Dec. 13 (UPI) — More than 16 million people in the United States have contracted the novel coronavirus and 297,501 have died as of Saturday, with California and New Jersey both exceeding daily case count records.
According to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, it took the United States 268 days to reach 8 million cases, but just 57 days to reach the second 8 million cases.
California’s Department of Public Health reported 35,729 new coronavirus cases on Saturday, breaking a record of 35,468 new cases set just a day before.
According to media reports, while the fall surge that erupted a month ago was mostly concentrated in denser parts of Los Angeles County, case counts are rising in more suburban parts of Southern California such as San Diego, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura counties.
New Jersey also broke a record Saturday, with 6,247 new infections reported — the highest single-day report of new infections since the pandemic began.
The state’s governor, Phil Murphy, said he’s keeping all options open for new restrictions to slow the outbreak, but he hasn’t announced any significant closures yet.
The seven-day average is now 26% higher than a week ago, and 103% higher than a month ago.
“My concern is how soon will this number of new cases overall translate into more hospitalizations and more deaths. That really depends on who are the new cases,” said Henry Raymond, an associate professor and epidemiologist at the Rutgers School of Public Health, adding that if more young people are infected, they will be less likely to require hospital care.
The surge comes as officials package the first COVID-19 vaccine, which was approved for emergency use authorization Friday, and prepare it for shipment to 636 locations this week.