More than 2,000 U.S. coronavirus deaths over last 24 hours, most since May

Fall surge of COVID-19 has arrived, doctors say

More than 2,000 coronavirus-related deaths have been recorded in the U.S. over the last 24 hours, the most since May, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University of Medicine.

As of noon Friday, the U.S. has recorded more than 253,000 deaths — the most of any nation — and 11.7 million confirmed cases, also most in the world, according to the school, which has been tracking the coronavirus since the pandemic began. The number of people in the U.S. who have been hospitalized with COVID-19 hit another all-time high at more than 80,000 on Thursday.

The Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also confirmed the total number of U.S. deaths over the last day were 2,045.

Previously, COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. had peaked around at around 2,200 per day, when New York and other parts of the Northeast were emerging from the first wave of the crisis.

On Thursday, the CDC issued its strongest warning to date over holiday travel, urging Americans to stay home this Thanksgiving to help contain the virus.

On Friday, Pfizer announced it is asking U.S. regulators to allow emergency use of its COVID-19 vaccine, starting the clock on a process that could bring limited first shots as early as next month. The action comes days after Pfizer Inc. and its German partner BioNTech announced that its vaccine appears 95% effective at preventing mild to severe COVID-19 disease in a large, ongoing study.

The companies said that protection plus a good safety record means the vaccine should qualify for emergency use authorization, something the Food and Drug Administration can grant before the final testing is fully complete. In addition to Friday’s FDA submission, they have already started “rolling” applications in Europe and the U.K. and intend to submit similar information soon.

“Help is on the way,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. infectious disease expert said on the eve of Pfizer’s announcement, adding that it’s too early to abandon masks and other protective measures. “We need to actually double down on the public health measures as we’re waiting for that help to come.”

On Friday, a senior aide to Joe Biden said the president-elect is calling on Congress to enact billions of dollars in emergency COVID-19 assistance before the year’s end.

Biden transition aide Jen Psaki delivered the remarks ahead of Biden’s first in-person meeting since winning the election with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer. The incoming Democratic president hosted the top Democrats in the House and Senate Friday afternoon at his transition headquarters in Wilmington, Del.

Pelosi told a news conference Friday she and Schumer would be talking with Biden about “the urgency of crushing of virus,” including the lame-duck session of Congress, legislation on funding the government and COVID relief.

But prospects for new virus aid this year remain uncertain. Pelosi said talks with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and GOP leadership on Thursday did not produce any consensus on a new virus aid package.

“That didn’t happen, but hopefully it will,” she said.

Biden’s new governing team is facing intense pressure to approve another COVID-19 relief bill, come up with a clear plan to distribute millions of doses of a prospective vaccine, and Biden is just days away from unveiling the first of his Cabinet picks, which are subject to Senate confirmation.

Psaki said that Biden, Pelosi and Schumer are already working “in lockstep” to push for a pandemic relief bill before Congress adjourns for the year, a period known as a lame-duck session.

“They’re in lockstep agreement that there needs to be emergency assistance and aid during the lame-duck session to help families, to help small businesses,” Psaki said. “There’s no more room for delay and we need to move forward as quickly as possible.”

The president-elect has also promised to work closely with Republicans in Congress to execute his governing agenda, but so far, he has focused his congressional outreach on his leading Democratic allies.

President Donald Trump continues to block a smooth transition of power to the next president, refusing to allow his administration to cooperate with Biden’s transition team. Specifically, the Trump administration is denying Biden access to detailed briefings on national security and pandemic planning that leaders in both parties say are important for preparing Biden to govern immediately after his Jan. 20 inauguration.

Trying to bypass the Trump administration altogether, Biden on Thursday met virtually with a collection of leading Republican and Democratic governors.

“Unfortunately, my administration hasn’t been able to get everything we need,” Biden told the National Governors Association’s leadership team. “There’s a real desire for real partnership between the states and the federal government.”

The Trump administration’s Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said Friday on “CBS This Morning” Biden’s charge the transition delays would cost American lives is “absolutely incorrect.”

“Every aspect of what we do is completely transparent — no secret data or knowledge,” Azar said.