The U.S. has recorded more than 3,100 coronavirus deaths in a single day, a new record. According to the tally kept by Johns Hopkins University, the U.S. recorded 3,157 deaths on Wednesday, obliterating the old mark of 2,603 set back on April 15.
The number of Americans in the hospital with the virus has eclipsed 100,000 while new cases have topped 200,000 a day, new data say.
"The reality is December and January and February are going to be rough times. I actually believe they are going to be the most difficult time in the public health history of this nation," said Dr. Robert Redfield, head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
States must still decide how the vaccine will be distributed when it is authorized by the federal government and have until Friday to submit requests for doses of the Pfizer vaccine. Since vaccine availability is expected to be limited, most states are expected to follow CDC's guidelines that state health care workers and nursing home patients should be first to receive the shots.
Some states are considering letting other workers they deem to be essential to also be among the first to get vaccinated.
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey wants teachers to get priority, while firefighter groups in Minnesota are asking to be top priority. Illinois plans to give highest priority to health care workers including first responders. Others states are trying to figure out where to put prisoners in the receiving line.
A letter written to the National Governors Association on Tuesday by the American Health Care Association and the National Center for Assisted Living urges states to include nursing homes and similar institutions in the first round. The letter noted that more than 100,000 nursing home residents have died from COVID-19.
"A one-month delay in administering the vaccine at long term care facilities could cost more than 10,000 of our residents their lives. The speed of which states can vaccinate our residents has significant life or death consequences," the organizations wrote in the letter.