Coronavirus deaths climbed to another record high on Tuesday in the United States, with a stunning 4,327 people dying in a single day, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Deaths from COVID-19 are increasing at an alarming rate in the U.S. The seven-day average for daily deaths rose from about 2,600 per day to about 3,300 per day in the past week, a New York Times tracker shows.
Hospitalizations are also at a record high, with over 131,000 people in hospitals with coronavirus, though there are signs of the increases slowing to some extent.
The situation could get worse, however, as a more contagious variant of the virus from the United Kingdom, which has already been detected in several states in the U.S., is expected to grow more prominent.
“This strain’s destiny is to become dominant here in the weeks ahead,” tweeted Eric Topol, professor of molecular medicine at Scripps Research. That will mean the graph of new cases will be “going vertical,” he wrote, as has already happened in Ireland, which has been hit hard by the new variant.
“If there ever were a time for the United States to pull out all the stops, this is it,” he said, to head off the spread of the new variant.
Vaccines provide a light at the end of the tunnel, but the initial rollout has been slower than expected, and it will be months before they are widely available.
The Trump administration announced steps on Tuesday to try to speed up the pace of vaccine distribution, including no longer holding back doses in reserve for second doses, and opening up the categories of people eligible for inoculations to those 65 and older and those with a pre-existing condition that puts them at high risk.