U.S. surpasses 20 million cases of coronavirus on first day of 2021

The U.S. has started 2021 with a grim milestone: Within hours of the new year, the country surpassed 20 million reported cases of coronavirus, according to Johns Hopkins University, an increase of more than 1 million cases in a single week. 

The U.S. has maintained the international lead for the number of cases and deaths for months. As of Friday, Johns Hopkins reported that more than 346,000 people in the U.S. have died from COVID-19

India ranks second in the world for coronavirus cases. Despite having a population more than 1 billion people greater than the U.S., according to the World Bank, it has roughly half the amount of COVID-19 cases and less than half the number of deaths. 

More than 83,752,00 people have been infected worldwide. 

Several states in the U.S. have topped 1 million cases in the past two months, and more are on the verge of doing so. California became the first to top 2 million cases on December 23, and on Thursday, became the third state to surpass 25,000 COVID-19 deaths

California hospitals have reported that 1 in 5 COVID-19 tests are coming back positive, and health care workers have told CBS News that “it’s just utter chaos.” Hospitals in the state have been seeing more patients who are in their 20s and 30s. 

Dr. Tirso del Junco, Jr., chief medical officer at KPC Health Global Medical Centers, says that hospitals are “on the brink of really catastrophic moments.” 

“When you have multiple patients that are going into cardiac arrest or code blues, not everybody can respond to those,” he said. “So they’re having to make a choice. Who do I respond to? Who do I not respond to?” 

As states attempt to manage the surge, a new strain of COVID-19 scientists believe is more easily transmitted has been detected in the U.S. Colorado announced its first case of the strain Tuesday, and a case was detected in Southern California just one day later. The new strain, called B.1.1.7., is connected to a surge in the U.K. 

Pfizer and Moderna have both said their vaccines will be effective against the new strain; however, COVID-19 vaccinations are far below the number that was promised for the end of 2020. The Trump administration had promised that 20 million people would receive vaccinations before 2021, but as of Friday, fewer than 3 million people in the U.S. have received a vaccination of the 14 million doses shipped.

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