Feb. 5 (UPI) — The number of new COVID-19 cases in the United States is still well below average, but deaths nationwide on Thursday soared to a new all-time high, according to updated data from Johns Hopkins University.
According to the data, there were almost 5,100 coronavirus-related deaths on Thursday — by far the most of any day since the pandemic began a year ago. The previous one-day record was about 4,500 deaths.
The record deaths on Thursday added to an overall national toll that’s now well over 450,000, according to the data.
An updated model from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation predicts between 631,000 and 702,000 total U.S. deaths by June 1, when it also estimates that more than 174 million people will have been inoculated.
Despite the rise in coronavirus deaths, there were only about 122,500 new cases on Thursday, which is well under the daily average for January.
In fact, there haven’t been more than 150,000 cases for any day in almost a week, and the United States hasn’t reported more than 200,000 new cases since the middle of January.
Since the start of the pandemic, there have been about 26.7 million COVID-19 cases reported nationwide, according to Johns Hopkins.
Health experts have said the rising availability of vaccines is a key factor in the slowing cases.
To date, about 57.5 million doses of the vaccine have been distributed to health centers nationwide and about 35.2 million people in the United States have received at least one dose, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The CDC said almost 7 million people have received both doses.
President Joe Biden has said his administration is working to a goal of 1 million vaccines per day over his first 100 days in office.
On Friday, the director of the CDC said that the government’s priority is to reopen schools.
During the White House COVID-19 Response Team briefing, Dr. Rochelle Walensky said K-12 schools should be the first to reopen.
Nearly half of states have designated teachers as high-priority vaccine recipients.
Walensky said making schools safe depends on limiting community spread of the virus. She added that the CDC is still working on official guidance for reopening, but it should be coming soon.
Tim Manning, the response team’s supply chain chief, said Friday that more companies will soon be producing new at-home COVID-19 test kits under Biden’s Defense Production Act invocation.
Manning said the effort will lead to more than 60 million additional tests by the summer.
The team said Monday that the $30 test kits are coming soon.
The DPA is also being used to help Pfizer deliver more of its vaccine and expand U.S. supply chains for surgical gloves, a product that presently comes from overseas and has caused shortages for medical staffs, Manning added.
“We’ll produce more than 1 billion [pairs of] gloves here in America, by the end of the year,” he said, noting that the figure is about half of what comes from other countries.
In New York City Friday, Yankee Stadium became a mass vaccination center.
Officials said the stadium will give vaccines between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. each day, and that 15,000 appointments have been made for next week.
Department of Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is expected to announce Friday that the Federal Emergency Management Agency will activate more than 1,000 military personnel to staff federal mass-vaccination sites rolling out across the United States.