A woman adjusts a face mask on a young child in New York City. The new wave of coronavirus cases nationwide is beginning to seriously strain some critical medical care providers, officials say. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo
Nov. 12 (UPI) -- The surge of COVID-19 cases in the United States is showing no signs of slowing, as the country set a case record for the second straight day.
Updated data from researchers at Johns Hopkins University showed 143,200 cases were added on Wednesday, topping the record set the day before by almost 3,000 cases. Wednesday was the fifth single-day case record in nine days.
There was also a major spike in deaths on Wednesday, about 2,000 nationwide, according to the data. It's the first time since early May that at least 2,000 deaths were added in a single day.
In the last nine days, the United States has added over 1 million new coronavirus cases. Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 10.4 million cases and 241,800 deaths nationally, according to Johns Hopkins.
The seven-day national average climbed to 125,000 new cases per day, a 40% increase over last week.
There was a record number of hospitalizations Wednesday, as well -- 65,000, including 12,500 in intensive care, according to the COVID Tracking Project.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious diseases expert, said Thursday that while vaccines may be capable of ending the current pandemic, he warned that COVID-19 may never by completely eradicated.
"Certainly, it is not going to be a pandemic for a lot longer because I believe the vaccines are going to turn that around," he said during a webinar sponsored by the British think tank Chatham House.
His assessment came after pharma companies Pfizer and BioNTech reported that early results showed their vaccine candidate was more than 90% effective in preventing infections.
But, he added, "we have got to continue to double down on public health measures" in the meantime and warned that the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 become a permanent presence.
"I doubt we are going to eradicate this," Fauci said. "I think we need to plan that this is something we may need to maintain control over chronically. It may be something that becomes endemic, that we have to just be careful about."
Hospital administrators, especially those in the Midwest and Mountain West, are warning that the surge is taxing their capabilities.
"We have legitimate reason to be very, very concerned about our health system at a national level," Lauren Sauer, an assistant professor of emergency medicine at Johns Hopkins University, told NPR.
In Texas, Dallas County reported 100 patients hospitalized in a single day this week and almost 600 emergency room visits related to the pandemic.
"We saw the second biggest jump in hospitalizations for COVID that we've experienced," said Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins. "We are at a very dangerous point in the fight. ... We are staring down the barrel of the largest spike that we have seen to date."
Jenkins urged residents to avoid crowds "to the fullest extent possible" and wear masks at all times when venturing outside the home.
In Illinois, health officials reported a record number of hospitalizations and some providers are reviving strategies they first laid out in the early days of the pandemic, including limited elective surgeries and more beds.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and City Commissioner of Health Dr. Allison Arwady have advised all residents to stay at home starting next Monday in response to the surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations citywide.
They advised residents to only leave home to go to work or school or for other essential needs such as seeking medical care, going to the grocery store or pharmacy or picking up food or receiving deliveries.
The Stay at Home Advisory also strongly urged residents to cancel traditional Thanksgiving celebrations, avoid travel and not to have guests in their homes unless they are essential workers, such as healthcare providers or childcare workers.
The advisory is set to remain in place for 30 days or until the time the Commissioner of Health determines a change to the guidance is appropriate.
In Wisconsin, space in intensive care units is dwindling, the state's hospital association reported.
"We're very close to a tipping point," Wisconsin Chief Medical Officer for Communicable Diseases Dr. Ryan Westergaard said in a webinar Wednesday.
"All of the hospitals are strained and it's causing a lot of stress on healthcare workers and leaders."
Westergaard said death rates in Wisconsin aren't yet as high as they were in New York during the pandemic's initial wave because medics have since learned how to better treat ICU patients.
He warned, however, that resources are becoming strained.
"That tipping point is when we stop being able to save everyone who gets severely ill," he said.