The US recorded 4 million coronavirus cases in the month of November as the country enters a terrifying new phase of the pandemic, with public health experts warning of another big surge in cases and hospitalizations following Thanksgiving weekend travel.
Data from Johns Hopkins University show that 4.02 million cases were recorded from Nov. 1–28, bringing the country's total COVID-19 cases to more than 13 million, the highest of any nation. Case counts in November are more than double the 1.87 million cases recorded in October.
The severity of the pandemic has reached new heights as the country heads into a bleak winter season, after states struggled to contain the huge surge in cases through the fall.
In California, a stay-at-home order was issued for Los Angeles County on Friday evening, the day after Thanksgiving, beginning Nov. 30. On Saturday, San Francisco was placed on a curfew and lockdown, also beginning Monday.
South Dakota also recently joined the ranks of states that have at least one COVID-related death for every 1,000 residents. Its governor, Kristi Noem, has refused to implement a statewide mask mandate, saying it should be a "personal decision."
Noem also said in a statement the week before Thanksgiving that people should "use common sense when we're planning our celebrations," but that the state government "won’t stop or discourage you from thanking God and spending time together this Thanksgiving."
On Saturday, the US surpassed 91,000 current hospitalizations from COVID-19 — the highest yet since the start of the pandemic. Hospitals in more than two dozen states have warned that they are running short on healthcare workers and hospital beds as the number of COVID-19 patients increase.
The death toll also continues to rise to levels unseen since the early months of the pandemic. More than 265,000 people in the US have died from the coronavirus to date.
The prospect of a number of COVID vaccines in the final trial stages signal that the end of the pandemic may be in sight. However, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top infectious disease expert in the US, has urged Americans to “double down” on social distancing, wearing masks, and avoiding gatherings before the vaccine is widely distributed — and perhaps even after.