The number of coronavirus infections in the US rose to over 13 million on Friday, worsening the world’s largest outbreak. The milestone came when Americans started a Black Friday that looked different from previous holidays.
The US had one of the highest numbers of cases per capita in the world last week. And for more than two weeks, the country has been setting records for the number of people in hospital every day, with the most recent number rising above 90,000 for the first time on Thursday.
At the same time, the nation saw a sharp decline in new cases Thursday, but it was a mirage, not progress, as many states did not report dates for Thanksgiving. More than 103,000 cases and more than 1,100 deaths were recorded on Thursday – compared to 187,000 cases and 1,962 deaths recorded last Thursday, November 19.
Because of this, the numbers were artificially high on Friday when many states reported two days worth of data. That was the first time the country had passed 200,000 cases in a single day. More than 203,000 cases were reported late Friday evening and more than 1,400 people died.
And the blurry data could last longer. Vermont health officials have announced that they will be cutting out reporting on both Thursday and Friday. Additionally, access to tests was likely to decrease for a few days, which meant more infections could go untold. In Louisiana, the National Guard-operated test sites should be closed on both Thursday and Friday. In Wisconsin, some National Guard test sites are closed all week.
“I just hope people don’t misinterpret the numbers and think that thanksgiving wasn’t a big upswing and then make Christmas, Hanukkah, and other travel plans,” said Dr. Leana Wen, a professor at George Washington University and an ambulance doctor told The Associated Press.
Public health experts repeatedly warned Americans to stay home on Thanksgiving, and many took the advice. While total travel within the country declined significantly from previous years, the Transportation Security Administration reported that more than half a million people flew on Thursday alone, in addition to the roughly four million who had already traveled since Sunday. AAA had forecast a decline in road traffic and still expected tens of millions of people to go to celebrations.
Similarly, the list of Centers for the Control and Prevention of Diseases at Higher Risk of Spreading Covid-19 included “shopping in crowded stores just before, on or after Thanksgiving,” in an attempt to convince people to note it to sit – or shop online – on Black Friday.
The latest virus flood accelerated across large parts of the country in mid-October. The nation jumped from eight million to nine million cases in just over two weeks in October. from nine to 10 million in 10 days; from 10 million to 11 million in just under seven days; and from 11 million to 12 million in just five days, reaching that milestone on November 20th. The pace of the 13 millionth case slowed down after seven days.