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US sets new record for COVID-19 hospitalizations at more than 60,000

US sets new record for COVID-19 hospitalizations at more than 60,000
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The United States on Tuesday set a new record for coronavirus hospitalizations, with around 62,000 people currently in the hospital with the virus, according to the COVID Tracking Project. 

The country also set another record for new coronavirus cases, with more than 130,000 in a single day, as case counts continue to climb.

The statistics illustrate the grim toll that the virus is taking, as the pandemic continues to worsen in the United States. The rising numbers are showing no signs of slowing down as winter approaches and more activity moves indoors, where the virus spreads more easily.

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The number of hospitalizations surpassed 60,000 for the first time, rising above previous peaks set in April and July.

Hospitalizations lag behind cases, so while case numbers have been setting records for days, hospitalizations are now catching up. Deaths have not risen as sharply yet, but they are still taking a heavy toll of around 1,000 per day, and could rise further given that deaths in turn lag behind hospitalizations.

The rising number of people in the hospital is putting a severe strain on capacity in certain areas of the country, with field hospitals being set up in places like Wisconsin and El Paso, Texas.

Public health experts are urging people to take precautions, despite the onset of “COVID fatigue” after months of dealing with the virus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Tuesday issued its strongest endorsement of masks to date, noting they protect both the wearer and others.

In addition to mask-wearing, experts urge people to limit gatherings, especially indoors, and to wash their hands.

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Anthony FauciAnthony FauciOvernight Health Care: Supreme Court takes case that could diminish Roe v. Wade | White House to send US-authorized vaccines overseas for first time The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Israel-Hamas carnage worsens; Dems face SALT dilemma Schools face new pressures to reopen for in-person learning MORE, the nation’s top infectious diseases expert, said on MSNBC earlier Tuesday that officials are noticing many infections are linked to small gatherings in people’s homes.

“They are seeing now infections less in the big gatherings than in family gatherings, friends getting together, eight, ten people getting together for dinner in a social gathering, in which they feel, ‘Well we know everybody here, we may not need to wear a mask,’ or ‘We may not need to get tested.’ "

In contrast to statements from Scott Atlas, a top adviser to President TrumpDonald TrumpGOP-led Maricopa County board decries election recount a 'sham' Analysis: Arpaio immigration patrol lawsuit to cost Arizona county at least 2 million Conservatives launch 'anti-cancel culture' advocacy organization MORE, and the president himself, Fauci urged more testing for asymptomatic people to help prevent them from spreading the virus.

“Much more widespread testing of asymptomatic individuals is going to be very important as we enter and go into these months of indoor type gathering,” Fauci said.

The news on Monday that a Pfizer vaccine was over 90 percent effective in an interim analysis provides a ray of hope, but the vaccine is not expected to be widely available to the general public until the spring at the earliest, meaning there are still several tough months ahead.