The coronavirus death toll in America has hit new, terrible levels. According to the COVID Tracking Project, Wednesday was the single deadliest day of the pandemic across the country so far with more than 2,700 deaths, surpassing the previous April peak.
Hospitalizations are also at a record number of more than 100,000, likely signifying that more huge daily death tolls, perhaps surpassing 3,000 or even 4,000, will be the norm for weeks. Case numbers remain at dizzying heights, driven by surges almost everywhere in the country — California alone recorded more than 28,000 cases on Wednesday, according to NBC News, a daily record for any state during the pandemic — unlike the regional surges that defined previous months.
Those numbers are far higher than they were in the spring. But thanks to advances in treatment since the spring, a better understanding of the virus, and perhaps a shift in the age skew of who is contracting it, the death rate of those hospitalized has dropped significantly. Still, with an enormous increase in people contracting the virus over the last several weeks — far more than ever tested positive in the spring — it was only a matter of time that overall fatality numbers would tick up accordingly.
On Wednesday, CDC director Robert Redfield said that he thought the coming weeks would be “the most difficult time in the public health history of this nation,” even as COVID vaccine availability looms just over the horizon. The increasingly horrific numbers are likely to support that opinion.