Health officials projected the Covid-19 surge in the fall would be brutal. November alone proved those predictions true, with about a third of the nation’s total cases reported in just 30 days.
Hospitalizations more than doubled since the beginning of November, and the United States saw more Covid-19 deaths last month than the pandemic’s combined death toll in Australia, Canada, China, Japan and Germany, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
The grim numbers have unleashed devastation across the country: Trailers are turned into morgues and facilities are being converted to emergency hospitals to help respond to the surging number of patients. And across the United States, governors in at least half of all states announced statewide measures in hopes of slowing the spread of Covid-19.
But the numbers will likely get much worse before a possible vaccine begins to offer some relief in the spring. Experts say the daily death toll will double in the coming days, while infections will likely see another surge in a few weeks, fueled by Thanksgiving travel and gatherings.
Here’s just how bad November was:
51 deaths every hour
More than 36,900 Americans died of Covid-19 last month. In comparison, the flu killed about 22,000 Americans during the 2019-2020 season, according to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In November, the United States averaged about 1,231 Covid-19 deaths every day — about 51 people every single hour.
Dr. Jonathan Reiner, a professor of medicine at George Washington University, predicted last week that the US will likely begin to see close to 4,000 daily deaths in just a matter of days.
102% increase in hospitalizations
Hospitalizations more than doubled last month, with a harrowing 102% increase since the first day of November, when there were 47,502 Covid-19 patients nationwide, according to the COVID Tracking Project.
Hospitalizations have more than tripled since October 1, according to the project’s data.
For 17 days in a row during November, the country kept breaking hospitalization records. On Monday, after another series of record-breaking days, another new high: more than 96,000 patients nationwide.
The surge in Covid-19 has crippled hospital systems across the country: beds are quickly filling up and health care workers are overworked, exhausted and traumatized by the monthslong crisis — and many have fallen ill themselves from the virus. And rural hospitals — often with a much more limited ICU capacity — will likely have it much worse, experts have said.
More cases than the first five months combined
More than 4.4 million new infections were reported in November.
That’s nearly as many as the total number of cases reported in the United States during the first five months in the pandemic. It’s also nearly as many people as the entire populations of Wyoming, Vermont, Alaska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Delaware — combined.
For 28 days in a row, the United States has continuously reported more than 100,000 new cases daily. During the summer surge, daily cases peaked at a little more than 77,100 on July 16.
The sharp increases meant it only took several days each time for the nation to add another million to its case count. The United States hit 9 million Covid-19 cases on October 30. It took nine days to reach 10 million. It took another week to climb by another million. Six days later, 12 million infections. Six days after that, on November 27, the United States hit 13 million cases.
The numbers are high — but leading health experts have said they likely represent only a fraction of the true number of US infections, as many go undiagnosed or show no symptoms. CDC researchers said in November only about 1 in 8 — or 13% — of all Covid-19 infections in the US were recognized and reported through the end of September. That estimate means that as many as 53 million Americans could have been infected from February through September. Yet, there were only 7 million confirmed cases of symptomatic Covid-19 reported nationally during that time.
28% increase in child cases over 2 weeks
As of November 19, the latest data available, nearly 1.2 million children have tested positive for Covid-19 since the pandemic’s start. And over just two weeks — between November 5 to November 19 — the number of child cases increased by 28%, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association.
Children now represent nearly 12% of all Covid-19 cases in the country.
Infections in children are climbing as local leaders again have been left to navigate whether students should transition to remote learning or stay in class. Leading health experts, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, have advocated for keeping schools open while closing bars and indoor-seated restaurants.
Despite numbers, Sunday saw most travels since March
Despite the awful numbers, some Americans haven’t heeded the warnings. While officials across the country have highlighted the role of gatherings in the transmission of the virus, authorities continue to crack down on crowded events, including an illegal Manhattan bottle club with 400 people and a Chicago party with about 300 guests.
And even though the CDC warned against travel for Thanksgiving, millions boarded planes ahead of the holiday. On Sunday, Transportation Security Administration officers screened more than 1.1 million people, according to a TSA spokeswoman. That’s the highest number since mid-March.
With Americans departing from all corners of the country and returning days later, Reiner warned this holiday had the potential to be the “mother of all superspreader events.” That could likely translate in another surge stacked on top of the current one, and these numbers will only keep going up.