WASHINGTON, D.C. (CBSDFW.COM/CNN) – The number of positive COVID-19 cases in the U.S. is surging at an exponential rate. With some has 24 million cases in America, more than 60% of those have been reported since Election Day on November 3.

The stunning numbers follow brutal surges in the past months — during which the US saw hundreds of thousands of new cases daily, while COVID-19 hospitalization and death numbers reached all-time highs.

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And just about a year since the first COVID-19 case was reported in the US, the country’s death toll is fast approaching 400,000 — more than the number of Americans who died in World War I, the Vietnam War and the Korean War combined and nearly as many Americans who died in World War II.

Currently, more than 123,800 Americans are hospitalized with the virus, according to the COVID Tracking Project.

While that number may be down from its January 6 peak of 132,476, hospitals and health care workers across the country are still under tremendous pressure. In Georgia, one hospital official said their facility was so full they had to treat patients in hallways and ambulances.

In Texas, the city of Laredo has run out of ICU beds and sent an emergency message to residents urging them to stay home, city spokeswoman Noraida Negron said. Over the weekend, the city had to send multiple patients to hospitals in other areas to accommodate the surge.

“We had no beds whatsoever,” Negron added.

There’s Good Reason To Keep Your Guard Up

And while new cases across the country have also been trending down since hitting a peak last week, experts urge Americans not to let their guard down yet.

For one, even with the apparent improvement, the country still averaged about 207,000 new cases daily in the past seven days.

“The virus has established itself in the human population and it’s not going anywhere,” said infectious disease expert Amesh Adalja. “We’re going to see a lot of transmission until we cross the threshold for herd immunity.”

But also, the COVID-19 variant first identified in the UK is spreading across the US and experts have warned that while it does not appear to be more deadly, it is more easily transmittable and will lead to even more infections.

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More than 120 cases of the variant have been identified across 20 states, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And the agency warned last week a model trajectory of the variant in the US “exhibits rapid growth in early 2021.”

“In some ways, it’s much worse that it is more contagious because it will infect many, many more people and unfortunately probably will end up killing more people,” Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, said Monday night.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on Monday said the variant is the biggest challenge facing the city.

“Our health care leadership here in New York City, they say we are racing against time to vaccinate the maximum people before that UK variant spreads like wildfire,” he said.

9 States Have Administered More Than Half Of Their Vaccine Doses

Across the US, more than 12 million people have received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and more than 31 million doses have been distributed, according to CDC data.

The ratio of doses administered to doses delivered sits at roughly 39% — but the metric varies wildly across different states.

About nine states, and Washington, DC, have administered more than 50% of the vaccine doses that were distributed, according to CDC data. Those are Texas, Colorado, Connecticut, Kentucky, Louisiana, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota and West Virginia.

Two states have administered less than 25% of their doses: Alabama and Georgia.

(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The CNN Wire™ & © 2021 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company contributed to this report.)

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CBSDFW.com Staff