Nearly 119,000 Americans spent Christmas Day in hospital with COVID-19 as 1,541 more deaths were recorded.

But according to the COVID Tracking Project, 20 states provided no update on their numbers on Friday, meaning the true number of deaths nationwide could be much higher.

While overall hospitalizations dropped to 118,948 on Friday after setting a new record of 120,151 the previous day, the seven-day average climbed to a new high yet again on Christmas Day, reaching 117,029.

On Friday, there were 124,498 new cases reported yet the COVID Tracking Project warned that data had been affected by the holiday closures.

Nationwide, there have been more than 18.7million Americans infected with coronavirus and 330,246 deaths. 

The seven-day average for hospitalizations climbed to a new high yet again on Christmas Day, reaching 117,029, as almost 1119,000 COVID-19 patients spent the holiday in hospital

A medical staff member changes a patient’s gown in the COVID-19 ICU on Christmas Day at the United Memorial Medical Center in Houston, as 119k patients spend the holiday hospitalized

Among the states that didn’t deliver any update on new cases and deaths on Friday was California, where the outbreak has already brought the healthcare system to breaking point, after reporting 300,000 new cases last week.

Earlier this week, it became the first state to surpass two million cases as experts remain concerned about a potential further spike caused by Christmas and New Year travelers.

The Centers for Disease Control again warned against travel for the holidays as the effects of Thanksgiving on the nation’s outbreak remained uncertain.

While travel numbers remained low compared to other years, health experts remain concerned that the lead up to Christmas still saw the most travelers since the start of the pandemic.

Transportation Security Administration (TSA) spokesperson Lisa Farbstein said Thursday morning that 1,191,123 individuals were screened at airport checkpoints nationwide on Wednesday.

‘It’s the highest checkpoint volume since March 16, when 1,257,823 people were screened,’ Farbstein said, adding that anyone who travels this holiday season should ‘wear a mask’.

The pleas for residents to remain at home have become more urgent in California where doctors have said the state is currently experiencing a ‘viral tsunami’.

Cases in the state have surged by 68 percent over the past two weeks and the ICU capacity remains at zero percent as crowded hospitals are forced to use even their lobby space to treat patients.

‘In most hospitals about half of all of the beds are filled with COVID patients and half of all the ICU beds are filled with COVID patients, and two-thirds of these patients are suffocating due to the inflammation that’s in their lungs that´s caused by the virus,’ said Dr. Christina Ghaly, director of the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services.

‘They’re suffocating to the point that they can no longer breathe on their own, and they have to have someone put a tube down their throat, in order to oxygenate their organs. Many of these people will not live to be in 2021,’ she said Thursday.

Nearly 119,000 Americans spent Christmas Day in hospital with COVID-19 as 1,541 more deaths were recorded. Pictured, a patient in a COVID-19 ICU unit in Houston, Texas

Pictured, a member of staff reacts after her patient ate food by herself for the first time after intubation tubes were remove while in the COVID-19 ICU unit in Memorial Medical Center

Hospitals in LA County were diverting ambulances and leaving patients unattended for hours. 

County health officials sent out a memo to doctors urging them not to send patients to emergency rooms unless it was absolutely necessary. 

There is also a drastic shortage of nurses and other medical personnel, and California’s leaders are reaching out to Australia and Taiwan to fill the need for 3,000 temporary healthcare workers. 

Dr. Hossein Sadrzadeh experienced an allergic reaction after receiving the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine at Boston Medical Center on Christmas Eve

Yet officials remained hopeful that the vaccine rollout wil continue to improve the situation, despite a Boston doctor on Friday becoming the first person to have severe reaction publicly linked to Moderna´s vaccine, which is in its first week of a nationwide distribution.

Dr. Hossein Sadrzadeh, a geriatric oncology fellow at Boston Medical Center, said he had a severe reaction almost immediately after being vaccinated, feeling dizzy and with a racing heart, the NYT reported. 

Sadrzadeh knew that he has a shellfish allergy. 

David Kibbe, a spokesman at the Boston Medical Center, said in a statement on Friday that Dr. Sadrzadeh ‘felt he was developing an allergic reaction and was allowed to self-administer his personal epi-pen’.

‘He was taken to the Emergency Department, evaluated, treated, observed and discharged. He is doing well today,’ Kibbe added. 

A U.S. Food and Drug Administration official said last week that the FDA is investigating around five allergic reactions that occurred after people were administered Pfizer Inc and BioNTech SE’s COVID-19 vaccine in the U.S.

Projections from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), a leading COVID-19 model, has shown the deadly effect  that any holdup in the vaccine distribution could have on the American public. 

Its latest projections show that up to 731,000 Americans could die of COVID-19 by April 1 if states begin to lift their mandates around masks and social distancing.

Yet more than 33,000 lives could be saved if the vaccine is distributed as planned, and 45,000 Americans saved if a swifter vaccine rollout is achieved.

The model currently projects that there will be a death toll of 567,195 by April 1 with mandates and vaccines continuing as planned. 

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