U.S. reports record 187,833 new Covid cases as CDC warns against Thanksgiving travel

The World Health Organization on Wednesday warned that the outbreaks in several countries are beginning to overwhelm hospital systems, which will ultimately lead to worse outcomes for severely-ill patients since health-care workers will be forced to ration their time and attention.

“There’s only one way to stop more people from needing to go to the hospital, and that’s to stop more people getting exposed and getting infected,” Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of the WHO’s health emergencies program, said during a press briefing.

Coronavirus fatalities in the U.S. are rising at an alarming rate. The daily U.S. death toll hit a weekly average of 1,335 people on Thursday, a figure last reported in May, according to Hopkins data. Earlier this week, the CDC updated its forecast for Covid-19 deaths to show that “newly reported COVID-19 deaths will likely increase over the next four weeks, with 7,300 to 16,000 new deaths likely to be reported in the week ending December 12, 2020.”

During a White House coronavirus task force press briefing Thursday — the first public appearance from the group led by Vice President Mike Pence since July — Pence and other officials repeatedly assured Americans that the U.S. has never been better equipped to combat the crisis.

Although the vice president acknowledged the rising cases and hospitalizations, he reiterated the positive vaccine developments in recent weeks, saying that the country could have one or more safe and effective vaccines “in a short period of time.”

Those comments come as companies like Pfizer and Moderna report promising preliminary data showing their vaccines to be more than 90% effective in preventing Covid-19. Pfizer, which is developing its vaccine with BioNTech, will apply for an emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration on Friday.

Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the former FDA commissioner under President Donald Trump, told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Friday that he expects an authorization could come by mid-December. However, vaccine doses will be limited this winter and will “have an impact for some Americans on the tail end” of the latest outbreak, but “it’s really not gonna change the contours.”

White House coronavirus advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci, who sits on the task force, also urged Americans on Thursday to take precautions as they await a vaccine.

“Now I’ve used that metaphor that the cavalry is on the way. If you’re fighting a battle, and the cavalry is on the way, you don’t stop shooting,” Fauci said. “You keep going until the cavalry gets here and then you might even want to continue fighting.”

— CNBC’s Nate Rattner and Will Feuer contributed to this report.