The death toll in the United States exceeds 501,000 as Biden calls for unity, face masks and vaccination ‘when it is your turn’

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Just one day after the US recorded half a million deaths from the COVID-19 disease transmitted by the coronavirus, the death toll reached 501,315, when President Joe Biden called for unity and urged fellow Americans to mask and vaccinate in an effort to contain the deadly pandemic. The US figures are by far the worst in the world with their number of cases (28 million) more than those of the next two countries combined, according to data aggregated by Johns Hopkins University. The United States accounts for roughly 25% of the global case count and 20% of its death toll, devastating numbers for the world’s leading economy. More Americans have now died of COVID than in military combat in World War I, World War II, and the Vietnam War combined.

“Today I ask all Americans to remember,” Biden said at a candlelight ceremony to honor the dead Monday night. “Remember those we lost, those we left behind,” he said. “But as we all remember, I also ask us to act, to be vigilant, to remain socially distant, to mask ourselves. Get vaccinated when it‘s your turn. We must end the politics and misinformation that has divided families, communities and the country and has already cost too many lives. It is not the Democrats and Republicans who are dying from the virus, it is our fellow Americans. ”Biden has made ending the pandemic a key priority of his administration, a shift in strategy after his predecessor consistently downplayed the The seriousness of the situation and said the virus would “disappear.” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Monday that the “staggering” death toll in the United States was exacerbated by the political divide “Even under the best of circumstances, this would have been a very serious problem,” Fauci said in an interview with Reuters, noting that the political struggle had made wearing a mask in public a political statement, rather than a measure of public safety. “However, that does not explain how a rich and sophisticated country can have the highest percentage of deaths and be the most affected country in the world,” said Fauci, who also He is also Biden’s chief medical advisor. “That I think should not have happened.” Also read: Here’s the best way to fix the chaos surrounding COVID-19 vaccine appointments The sad milestone comes as the number of cases and hospitalizations continue to drop dramatically from their January peaks. The United States has averaged 66,977 cases per day over the past week, 40% less than two weeks ago, according to a New York Times tracker. There were 55,403 COVID patients in US hospitals on Monday, according to the COVID Tracking Project, down from 56,159 the day before and about 60% from its January peak. On the vaccine front, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s vaccine tracker shows that, as of 6 a.m. ET Monday, 75.2 million doses had been delivered to states, 64 had been administered. , 2 million doses and 44.1 million people had received one or more doses. The Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations of the Committee on Energy and Commerce will hold a hearing later Tuesday titled “Pathway to Protection: Expanding the Availability of COVID-19 Vaccines.” The audience will feature representatives from Moderna Inc. MRNA, -6.63%, Pfizer Inc. PFE, -1.30%, Johnson & Johnson JNJ, -0.59%, AstraZeneca PLC AZN, -0.83% AZN, -2.21% and Novavax Inc. NVAX , -2.54%, on their plans to increase the manufacture of vaccines. In testimony released before the hearing, Johnson & Johnson said it plans to deliver about 20 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine by the end of March. J & J’s still-in-research COVID-19 vaccine is currently under review by the Food and Drug Administration, although the federal government has already agreed to purchase 100 million doses of the company’s single-dose vaccine in the first half of the year. The House Budget Committee on Monday passed a $ 1.92 trillion bill to carry out Biden’s coronavirus relief plan, the first step toward possible House approval by the weekend. On Monday, a group of leading public health agencies and associations asked lawmakers to include paid sick leave in the bill, arguing that otherwise many Americans will be forced to choose between eating and protecting others from the infection. “Our nation has experienced a great deal of suffering and loss at the hands of the pandemic,” the group wrote in an open letter to Congress. “However, there is a light at the end of this tunnel as a new normal is approaching. Until that day comes, our country needs paid sick leave so all workers can save lives and keep the economy moving. “In other news: • A new study finds that teachers may be more important drivers of transmission of COVID-19 in schools than students, the Associated Press reported. The document released Monday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention studies nine clusters of COVID-19 transmission in elementary schools. in Atlanta’s suburb of Marietta in December and January. That included a group where 16 teachers, students, and family members of students at home were infected. In only one of the nine clusters was a student clearly the first documented case, while a The teacher was the first case documented in four clusters. In another four, the first case was unclear. Of the nine groups, eight involved a probab transmission from teacher to student. Two groups saw teachers infect each other during in-person meetings or lunches, and one teacher later infected other students. • CVS Health Inc. CVS, -1.05% expect to have the opportunity to meet tons of new buyers in the coming months while administering the COVID-19 vaccine, offering the pharmacy retailer a unique business opportunity, MarketWatch’s Tonya Garcia reported. CVS has provided COVID-19 testing, with about 15 million tests administered at its 4,800 locations across the country, according to Karen Lynch, CVS CEO. The pharmacy retailer has also launched a program, Return Ready, designed to help businesses and universities prepare for the return of workers and students, with 100 enrolled customers. The federal government selected CVS to administer COVID vaccines in long-term care facilities, administering more than three million doses to patients and workers. By mid-March, CVS says it will have administered both doses of the vaccine in assisted living facilities. See: Walgreens and CVS are on a hiring wave seeking to fill 35,000 jobs for the COVID-19 vaccine • South Africa’s Health Minister Sweli Mkhize has criticized “vaccine nationalism” that has hampered the response of his country to crisis, The Guardian reported. His government has proposed that the J&J vaccine, which has the advantage of being a single dose and not having the refrigeration requirements of other vaccines, be “preferentially deployed” in South Africa, which is struggling with a new variant of the disease that is much more infectious than the original virus. • Greek hospital doctors staged a one-day strike on Tuesday and many marched in the capital Athens to protest what they called “suffocating” conditions in hospitals dealing with COVID, Reuters reported. With around 6,000 deaths, Greece has fared better than much of Europe in containing the pandemic and preventing its health service, hit by years of financial crisis, from collapsing. But intensive care units in state hospitals are operating at about 80% capacity, and doctors want the government to create new units for COVID-19 patients instead of using existing ones, as well as to hire more staff and use private sector resources. . • There was good news for AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. AMC shares, + 14.35%, which rallied after New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s announcement that New York City movie theaters may open at 25 % of its capacity next week. Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter reiterated his neutral rating on AMC for the past 11 months, but said Cuomo’s announcement was a “ray of light” for the company. “We believe there is a significant pent-up desire to go to the movies, and this could contribute significantly to AMC’s March / Q1 and Q2 results, given that AMC’s theaters in New York are some of the highest performing in your national circuit “, Pachter. wrote in a note to clients. He said the New York move should attract other densely populated areas to reopen. “That said, we wonder if the suppressed desire will result in demand, as people may remain reluctant to attend the movies until they receive their vaccine, or in the event that the transmission rate drops significantly,” Pachter wrote. See also: Even a dose of Pfizer vaccine reduces the risk of coronavirus infection, according to Public Health England Latest counts The global count of confirmed cases of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 surpassed 111.9 million on Tuesday, data shows from Johns Hopkins, and the death toll exceeded 2.47 million. Approximately 63 million people have recovered from COVID. Brazil has the second highest death toll with 247,143 and the third for cases with 10.2 million. India ranks second globally in cases with 11 million and fourth in deaths with 156,463. Mexico has the third highest number of deaths with 180,536 and the thirteenth highest number of cases with 2 million. The UK has 4.1 million cases and 121,536 deaths, the highest in Europe and the fifth highest in the world. China, where the virus was first discovered late last year, has had 100.79674 confirmed cases and 4,833 deaths, according to its official figures. What does the economy say? Americans became more confident in the economy in February amid a sharp decline in coronavirus cases, but were still concerned about how long the effects of the pandemic will last, MarketWatch’s Jeffry Bartash reported. The consumer confidence index rose to a three-month high of 91.3 in February from a revised 88.9 in January, the Conference Board said Tuesday. Economists polled by Dow Jones and The Wall Street Journal had forecast an increase of less than 91.0. Other confidence measures, including the Consumer Opinion Survey and the Morning Consult Daily Report, have also moved higher. The Morning Consult survey is part of the MarketWatch Coronavirus Recovery Tracker. However, consumer confidence is still well below pre-pandemic levels. The index stood at 132.6 before last year’s viral outbreak. A separate report found that home prices rose at the fastest pace in seven years in December, as MarketWatch’s Jacob Passy reported. The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller 20 City Price Index posted a 10.1% year-on-year gain in December, down from 9.2% the previous month. On a monthly basis, the index increased 0.8% between November and December. It was the first time home prices posted a double-digit increase since January 2014, according to Selma Hepp, CoreLogic’s deputy chief economist. In addition, the broader S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller national price index, which covers the entire country, showed a 10.4% year-on-year gain in December, down from 9.5% the previous month. Live Blog: Testimony of Fed Chairman Powell before the Senate Banking Committee. The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, -0.19% was down about 0.5% and the S&P 500 SPX, -0.36% was down 0.8%.