US Covid death toll reaches 250,000

Mortality rates rose in the last four weeks by 42 per cent

Bill Gates worries of dysfunctional Covid-19 vaccine distribution
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The confirmed US death toll from coronavirus has topped 250,000, the highest figure of any country in the world.

The grim milestone was confirmed by Baltimore’s Johns Hopkins University, which collates worldwide data on Covid-19 fatalaties and cases, on Wednesday.

It comes as infections, hospitalisations and mortality rates are rapidly increasing in the vast majority of states across the US. 

The number of people hospitalised with the virus rose to at least 78,630 by Wednesday afternoon, the highest ever for a single day during the pandemic.

Governors and local officials have brought in a range of measures in recent days to try to damp down the surge. Cleveland asked residents to stay home, mask mandates were passed in places that had previously resisted them, and New York City's school district, the largest in the United States, is halting in-person learning from Thursday.

Over a seven-day average, the US is reporting 1,176 daily deaths, more than the daily average deaths in India and Brazil combined - the two countries next most affected.

The country has hit other grim milestones in this current surge, including recording more than one million new coronavirus cases in just one week. There are now more than 11.3 million recorded cases in the US, according to Johns Hopkins University. 

Due to the current surge, states like Minnesota, Kentucky, California, New Mexico, Oregon, and New York have implemented stricter coronavirus restrictions to curb the spread. 

Public health officials have implored Americans to cancel their holiday plans for Thanksgiving out of fear large gatherings could further lead to a rise in cases, hospitalisations, and deaths. 

On Tuesday, 19 states reported record numbers of new hospitalisations, according to the Covid Tracking Project. Multiple hospitals are also recording staffing shortages due to the current surge. 

In Wisconsin, a field hospital was set up a few weeks ago in an effort to assist the overrun hospitals in the state. 

The US hitting a quarter-of-a-million dead from the novel virus comes at the same time that two vaccines announced promising efficiency against Covid-19. Both Moderna and Pfizer have reported that their respective vaccines were more than 90 per cent effective against the novel virus. 

These two companies will likely file for emergency authorisation with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the coming days. But the vast majority of the public would be unlikely to receive the jab until April 2021. 

The Trump administration has boasted the success of its Operation Warp Speed in speeding up the development, manufacturing, and distribution of coronavirus vaccines. But President Donald Trump has otherwise taken a hands-off approach to the novel virus. 

While the vaccine news was an added boost amid the pandemic, it would not help during this current surge of cases, hospitalisations, and deaths. 

Health experts have warned the surge could get even worse during the holiday season if proper guidelines are not followed by a the public. 

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