U.S. surpasses 25 million cases of COVID-19

Coronavirus

(CBS News)– The U.S. has surpassed 25 million cases of COVID-19, according to data reported by Johns Hopkins University. News of the milestone comes days after President Joe Biden kicked off his efforts to combat the pandemic, signing a stack of COVID-related executive orders during his first day in office.

The U.S., which has about 4% of the world’s population, has reported over a quarter of the world’s COVID-19 cases. As of Sunday morning, the disease had killed more than 417,000 people in the U.S.

Globally, there have been nearly 99 million reported cases. The U.S. has reported the most cases and the largest number of deaths of any country. India — with a population four times larger than the U.S. — trails the U.S. with the second-highest case count, reporting more than 10.6 million cases of COVID-19.

Mr. Biden has prioritized the pandemic during his first days in office, and his team aims to speed up the delivery of vaccines and protective equipment. Administration officials acknowledged that their goals are largely contingent on Congress, which would need to pass the Biden team’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief proposal.

In the days before Mr. Biden took office, state officials criticized inconsistent federal vaccine distribution, and a handful of governors pursued efforts to buy doses independently from the federal government.

Last week, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo wrote a letter to the CEO of Pfizer asking to purchase vaccine doses directly from the drug company. Cuomo said that New York was facing a “dosage gap,” and that the Trump administration “essentially opened up a floodgate while cutting our supply — leading to confusion, frustration, and dashed hopes.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says the government has distributed more than 41 million doses of vaccine so far, while more than 17 million people have received one or more doses.

New infections have begun to level off after a surge following the holidays, with 7-day averages of new cases falling in Texas, California, Florida and New York.

Los Angeles County has reported the most cases of any county in the U.S., with more than 1 million people confirmed positive and 14,000 people dead from the disease. Some researchers theorize the spike there could be linked to a newly identified strain of the virus — distinct from the variation first identified in the United Kingdom. A new study, which has not been peer reviewed, says the new virus strain was found in 24% of a group of patients who tested positive for the coronavirus in Southern California last month.

The large number of recent deaths has even forced the Los Angeles County coroner’s office to request an emergency order lifting the state’s monthly cremation limit — a regulation previously put in place to protect air quality.

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the newly installed CDC director, told Margaret Brennan on “Face the Nation” last week that by the middle of February, there could be half a million deaths in the U.S.

“I think we still have some dark weeks ahead,” Walensky said.

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