U.S. COVID-19 cases rise for 3rd straight day; death toll highest since May

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Nov. 25 (UPI) -- Cases of COVID-19 have risen in the United States for the third straight day and the one-day death toll has topped 2,000 for the first time in almost seven months, according to data Wednesday from Johns Hopkins University.

The updated data show an addition of 172,900 cases on Tuesday, a small increase from Monday, and more than 2,100 deaths. The last time more than 2,000 coronavirus patients died in a single day was May 6. The record is about 2,600 on April 15.

Since the start of the health crisis, there have been 12.59 million cases and 260,000 deaths in the United States, according to Johns Hopkins. Tuesday was the seventh time in eight days cases surpassed 150,000.

Hospitalizations nationwide are at a record 88,000. Of those, 17,000 are in intensive care, according to the COVID Tracking Project.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious diseases expert, pleaded with Americans Wednesday to keep indoor gatherings as small as possible over Thanksgiving.

"We all know how difficult that is because this is such a beautiful, traditional holiday. But by making that sacrifice, you're going to prevent people from getting infected," he told ABC's Good Morning America.

"A sacrifice now could save lives and illness and make the future much brighter as we get through this," he added, warning of "yet another surge" if Americans' behaviors don't change.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield said exploding cases threaten to beset the healthcare system.

"In some areas, we are going to see the healthcare system overwhelmed," he told Fox News. "This is why, again, the vigilance in the mitigation steps is so important to keep those health care systems from going over the top in terms of being able to maintain their resilience."

Redfield said the rising cases have been driven by "the silent epidemic" -- asymptomatic infections among carriers between the ages of 12 and 35.

The CDC chief added that Americans need to "stop the debate" about whether wearing masks and other recommended measures are effective.

The CDC said Tuesday it's considering reducing the recommended quarantine period for those exposed to the coronavirus from 14 days to between seven and 10.

Henry Walke, CDC incident manager for COVID-19 response, told The Wall Street Journal the agency is finalizing the change. He said studies show quarantines can be effective in the short-term and expressed hope that people will be more likely to comply if the quarantine time is shorter.

In Texas, officials in El Paso have ordered an overnight curfew spanning the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, as hundreds of front-line emergency workers arrive to help with rising cases.

The order by El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego says the curfew will begin Wednesday and run from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. each night. It will last until at least Monday.

"This is one of the final pleas in trying our best to plead, really, with all of our community to be prudent these next five days," he said.

More than 1,000 front-line workers have been hospitalized in recent days and alternative care sites have been set up at a convention center and in tents near hospitals. Thirteen mobile morgues are in operation and a temporary cooler is being built inside a warehouse.

More than 40% of hospitalizations in El Paso County are COVID-related, according to municipal data.

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