The United States has registered its highest daily COVID-19 death toll.
The tally from Johns Hopkins University showed on Wednesday that an additional 3,054 people died from the novel coronavirus in 24 hours.
The figure beat the previous grim record of 2,769 established in early May and is now the world's highest single-day death toll.
The country is the most heavily impacted globally with more than 289,000 deaths and over 15.3 million confirmed cases since the beginning of the pandemic.
Over the past two weeks the US has exceeded 2,000 COVID-related deaths per day several times, rivalling tolls observed in the early days of the pandemic.
American authorities warned a spike in deaths was coming after millions travelled around the country for the Thanksgiving holiday last month, ignoring pleas to stay home to slow the spread of the virus.
California, where some 33 million people were back under lockdown this week, saw more than 30,000 cases on Wednesday -- the highest 24-hour tally in a US state, according to the Covid Tracking Project.
In a video message on Wednesday, President-elect Joe Biden warned the country is "in a very dark winter".
"Things may well get worse before they get better," he added, stressing that although a vaccine is on the way it will take some time to distribute it across the country.
The vaccine committee of the country's agency for food and drug security (FDA) is meeting on Thursday to discuss whether to approve an Emergency Use Authorisation for the vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech.
The vaccine has already been approved by authorities in the UK and Canada.