BALTIMORE — The U.S. continued to surpass other countries in COVID-19 cases as it reached 20 million at the start of the new year, according to data kept by Johns Hopkins University.
America exceeded the mark Friday, less than a week after the country reached 19 million cases. COVID-19 deaths have also increased in the country, now totaling more than 346,000.
Dr. Anthony Fauci had projected a grim start to 2021, saying the worst is yet to come as a potential post-Christmas surge in cases would pile on top of the already surging caseload.
Hospitals around the country report their ICUs are full or nearing capacity. An Atlanta area convention center opened as a field hospital Thursday for the third time during the pandemic to help with the overflow of patients.
The news of topping 20 million cases comes as more states identify patients with the so-called UK variant of the coronavirus, which is more transmissible; California, Colorado and Florida have all identified cases.
The U.S. accounts for about 4% of the world’s population, but the country has eclipsed other nations in coronavirus cases by more than 9 million and COVID-19 deaths by over 151,000. India and Brazil trail behind the U.S. in coronavirus cases at over 10 million and 7 million, respectively.
The increase comes as officials race to vaccinate millions of Americans but have come off to a slower and messier start.
President-elect Joe Biden criticized the Trump administration Tuesday for the pace of distributing COVID-19 vaccines and vowed to ramp up the current speed of vaccinations. However, Biden acknowledged that it “will still take months to have the majority of Americans vaccinated.”
As of Thursday, the last day data is available, the CDC reports more than 2.7 million Americans have received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and more than 12.4 million doses have been distributed to states.
Globally, more than 83 million cases have been confirmed.