CHICAGO (NewsNation Now) — Coronavirus deaths in the U.S. hit another one-day high at over 4,300, as several states struggle to manage a virus surge that’s overwhelming hospitals.
The nation’s overall death toll from COVID-19 has eclipsed 380,000, according to Johns Hopkins University, and is closing in fast on the number of Americans killed in World War II, about 407,000. Confirmed infections have topped 22.8 million.
With the country facing the fallout from the deadly siege at the Capitol last week, the U.S. recorded 4,327 deaths on Tuesday, by Johns Hopkins’ count. Arizona and California have been among the hardest-hit states.
The daily figure is subject to revision, but deaths have been rising sharply over the past two and a half months, and the country is now in the most lethal phase of the outbreak yet, even as the vaccine is being rolled out. New cases are running at nearly a quarter-million per day on average. Across the United States, more than 131,000 people were hospitalized with the virus, according to The COVID Tracking Project.
More than 9.3 million Americans have received their first shot of the vaccine, or less than 3% of the population, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That is well short of the hundreds of millions who experts say will need to be inoculated to vanquish the outbreak. The CDC reports that more than 27.7 million doses have been distributed across the country.
The effort is ramping up around the country. Large-scale, drive-thru vaccination sites have opened at stadiums and other places, enabling people to get their shots through their car windows.
Also, an increasing number of states have begun offering vaccinations to the next group in line — senior citizens — with the minimum age varying from place to place at 65, 70 or 75. Up to now, health care workers and nursing home residents have been given priority in most places.
The Trump administration announced plans Tuesday to speed up the vaccination drive by releasing the whole supply of doses, instead of holding large quantities in reserve to make sure people get their second shot on time.
As part of the next phase, the federal government will expand groups vaccinated to those over 65 and people under 65 with comorbidities.
Their guidelines will also encourage states to open additional vaccination locations, including pharmacies and megasites, release the entire supply of the vaccine instead of holding doses in storage and allocate more vaccine to states getting doses out the fastest.
The Associated Press contributed to this report