The United States has surpassed 370,000 coronavirus deaths with more than 24,000 Americans dying of COVID-19 in the first nine days of 2021.
A total of 370,119 people have died since the start of the pandemic in the US after 1,346 new deaths were reported as of Saturday afternoon, according to Johns Hopkins Medical Center.
Another 115,409 new infections were also recorded across the country so far today, bringing the nationwide total to 21,978,182.
The latest figures are a troubling sign of a post-holiday surge as 24,260 deaths and a staggering 2,003,618 new cases have been reported since January 1.
This week alone, 16 states reported their highest number of COVID-19 hospitalizations and California experienced its deadliest day.
The state reported a record-breaking 695 new fatalities on Saturday, a day after Los Angeles reported its highest daily death toll of 318.
This week, 16 states reported their highest number of COVID-19 hospitalizations. Pictured, patients are pushed inside the Emergency Room at the LAC USC Hospital ER
There were more than 52,000 new infections in California as of Saturday afternoon, according to the health department.
Hospitals in the state continue to grapple with a surge in virus patients and doctors fear the worst of the post-holiday spike is still yet to come.
‘It takes two to three weeks for patients to get sick enough to need the hospital after they’ve gotten the virus, and Christmas was only two weeks ago, and we’re already full,’ Dr Anish Mahajan, chief medical officer at the Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, told CNN.
There were again records set on Friday for the seven-day average for cases, hospitalizations, and deaths in the US with fatalities climbing to an average of 2,934.
Of the 310,080 new cases reported Friday, 50,000 were in California and 20,000 in New Jersey, according to the COVID Tracking Project.
Friday’s rise in cases means that 44 states have reported at least 500 COVID-19 cases per million people.
New Jersey had another spike on Friday, and has recorded 2,694 infections per million of population.
It is followed by Kansas with 1,889 cases per million people and Arizona with 1,602 infections per million people.
Arizona has also surpassed its summer surge in hospitalizations with patients increasing at an alarming rate.
On Wednesday, health experts named Arizona as the new global coronavirus hot spot as the state’s outbreak took another turn for the worse in Arizona.
The state is now leading the nation with the highest COVID-19 diagnosis rate.
Since December 31, one in every 111 Arizonans has been diagnosed with the virus.
The surge of new cases on Friday came as Dr Deborah Birx warned that the U.S. could have its own home-grown mutant strain of COVID-19, in the same way that Britain does, because the virus is spreading so fast.
The United States on Friday broke a record for the highest new cases of COVID-19 in one day as California and New Jersey experienced a massive one-day surge, pictured second from left
Sixteen states have record their highest number of hospitalizations this week
Hospitalizations are rising at troubling rates in Arizona and California, particular
Birx, who announced before Christmas that she would retire when Joe Biden takes office, after being left red-faced for ignoring COVID guidelines during the holidays, made the analysis during a recent meeting of the White House coronavirus taskforce.
She presented a series of graphs and charts, officials have said, which showed a serious spike in cases.
Birx speculated that this could be because a new, more infectious variant of the virus is circulating – in the same way that Britain has been shaken by the new B.1.1.7 strain.
Her concerns made it on to the weekly report sent to state governors, which was leaked on Friday.
‘This fall/winter surge has been at nearly twice the rate of rise of cases as the spring and summer surges,’ the report stated.
‘This acceleration suggests there may be a USA variant that has evolved here, in addition to the UK variant that is already spreading in our communities and may be 50% more transmissible.
‘Aggressive mitigation must be used to match a more aggressive virus.’
Nationwide, there have been more than 21.8million Americans infected with coronavirus since the start of the pandemic and 368,679 deaths.
What is the ‘mutant COVID strain’ and why are experts concerned?
Coronaviruses mutate regularly, acquiring about one new mutation in their genome every two weeks.
Most mutations do not significantly change the way the virus acts.
This super strain, named B.1.1.7, was first identified in the UK in November.
It has since been found in France, Spain, Italy, Iceland, Japan, Singapore, Australia and now the United States.
The new COVID-19 variant has a mutation in the receptor binding domain (RBD) of the spike protein at position 501, where amino acid asparagine (N) has been replaced with tyrosine (Y).
It is more infectious than previous strains and potentially more harmful to children.
It is not, however, believed to be any more lethal.
Public Health England researchers compared 1,769 people infected with the new variant, with 1,769 who had one of the earlier strains of the virus.
Forty-two people in the group were admitted to hospital, of whom 16 had the new variant and 26 the wild type.
Twelve of the variant cases and 10 of the ‘older’ virus cases died within four weeks of testing.
Neither the hospitalization nor the mortality differences were statistically significant.