US surpasses 12 million COVID-19 cases ahead of holiday

The United States has registered more than 12 million cases of COVID-19, as public health experts continue to caution people to heed a warning not to travel for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday.

As of Saturday afternoon, the US reported over 12.09 million cases of the coronavirus and more than 255,000 deaths – the highest totals of any country in the world, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

The US has seen a surge in new infections, as well as hospitalisations, in recent weeks as colder weather is forcing more people indoors.

Authorities in several states have warned that healthcare systems could soon be overwhelmed, as hospitalisations have more than doubled since the summer months. As of Friday, more than 82,000 people were in hospital with the disease, the COVID Tracking Project said.

With the November 26 Thanksgiving holiday fast approaching, state and national officials have increasingly warned against travelling.

On Saturday, seven governors of Midwestern states – Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana and Michigan – released a joint video message urging their residents to heed public health advice and not celebrate Thanksgiving with people outside their households.

On Thursday, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a “strong recommendation” to stay home on Thursday.

The agency discouraged any gatherings with people who have not lived in the same household for 14 days – the virus incubation period.

However, many people appear to be ignoring that advice.