CDC predicts up to 362K American COVID-19 deaths by beginning of January

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released its latest forecast of expected U.S. coronavirus deaths, predicting that between 12,600 and 23,400 Americans will die of COVID-19 during the week ending January 2.

By January 2, the health agency is also predicting that between 332,000 and 362,000 Americas will have died from the coronavirus since the beginning of the pandemic.

The updated forecast put out by the CDC on Wednesday consists of a combination of data from over 40 modeling groups and comes as the country inches toward 300,000 deaths. 

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

Wednesday's toll eclipsed American deaths on the opening day of the Normandy invasion during World War II: 2,500, out of some 4,400 Allied dead. And it topped the toll on Sept. 11, 2001: 2,977.

Healthcare professionals prepare to screen people for the coronavirus at a testing site erected by the Maryland National Guard in a parking lot at FedEx Field March 30, 2020 in Landover, Maryland.

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

New cases per day are running at all-time highs of over 209,000 on average. And the number of people in the hospital with COVID-19 is setting records nearly every day.

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

Meanwhile, a U.S. government advisory panel on Thursday endorsed the widespread use of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine to help conquer the outbreak. Depending on how fast the FDA signs off on the panel’s recommendation, shots could begin within days, inaugurating the biggest vaccination campaign in U.S. history.

“This is a light at the end of the long tunnel of this pandemic,” declared Dr. Sally Goza, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

In a 17-4 vote with one abstention, the government advisers concluded that the vaccine from Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech appears safe and effective for emergency use in adults and teenagers 16 and over.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.