The United States on Wednesday registered more than 2,400 deaths from Covid-19 in 24 hours, according to the Johns Hopkins University tally -- the highest daily toll in six months as the Thanksgiving holiday began.
At 8:30 pm (0030 GMT Thursday), the country had recorded a total of 262,080 Covid deaths, up by 2,439 in 24 hours. It also registered nearly 200,000 new cases.
Travel appeared to be down the night before Thanksgiving when Americans usually criss-cross the country to be with family and friends for a feast on Thursday marking one of their most important national holidays.
In recent days, images on social media of crowded airports fueled concerns Americans were not taking the warnings seriously.
But one day before Thursday's celebrations, officials and passengers in Los Angeles noted an eerie quiet compared to previous years.
US President-elect Joe Biden cited accelerating plans to deliver a vaccine as he appealed for his "weary" countrymen to dig deep.
"There is real hope, tangible hope. So hang on. Don't let yourself surrender to the fatigue," Biden said in a televised Thanksgiving address.
"You will get your lives back. Life is going to return to normal. That will happen. This will not last forever."