As the nation focuses on the political fallout following a Trump-supporting mob’s seizure of the U.S. Capitol, the coronavirus pandemic continues to worsen, with Thursday marking the first day in which over 4,000 deaths were recorded.
The record is unfortunately bolstered by other indicators that suggest the rate of death will rise: Hospitalizations, which precede a spike in deaths, continue to set near-daily records, with over 132,370 COVID patients in beds throughout the nation. In Southern California, one of the current epicenters of the pandemic, ICU beds are currently at 100 percent occupancy. In Los Angeles, close to one in four COVID tests are coming back positive. As of Thursday, three U.S. states — California, Arizona, and Rhode Island — had the highest per-capita rates of COVID infection in the world.
In December, the winter surge was initially offset by the approval of two leading vaccine candidates and public-health experts’ ambitious projections that the general public could get inoculated by April. But close to a month after the first emergency use authorization, concerns over inefficient distribution, wasted doses, and priority for the shots has proven the vaccination effort to be an early failure. In New York, the quarreling between Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York City mayor Bill de Blasio has continued over the vaccine, a foolish extension of their petty exchanges throughout the pandemic.
Another complication has arisen since the initial vaccine authorization: A new, more virulent COVID strain — which is not resistant to the vaccine — has spread rapidly throughout the United Kingdom and has been detected in at least eight states. Scott Gottlieb, the former FDA commissioner, predicted last week that the more contagious strain could account for the “majority” of new cases in the U.S. by March.