More than 350,000 Americans have now died of the novel coronavirus, according to a database kept by Johns Hopkins University — the latest bleak milestone the U.S. has surpassed amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The U.S. continues to lead the world in the number of deaths linked to COVID-19. No other country has recorded more than 200,000 deaths, and Brazil, India and Mexico are the only other countries to record at least 100,000.
According to the COVID Tracking Project, the U.S. has averaged about 2,600 deaths each day for the past week. While that nears the highest levels since the pandemic began, it’s slightly lower than the record highs that were recorded in the middle of December, when about 2,660 people were dying each day.
However, experts believe death totals will begin to rise again in the coming weeks. Just as deaths in mid-December were sparked by a spread facilitated by travel for the Thanksgiving holiday, experts believe more spread took place in recent weeks during the Christmas and New Year’s holidays. TSA reports that it screened 1.3 million people on Sunday — the most since the start of the pandemic. In fact, since Dec. 18, the TSA reports that there have been 11 days where they’ve screened more than 1 million travelers.
The expected spread of COVID-19 comes as hospitals across the country continue to deal with overcrowding. According to the COVID Tracking Project, a record 125,544 people are currently hospitalized with the virus. Hospitalizations remain elevated in all parts of the country, and record numbers of people are hospitalized in the South, West and Northeast.
The additional spread would also come at a time when the U.S. is already seeing more than 200,000 new cases of COVID-19 each day. The COVID Tracking Project reports that the 7-day rolling average of new cases stands at 208,489, though those figures are likely pushed down due to a change in schedules at testing facilities and local health departments during the Christmas and New Year’s holidays.
Luckily, vaccines have been delivered to all 50 states and more than 4 million Americans have received an initial dose according to the New York Times. However, the U.S. came nowhere near reaching its goal of administering more than 20 million doses by the end of 2020, and many states have reported issues in distributing the vaccines.