Severe Covid-19 infections are beginning to abate in many parts of the United States even as the death toll mounts, signaling an end to the pandemic’s post-holiday surge and prompting some states to ease public health restrictions.
The U.S. coronavirus death toll topped 400,000 on Jan. 19, according to a Reuters tally, as the country hardest hit by the pandemic struggled to meet the demand for vaccines to stem the spread of infection.
The United States recorded more than 15,000 deaths from Covid-19 and over 1.2 million new cases for the week ended Dec. 27, though those numbers may be artificially low due to reporting gaps over the Christmas holiday.
Millions of Covid-19 vaccines were sitting unused in U.S. hospitals and elsewhere a week into the massive inoculation campaign, putting the government’s target for 20 million vaccinations during December in doubt.
Countries across the globe shut their borders to Britain on Dec. 21 due to fears about a highly infectious new coronavirus strain, causing travel chaos and raising the prospect of food shortages days before Britain is set to leave the European Union.
The European Union is on course to approve its first Covid-19 vaccine before Christmas after the EU drug regulator brought forward a deadline for review following the start of immunization campaigns in the United States and Britain.
The United States’ daily death toll from Covid-19 surpassed 3,000 for the first time, prompting pleas for Americans to scale back Christmas plans even with vaccines on the cusp of winning regulatory approval.
After a Thanksgiving weekend when the number of people traveling through U.S. airports reached the highest total since mid-March, a top government official said some Americans could begin receiving coronavirus vaccinations before Christmas.
Record hospitalizations and a surging death toll failed to keep Americans from traveling a day before the Thanksgiving holiday, raising fears that the unchecked spread under way is a prelude to further contagion at Christmastime.