The United States passed a grim milestone Tuesday with more than 15 million people diagnosed with COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, according to a tally from Johns Hopkins University.
As of Tuesday, the seven-day average number of new COVID-19 cases surpassed 200,000, which is more than double the 86,000 average new cases reported in early November.
The numbers include more than 1 million cases reported in three separate states: California, Texas and Florida.
Health officials previously warned that the U.S. could see an enduring surge in COVID-19 cases reported after the Thanksgiving holiday. Millions of Americans traveled over the holiday in spite of recommendations from health officials that people stay home to stymie the spread of the novel coronavirus.
“We have not yet seen the post-Thanksgiving peak,” the nation’s top infectious disease specialist, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said Friday during an appearance on NBC’s “Today” show. “Now is the time to hang in there.”
Since January, when the first COVID-19 case was identified in the U.S., more than 284,000 people have died of the viral infection. The number represents the highest coronavirus-related death toll for a nation and 18% of the 1.5 million deaths reported globally.
Officials in India have reported the second-highest number of COVID-19 cases and the third-highest number of deaths. As of Tuesday, more than 9.7 million coronavirus infections were reported across India, causing nearly 141,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins.
The third-highest number of COVID-19 cases was reported in Brazil, where 6.6 million have fallen ill. The country has the second-highest coronavirus death toll with more than 177,000 killed by the virus.
On Tuesday, officials in the United Kingdom began to inoculate residents after authorities approved of emergency use of a vaccine developed by American drug manufacturer Pfizer and German biotechnology company BioNTech. U.S. regulators are expected to meet Thursday to discuss an emergency use authorization for the drug. If it’s approved, officials expect to receive the first doses of the vaccine Dec. 15.
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