If he means another 250,000 deaths between now and January 1, i.e. 29 days from now, that’s wildly wrong. Not even the most pessimistic projections of the current surge imagine upwards of 10,000 deaths per day this month.

Maybe Sleepy Joe had a brain hiccup? He might have meant to say “another 100,000 people” and somehow coughed up the overall death toll from the pandemic thus far. (We’re a bit beyond 250,000 fatalities now, in fact.)

If, on the other hand, he means another 250,000 deaths by January 31, that’s also highly, highly unlikely — but I don’t know that I’d bet my life savings against it. Watch, then read on.

Reading the COVID news this morning, I remembered that December 2 was the date scientist Trevor Bedford expected we would reach 2,000 daily deaths again. We did reach a milestone yesterday, it turns out. But it wasn’t 2,000. It was close to 3,000.

More than 2,800 Covid-19 deaths were reported Wednesday in the United States — the most the country has ever reported in a single day — as health care officials say their staff and facilities are struggling to support burgeoning numbers of patients.

The number of Covid-19 patients in US hospitals Wednesday — 100,226, according to the COVID Tracking Project — also is the highest reported on a given day during the pandemic

“By this time next week, we are going to be talking about 3,000 deaths a day — that’s 9/11 every single day,” Dr. Jonathan Reiner, a cardiologist and professor of medicine at George Washington University, told CNN on Wednesday…

As for cases: The country’s average number of new daily Covid-19 cases across a week was 164,103 Wednesday — nearly 2.5 times the summertime peak in July, JHU data show.

The COVID Tracking Project’s count of deaths yesterday was 2,733, which made it the second deadliest day since the start of the pandemic by their reckoning. The two-day total combined with Tuesday’s fatalities was the highest yet and the first time the U.S. has seen 5,000 dead over a two-day period. We’ve reached a magical moment in America’s ongoing mismanaged COVID catastrophe where the president-elect can guesstimate 250,000 deaths over 30 days and everyone dunks on him because in reality it’ll “only” be 100,000 or so.

Another way to grasp the magnitude of losses yesterday is to recognize that, in a single 24-hour period, they amounted to one percent of the total U.S. death toll since the first fatality in March. Johns Hopkins has recorded 273,746 dead as I write this and Wednesday toll was around 2,750 depending upon which reporting you use. One out of 100 Americans who’ve died from the disease died yesterday. That trend is likely to continue too, or even be overtaken later this month as people infected during the big national pox party on Thanksgiving begin passing away. Despite the enormous number of deaths already, we’ll be adding another one percent or more for weeks to come.

In fact, the pandemic is so ferocious right now that when I look at a graphic like this from Axios and see which states have declining hospitalizations, I wonder if there’s a herd immunity effect driving the downturn:

Maybe not. Wisconsin, for instance, has nearly six million people; even though they’ve been a hot spot for months, it’s hard to believe several million people might have been infected already. Also, if midwestern states are reaching herd immunity, why haven’t our friends in Sweden reached it despite having taken more relaxed precautions against infection since the pandemic began?

Sweden has 10 million people, though. North Dakota has fewer than 800,000 and South Dakota has fewer than 900,000. Is it possible that many weeks of the virus raging unchecked through those states has rendered a few hundred thousand immune, slowing the spread? Some scientists like Scott Gottlieb think so: “We’re going to probably have by the end of this year, 30% of the U.S. population infected,” he told CNBC a few days ago. “You look at states like North Dakota and South Dakota, it’s probably 30%, 35%. Maybe as high as 50%.” The good news is that that high baseline of natural immunity may mean we reach herd immunity nationally more quickly than expected once the vaccine starts rolling out to people who haven’t been infected.

The bad news is, ah, another 100,000 to 200,000 deaths before that happens in all likelihood. Good luck, everyone.