Dec. 4 (UPI) -- For the first time since the beginnings of the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States has set a record for both coronavirus cases and deaths on the same day, according to updated research data Friday.
The data from Johns Hopkins University shows there were about 217,600 new cases and 2,900 deaths nationwide on Thursday.
On no other day after the virus' initial wave of cases and deaths early this year have both records been set on the same day. Wednesday came close, with a record number of deaths and the second-highest tally for cases.
Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 14.15 million coronavirus cases and 276,400 deaths in the United States, according to Johns Hopkins.
Over the past two weeks, there have been an average of 172,000 cases per day, a rise of close to 20%, according to health news website Stat. The number of patients in U.S. hospitals has also arrived at another record, about 100,700, according to the COVID Tracking Project.
Researchers at the University of Washington project that the national death toll will reach about 540,000 by April 1 and the daily average will be in the range of 3,000 in mid-January before the start of a gradual decline.
The researchers at the university's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation said in an update Friday the new projection includes an expected scale-up of forthcoming vaccination efforts.
"Vaccination is likely to speed the transition back to normal later in the year but will prevent only 9,000 deaths by April 1," they wrote, adding that 14,000 lives could be saved if a vaccine is quickly given to high-risk populations.
"Avoiding even larger death tolls depends critically on state governors implementing packages of mandates as hospital stress becomes high."
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious diseases expert, said Friday that he immediately accepted an offer Thursday from President-elect Joe Biden to continue to serve in his administration as chief medical adviser.
Fauci also said he agrees with Biden's pledge to ask Americans to commit to wearing a mask for 100 days, which the former vice president said would be one of his first acts as president after he's sworn in next month.
"I told [Biden] I thought that was a good idea," he said.
Fauci has been in his post since 1984 and has served during six presidential administrations, but during the pandemic has often been a target of criticism from President Donald Trump.
Friday afternoon, a group of counties in California's San Francisco Bay area announced they will implement a new stay-at-home order after experiencing a rise in cases and hospitalizations.
The decision came one day after California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a new regional stay-at-home order that would go into effect in regions that drop below 15% ICU capacity. No region has hit that threshold, but Bay Area leaders said they were preemptively implementing the order in an attempt to flatting the curve of COVID-19 cases.
"Given the steep increase in COVID-19 cases in San Francisco, we must do whatever is necessary in order to get the virus under control," San Francisco Mayor London Breed said.
"This is about protecting people's lives. We see how quickly it moves and how devastating the effects. We need to do everything we can to prevent our hospital system from becoming overwhelmed and to save lives. We know that the faster we flatten the curve, the less time it takes us to move out of the danger zone. We are taking these actions now in order to contain the spread in our communities, and I urge everyone to take this very seriously."
Included in the regional stay-at-home order were Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco and Santa Clara counties, as well as the city of Berkeley.