By Ovunc Kutlu
ANKARA (AA) – The US is approaching 400,000 deaths from the novel coronavirus, as the number of new cases is down overall but some states report rising cases of new variants of the virus.
On Tuesday the number of deaths in the US stood at 399,003 with more than 24 million cases, according to the latest data from Johns Hopkins University. Globally, deaths topped 2 million with 95.6 million total cases to date.
The US reached 200,000 deaths in mid-September and 300,000 on Dec. 15. Ron Klain, the incoming chief of staff for US President-elect Joe Biden and a veteran of the Ebola virus response, last week predicted deaths could reach a half a million in February.
While California Monday became the first US state to reach 3 million cases, Los Angeles County crossed the 1 million mark during the weekend.
In the number of deaths, New York leads the US states with over 41,000, followed by California and New York with more than 33,000 and 32,000 cases, respectively.
Although the number of new cases in the country fell 11% from the previous week to 1.5 million last week, a new COVID-19 variant known as 452R has been detected in 11 counties in California, authorities said Sunday.
This is different from the B.1.1.7 variant first detected in the UK, with at least 122 cases of that variant identified in 20 US states, including 46 in Florida and 40 in California, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Last Tuesday the CDC expanded the requirement for COVID-19 testing to all air passengers entering the US, while vaccination has gotten off to a slow start.
While almost 10.6 million people in the US have received at least the first dose, there were more than 31.1 million doses distributed as of Friday 6.00 a.m. EDT (1100GMT), according to CDC data.
One of President-elect Joe Biden's goals is to distribute 100 million doses during his first 100 days in office, along with making mask-wearing mandatory in federal buildings and interstate travel.