About 1 million people in the U.S. are confirmed to have contracted COVID-19 in the last five days, according to a database kept by Johns Hopkins University.
As of Tuesday afternoon, 15 million Americans have contracted COVID-19 since the disease arrived in the country in January. The U.S. surpassed the 14 million case threshold on Thursday.
According to USA Today, one out of every 22 Americans has contracted the virus.
Even with the virus spreading to about 200,000 new Americans every day, top health officials expect the spread to only increase further in the coming days. Even with the current spike in cases, infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci says the country still is not yet seeing the full brunt of what is expected to be an exponential spread of the virus that was prompted by Thanksgiving travel.
More people traveled by airplane during the week of Thanksgiving than at any other time during the pandemic, and officials believe the increase in travel and indoor gatherings will cause a "spike superimposed upon a spike" of virus cases.
The spread also comes amid a concerning crowding of hospitals across the country. According to the COVID Tracking Project, a record 102,000 people in the U.S. are currently hospitalized with the virus, putting many hospitals and health care facilities at capacity. Some hospitals have been forced to treat patients in temporary facilities in parking garages because they have run out of beds.
The frightening spike and concerning lack of space comes amid the deadliest week of the pandemic yet. The U.S. has reported an average of 2,200 COVID-19 deaths each day for the last week — a number that officials suspect will only increase as the virus continues to spread.
Officials are holding Americans heed public health measures for the next few weeks, as two COVID-19 vaccines appear poised for imminent approval. On Tuesday, the UK began distributing its first initial doses of a two-shot Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine — the first Western country to begin distributing vaccinations.