The United States passed 11 million total coronavirus cases on Sunday, and its caseload has now soared past 12 million. New daily cases are approaching 200,000: on Friday, the country recorded more than 198,500, a record.
As the nation reconsiders the usual winter holiday travel and cozy indoor gatherings, new cases are being reported at an unrelenting clip. The seven-day average has exceeded 100,000 cases a day every day for the last two weeks, according to a New York Times database.
The country’s death toll from the virus stood at 254,320 as of midday Saturday. And a Times analysis shows that the United States has death rates that are higher than normal in all 50 states, as the pandemic brings unusual patterns of death.
The latest virus surge began accelerating across much of the country in mid-October. It took just over two weeks for the nation to go from eight million cases to nine million on Oct. 30; going from nine to 10 million took only 10 days. From 10 million to 11 million took just under seven days.
Despite near-daily records for both new cases and hospitalizations, there remains bipartisan reluctance toward issuing the sort of sweeping stay-at-home orders seen in the earliest days of the pandemic. In their place, officials are instituting 10 p.m. curfews
In Illinois, residents received what once might have been considered an apocalyptic warning on their phones Friday evening: “Effective today, all of Illinois enters Tier 3 Mitigation. Work from home when possible, avoid unnecessary travel, and celebrate the holidays virtually with extended family.” The state has averaged more than 12,000 cases per day for the past week and some regions of the state are down to just a few dozen I.C.U. beds.
Still, the citizenry’s resolve is wearing thin.
And as families weigh whether to gather for Thanksgiving, creeping back into headlines are the hours-long lines for tests, the overwhelmed hospital systems and the demand for additional refrigerated morgue trucks.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has urged Americans to avoid travel for Thanksgiving and to celebrate only with members of their immediate households. It remains unclear if many families across the United States will alter their holiday plans, despite pleas from government officials and public health experts.
“It will not be long before we can embrace one another, eat together and let this year become a distant memory,” Dr. Elisabeth Poorman, an internal medicine physician, wrote for NPR. “I beg of you, don’t let this Thanksgiving be your last.”
The records are falling at a time of great political tension. President Trump has refused to concede his loss while largely ceding the fight against the virus to state and local governments who continue to go their own way, and President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. argues in vain for a start of the transition, warning that failing to do so will cost lives.
Dr. Deborah L. Birx, the Trump administration’s coronavirus response coordinator, has been issuing dire assessments, urging Americans to “increase their vigilance” as they await the approval of a vaccine.
She implored Americans on Thursday to practice social distancing and to wear masks.
The national rhetoric is slowing shifting. Gov. Kim Reynolds of Iowa, a Republican, announced a statewide mask mandate this week after months of insisting it was an unenforceable “feel-good measure.” Iowa has the sixth-highest rate of new cases in the nation.
“If Iowans don’t buy into this, we lose,” Ms. Reynolds said, warning that the hospital system could collapse. “The cost in human life will be high.”