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US coronavirus cases top 12M

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The total number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. topped 12 million Saturday amid a third wave of infections that is anticipated to be exacerbated in the coming winter months.

A database run by The New York Times showed the case total surpassing 12 million less than a week after the total number of cases hit 11 million, underscoring the rapidity with which the highly infectious virus is spreading. The weekly average of new cases has exceeded 100,000 for the past two weeks, and daily case counts routinely approach 200,000. 

The virus has spread more quickly in recent days than in past weeks, with the country taking more than two weeks to go from 8 million to 9 million cases, 10 days to go from 9 million to 10 million cases and six days to go from 10 million to 11 million cases.

The new spike in cases has put immense stress on hospital systems across the country and led to an array of states reimplementing coronavirus restrictions on business and gatherings that had been relaxed during the fall months, including 10 p.m. curfews, school closures and mask mandates. 

Public health officials have warned that the winter months will be difficult in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic given that social events will largely move to indoor settings, where the virus can more easily spread. Experts have also voiced concerns that national travel during Thanksgiving could spark an even faster spread of the virus, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) this week recommending people avoid traveling to see friends and family.

“As we’re seeing exponential growth in cases, and the opportunity to translocate disease or infection from one part of the country to another, leads to our recommendation to avoid travel at this time,” Henry Walke, COVID-19 incident manager at the CDC, said in a press call with reporters Thursday, saying that Thanksgiving should be spent only among people who are already living together.

The alarming surge in cases has increased pressure on Congress to craft a coronavirus relief package, but it is unclear what kind of deal President Trump would sign into law. Besides touting two vaccine candidates that studies show are roughly 95 percent effective, the president has focused much of his attention on his attempts to overturn the election results despite President-elect Joe Biden holding substantial leads in the popular vote and Electoral College.

Tags Coronavirus disease COVID-19 pandemic COVID-19 pandemic in the United States Donald Trump Joe Biden

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