The United States has now seen more than 8 million tally from Johns Hopkins University. Over 218,000 people nationwide have died due to the virus.cases, according to a
The country is now battling a, with 17 states seeing surges unlike anything they've experienced before in this pandemic. More than 63,000 cases were reported alone on Thursday, rising closer to daily case numbers not seen since the summer.
Hotspots are flaring across the Midwest, with smaller, rural hospitals fighting to hold on.
"It's not a joke when we say we swim in COVID," said Dr. Scott Samlan, an emergency room doctor in Hammond, Indiana, a state that hit a record number of cases on Thursday. "I think the scary part for a lot of us is that we don't know how any individual is going to handle COVID," he said.
In Kansas City, Missouri, eight hospitals are now turning away patients. Dr. Marc Larsen heads one of those hospital's COVID-19 response teams and said two days ago they hit their record inpatient capacity.
"It adds stress, and it really does take a toll on the staff," said Larsen.
Michigan has over 1,000 coronavirus patients in its hospitals for the first time since May. In North Dakota, just 22 ICU beds remain in the entire state. New Mexico is reporting a second straight day of record-breaking cases and hospitalizations.
"We're not succeeding at combating the virus," said New Mexico Governor Lujan Grisham. "This is the most serious emergency that New Mexico has ever faced."
In Ohio, 29 of the state's counties are now under the highest state of alert. New cases are at their highest rate since the pandemic began. "There's a red tide flowing all over the state of Ohio," said Governor Mike DeWine.
Meanwhile, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the northern border will remain closed until the U.S. can get the coronavirus under control.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's leading infectious disease expert, toldthis week that the country needs to redouble its efforts to contain the virus as it enters the fall and winter months. "What we really have to do is double down" on preventive measures like social distancing and wearing masks, he said Wednesday.
He stressed that the same protocols health officials have been advising for months — wash your hands frequently, social distance,, and avoid crowds, especially indoors — are as essential as ever, seven months into the pandemic.
"They sound very simple, but people are not doing that and that's why we have an uptick in cases," he said.
Anne Yurek, of Lancaster, Wisconsin, said people just don't take the virus seriously. "My uncle, my brother, my sister and then my dad died," said Yurek. "I couldn't even go to my dad's funeral. We don't get to say goodbye."
As the pandemic rages and hospitals brace for the next surge, doctors say so much of what's happening now is preventable.
"It's exceedingly frustrating there are these superspreader events," said Larsen. "It's just irresponsible and it's insensitive to not take the extra time to put that little piece of fabric on."
On Friday, Pfizer announced it will apply for FDAfor its COVID-19 vaccine "soon after the safety milestone is achieved in the third week in November."
Dr. Mark Mulligan, who leads a Pfizer vaccine trial at NYU Langone Health, said he expected this.
"I think there's not any possibility for this to be achieved in October and that most likely we're going to have to go into late 2020 or even early 2021," said Mulligan. "So I think this is a great acknowledgement of the pace of science. You can't rush these things."
Other vaccine developers have echoed Pfizer's timeline.
"The pauses in the trials I find somewhat encouraging because it tells me that they're looking really carefully," said Dr. Tom Frieden, former director for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Mola Lenghi and Meg Oliver contributed to this report.