena and convention center complex in downtown Worcester.
Vaccines will be distributed by population, official says
Pfizer has said it will distribute its vaccine outside the federal framework. State health officials have said they have not heard many details from the federal government about how the vaccine distribution will be organized, and they have not received the funding they need to get infrastructure in place.
Meanwhile, retail drug chain Walgreens says it’s “rapidly expanding” its ultra-cold storage capabilities to accommodate a potential Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine.
CNN’s Lauren Mascarenhas, Kay Jones, Elizabeth Cohen, Tina Burnside, Samira Said, Maggie Fox and Melissa Alonso contributed to this report.