The United States passed a grim milestone of 10 million confirmed coronavirus cases on Monday, with cases and hospitalizations surging in the Midwest as the nation has hit 1 million new cases in the last 10 days.
According to Johns Hopkins University, more than 50.5 million globally as of early Monday morning and over 1.2 million deaths from the disease worldwide since the pandemic started. The U.S. had four percent of the world’s population but has accounted for one fifth of all reported cases. The country has had over 237,500 deaths from the virus since the pandemic started.
The news comes as U.S. drugmaker Pfizer said its data shows their coronavirus vaccine is 90 percent effective. The company said it would be filing for Emergency Use Authorization from the FDA as soon as final data meets their safety milestones.
President-Elect Joe Biden held a press conference on Monday afternoon after naming his 12-person coronavirus task force to work and combat the virus. Biden warned of a “dark winter” ahead but vowed to do what he could to tackle the virus.
“We’re still facing a very dark winter,” Biden said. “The bottom line: I will spare no effort to turn this pandemic around once we’re sworn in on January 20.”
The virus’ surge comes just weeks before the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, where many people will travel and many families will gathering together. The cold weather during the winter is likely to keep everyone indoors, where the virus can spread much easier.
Dr. Carlos del Rio, an infectious disease expert at Emory University, said the virus is getting out of control and waiting for the Biden administration to begin in January is not an option at the moment.
“We need a national mask mandate now,” Del Rio says. “We all need to ‘step up our game’ and use a face mask all the time we are in a public place, practice social dancing, wash our hands, and avoid crowded congregate and not well-ventilated places. Wearing a face mask should not be a partisan issue, it should be a public health priority.”