The United States recorded its 20 millionth case since the coronavirus pandemic began Thursday, surpassing a dismal milestone as prospects of quickly getting the virus under control in the New Year seemed to worsen.
Half of those 20 million cases have only been recorded since November 8, due to how widespread and devastating the recent surge has been. And earlier this week, Colorado identified the first known case in the U.S. of a new variant of the virus that is believed to be much more contagious and that threatens to overwhelm an already strained healthcare system.
The United States now accounts for nearly a quarter of the more than 83 million reported coronavirus cases worldwide and nearly a fifth of the death toll. The country has recorded more than 340,000 coronavirus deaths. Reporting of deaths has been inconsistent over the past few days due to the holidays, but the week of December 15-22 was the worst week for coronavirus deaths in the United States during the pandemic. 18,971 new deaths were recorded.
California has become the new epicenter of the pandemic in the United States. The large number of new cases reported there in the past few days offset declines in other locations including the states of Great Lakes, Great Plains and Mountain West, where the surge began. Hospitals in Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley are stretched to the point of rupture.
The federal government is starting to distribute two vaccines that clinical studies have shown to be very effective in preventing Covid-19. While the development of vaccines in record time represents a scientific triumph, adoption so far proves to be yet another government failure.
It was progressing at a snail’s pace, with progress well below what the government had promised. Earlier this month, federal officials said their goal was to get 20 million people on their first dose by the end of this year. While more than 14 million vaccine doses have been distributed, only 2.7 million were actually administered, according to a CDC dashboard. At the current rate, it would take years to get enough Americans vaccinated to contain the pandemic significantly.
Now deaths are increasing minute by minute, hour by hour.
“In 2020 we were killing ~ 340,000 Americans, sometimes by the thousands a day,” Gregg Gonsalves, assistant professor of epidemiology at Yale School of Medicine, wrote on Twitter on Wednesday. “And we watched. There were no protests, no daily headlines commensurate with a national tragedy of this magnitude. It’s like watching September 11th on a loop for over 300 days. “