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The extraordinary death count represents an all-time high for the pandemic; it is also the first time that U.S. deaths surpassed the number of Americans killed on 9/11, a frequent comparison for the daily tragedies that the nation faces as government failures to test and contain the coronavirus have resulted in world-leading losses.
With 106,688 COVID patients in U.S. hospitals, another all-time high, deaths from the pandemic are expected to grow in the coming weeks.
With the total death count between 280,000 and 290,000, the U.S. is also expected to pass the tragic point of 300,000 deaths in the coming week. The expected winter effects on the spread of the virus, plus the increase of travel during the holidays, have caused all coronavirus metrics to spike over the last month. Since December 9, daily cases have almost doubled, hospitalizations have almost doubled, and the seven-day average of deaths has almost tripled, according to data from the COVID Tracking Project. Given the brutal season ahead, Centers for Disease Control director Robert Redfield told Americans last week to brace for another 200,000 more deaths from the virus by February.
At the same time as Americans absorb (or ignore) the public-health crisis and its disastrous economic effects, the nation marches closer to the roll-out of the vaccine. On Thursday, the Food and Drug Administration will make its first decision about public approval for the Pfizer-BioNTech candidate. If given the green light, doses will most likely be distributed to medical workers and nursing-home residents within 24 hours.