The coronavirus pandemic hit a grim milestone in the United States on New Year’s Day, surpassing 20 million confirmed cases as domestic deaths continue to reach new daily highs and vaccination efforts begin to fall behind targets.
The United States surpassed the 20 million case threshold on Friday afternoon after adding roughly 227,000 confirmed cases Thursday, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker.
Nearly 25% of all confirmed Covid-19 cases have been in the United States, which has nearly double the 10.3 million cases reported in India, the world’s second hardest-hit country.
The milestone comes just two days after the pandemic’s deadliest day in the country, with 3,744 reported deaths reported Wednesday.
Also Wednesday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that a new variant of the coronavirus, which originated in the United Kingdom and some scientists fear is even more contagious, was detected in San Diego County, and the new strain has since been detected in Colorado and Florida as well.
The first known coronavirus case in the U.S. was identified on January 20, 2020 in Washington state. After approving the Pfizer and Moderna Covid-19 vaccines at an unprecedented speed, the nation kicked off its vaccination efforts in December, but officials on Wednesday warned that vaccine distribution has already been slower than expected. As of Friday, just 2.8 million people have been administered the vaccine, out of 12.4 million doses that have been distributed. “We agree that that number is lower than what we hoped for,” said Moncef Slaoui, a scientific adviser for Operation Warp Speed, the public-private partnership set up to produce and deliver 300 million Covid-19 vaccine doses. “We know that it should be better, and we’re working hard to make it better.”
In an effort to accelerate distribution, President-elect Joe Biden has said he will invoke the Defense Production Act once he takes office to enforce the manufacturing of items necessary to produce Covid-19 vaccines.
More than 7 million people have been screened at airport checkpoints over the past week, according to data from the Transportation Security Administration. Though that’s roughly half the number of passengers screened on a weekly basis before the pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended Americans avoid travel during the holidays to help curb the spread of coronavirus.
83.7 million. That’s the number of coronavirus cases around the world, according to Johns Hopkins.