The United States became the first country to surpass 300,000 coronavirus-related deaths Monday afternoon.
Over 50,000 Americans have died in the past four weeks alone, according to Johns Hopkins University, reflecting a massive spike in cases, hospitalizations and deaths that began in October and has worsened since Thanksgiving. The coronavirus became the leading cause of death in the United States last week, surpassing heart disease, according to CDC Director Robert Redfield.
Nearly 3,000 Americans are dying every day from the coronavirus. Cases have also skyrocketed in recent weeks, driven at least partially by increased travel, decreased wearing of masks and colder weather driving people indoors, according to public health experts.
The lives lost to the pandemic recently passed the amount of Americans who died fighting in World War II. Though it took three months for the U.S. to record its most recent 100,000 deaths, some public health experts believe that the U.S. could hit 400,000 deaths before February given the spike in daily deaths. (RELATED: Coronavirus Daily Deaths Shatter Single-Day Record)
“Things are now about the worst they’ve ever been,” Dr. Peter Hotez, an infectious disease expert at Baylor, said in November, when cases and daily deaths were lower than they are now. “Projections are 400,000 deaths… Americans [who] will lose their lives by the week after the [presidential] inauguration [on Jan. 20].”
Despite the grim numbers, public health officials are hopeful that Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine, recently granted emergency authorization by the FDA, could slow the spread of the virus and save hundreds of thousands of lives. The virus began distribution Sunday and started to be administered Monday in states across the country.
Officials hope another vaccine developed by Moderna will obtain emergency approval in the coming days as well, helping to alleviate the global demand for an effective vaccine.
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