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US coronavirus cases surpass 19 million

US coronavirus cases surpass 19 million
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The total number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 recorded in the U.S. since the pandemic began passed 19 million on Sunday, according to figures tabulated by Johns Hopkins University.

The outbreak in the U.S. is growing rapidly, with a million cases added in the last five days and a million cases added in the six days before that. After recording more than 100,000 cases in one day for the first time in early November, the nation recorded 226,274 cases on Saturday, according to Johns Hopkins. The COVID Tracking Project says the U.S. averaged 185,000 cases a day between Dec. 19 and 26.

The nation has recorded 332,502 COVID-19 deaths since the pandemic began.

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The latest grim milestone comes as health experts warn a surge in cases is likely in the next few weeks as a result of people traveling and gathering for the holidays. Anthony FauciAnthony FauciOvernight Health Care: Biden unveils virus plan and urges patience | Fauci says it's 'liberating' working under Biden | House to move quickly on COVID-19 relief Fauci: We are not 'starting from scratch' on vaccine distribution Fauci says it's 'liberating' working under Biden MORE, the nation's top infectious diseases expert, predicted hospital systems in many cities could reach a breaking point.

"As we have gone from the late fall to the early winter, the numbers really are quite troubling," Fauci, a member of the White House COVID-19 response team, said Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union."

"With the hospitalizations over 120,000, we really are a critical stage," he continued before adding of Christmas gatherings, "Even though we advise not to, it's going to happen."

India, the country with the second-highest number of total cases, had recorded just more than 10 million coronavirus infections as of Sunday, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker. Brazil has more than 7.4 million cases.

A more infectious strain of the virus is also spreading primarily in the United Kingdom, even as both the U.S. and the U.K. begin rolling out distribution of two vaccines for COVID-19. Officials have moved to place heavy restrictions on travel from the U.K. but have warned that some people carrying the new strain may have already arrived in the U.S.