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US records 23,000 COVID-19 deaths 8 days into new year

US records 23,000 COVID-19 deaths 8 days into new year
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The U.S. is battling a record number of COVID-19 cases and a mounting death toll in the new year, with more than 23,000 coronavirus-related fatalities reported in just eight days, according to data from The COVID Tracking Project.

Friday saw a record single-day case total, with approximately 310,000 cases recorded. The group attributed much of the large uptick to New Jersey and California, which had nearly 20,000 and more than 50,000 infections, respectively. 

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The tracking project recorded approximately 3,777 coronavirus-related deaths on Friday alone, bringing the U.S. total to 23,083 for the past eight days. 

In its daily report Friday, the tracking project also noted that 16 states — including California, Arizona, West Virginia, Texas and South Carolina — recorded their highest numbers of hospitalizations related to COVID-19 this week. 

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In total, the U.S. has recorded more than 21.8 million coronavirus infections since the start of the pandemic last year and a death toll of nearly 367,000, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

The escalating health crisis was overshadowed this week by a riot that rocked Capitol Hill, with a pro-Trump mob swarming the U.S. Capitol, resulting in clashes with police and several deaths. The riot forced lawmakers to evacuate and delayed congressional certification of the Electoral College results.

U.S. leaders, including President TrumpDonald TrumpNoem touts South Dakota coronavirus response, knocks lockdowns in CPAC speech On The Trail: Cuomo and Newsom — a story of two embattled governors McCarthy: 'I would bet my house' GOP takes back lower chamber in 2022 MORE, have largely remained silent on the pandemic in the aftermath of the riot Wednesday, with the president facing mounting pressure to step down before President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenNoem touts South Dakota coronavirus response, knocks lockdowns in CPAC speech On The Trail: Cuomo and Newsom — a story of two embattled governors Biden celebrates vaccine approval but warns 'current improvement could reverse' MORE takes office later this month.

Biden announced Friday that he would implement a shift in strategy for rolling out COVID-19 vaccines to help stem the pandemic. Biden's transition team said he would move to release almost all vaccine doses immediately, instead of holding back half of available doses as the Trump administration has done to make sure that those who get their first shot have available vaccines to get a second dose.

Nearly 6.7 million people have already received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine out of more than 22 million total doses distributed, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The numbers are much lower than initially promised by the Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed. 

On Wednesday, the U.S. set another record for coronavirus deaths, with 3,685 deaths recorded by Johns Hopkins University in a single day. 

As states battle the surge in cases and continue to implement widespread restrictions on activities to slow the spread of the virus, a new, more transmissible strain of the virus originally found in the United Kingdom has already been recorded in several states. 

Projections released last week by the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation predict there will be 150,000 additional coronavirus-related deaths in the country over the next month, as experts say the coming months will be the most dangerous since the pandemic began last year.