US surpasses 27 million confirmed COVID-19 cases

Coronavirus
COVID-19 coronavirus hospital nurse

Registered nurse Andraya Zelle treats a patient in the COVID intensive care unit at UW Medical Center-Montlake, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021, in Seattle. King County, where the hospital is located, has been on a downward trend of COVID-19 cases after two-and-a-half straight months of increases. But the current lull could be, and some experts believe will be, upended as more contagious variants of the virus spread throughout United States. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Over the weekend, the U.S. surpassed another grim marker amid the COVID-19 pandemic — 27 million confirmed cases across the country, according to Johns Hopkins.

The U.S. continues to lead the world in cases linked to the virus — India is the only other country around the world with at least 10 million confirmed cases. While the U.S. only represents about 4% of the world’s population, it’s accounted for about 25% of the world’s confirmed COVID-19 cases.

Luckily, there are some signs that the rate of spread in the U.S. may be slowing. The country’s seven-day rolling average of new cases per day has steadily declined in recent weeks from a peak of nearly 250,000 to about 117,000.

Hospitalizations have also significantly decreased, and it appears the daily death rate is beginning to tick down as well. As of Monday, the U.S. sees an average of just over 3,000 deaths per day due to the virus, down from a peak of about 3,200.

Despite the decreased spread of the virus, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said in a White House COVID-19 response team briefing Monday that the U.S. still has a ways to go in reducing spread.

“We have yet to control this pandemic,” Walensky said.

Walensky also said she would “discourage against” any state or local government from lifting ordinances requiring masks indoors or restricting public gatherings.

According to the COVID Tracking Project, case rates are falling or holding steady in every state and territory except the Virgin Islands and Guam.

It also appears that the U.S.’s vaccination effort seems to be picking up ever so slightly. According to Bloomberg, the U.S. is distributing 1.4 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines each day, up slightly from an average of 1.3 million a week ago.

During Monday’s briefing, senior COVID-19 response team adviser Andy Slavitt reported that 3.7 million people living and working in long-term health care facilities have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. He added that of the most vulnerable people living in nursing homes across the country, 80% have received at least one dose of vaccine.

But while the vaccination efforts continue, the U.S. continues to face the threat of three variant strains of the virus, one of which has already been confirmed to be more contagious than the original.

According to the CDC, there are now 690 confirmed cases of a strain first discovered in the U.K. Those 690 cases have occurred in 33 states across the country.

The CDC is also monitoring strains from South Africa (six cases in three states) and Brazil (three cases in two states).

The White House is expected to provide more information regarding variant strains of the virus and the administration’s vaccine effort Monday morning in a briefing from the COVID-19 response team. That briefing is set to begin at 11 a.m. ET.

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