'We are about to enter COVID hell': Experts warn of most dangerous surge yet

The U.S. is facing record COVID-19 hospitalizations and case numbers at the same time the holiday season is approaching, setting the stage for challenging months ahead, CNBC reports. 

"What America has to understand is that we are about to enter COVID hell," Michael Osterholm, PhD, told CNBC. "It is happening." 

Dr. Osterholm is the director of the Center of Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota and was recently appointed to President-elect Joe Biden's COVID-19 task force. 

The country is already seeing COVID-19 cases rise faster than usual, with a 33 percent spike in the seven-day average over the last week, which the holidays will likely worsen. 

"The upcoming holidays of Thanksgiving, Diwali, Christmas, Chanukah and New Year's create the potential for innumerable super-spreading events across the country," Isaac Bogoch, MD, infectious disease specialist at the University of Toronto, told CNBC. "This has the potential to introduce and re-introduce the virus to new areas and to further exacerbate community transmission." 

The country could see upward of 2,100 COVID-19 deaths per day this winter, some experts predict — and while news of vaccine progress is promising, it doesn't mean the winter surge will be averted. However, those numbers could slow if additional restrictions are put in place, reports CNBC. 

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