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U.S. tops 4,000 daily deaths from coronavirus for 1st time

By The Associated Press
Posted 5:23PM on Friday 8th January 2021 ( 4 months ago )

ORANGE, Calif. (AP) — The U.S. topped 4,000 coronavirus deaths in a single day for the first time, breaking a record set just one day earlier, as governors tried to ramp up the pace of vaccinations and open the line to elderly people and others.

The tally from Johns Hopkins University showed the nation had 4,085 deaths Thursday, along with nearly 275,000 new cases of the virus — evidence that the crisis is growing worse after family gatherings and travel over the holidays and the onset of winter, which is forcing people indoors.

Deaths have reached epic proportions. Since just Monday, the United States has recorded 13,500 — more than Pearl Harbor, D-Day, 9/11 and the 1906 San Francisco earthquake combined.

Overall, the scourge has left more than 365,000 dead in the U.S. and caused nearly 22 million confirmed infections. More than 132,000 people nationwide are hospitalized with COVID-19.

Britain, with one-fifth the population of the U.S., likewise reported on Friday its highest one-day count of deaths yet: 1,325. That brings the country’s toll to nearly 80,000, the highest in Europe.

Meanwhile, the number of Americans who have gotten their first shot of the COVID-19 vaccine climbed to almost 6.7 million Friday, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a robust, one-day gain of about 800,000 after a slow start to the campaign.

The goal ultimately is to vaccinate hundreds of millions in the U.S., though health care workers and nursing home residents are getting priority in most places for now.

Faced with mounting criticism over the sluggish rollout, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Friday that starting next week, New York will allow a much wider swath of the public to get inoculated, including anyone 75 or older, teachers and first responders. New Mexico is likewise expanding eligibility to the elderly as well as people with certain underlying medical conditions.

In Arizona, a vaccination site will open Monday at the suburban Phoenix stadium where the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals play. State officials said it will be capable of vaccinating thousands of people each day. Oregon plans to dispense thousands of shots at the state fairgrounds in Salem this weekend with help from the National Guard.

In Utah, newly installed Gov. Spencer Cox unveiled a plan aimed at increasing the number of shots administered to 50,000 a week. He said he will issue an executive order requiring facilities to allocate their doses the week they are received.

”This virus does not sleep,” Cox said. “This virus does not take weekends off. And neither should we.”

The lethal surge is being driven in large part by Sun Belt states. California, Arizona, Texas and Florida together had nearly 1,500 deaths and 80,000 cases on Thursday and have been setting daily records this week, as have Mississippi and Nevada.

Many hospitals in Los Angeles and other hard-hit areas are struggling to keep up and warned they may need to ration lifesaving care. Nurses are caring for more sick people than typically allowed under the law after the state began issuing waivers to the strict nurse-to-patient ratios.

At Los Angeles County's Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital in Valencia, nurse Nerissa Black said the place is swamped with patients, likening the situation to New York's at the beginning of the pandemic.

She was assigned six patients but could spend only about 10 minutes with each of them per hour, including the time it takes for her to change her protective gear.

“It’s very hard to decide which one should I go see first: the patient who has chest pain or the patient whose oxygen level is dropping,” she said.

At St. Joseph Hospital south of Los Angeles, nurses in the COVID-19 ward described being overwhelmed as the deaths mount.

“Just today we had two deaths on this unit. And that’s pretty much the norm,” said Caroline Brandenburger. “I usually see one to two every shift. Super sad.” She added: “They fight every day, and they struggle to breathe every day even with tons of oxygen. And then you just see them die. They just die.”

Active-duty military medical personnel were dispatched to a Southern California hospital overwhelmed with COVD-19 patients.

About 20 physician assistants, nurses and respiratory care practitioners from the Army and Air Force were sent to Riverside University Health System-Medical Center in response to a state request to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The 439-bed hospital normally averages 350 patients, but that is now up to 450.

The outbreak has taken another turn for the worse in Arizona, with the state now leading the nation with the highest COVID-19 diagnosis rate. Since Dec. 31, one in every 111 Arizonans has been diagnosed with the virus.

Registered nurse Anita Grohmann carries a balloon delivered to a patient in a COVID-19 unit at St. Joseph Hospital in Orange, Calif. Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021. The state's hospitals are trying to prepare for the possibility that they may have to ration care for lack of staff and beds — and hoping they don't have to make that choice as many hospitals strain under unprecedented caseloads. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
A COVID-19 patient, placed on a ventilator, rests at St. Joseph Hospital in Orange, Calif. Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021. California health authorities reported Thursday a record two-day total of 1,042 coronavirus deaths as many hospitals strain under unprecedented caseloads. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Registered nurse Kyanna Barboza adjusts the ventilator on her COVID-19 patient at St. Joseph Hospital in Orange, Calif., Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021. California health authorities reported Thursday a record two-day total of 1,042 coronavirus deaths as many hospitals strain under unprecedented caseloads. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Registered nurse Merri Lynn Anderson talks to her patient with a curtain drawn between them to give the patient privacy in a COVID-19 unit at St. Joseph Hospital in Orange, Calif., Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021. California health authorities reported Thursday a record two-day total of 1,042 coronavirus deaths as many hospitals strain under unprecedented caseloads. The state's hospitals are trying to prepare for the possibility that they may have to ration care for lack of staff and beds — and hoping they don't have to make that choice. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Physical therapist Daniel Lumbera helps a COVID-19 patient sit up on his bed at St. Joseph Hospital in Orange, Calif. Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021. The state's hospitals are trying to prepare for the possibility that they may have to ration care for lack of staff and beds — and hoping they don't have to make that choice, as many hospitals strain under unprecedented caseloads. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
A COVID-19 patient lies in his bed as registered nurse Keran Li, foreground, works on her computer at St. Joseph Hospital in Orange, Calif. Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021. The state's hospitals are trying to prepare for the possibility that they may have to ration care for lack of staff and beds — and hoping they don't have to make that choice as many hospitals strain under unprecedented caseloads. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Nurse Nerissa Black takes a selfie wearing protective gear at work on Dec. 13, 2020 at Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital in Valencia, Calif. Black was already having a hard time tending to four COVID-19 patients who need constant heart monitoring. But because of staffing shortages affecting hospitals throughout California, her workload recently increased to six people infected with the coronavirus. Overwhelmed California nurses are now caring for more COVID-19 patients after the state began issuing waivers that allow hospitals to temporarily bypass strict nurse-to-patient ratios. Nurses say the new workload is pushing them to the brink of burnout and affecting patient care. (Nerissa Black via AP)
A technician distributes a test kit at a COVID-19 walk-up testing site on the Martin Luther King Jr. Medical Campus Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
People line up at a COVID-19 walk-up testing site on the Martin Luther King Jr. Medical Campus Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Healthcare workers prepare to inoculate residents and staff with the COVID-19 vaccine, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, at John Knox Village in Pompano Beach, Fla. Ninety residents and 80 staff members received their second shot of the vaccine Wednesday and 50 new staff members received their first round of the vaccine. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
People walk to a tent at a COVID-19 walk-up testing site on the Martin Luther King Jr. Medical Campus Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
A boy is aided in taking a COVID-19 test on the Martin Luther King Jr. Medical Campus, Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

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