California just became the second state to surpass 1 million COVID-19 infections since the start of the pandemic — closely following Texas, which hit the grim milestone earlier this week.
The cases come amid 18,126 deaths in total statewide, according to Johns Hopkins University data.
As COVD-19 infections and hospitalizations soared across the U.S., experts warned higher death tolls would soon follow.
On Wednesday, there were at least 1,893 American deaths from the virus, according to Johns Hopkins University — the highest daily death toll the country has seen since early May.
Already, more than 242,000 people have died. And with the virus running unabated within U.S. communities, that number will likely only keep climbing.
Another more than 110,000 Americans are projected to lose their lives in just the next two months, according to the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.
The latest high adds to a series of devastating records that have come in just the first days of November. The country has topped 100,000 daily infections at least nine days in a row. Wednesday was the second consecutive day of record numbers of COVID-19 hospitalizations. And Texas has now become the first state to surpass one million infections, just days after the U.S. topped 10 million cases.
And as grim as things may seem, new reports highlight the pandemic is only ramping up as the country approaches a critical holiday season.
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Reports warn of 'most diffuse spread experienced to date'
The White House coronavirus task force warned of "accelerating community spread across the top half of the country," in reports distributed to states this week. The task force, which last week warned of "significant deterioration in the Sunbelt," said that has led to the "most diffuse spread experienced to date."
And a separate forecast from the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia Policy Lab projects conditions will worsen in the West Coast, the Northeast and the mid-Atlantic states over the next several weeks.
Hospitalizations, ICU admissions and ventilator usage are rising in every single state, the lab said.
"In every Midwestern state, COVID-19 patients are occupying more than 25% of ICU beds," it reported.
That's as the U.S. reported the highest number of hospitalizations ever on Wednesday — with more than 65,000 COVID-19 patients nationwide, according to the COVID Tracking Project.
"The nearly universal rise in statewide hospitalization rates, particularly in our colder regions, is a pattern that will grow as we move into the holiday season," the policy lab said.
The findings echo warnings by multiple leading health officials who have urged Americans to lean into safety measures like face masks and social distancing to help curb the spread of the virus and avoid a devastating winter season.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention predicts there will be 260,000 to 282,000 coronavirus deaths by Dec. 5, according to a forecast published Thursday.