A grim record was reached on Wednesday, as more Americans died as a result of coronavirus on that day than any other since the start of the pandemic this year.
There were 3,157 COVID-19 deaths recorded on December 2, a count that surpassed the previous record set back in April by more than 500 deaths. As a result of those latest numbers, 273,799 coronavirus deaths have been recorded in the U.S. to date.
New diagnoses of coronavirus on Wednesday also exceeded 200,000 for just the second time since the pandemic began, bringing the total who have tested positive in the U.S. since March up to 13.9 million. More than 100,000 individuals infected with the virus are currently hospitalized, with nearly 20 percent of them placed in intensive care units.
While the latest numbers are chilling, health experts warn they are likely to get much worse as the nation moves into winter. “The next three months are going to be just horrible,” Ashish Jha, dean of Brown University’s School of Public Health, said to The New York Times.
Amid the latest surge in cases and deaths, President Donald Trump is focusing on overturning the results of the 2020 presidential election, in which President-elect Joe Biden soundly won, rather than addressing the coronavirus crisis.
Trump on Wednesday, for example, posted a 46-minute speech online, filled with baseless and erroneous claims of election fraud, as well as false assertions that the election was “stolen.”
During his rant, which he called “the most important speech” he has “ever made,” Trump rarely referenced the COVID-19 crisis at all. He never uttered the words “coronavirus” or “COVID” during his 46-minute speech, and only mentioned the word “pandemic” four times — not to express condolences to families of loved ones who have passed or to urge social distancing measures, but to make unsubstantiated claims that Democrats “used” the crisis as a means to defeat him at the polls.
It’s been 11 days since Trump has even tweeted the words “coronavirus” or “COVID,” according to a search of his tweets on the site conducted on Thursday morning. Since that time, around 17,000 Americans have died from COVID-19.
His actions as president in the past few weeks also demonstrate an unwillingness to accept his responsibility as chief executive to address the pandemic during his final months in office. Earlier this week, Trump held a Christmas party at the White House, in direct contradiction to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines. Many in attendance were not wearing masks, according to reports of the event.
In the waning days of the election season, the president suggested that the pandemic would end after the election itself, implying that the media and his political opponents were using the issue solely as a means to make him look bad.
“That’s all I hear about now. That’s all I hear. Turn on television — ‘Covid, Covid, Covid, Covid, Covid, Covid.’ … By the way, on November 4, you won’t hear about it anymore,” Trump said at a campaign rally on October 24.
Days later, in a tweet that was written only in capitalized letters, Trump reiterated that claim.
“ALL THE FAKE NEWS MEDIA WANTS TO TALK ABOUT IS COVID, COVID, COVID,” he wrote. “ON NOVEMBER 4th, YOU WON’T BE HEARING SO MUCH ABOUT IT ANYMORE. WE ARE ROUNDING THE TURN!!!”
That prediction, unfortunately, turned out to be untrue. On the day he issued that tweet, the seven-day average of coronavirus deaths was at 813 per day — a number that is nearly four times lower than Wednesday’s death count.
As Trump continues to ignore the crisis, the number of deaths that are likely to occur between now and the end of his presidency are expected to climb rapidly. According to estimates from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington, a health model that the White House itself has referenced in the past, the U.S. is on pace to reach 387,470 total deaths as the result of COVID-19 by the time Trump leaves office. That’s approximately 110,000 additional deaths in the country between now and January 20, according to the model.