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U.S. surpasses 3,000 coronavirus deaths in one day for the first time

U.S. surpasses 3,000 daily COVID-19 deaths
U.S. surpasses 3,000 daily coronavirus deaths for first time 02:19

The U.S. has broken yet another gut-wrenching record. More than 3,000 coronavirus deaths were reported Wednesday -- the highest single-day total, according to Johns Hopkins University. Health officials are warning that it will likely get worse before the situation improves.

Medical centers like Methodist Hospital near Minneapolis are at the breaking point. Jenna Jacobs, a nurse at the hospital, is watching patients pass without the comfort of someone they love.

"People are dying alone," she said. "It's very hard and it's a reality right now. Like, we are holding people's hands on their last breaths every day."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is forecasting up to 362,000 dead by January 2, which is almost the population of Cleveland.

"It's both physically and mentally exhausting. People are doing longer shifts. They're doing more shifts," said Dr. William Melms, chief medical officer with the Marshfield Medical Center in Wisconsin.

Desperate measures are being taken, from the battlefield-type tents set up in Los Angeles to reopening plans for a long-closed Phoenix-area hospital to help house the surge.

Virginia's governor announced a midnight curfew starting Monday, and Pennsylvania's governor late Thursday ordered the shutdown of indoor dining, casinos and high school sports. 

Coronavirus is spreading like a wind-fueled fire. Michael Avilez lost his sister, 33-year-old Erika Becerra, to the virus.

"She gave birth to her son but didn't get to hold him because right after she gave birth that's when they put the tube in," said Avilez.

Becerra's health declined so quickly, she was never able to hold baby Diego in her arms.

"Towards the last moments, she was teary," said Avilez. "I know she heard us. We prayed for her, we talked to her, we comforted her until the last moments."

On the vaccine front, the Food and Drug Administration's advisory panel on Thursday recommended the emergency use of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine. If the vaccine is authorized by the FDA, the first shots could be distributed in the U.S. within days. Health care workers and nursing home residents would be among the first in line.

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