The 250,000th COVID-19-related death in the US was logged on Wednesday, nearly a year after the world's first known case of the novel coronavirus, according to NBC News.
At least 251,000 deaths have been linked to the contagious disease in the US, and more than 11,561,000 positive cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in the country as of this article's publication, according to the outlet’s data.
Novel coronavirus-related fatalities have quickly climbed in recent weeks. Last week’s average reached 1,167 fatalities per day, versus an early October average of 821 fatalities per day.
An early forecasting model used by the White House in late March estimated between 100,000 to 240,000 American deaths would be linked to the contagious disease - even with the implementation of preventative measures.
The figures suggested that some 2.2 million Americans would have died without adherence to mitigation measures, such as social distancing and stay-at-home orders imposed by state and local governments.
While much progress has been made in the realms of developing COVID-19 vaccines and exploring therapeutics, US health officials have sounded the alarm against large gatherings around the Thanksgiving holiday. As a result, states such as Ohio, Washington, California and New Mexico have imposed various stay-at-home orders, curfews and other mitigation measures.
US President Donald Trump and his administration have pushed back against the idea of such government-enforced mandates throughout the pandemic and will continue to do so, according to White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany’s Wednesday comments to “Fox & Friends.”
"The American people know how to protect their health. We’ve dealt with COVID for many months," said McEnany, who tested positive for the novel coronavirus in October. "But it’s Orwellian in a place like Oregon to say if you gather in numbers more than six, we might come to your house and arrest you, and you get 30 days of jail time. That’s not the American way."
At the same time, she said the decisions regarding Thanksgiving Day regulations will be made by “every state.”
"We can make good decisions, we can wash our hands wear masks, socially distance, but we can also decide in our own personal domicile, our own home, whether we can have our family members present at any given time,” McEnany argued.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a member of the White House coronavirus task force, told attendees of a USA Today Editorial Board meeting on Wednesday that seemingly “innocent” dinner parties with “10, 12 people” could easily transform into outbreak clusters for the novel coronavirus.
“You're going to start seeing these unanticipated infections related to innocent home gatherings, particularly as we head into the holiday season,” he said, noting that colder weather forces people indoors, which raises the likelihood of COVID-19 transmission.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have advised against physically coming together and asserted in a November 10 news release that the “safest way to celebrate” is with those in your household.