US breaks record for single-day COVID-19 deaths with more than 3,000

The U.S. recorded more than 3,000 coronavirus deaths on Wednesday, the highest in a single day since the onset of the pandemic, according to the COVID Tracking Project.

The grim milestone comes just a day after the country surpassed 15 million coronavirus cases, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. 

Deaths from COVID-19 in the U.S. have soared to more than 2,200 a day on average, matching the frightening peak reached last April, and cases per day have eclipsed 200,000 on average for the first time on record, with the crisis all but certain to get worse because of the fallout from Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's.

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Virtually every state is reporting surges just as a vaccine appears days away from getting the go-ahead in the U.S.

The novel coronavirus is blamed for more than 280,000 total deaths in the United States.

People line up in their cars as members of the Utah National Guard give COVID-19 swab tests at the Utah County Health Department on November 20, 2020 in Salt Lake City, Utah.

On Thursday, a Food and Drug Administration advisory panel is holding a meeting on the emergency use of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine, and shots could begin almost immediately after the vaccine is authorized. 

Britain on Tuesday started dispensing the Pfizer vaccine, becoming the first country in the West to begin mass vaccinations.

Still, any vaccination campaign will take many months, and U.S. health experts are warning of a surge of infections in the coming weeks, in part because of Americans' disregard of warnings not to travel over Thanksgiving. 

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-disease expert, said the upcoming holiday season could compound the crisis even more than Thanksgiving did.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.