Coronavirus deaths and cases per day in the U.S. dropped markedly over the past couple of weeks but are still running at alarmingly high levels, and the effort to snuff out COVID-19 is becoming an ever more urgent race between the vaccine and the mutating virus.
The government's top infectious-disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said the improvement in numbers around the country appears to reflect a “natural peaking and then plateauing” after a holiday surge, rather than the arrival of the vaccine in mid-December.
The U.S. is recording just under 3,100 deaths a day on average, down from more than 3,350 less than two weeks ago. New cases are averaging about 170,000 a day after peaking at almost 250,000 on Jan. 11. The number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients has fallen to about 110,000 from a high of 132,000 on Jan. 7.
States that have been hot spots in recent weeks such as California and Arizona have shown similar improvements during the same period.
In other developments:
- President Joe Biden on Monday reinstated COVID-19 travel restrictions on most non-U.S. travelers from Brazil, Ireland, the United Kingdom and 26 other European countries that allow travel across open borders. He also added South Africa to the list.
- Biden also appeared to boost his goal for coronavirus vaccinations in his first 100 days in office, suggesting that the nation could soon be vaccinating 1.5 million Americans on average per day.
- Anti-poverty organization Oxfam warned Monday that the fallout of the coronavirus pandemic will lead to the biggest increase in global inequalities on record unless governments rejig their economies.
- The Federal Reserve this week will likely underscore its commitment to its low-interest rate policies, even as the economy recovers further from the devastation of the viral pandemic.
- California has lifted regional stay-at-home orders statewide in response to improving coronavirus conditions. Public health officials said Monday that the state will return to a system of county-by-county restrictions intended to stem the spread of the virus.
- The European Union lashed out Monday at pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, accusing it of failing to guarantee delivery of coronavirus vaccines without valid explanation, and threatened to impose tight export controls within days on COVID-19 vaccines made in the bloc.