Dr. Anthony Fauci said that the number of new COVID-19 cases each day "has just gotten out of control in many respects” in the U.S. as the country reported a record number of hospitalizations.
According to the COVID Tracking Project, 121,235 patients were hospitalized with COVID-19 in the U.S. on Monday, the highest number since the onset of the ongoing pandemic.
In addition, the U.S. reported 162,000 new COVID-19 cases and 1,491 deaths, data from the Tracking Project shows.
CNN reported that ICU coronavirus patients have increased from 16% in September to 40% last week. December has also become the nation's deadliest month of the pandemic. Hospitals may soon have to start performing triage if the numbers continue to rise.
"When you run out of capacity, physicians and bioethicists in these hospitals will need to decide which patients are salvageable — potentially salvageable — and which patients aren't," said CNN medical analyst Dr. Jonathan Reiner.
The significant rise of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations began in November and has continued through the holidays, as more Americans traveled despite health experts urging them to stay home. The day before Christmas Eve, more than 1.1 million people were screened at airports.
A daily tally from the Transportation Security Administration showed that officials screened 1,191,123 people nationwide Thursday, the largest number of people to fly since March 16, when 1,257,823 people were screened, TSA spokesperson Lisa Farbstein announced on Dec. 24.
On Sunday, Fauci expressed concern that coronavirus cases will continue to surge after the holidays.
"The reason that I'm concerned is that we very well might see a post-seasonal, in the sense of Christmas and New Years, surge," he explained to CNN's State of the Union. "And as I've described it as a surge upon a surge because if you look at the slope, the incline of cases we've experienced as we've gone into the late fall and soon to be early winter, it really is quite troubling."
As of Dec. 29, over 19.3 million people in the U.S. have been infected with the coronavirus since the start of the pandemic and at least 335,141 have died, according to a New York Times database.
As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments. To help provide doctors and nurses on the front lines with life-saving medical resources, donate to Direct Relief here.
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