The U.S. started off the New Year with yet another surge in total known cases of Covid-19, hitting nearly 20.5 million diagnoses by Sunday afternoon, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
And after logging nearly 300,000 new cases alone on Saturday, chatter of a potential new lockdown was renewed over the weekend.
“The idea about locking down is something that you might have to do, but you want to avoid,” the nation’s top doctor, Dr. Anthony Fauci told NBC News’ “Meet the Press” on Sunday. “We hope we don’t have to do it countrywide, because we feel that if you adhere to the public health measures, you can turn things around short of a uniform lockdown.”
Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has since November been warning the nation of what would happen if Americans traveled and gathered over the holiday season.
Now, states that were once considered models of how to tame the outbreak have been seeing worrying spikes in cases. Massachusetts, for example, saw a single-day high leading up to the New Year’s weekend, with nearly 7,000 cases on Thursday alone, and hard-hit California has more than 2.3 million known confirmed cases of Covid-19 and over 26,000 deaths.
Health officials in California were also warning that as cases continue to rise, the number of “serious outcomes will also increase.”
Every state except for Hawaii continues to have an uncontrollable spread of the virus, according to Covidexitstrategy.org.
Headlines about politicians and celebrities getting infected have trickled in as well, as they have throughout the year. Last week a 41-year-old and otherwise healthy incoming Congressman from Louisiana, Luke Letlow, died from the virus, and TV interview icon Larry King remains hospitalized over the weekend for the virus, according to CNN. King was admitted over a week ago.
As the nationwide jump in infections continues to overwhelm hospitals around the country, more cases of a new variant of the virus that’s believed to potentially be highly infectious has been detected in more states. At the same time, the rollout of vaccines by Moderna (MRNA) – Get Report and Pfizer (PFE) – Get Report has been slower than expected.
“We’re not where we want to be. We’ve got to do much better,” said Fauci on “Meet the Press” about the vaccine rollout.
Only a little over 4 million people have so far gotten their first shot of the two-dose vaccines in America, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s a much lower figure than the 20 million vaccines promised by federal officials to be distributed by this point.
Even more disturbing, over 351,000 Americans have died from Covid-19 to date.
“We’re averaging 2,000 to 3,000 deaths per day,” said Fauci, noting that you just need to go “into the hospitals, go into the intensive care units and see what is happening. Those are real numbers, real people and real deaths.”
This story has been updated.