January 19, 2021
The U.S. passed 400,000 COVID-19 deaths on Tuesday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, nearly a year after the country's first case was confirmed in Seattle on Jan. 21, 2020.
The U.S. is expected to hit 500,000 COVID-19 deaths by mid-February, Rochelle Walensky, MD, the incoming director of the CDC, said Sunday on CBS News' "Face the Nation."
"We still yet haven't seen the ramifications of what happened from the holiday travel and from holiday gathering in terms of high rates of hospitalizations and the deaths thereafter," she said. "I think we still have some dark weeks ahead."
The pace of COVID-19 deaths has been accelerating, picking up throughout the fall and winter and reaching record levels in January, according to The New York Times. During some weeks this month, the average number of deaths daily exceeded 3,300. The single deadliest day was Jan. 12, when more than 4,400 deaths were reported.
More than 2 million COVID-19 deaths have been reported worldwide during the pandemic. The U.S. leads the world in number of cases and deaths by far, even though the country has less than 5% of the world's population, according to NBC News.
In fact, the current U.S. death toll is almost equal to the number of American military causalities during World War II, which was about 405,000, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs.
As health officials work to vaccinate as many people as possible, COVID-19 cases are still on the rise. California became the first state to surpass 3 million cases on Monday, less than a month after passing 2 million cases on Christmas Eve, and Los Angeles surpassed 1 million cases during the weekend, according to KTLA 5.
The U.S. has reported more than 24 million cases, and the global tally has reached nearly 96 million. The current 7-day average of daily cases in the U.S. is more than 207,000, according to The COVID Tracking Project.
Health officials are cautiously watching COVID-19 cases associated with the more contagious variant identified in the UK, according to The New York Times. As of Monday, the CDC has detected more than 120 cases with the B.1.1.7 variant across 20 states.
"I want to stress that we are deeply concerned that this strain is more transmissible and can accelerate outbreaks in the U.S. in the coming weeks," Jay Butler, MD, deputy director for infectious diseases at the CDC, told the newspaper.
"We're sounding the alarm and urging people to realize the pandemic is not over and in no way is it time to throw in the towel," he said.