U.S. Hits 1,100 Average Daily COVID Deaths, Rising to Summer High

As the U.S. grapples with an uptick in coronavirus transmission currently impacting most parts of the country, hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19 are climbing alongside new diagnoses. The nation's average daily fatalities linked to the virus reached 1,100 on Friday—a sobering figure that approached 7-day average death tolls recorded in August, amid the summer's outbreak resurgence.

The latest average remained significantly lower than those confirmed during the first three months of the pandemic, when the U.S. reported between 2,000 and 2,700 new COVID-19 deaths on multiple days, and average fatality rates neared or exceeded the lower bound of that range for weeks. However, with daily fatalities rising rapidly in November, health officials have warned of more severe consequences still ahead.

"It's getting bad and it's potentially going to get a lot worse," said epidemiologist Jennifer Nuzzo, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, in recent comments to The New York Times. "The months ahead are looking quite horrifying."

Dr. Anthony Fauci, longstanding director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and one of the nation's top health experts, has also spoken publicly about the current outbreak resurgence and its worrying implications going forward.

"We're in for a whole lot of hurt," Fauci told The Washington Post during a late October interview. "It's not a good situation."

Dr. Amesh Adalja, another senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, told Newsweek on Sunday that the country's rising death toll is a direct consequence of spiking cases.

"I think the death numbers are reflective of the fact that there's such a high burden of infection...Even though we've gotten better at treating people in the hospital, it's still the sheer number of cases that's really driving the deaths," Adalja said. "What we're seeing is just a natural biological result of the fact that we have an uncontrolled pandemic with cases increasing at an alarming rate."

A majority of U.S. states reported upwards of 1,000 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday, with 14 of them confirming record increases in daily infections. Colorado, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Nevada, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Utah each set single-day records, according to data released by the COVID Tracking Project.

The U.S. has identified new COVID-19 cases in record quantities over the past several weeks, exceeding daily increases confirmed on all other days since the onset of the pandemic a least a dozen times, according to the COVID Tracking Project. The nation recorded an average of more than 140,000 new cases per day on Saturday, doubling averages reported over the summer, and quadrupling those reported throughout the spring.

Several states began to see rising case counts in late September, with parts of the Midwest such as Wisconsin becoming hotspots during the earlier half of the next month. Diagnosis rates skyrocketed after Halloween, and the U.S. went on to confirm 1 million new COVID-19 cases over the 10 days that followed.

As of Sunday, more than 10.9 million people have tested positive for the respiratory disease across the U.S. since the pandemic's onset, according to Johns Hopkins University's database. Of those who tested positive, at least 245,646 people have died. Additional data released by the COVID Tracking Project estimated almost 70,000 COVID-19 patients were hospitalized on Saturday.

Updated at 5:19 p.m. ET, to include Adalja's comments.

COVID El Paso
A health care workers administers COVID-19 diagnostic tests at a drive-through site established in El Paso, Texas, on November 13. Amid a nationwide resurgence of COVID-19 cases, El Paso has diagnosed new infections at rapidly increasing rates over the past month. Mario Tama/Getty