U.S. records deadliest day of pandemic on record

The U.S. on Wednesday recorded the deadliest day thus far in the global coronavirus pandemic, with more than 3,900 deaths and 255,000 new cases reported by the COVID Tracking Project.

The record came one day after the U.S. broke the previous record. On Tuesday, the daily death toll was reported at 3,775, along with a hospitalization record of more than 131,000 patients nationwide.

On Thursday, Johns Hopkins University had recorded more than 361,000 COVID deaths in the U.S. and 21.3 million confirmed cases. For months, the U.S. has led the world in both categories. Globally, 87.3 million coronavirus cases have been recorded, along with 1.8 million deaths.

On Wednesday, Georgia officially recorded more than 10,000 coronavirus deaths, according to the state Department of Public Health.

Florida reported its second-highest daily total for new COVID-19 cases Tuesday, as seniors made frantic attempts to register for the scarce number of vaccination appointments.

Florida reported 15,431 new coronavirus cases Tuesday and another 98 new resident deaths linked to COVID-19. The state has now reported 1,392,123 cases since the pandemic began. Florida’s one-day record for new cases was set New Year’s Eve, when the state reported 17,192 new cases.

Some of the nation’s governors are growing impatient for hospitals and other health care organizations to vaccine their frontline workers.

New York’s governor is threatening to fine hospitals that don’t use their allotment of COVID-19 vaccine fast enough. His counterpart in South Carolina says hospitals and health care workers have until Jan. 15 to get a shot or move to the back of the line. California’s governor wants to use dentists to dispense shots.

With frustration rising over the slow rollout of the vaccine, state leaders and other politicians are turning up the pressure, improvising and seeking to bend the rules to get shots in arms more quickly.

On the vaccine front, experts are working to confirm that COVID vaccines will work on the new coronavirus strain. The strain, first found in the U.K., has caused alarm because of the possibility that it might spread more easily. But even if that turns out to be true, experts say the COVID-19 vaccines being rolled out will likely still work on the variant.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. infectious disease expert, said data coming from Britain indicates the vaccines still will block the virus. But the U.S. also will do tests to be sure.

Viruses often undergo small changes as they reproduce and move through a population. In fact, the slight modifications are how scientists track the spread of a virus from one place to another.

But if a virus mutates significantly enough, one worry is that current vaccines might no longer offer as much protection. And although that’s a possibility to watch for over time with the coronavirus, experts say they don’t believe it will be the case with the strain in the U.K.

“My expectation is, this will not be a problem,” said Moncef Slaoui, the chief science adviser for the U.S. government’s COVID-19 vaccine push.