WASHINGTON - A report issued by the White House coronavirus task force included a grim warning to state officials, saying the United States is currently in “a very dangerous place” in the pandemic due to a heavy surge in COVID-19 cases throughout the country.
“The COVID risk to all Americans is at a historic high," said the report from the task force, which was released by multiple state officials detailing current COVID-19 trends around the country.
"The national daily COVID incidence after Memorial Day, but before the summer surge, was fewer than 25,000 new cases/day and is now more than 180,000 new cases/day; COVID inpatients then were fewer than 30,000 but are now more than 90,000; fatalities have more than doubled," the report, dated Nov. 29, said.
"We are in a very dangerous place due to the current, extremely high COVID baseline and limited hospital capacity; a further post-Thanksgiving surge will compromise COVID patient care, as well as medical care overall," the report said.
"If state and local policies do not reflect the seriousness of the current situation, all public health officials must alert the state population directly," the report said.
People wait in line for COVID-19 testing at Lincoln Park on the Monday after Thanksgiving weekend on November 30, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
The task force report included advice to public health officials and residents, urging them to follow strict guidelines to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.
The report echoed advice from Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, who said he didn’t believe large gatherings for the holidays were a good idea.
"If you are under 40, you need to assume you became infected during the Thanksgiving period if you gathered beyond your immediate household. Most likely, you will not have symptoms; however, you are dangerous to others and you must isolate away from anyone at increased risk for severe disease and get tested immediately," the report said.
"If you are over 65 or have significant medical conditions and you gathered outside of your immediate household, you are at a significant risk for serious COVID infection; if you develop any symptoms, you must be tested immediately as the majority of therapeutics work best early in infection," according to the report.
Health officials on Wednesday urged Americans to stay home over the upcoming holiday season and consider getting tested for coronavirus before and after if they do decide to travel.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that the best way to stay safe and protect others is to stay home.
That’s the same advice they had over Thanksgiving, but many Americans traveled anyway.
“In many areas of the USA, state mitigation efforts remain inadequate, resulting in sustained transmission,” the White House coronavirus task force report said. “All states and counties must flatten the curve now.”
The outbreak in the U.S. is blamed for more than 270,000 deaths and 13.8 million confirmed infections. Deaths are up to more than 1,500 a day, a level seen back in May, during the crisis in the New York City area.
States are seeing record-breaking surges in deaths, including Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky in the middle of the country. Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said the virus is “spreading like wildfire.”
A COVID-19 vaccine is expected to become available in a few weeks, and health care workers are likely to be given priority for the first shots.
The Associated Press contributed to this story. This story was reported from Los Angeles.