Black, Hispanic and Native American people have been impacted the most by COVID-19, and are four times more likely than others to be hospitalized with the virus
covid cases
Credit: Martin Schwartz

The United States recorded 1 million new cases of COVID-19 in just one week, the quickest increase yet as the nation struggles with spiking case numbers in every state.

After the first U.S. case of COVID-19 was reported in late January, the number of nationwide infections slowly crept up, and it took 96 days to reach 1 million infections. Now, with community spread of the virus rampant around the country, it took just six days for the U.S. to go from 10 million to 11 million total cases.

In the last week, the U.S. broke its own record five times for the most new infections in one day. The new record high is 181,196 infections, set on Nov. 13. The second highest case total came on Monday, with 166,581, according to The New York Times.

All 50 U.S. states are currently seeing an increase in cases, and 37 states reported breaking their own records for new infections in just the last week. The rise in cases is especially steep in the Midwest, particularly Wisconsin, Wyoming, Iowa, the Dakotas and Montana.

Hospitals in the Midwest have said they are overwhelmed with patients, and several states, including Wisconsin, have set up field hospitals to deal with the overflow.

Those hospitalized with COVID-19 are also disproportionally people of color, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Black, Hispanic and Native American people are around four times more likely than others to be hospitalized with the virus.

As of Nov. 16, more than 73,000 Americans are currently hospitalized with COVID-19, according to the COVID Tracking Project, the most ever. And though doctors have a better understanding of how to treat the virus, leading to better patient outcomes, the death rate from COVID-19 is beginning to rise again, with a 7-day average of around 1,000 new deaths a day.

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The soaring case rate comes as Americans prepare to travel for the Thanksgiving holiday. Public health experts have urged people to reconsider or cancel their holiday plans.

“I'm afraid I am quite concerned about Thanksgiving because it's a wonderful, warm tradition of families and extended families gathering together for prolonged periods of time, very closely. And that's obviously the environment in which the COVID virus would like to spread,” Dr. William Schaffner, professor of preventive medicine and infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University, told PEOPLE.

“The characteristic that's driving cases upward now is that people are gathering together in groups, not wearing their masks and spending more time with each other. And that causes an acceleration of what we're seeing now, because at the moment we're having a very steep increase in cases in literally every state.”

In response to the rise in cases, several states and cities added new restrictions on residents, similar to the stay-at-home orders from March and April. Washington state and Illinois have again closed indoor dining and gyms, and limited retail shopping to 25 percent occupancy. In Chicago, Mayor Lori Lightfoot instituted a stay-at-home advisory and a fine for residents who host more than six non-household members in private homes.

“While this is tough, of course this whole year has been tough, we must tell you, you must cancel the normal Thanksgiving plans,” Lightfoot said last week.

As of Tuesday, more than 11,279,500 Americans have tested positive for COVID-19, and at least 246,879 have died from the virus, according to the Times.

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