Coronavirus cases in the U.S. surpassed 20 million on Friday, a grim milestone that comes as new tracking data shows hospitals are facing a rising number of patients seeking treatment for the disease.
The caseload is nearly one-quarter of the more than 83 million total COVID-19 cases reported worldwide going into the new year, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Coronavirus deaths have also increased in the country, now totaling more than 346,000.
At least 3,460 deaths from coronavirus were reported in the U.S. on Thursday, according to data compiled by The New York Times. It marked a dip in single-day deaths following an all-time high of more than 3,700 the previous day. Globally, more than 1.8 million deaths have been confirmed.
Hospitalizations in the U.S. have also increased steadily over the past five days, surpassing 125,000 current patients for the second straight day on Thursday, according to the COVID Tracking Project.
The increases come as officials race to vaccinate millions of Americans while the virus continues to take a toll across the country and the world.
President-elect Joe Biden criticized the Trump administration Tuesday for the pace of distributing COVID-19 vaccines and vowed to ramp up the current speed of vaccinations. However, Biden acknowledged that it “will still take months to have the majority of Americans vaccinated.”
Meanwhile, a new strain of the virus that experts believe is more contagious and was first identified in the U.K. has also been reported in at least three U.S. states, Canada and Japan.
Experts have said the current COVID-19 vaccines will still be effective against this new variant.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.