Despite hopes of widespread vaccinations this year, experts warned the start of 2021 would be a very rough time in this pandemic.
It turns out the first two weeks have been abysmal: The US has shattered hospitalization, death and daily case records.
Why is this happening? People are letting their guard down due to pandemic fatigue. And many of those who are sick of taking precautions are getting sick.
Now that the weather is colder, more people are socializing indoors. And the coronavirus primarily spreads during close contact with others through respiratory droplets — produced when someone talks, coughs, sings or even breathes.
Socializing indoors with anyone outside your bubble – even just one friend – is risky. Gathering with multiple friends indoors can be dangerous.
"If you go to a party with five or more people, almost certainly there's going to be somebody with Covid-19 at that party," said Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine.
One reason why the coronavirus spreads so easily is because people can be contagious without knowing they're infected – and can pass along the virus without looking or feeling sick.
The CDC estimates more than 50% of all infections are transmitted from people who aren't showing symptoms.
And just like doctors predicted, holiday travel and gatherings have triggered new waves of infections, hospitalizations and deaths across the country.
Fallout from the holidays could still ripple across the United States for weeks to come.