One out of every 1,000 Americans has died of COVID-19 as the coronavirus continues to run rampant throughout the country while one top medical expert fears that the public is hesitant to take the newly approved vaccinations.
The latest data from Johns Hopkins University indicated on Saturday that the COVID-19 death toll in the United States reached 331,116 people.
The grim milestone coincides with figures from the Census Bureau which found that as of the last week of December, the total population of the US stood at around 330,750,000.
Dr. Jonathan Reiner, a cardiologist at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, appeared on CNN on Saturday and expressed worry about Americans being hesitant to get vaccinated against COVID-19
An intubated patient lies on a bed after being turned from laying on their stomach in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at Renown Regional Medical Center in Reno, Nevada, on December 16
Ambulance crews wait to admit patients outside of the MLK Community Hospital emergency entrance during a surge of coronavirus disease cases in Los Angeles on Saturday
The current trend lines nationwide show a continued increase in the number of COVID-19 cases as the pandemic shows no signs of abating
Dr. Jonathan Reiner, a cardiologist at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, appeared on CNN on Saturday and expressed worry about Americans being hesitant to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
‘I’m more concerned about vaccine hesitancy around the United States, even amongst some health care workers,’ Reiner, who served as a medical team adviser to then-President George W. Bush, told CNN on Saturday.
He said that public mistrust of the vaccine poses a risk and could prolong the pandemic.
‘We’re gonna have to spend a lot of time on the grassroots level in communities educating folks that these vaccines are extremely safe and very, very effective,’ Reiner said.
‘This is really our ticket to normalcy.’
An ambulance crew waits with a patient outside the Coast Plaza Hospital emergency room in Los Angeles on Saturday
Hospitals in Southern California are being overrun with COVID-19 patients, forcing the governor to impose a statewide lockdown
An ambulance crew leaves Kaiser Peminente Hospital emergency room during a surge of coronavirus cases in Los Angeles on Saturday
Reiner added: ‘If you want to go to a baseball game this summer, or you have a child that is gonna get married next year and you want to get back to more of a normal life, as soon as a vaccine is made available to you you should be getting a vaccine.
‘You should be urging all your friends and neighbors to do the same, and we need this expressed to the public in a lot of different ways and there’s no time to waste.’
As of Saturday evening, more than 1.9 million Americans have been administered a vaccine for COVID-19.
According to the federal government, more than 9.5 million doses have been shipped so far to states, territories and federal agencies.
The nationwide mobilization to inoculate Americans against the disease caused by the coronavirus came after federal regulators earlier this month granted emergency approval to two vaccines.
One of the drugs was developed jointly by Pfizer and BioNTech while the other was developed by Moderna.
Both of the vaccines require patients to receive two injections spaced weeks apart.
So far, the top priority is to vaccinate front line health care workers and nursing home residents who are considered at the highest risk of contracting COVID-19.
Travelers wear face masks at Miami International Airport on Christmas Eve. Florida has also experienced a surge in COVID-19 cases in recent days
Shoppers are seen above in Miami’s Design Destrict on Christmas Eve. Despite a sharp spike in the number of COVID-19 cases, Florida’s governor, Ron DeSantis, has resisted imposing lockdown measures
Miami International Airport was bustling with travelers on Christmas Eve despite the raging coronavirus pandemic
Shoppers are seen above standing in line outside Louis Vuitton on Christmas Even in Miami’s Design District
Florida health officials on Saturday reported about 17,000 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus, bringing the state’s total to 1.26 million since the start of the pandemic nearly 10 months ago
The latest count on infections reflects two days worth of data, including Christmas Day. The state did not report fresh numbers on Friday because of the holiday
The Trump administration, which touted the rollout of the vaccines as a triumph of ‘Operation Warp Speed,’ will fall short of its stated goal of vaccinating 20 million Americans by the end of December.
The current data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that just 9.5 million doses have been distributed while less than 2 million people have received one of the shots.
Officials added, however, that there could be a delay in reporting figures from states due to the Christmas holiday weekend.
During the initial rollout, states complained that they were told by administration officials that they would be receiving fewer vaccination doses than initially promised.
General Gustave Perna, the head of Operation Warp Speed, acknowledged the failure and apologized, saying that the mishap was the result of miscommunication between the key federal agencies in charge of deploying the vaccine.
The 20 million doses that were initially projected for the end of December may only get to the states next month.
Reiner told CNN that he holds President Trump responsible for his administration’s response to the pandemic.
He said that the administration failed to build a sufficient testing infrastructure while not doing enough to educate the public on the benefits of wearing masks to mitigate the spread of the virus.
‘It took us too long to build our testing program,’ Reiner said.
‘We’ve never had a federal testing program that was farmed out to the states.
President Trump on Saturday blasted ‘Democrat run states’ for ‘ruining the lives of so many people’ by imposing restrictions on business and public gatherings
‘We never had federal leadership really mandating or enthusiastically promoting masking.’
Reiner said that Trump allowed states to ‘open at their own speeds, sometimes defying CDC regulations.’
He said that the president should agree to get the vaccine and have his inoculation televised nationally so as to encourage his supporters to do the same.
‘Even today we still don’t have the president of the United States firmly coming out and urging all of his supporters to vaccinate,’ Reiner said.
‘We haven’t had the president get a vaccine on camera to show that this is safe and effective.’
Reiner also lit into the president for a recent tweet criticizing states for imposing lockdown measures.
‘The lockdowns in Democrat run states are absolutely ruining the lives of so many people – Far more than the damage that would be caused by the China Virus,’ Trump tweeted on Saturday.
The president then tweeted that Republican-run states like Florida, which have declined to impose strict restrictions on businesses, are ‘open and doing well.’
Reiner, however, blasted Trump, saying he was mistaken.
‘The president is wrong, and he’s been wrong repeatedly throughout this crisis,’ he said.
Hospitals throughout California are operating at beyond normal capacity due to a surge in coronavirus cases. The above image shows patients being treated inside a hallway at Providence St. Mary Medical Center in Apple Valley, California, on Tuesday
Mercy Air flight paramedic Bob (left) and flight nurse Zach (right) stand next to a patient inside the ED at Providence St. Mary Medical Center in Apple Valley, California on Tuesday
Nurses are seen above working in a makeshift emergency room erected under a tent for coronavirus patients at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center on Wednesday in Cotton, California
Dr. Mher Onanyan tends to a COVID-19 patient at Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in the Mission Hills section of Los Angeles on Tuesday
Nurses treat a COVID-19 patient in an intensive care unit at Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in the Mission Hills section of Los Angeles on Tuesday
Southern California remains at zero percent of its ICU (Intensive Care Unit) bed capacity amid the spike in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations. Clinicians are seen above caring for a patient in the lobby of Providence St. Mary Medical Center in Apple Valley, California, on Wednesday
Registered nurse Katelyn Musslewhite cares for a COVID-19 patient in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at Providence St. Mary Medical Center in Apple Valley, California, on Wednesday
Juliet Babayan (right) waves goodbye to her sister Violet Bonyad (seated) and caregivers after bringing a present for Violet and visiting through a window at the Ararat Nursing Facility on Christmas Eve in Mission Hills, California
‘Many of us have said that we really won’t be able to turn this around until we have new leadership in this country and that comes in 25 days.’
President-elect Joe Biden will be sworn into office on January 20, ending the Trump presidency.
Reiner said Trump was misleading the public about Florida, which has seen a surge in COVID-19 cases.
‘The president today said “Look at Florida. They haven’t had lockdowns and they’re doing great.”
‘Florida had 10,000 new cases yesterday. The president does not know what he’s talking about.’
Reiner than mentioned the grim reality in California, where Governor Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, has ordered a statewide stay-at-home order due to a shortage of available beds in the state’s intensive care units.
‘California has to lock down in places because their hospitals are swamped,’ Reiner said.
‘Hospitals in places like Los Angeles County do not have the ability to add more critically ill patients to their ICUs.
‘They do not have the staff to take care of them.
‘That’s why they must lock down.
‘Other states will have to do that so that their hospitals don’t get to that kind of crisis.’
Reiner added: ‘The president does not know what he’s talking about.’
Florida health officials on Saturday reported about 17,000 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus, bringing the state’s total to 1.26 million since the start of the pandemic nearly 10 months ago.
The latest count on infections reflects two days worth of data, including Christmas Day. The state did not report fresh numbers on Friday because of the holiday.
During that same two-day span, another 140 Floridians were reported to have died from COVID-19, bringing the state’s death toll to more than 21,100.
Most testing sites were closed over Christmas, and it remains to be seen how high demand for testing might get next week among those who gathered to celebrate the holiday.
More than 5,600 new patients were admitted to Florida hospitals primarily because of the coronavirus, according to state health officials.
California health officials reported a slight drop in new cases over the weekend though this could be due to delays in reporting caused by the holiday weekend
California has been under a statewide lockdown due to the surge in COVID-19 hospitalizations
The above map shows how Southern California is home to the largest concentration of COVID-19 positive patients currently hospitalized as of Friday
The above map shows that 55 of California’s 58 counties are experiencing ‘widespread’ cases of COVID-19
Hospitals in Southern California are so overrun by COVID-19 cases that doctors are running low on supplies of oxygen, infected patients are forced to wait eight hours in ambulances before they can enter an emergency room, and intensive care units are fully booked with no more beds available.
The skyrocketing surge in COVID-19 cases is raising suspicions among public health officials in Los Angeles County that a new, more contagious variant of the coronavirus is fueling the outbreak.
California’s deadly Christmas was marked by pleas to avoid holiday gatherings outside the home and indoor church services in what could be a make-or-break effort to curb a coronavirus surge that already has filled some hospitals well beyond normal capacity.
Doctors say California is currently experiencing a ‘viral tsunami’ with COVID-19 cases surging by a staggering 68 percent in the past two weeks alone and ICU beds now at capacity in the southern part of the state.
California surpassed 2 million recorded cases of the deadly virus earlier this week, but experts predict that number will rapidly rise as residents gather to celebrate Christmas and New Year.
Festive gatherings with friends and family might be tempting after a year that has seen the pandemic take nearly 24,000 lives and ravage the economy as much of the state remained under a stay-at-home order that has closed nonessential businesses.
But officials repeated warnings that Thanksgiving gatherings where people didn’t wear masks or observe social distancing have resulted in a surge and begged people to forego Yule and New Year’s festivities.
In Sonoma County in California’s wine country, a Native American casino announced it was canceling a planned private New Year’s Eve indoor event that could have drawn as many as 4,000 people.
The Graton Resort and Casino is on sovereign native land that isn’t subject to state or county health orders, but it had come under scrutiny for the event.
Newsom said hospitals are under ‘unprecedented pressure’ and if current trends continue the number of those hospitalized because of the virus could double in 30 days.
‘We could have a surge on top of surge on top of a surge in January and February,’ Newsom said in a social media video posting Thursday.
‘I fear that but we’re not victims to that if we change our behaviors.’
But many in the state are failing to heed his directive, and a new survey from hard-hit Los Angeles County indicates that a third of the area’s 10 million residents are still gathering with people from outside their household.
‘People have grown less sensitive to increasing case rates, less sensitive to the risk than at the start of the pandemic,’ Kyla Thomas, a sociologist from the University of Southern California’s Center for Social and Economic Research, told The Financial Times on Friday.
The result is a medical system at breaking point.
Coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths have mounted exponentially in recent weeks and are breaking new records.
On Christmas Eve, California became the first state in the nation to exceed 2 million confirmed COVID-19 cases.
On Friday, the state reported more than 39,000 new COVID-19 cases as of Thursday, a 2 per cent increase from the previous day but still far below the peak of more than 53,000 cases reported last week.
The 14-day daily average was below 40,000 cases.
There were 312 new deaths reported, a 1.3 per cent jump from the previous day but still well below last week’s peak of 379.
However, the overall death rate has surged by more than 16 per cent over two weeks.
The first coronavirus case in California was confirmed on January 25.
It took 292 days to get to 1 million infections on November 11. Just 44 days later, the number topped 2 million.
The crisis is straining the state´s medical system well beyond its normal capacity, prompting hospitals to treat patients in tents, offices and auditoriums.
As of Thursday, California had record numbers of COVID-19 patients in the hospital and in ICUs, at nearly 19,000 and nearly 4,000, respectively.
Friday figures showed no increase in hospitalizations and there were a few more ICU beds available, for a total of around 1,400 statewide, according to the California Department of Public Health.
However, ICU capacity varied between the five regions of the state.
The Northern California region had more than 36 per cent of ICU capacity while the Southern California and San Joaquin Valley regions were technically at 0 per cent capacity, meaning that they had no more regular ICU beds available.