The coronavirus-related death toll in the United States has surpassed 350,000 as health officials brace for a further rise in cases linked to year-end holiday gatherings.
Data compiled by Johns Hopkins University showed the United States hit the grim milestone early Sunday morning.
More than 20 million people in the country have been infected with the virus in the country, making the United States the hardest-hit in the world in terms of the number of cases and deaths.
Last week, President-elect Joe Biden warned that the coming weeks could be “the most difficult of the whole pandemic.”
In recent days, several states, including North Carolina and Arizona, have reported record daily cases. Meanwhile, mortuary owners in hard-hit Southern California say they are inundated with bodies.
The most recent figures come as the rollout of the vaccine in the country continues to proceed at a slower-than-expected pace and a new, seemingly more infectious strain of the virus has increasingly appeared on US soil.
The update also comes as President Donald Trump on Sunday again sought to minimize the effect of the pandemic, tweeting that the number of cases and deaths was “grossly exaggerated” due to the Centers for “ridiculous” methodology. Disease Control and Prevention.
The statement sparked a rebuke from leading infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci, a member of Trump’s coronavirus task force who will join Biden’s new administration.
The number of cases and deaths of the virus from China is greatly exaggerated in the United States due to @CDCgovThe ridiculous method of determining it compared to other countries, many of which report, on purpose, very inaccurately and little. “If in doubt, call it Covid.” Fake News!
– Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 3, 2021
In an interview with ABC News, Fauci said that “these are real numbers, real people and real dead,” while warning that hospitals are running out of beds and medical staff are exhausted under the pressure of s ‘care for the sick.
Fauci also noted the slow pace of vaccine distribution – about 4.2 million Americans received initial doses of vaccines developed by Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna, far less than the official forecast of 20 million by the end of this year. 2020.
Fauci said: “There have been some issues, it’s understandable.” But, as the pace picks up, “we’re not where we want to be”.
Still, he said Biden’s pledge to administer 100 million vaccines within the first 100 days of his administration, which begins Jan. 20, is a “realistic goal.”
Trump, for his part, has blamed state governments for the slow deployment.
“Vaccines are being delivered to states by the federal government much faster than they can be administered!” he tweeted on Sunday.
New variant in three states
Meanwhile, at least three US states have recorded infections with a new variant of the virus that appears to be more contagious.
The variant, which is helping fuel the most recent spike in cases in the UK, where it first appeared, has been recorded in Colorado, Florida and California.
In California, where authorities said at least six infections involving the new variant have been confirmed, authorities have warned residents to remain vigilant.
There is no evidence that the new variant is more deadly, causes more serious disease, or makes the vaccine ineffective.
“Based on the information currently available, we know that the B117 variant strain appears to spread more easily and faster,” San Bernardino County health officer Dr. Michael Sequeira said in a statement.
“Therefore, it is more important than ever to follow all safe practices.”