How many Americans are about to die?

Tibshirani’s first finding was that the lag time between states was quite variable—and that the median lag time was 16 days, a lot shorter than the mean. Looking state by state, Tibshirani concluded, it seemed difficult to land on an exact number of days as the “right” lag “with any amount of confidence,” he told us. Because cases are rising quickly, a shorter lag time would mean a larger denominator of cases for recent days—and a lower current case-fatality rate, something like 1.4 percent. This could mean fewer overall people are dying.

But this approach does not change the most important prediction. The country will still cross the threshold of 2,000 deaths a day, and even more quickly than Bedford originally predicted. Cases were significantly higher 16 days ago than 22 days ago, so a shorter lag time means that those higher case numbers show up in the deaths data sooner. Even with a lower case-fatality rate, deaths climb quickly. Estimating this way, the country would hit an average of 2,000 deaths a day on November 30…

More than 1,000 hospitals were anticipating staffing shortages this week, according to new data from Health and Human Services released to The Atlantic. That squares with in-depth reporting by our colleague Ed Yong about the toll that the pandemic has taken on health-care workers, and the fears they expressed to him about the toll to come, for themselves and for their patients. One doctor told Yong that the entire state of Iowa is now out of staffed hospital beds, with more than 3,000 cases being diagnosed every day. Another, in Utah, told Yong of working 36-hour shifts in an ICU treating twice as many patients as usual, as the state records cases at a rate almost five times greater than its summer peak.