The United States reported 103,087 cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, the highest single-day total on record, according to the COVID Tracking Project at The Atlantic. It marks the first time that the country—or any country in the world, for that matter—has documented more than 100,000 new cases in one day.
At the same time, states reported that more than 52,000 people are hospitalized with the coronavirus, the highest level since early August. The number of people hospitalized nationwide is increasing faster in November than it did in October, and—over the past 10 days—their ranks have risen by about 1,000 people a day.
The record officially marks what was already clear: As winter nears, the country’s third surge of infection is dangerously accelerating in almost every region of the country. This is the reality that the United States is facing, regardless of who will become its next chief executive: A deadly respiratory pandemic is spiraling out of control, and the number of hospitalized people—and deaths—is certain to rise over the next several months.
The unhappy milestone has been months in the making. On the final day of June, as states in the South and Southwest brimmed with infection, Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-disease expert, warned that the U.S. could soon see a 100,000-case day. His prediction came several months early. Three weeks later, the country’s summertime surge peaked at about 75,000 cases in one day. But that count likely fell far short of actual infections: In the hardest-hit states, such as Arizona, tests were so scarce that symptomatic doctors could not even test themselves.