It turns out the first two weeks have been abysmal.
The United States just shattered its all-time records for the most Covid-19 infections, hospitalizations and deaths reported in one day:
— On January 2, a record-high 302,506 new infections were reported in one day, according to Johns Hopkins University.
That’s an average of 3.5 people getting infected every second.
— On January 6, a record-high 132,447 patients were hospitalized with Covid-19, according to the Covid Tracking Project.
Many hospitals are now filled beyond capacity, meaning even those without Covid-19 — say, car accident victims — might not get immediate care.
— On January 12, a record-high 4,462 Covid-19 deaths were reported in just one day, according to Johns Hopkins.
Why is this happening?
“If you go to a party with five or more people, almost certainly there’s going to be somebody with Covid-19 at that party,” said Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine.
One reason why the coronavirus spreads so easily is because people can be contagious without knowing they’re infected — and can pass along the virus without looking or feeling sick.
“This means at least half of new infections come from people likely unaware they are infectious to others,” the agency said.
Fallout from the holidays could still ripple across the United States for weeks to come.
“It takes two to three weeks for patients to get sick enough to need the hospital after they’ve gotten the virus,” said Dr. Anish Mahajan, chief medical officer at the Harbor-UCLA Medical Center.
Even though Christmas was less than three weeks ago, “we’re already full.”
“We don’t have any more ICU capacity,” Mahajan said. “All of the hospitals in the region are putting ICU patients in unusual places in the hospital just to find room for them.”
Then there are newly identified variants
Those US cases were found in 12 states: California, Florida, Minnesota, New York, Colorado, Connecticut, Maryland, Texas, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Wisconsin and Georgia, according to CDC data posted Wednesday.
Understanding the genetic makeup of a virus and how it changes is critical to ensuring vaccines remain effective.
All viruses mutate over time, and new variants are common.
While it may be more transmissible, there’s no evidence this variant first detected in the UK is deadlier or causes more severe disease, the CDC said.
But the strain first detected in the United Kingdom isn’t the only one causing concern.
That strain was first spotted two months ago in South Africa and has been found in 12 countries. As of Thursday, it has not been detected in the United States.
Why can’t we all get vaccinated soon?
As of Thursday morning, about 10.2 million vaccine doses had been administered, out of roughly 29.3 million doses that have been distributed across the United States, according to the CDC.
And the two vaccines distributed in the United States right now — from Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna — require two doses for each person.
But either way, millions of Americans will have to wait months before getting a vaccine.
What all this means for you
If you want to get life closer to normal (and more quickly), it’s time to double down on safety measures:
Keep social distancing. Wash your hands frequently. And don’t think you’re invincible — even if you’re young and healthy.
“Whether that’s due to … a higher dose of the virus, whether they have genetic alterations they don’t know about — we just don’t understand,” he said.
“So, we can’t reliably predict who’s going to handle this virus well, and who doesn’t.”
CNN’s Elizabeth Cohen, Maggie Fox, Michael Nedelman and Amanda Watts contributed to this report.