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People wait outside the Emergency room of the Garfield Medical Center in Monterey Park, California on Dec 1. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/Getty Images

More than 100,200 Americans were hospitalized as of Wednesday due to the coronavirus for the first time since the outbreak began in early 2020, per the COVID Tracking Project.

The big picture: The milestone comes as health officials anticipated cases to surge due to holiday travel and gatherings. The impact of the holiday remains notable, as many states across the country are only reporting partial data.

Flashback: The daily rate of new coronavirus infections rose by about 10% in week leading up to Thanksgiving, continuing a dismal trend that may get even worse in the weeks to come.

  • Before the Thanksgiving holiday, the COVID Tracking Project warned of a "double-weekend pattern.
  • "Far fewer people will be tested on Thanksgiving Day, and perhaps on the day after as well, and then the usual weekend pattern will begin," it said.
  • "Death reporting, too, will slow down for an unknown number of days."

What to watch: That backlog is expected to clear sometime this week, resulting in a potentially confusing surge on all metrics in the meantime.

By the numbers: The U.S. reported 13.7 million cases (confirmed and probable), 1.4 million tests, 196,000 cases and 2,733 deaths on Wednesday.

  • To date, 264,522 people in the country have died from the virus.
  • California confirmed more than 20,000 COVID-19 infections on Wednesday — the highest daily case count for any state so far during the pandemic.
  • Wednesday's death count is the second highest on record since May 7, and marks the first time deaths have topped 5,000 over a two-day stretch.

Go deeper

Coronavirus has inflamed global inequality

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

History will likely remember the pandemic as the "first time since records began that inequality rose in virtually every country on earth at the same time." That's the verdict from Oxfam's inequality report covering the year 2020 — a terrible year that hit the poorest, hardest across the planet.

Why it matters: The world's poorest were already in a race against time, facing down an existential risk in the form of global climate change. The coronavirus pandemic could set global poverty reduction back as much as a full decade, according to the World Bank.

17 hours ago - Health

CDC director: “I can’t tell you how much vaccine we have"

CDC director Rochelle Walensky, newly appointed by President Biden, told Fox News on Sunday that the administration does not know the current number of COVID vaccines available for distribution — due to a lack of data gathered by the agency under Trump — making it more difficult for states to accurately plan.

Why it matters: Hospitals in states including Texas, South Carolina, New York, and California have canceled thousands of appointments due to running low on vaccines or nearly depleting their share, the New York Times reports.

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