As coronavirus continues to tear across the US without any sign of slowing down, officials have warned there is a "full resurgence" in most major population centers - and that the country could see an additional 92,000 deaths in less than a month.
There have been more than 23m confirmed Covid-19 cases in the US and 385,503 deaths, Johns Hopkins University's most recent data revealed.
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White House coronavirus taskforce reports from 10 January, obtained by CNN, said they were seeing a "full resurgence" of the virus in "nearly all metro areas" and advocated for "aggressive action".
The report, which is sent to states, suggested measures such as using "two or three-ply and well-fitting" masks, enforcing "strict" social distancing" and more aggressively testing young adults.
Officials worried that there was "significant, continued deterioration from California across the Sunbelt and up into the south-east, mid-Atlanticand north-east". These regions effectively comprise all of the continental US.
The reports were quoted as stating that there was a "clear continuation of the pre-holiday high rate of spread as measured by rising test positivity, increased cases, increased hospitalization rates, and rising fatalities."
Additional date compiled by the New York Times indicate that a record number of deaths almost daily in the US largely stems from skyrocketing cases in California and Arizona. In Los Angeles County, there is a Covid-19 death every eight minutes.
Health officials in Arizona said hospitals are poised to become overwhelmed unless authorities acted fast to combat coronavirus. The Republican governor has pushed back against a statewide mask mandate, The Times noted.
The striking surge comes on the heels of holiday travel. Although US health officials repeatedly warned that travel and gatherings would fan the flames of Covid-19, millions of Americans ignored their entreaties.
The Centers for Disease Control made the dire prediction that there could be an increase of 90,000 deaths by February. This means that there could be up to 477,000 total coronavirus fatalities by 6 February, Forbes said of the data.
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It does not appear there will be relief anytime soon, with officials voicing concern that some strains are making the surge even worse.
"This fall/winter surge has been at nearly twice the rate of rise of cases as the spring and summer surges.
This acceleration and the epidemiologic data suggest the possibility that some strains of the US Covid-19 virus may have evolved into a more transmissible virus," the White House task force reports said.
"Given that possibility, and the presence of the UK variant that is already spreading in our communities and may be 50% more transmissible, we must be ready for and mitigate a much more rapid transmission," CNN also quoted the report as saying.
Meanwhile, US efforts to vaccinate the population against coronavirus have lagged due to low supplies and confusing eligibility requirements; the logjam started from the inception of vaccination efforts.
Federal authorities did not release all available doses of the vaccine to states, keeping about 50 percent in reserve so people could get their second jabs. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses.
The Trump administration on Tuesday said that it would make all available coronavirus vaccines available to states, and urged officials to inoculate anyone age 65 or older.
Health secretary Alex Azar said the doses would be released according to states' orders, to provide second doses, and then cover more initial vaccinations.
The policy shift, however, presents a new set of potential problems. States who fall behind in administering the vaccine could lose doses to areas that move more quickly. Azar also reportedly said that in two weeks, doses would be "redirected" to states based upon their population of seniors-rather than overall population.
Public health experts previously told the Guardian that they supported getting as many people the first dose as quickly as possible. Some believe that it's better to at least receive the first dose rather than none at all.
"I think the UK approach in getting a single dose out there is the right approach," Ashish Jha, dean of Brown University's school of public health, previously told the Guardian. "In my mind, it is far more reasonable given the state of play that we are in, that we've got to move on this."
Meanwhile, a fourth member of the House of Representatives has tested positive for coronavirus after sheltering in place with colleagues during the deadly mob attack on the US Capitol last week.
Adriano Espaillat, a Democrat of New York, said he is quarantining at home after receiving a positive test result. Espaillat spoke in favor of Donald Trump's impeachment on the House floor yesterday.
Three members had previously reported testing positive and pointed out that they were forced to shelter in place during the Capitol attack with Republican members who refused to wear face masks.