The country continues to struggle with a resurgence of the virus in the two weeks following the Thanksgiving holidays, with most states seeing an increase in cases and hospitalisations.
Health officials pleaded with Americans in November to forgo normal Thanksgiving plans and celebrate within their immediate household, but public health officials still anticipated a surge in Covid cases.
On the same day as the record death toll, 221,267 new cases of the respiratory disease were recorded, with total confirmed infections sitting above 15 million and total deaths set to pass 290,000, according to the university.
The bleak numbers come as the country is on the cusp of the authorisation of emergency use for Pfizer’s vaccine against the disease.
The candidate, which has been found to be strongly protective against Covid-19, is on the last step before a decision to begin shipping millions of doses of the shot across the country.
However, experts have warned that the start of coronavirus vaccine distribution won’t stop the current surge in deaths as a result of the virus, with fears the Christmas season could be worse than ever for the pandemic.
The majority of US residents are not expected to receive them until the first few months of 2021, with healthcare workers and nursing home residents being prioritised for the shot.
Dr Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, has warned there is a “really dark time” ahead for the US in early 2021.
“It's likely you're not going to see a measurable diminution for at least several weeks or if not longer,' Dr Fauci told CNN’s John Berman on Monday.
“But it will come, I guarantee you,” he added.
Last week, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) predicted that half a million people may lose their lives by 1 April as a result of the disease, an additional 270,000 deaths from 30 November.
During an Operation Warp Speed Vaccine Summit on Tuesday, President Donald Trump was asked how Americans in areas with surging cases should protect themselves over Christmas ahead of possible vaccine distribution.
In response, Mr Trump deferred to the Centres for Disease Control guidelines before saying it was “terrific” that the country would see immunity in its population as a result of the virus’ virulent spread.
“Plus, you do have an immunity. You develop immunity over a period of time, and I hear we’re close to 15 percent. I’m hearing that, and that is terrific,” Mr Trump said.
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