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U.S. COVID-19 new daily cases rise slightly to more than 73,000 and deaths increase to 2,447


New COVID–19 cases in the United States were on the rise for the second day in a row while hospitalizations across the country fell – with the exception of California, which saw the number of people die double in just two months.

A total of 28,335,264 people have now tested positive with the virus while some 505,803 people have died from the coronavirus in the United States. 

There were 73,258 new cases of the virus in the United States on Wednesday, according to data from the COVID Tracking Project. That was roughly a 4,000 increase in the number of new cases seen the day before. There were 2,447 new deaths associated with the virus on Feb. 24. 

California’s overall COVID-19 death toll is currently at 50,890, according Johns Hopkins University. The figure accounts for roughly a tenth of all deaths associated with the virus in the U.S. 

A total of 28,335,264 people have now tested positive with the virus while some 505,803 people have died from the coronavirus in the United States

California's overall COVID-19 death toll is currently at 50,890, roughly a tenth of all deaths in the country

California’s overall COVID-19 death toll is currently at 50,890, roughly a tenth of all deaths in the country

While the nation’s most populous state has the highest number of COVID-19 deaths in the U.S., it is ranked 25th in the number of cases per capita because of its large population.

The death toll climbed precipitously amid a fall and winter surge that has begun to taper off as cases and hospitalizations drop. Los Angeles County on Wednesday reported an additional 136 deaths, accounting for nearly half of the state’s 314 additional deaths. 

It took 10 months for the state to hit 25,000 deaths on New Year’s Eve and less than two months for that number to double.

Deaths have hit the poor, and Latino and black communities especially hard. People working essential jobs have greater exposure to the virus and are more likely to bring it home to others who share crowded living quarters.

The death rate for Latinos is 21 percent higher than the statewide figure and 7 percent higher for black people, according to the state Department of Public Health.

Latinos comprise a plurality of the population – 39 percent – but 55 percent of cases and 46 percent of deaths. Black people make up 6 percent of the state’s population and account for 4 percent of cases and 6 percent of deaths. Whites, by comparison, make up 37 percent of the population but only 20 percent of cases and 32 percent of deaths.

Case rates are 38 percent higher in communities where the median annual income is less than $40,000.    

The news out of California comes as researchers say they have discovered a new COVID-19 variant spreading rapidly through New York City. The variant has the mutations that may weaken the effectiveness of vaccines, according to two new studies.

The B.1.526 variant, which first appeared in samples collected in New York City in November, now makes up about 27 percent of viral sequences deposited into a database shared by scientists called GISAID, according to The New York Times.

Caltech researchers told the New York Times they found two versions of coronavirus rising rapidly in the city. They are calling both the B.1.526 variant for now. 

One carries the E484K mutation, which has independently been found in Brazil and South Africa. Scientists believe that mutation reduces the effectiveness of vaccines.

The 73 crosses signifying COVID-19 deaths in Nevada County, sit on the hill next to Old Barn Storage Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021 in Grass Valley, California

The 73 crosses signifying COVID-19 deaths in Nevada County, sit on the hill next to Old Barn Storage Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021 in Grass Valley, California

The other has the S477N mutation which may act like a guide for COVID-19 to human cells, optimizing the binding process and possibly increasing infection rates.

Britain’s B.1.1.7 variant is expected to become the most prevalent form of the coronavirus in the United States by the end of March, according to the Times, and now accounts for about 2,000 cases in 45 states. 

New York City, which was the epicenter of the pandemic last spring, has recorded 707,695 COVID-19 cases, and 29,025 people have died from the virus.

New cases and daily deaths in the city are decreasing, with 24,558 people testing positive and 384 fatalities in the past seven days. The city’s test positivity rate is 8.06 percent.

A new COVID-19 variant - B.1.526 - is spreading through New York City has mutations that may weaken the effectiveness of vaccines. A woman gets a shot in Manhattan

A new COVID-19 variant – B.1.526 – is spreading through New York City has mutations that may weaken the effectiveness of vaccines. A woman gets a shot in Manhattan

In this Jan. 12, 2021, file photo provided by the Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner, National Guard members assist with processing COVID-19 death

In this Jan. 12, 2021, file photo provided by the Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner, National Guard members assist with processing COVID-19 death

On Wednesday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released an analysis of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine showing that the company’s one shot version would be effective in combating variants of the virus.

The single shot appears to offer more protection against new variants than previously believed with 68 percent effectiveness at preventing moderate to severe illness by the variant in Brazil and 64 percent effectiveness against the South African variant.

The federal agency’s scientists confirmed that, overall, the vaccine is about 66 percent effective at preventing moderate to severe COVID-19. 

Officials also said J&J’s shot – one that could help speed vaccinations in the U.S. by requiring just one dose instead of two – is safe to use. 

An FDA analysis found that Johnson & Johnson's single-dose vaccine is safe to use and does protect against COVID-19 and some of its variants. Pictured: Vials of the J&H COVID-19 vaccine in the U.S., December 2020

An FDA analysis found that Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose vaccine is safe to use and does protect against COVID-19 and some of its variants. Pictured: Vials of the J&H COVID-19 vaccine in the U.S., December 2020

The analysis sets the stage for a final decision that could come as soon as Friday on a new and easier-to-use shot to help tame the pandemic that has already claimed more than 500,000 American lives.

If authorized, between three and four million doses will be allocated next week,’ Jeff Zeints, the White House’s COVID-19 Response Coordinator, said during a briefing on Wednesday. 

A contract with the federal government guarantees 100 million doses by the end of June, and Zients said the company is working to ‘accelerate’ production. 

So far, about 65 million Americans have received at least one dose of vaccine made by Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna, shots that require two doses several weeks apart for full protection.  

So far, about 65 million Americans have received at least one dose of vaccine made by Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna (above)

So far, about 65 million Americans have received at least one dose of vaccine made by Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna (above)



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