Over 400,000 Americans have died of COVID-19 as of Tuesday, one day before Joe Biden’s inauguration as president.
The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in the deaths of almost as many Americans who were killed during World War II, when over 405,000 servicemen lost their lives. While those killed in World War II were primarily young men and women, the novel coronavirus has been particularly lethal for older Americans, with those over age 75 particularly susceptible to the disease.
Currently, coronavirus surges can be seen in the Southwest in California and Arizona, as well as in Virginia, the Carolinas, and Georgia. California has reported a local mutation of the coronavirus that appears to be driving infections there.
“I’m decently confident that this is a more infectious strain of the virus,” Dr. Eric Vail, director of molecular pathology at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, told the New York Times.
President-elect Joe Biden will assume office on Wednesday facing the still-raging pandemic. Biden has called to vaccinate at least 100 million Americans during his first 100 days in office, as administration of coronavirus vaccines has moved more slowly than anticipated.
“That is what the president elect has promised. It will be a hefty lift, but we have enough to do that,” Dr. Rochelle Walensky, Biden’s nominee for head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told CBS’s Face the Nation on Sunday. While the Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed has distributed 31.1 million doses of coronavirus vaccines across the U.S., just 12.3 million people have received their first dose.
Dr. Walensky also warned that the U.S. could reach 500,000 deaths from coronavirus by mid-February.