U.S. Surpasses 2,000 Deaths in a Day for First Time Since May

Inmates in El Paso load bodies wrapped in plastic into a refrigerated morgue trailer. Photo: Getty Images

On Tuesday, the United States surpassed 2,000 coronavirus deaths for the first day since May 7, according to the COVID Tracking Project:

The 2,028 deaths recorded on Tuesday represented the highest casualty count since the single-day high on May 7, when 2,770 Americans died from the virus. Though there are some signs of the crisis plateauing in hard-hit areas in the Midwest — including a possible peak in the Dakotas — COVID-19 continues to spread uncontrollably in many states. Tuesday marked three straight weeks of new daily cases above 100,000 and 15 straight days of new hospitalization highs, which is currently at 88,000 patients.

As the COVID Tracking Project notes, the holiday this week will throw off the reporting of pandemic data in a few confusing ways:

First, by Thanksgiving Day and perhaps as early as Wednesday, all three metrics will flatten out or drop, probably for several days. This decrease will make it look like things are getting better at the national level. Then, in the week following the holiday, our test, case, and death numbers will spike, which will look like a confirmation that Thanksgiving is causing outbreaks to worsen. But neither of these expected movements in the data will necessarily mean anything about the state of the pandemic itself. Holidays, like weekends, cause testing and reporting to go down and then, a few days later, to “catch up.” So the data we see early next week will reflect not only actual increases in cases, test, and deaths, but also the potentially very large backlog from the holiday. 

While Americans face the shadow of a pandemic winter, we are also astonishingly close to the beginning of vaccine distribution. On Tuesday, public-health officials announced that a first dose is expected to be delivered to some nursing home residents as soon as “the end of the second week in December.”

U.S. Exceeds 2,000 Deaths in a Day for First Time Since May