For the first time since the start of the pandemic, more than 4,000 Americans died from the coronavirus on Thursday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
According to totals as of Thursday evening, there were 4,085 coronavirus-related deaths on Thursday. Since the start of the pandemic last March, there have been 365,174 deaths in the US and nearly 1.9 million coronavirus-related deaths globally.
Thursday also saw an additional 275,000 people in the U.S. diagnosed with COVID-19, marking the second-highest case count in a day since the pandemic began. Only on Jan. 2 — when 302,000 new cases were reported a day after a national holiday — were more new cases of the virus recorded.
It does not appear the rate of coronavirus deaths will slow any time soon. More than 132,000 Americans remained hospitalized with the virus on Thursday, according to the COVID Tracking Project. Of those, 23,281 are in an intensive care unit.
The surge in deaths and hospitalizations comes as a mutant variant of the virus has started spreading in the US. This new variant, which is not believed to be any more deadly, is thought to be more contagious.
"What it does, according to the Brits, is that it makes it easy for the virus to spread from person to person,” Dr. Anthony Fauci told the Economic Club in Washington on Wednesday. “So it is a virus that is in many respects more transmissible. It is not, according to the Brits, more virulent. Virulent means it makes you more sick and it has a better chance of killing you. That does not appear to be the case, nor does it appear to be the case that it escapes the protection induced by the vaccines that we are using."
As of Thursday night, almost 6 million Americans have gotten the first of two doses of a coronavirus vaccine, which represents less than 2% of the overall population. Of those, only a handful have gotten a second dose. It is not until after receiving the second dose that those vaccinated are expected to have up to 95% immunity from the virus.